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URGENT 1ST STEPS for alienated parents to not make things worse for you, your children's current and future mental health, AND to prevent you from making mistakes that will hurt a future court case. For parents with children younger than 18, it is likely that your ex will initiate a court filing OR you will unfortunately need to initiate a court filing to protect your children (custody) and your assets / income (child support). The below is by Brian H.:
1. Recognize and accept that your ex likely has a personality disorder and that just about anything you say to them will be twisted and used against you with your children or the courts; so avoid nearly all contact with them as possible (never speak, only written).
2. Unfortunately, despite an approximate 1% of all children in the US are moderately to severely alienated from a parent, public awareness is very low, and awareness is also low with most professionals such as therapists, lawyers, judges, GALs, school staffs, the police, everyone! (However, all is not lost, see Brian H. for professionals that CAN help you.)
3. Parental alienation, when severe (which likely applies to your situation), is a complex set of severe medical problems that rarely gets the required medical input of a sub-specialist with the specialized knowledge. Parental alienation is very counterintuitive, which contributes to the how and why awareness with multiple professions is so low (and the worse part is they may THINK they are as knowledgeable as they need to be - which is wrong which makes things even worse and costs you money, time, and the affections between you and your child/ren).
4. Do not blame your children or express anger at them for the incredibly hurtful things they do and say. Their critical thinking has been taken away and they have been forced to align with the cult leader (your ex). In their subconscious mind, this is a desperate survival issue.
5. Leverage the links below to get the specialized education you need to help yourself and ultimately, your children. Included below are links for videos, websites, research papers, podcasts, and free monthly calls with top experts in the world on parental alienation.
DEFINITION: Parental Alienation (PA) is a form of child psychological child abuse (DSM-5 page 719). PA is the process, and the result, of psychological manipulation of a child into showing unwarranted fear, disrespect or hostility towards a normative parent. In severe cases, the manipulative parent seeks to severe a child's relationship with the targeted parent and seeks full custody.
Consider the below FREE CONTENT, LINKS, and MONTHLY EXPERT GROUP CALLS and me, Brian H. to be part of your resource team! ---- PLUS we meet monthly, 3 different formats in the greater Boston area:
1. FREE Monthly parent sharing sessions, sometimes with a relevant guest speaker, currently and typically held about the 3rd week of each month at the Waltham Public Library - in either the 2nd floor Trustees room or the larger Basement conference room.
2. FREE Monthly "Targeted Parents Group" (TPG) social events at changing locations and focused around an activity or event, where you can enjoy time with other parents who face similar challenges.
3. LOW COST Parent education workshops that provide psycho-education, resources, inspiration, and coping skills.
"ALL STAGE OF ALIENATION" ORIENTED RESOURCES:
A. Awesome 21-minute PODCAST by reunification expert Karen Woodall (UK based) taped for Christmas time 2017 to help alienated parents cope by hearing what alienated children have said caused their behavior and what they wanted the alienated parent to do. https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/karenwoodall/episodes/2017-12-09T11_06_14-08_00
B. GREAT VIDEO TO WATCH! For parents who have court custody cases, we are lucky that we have a local parental alienation specialist who is one of the top 10 experts in the world. Stephen G. Miller, MD from Harvard assists in the selection of lawyers and/or assists lawyers with court strategy and, if required, court testimony either as an unbiased educator (preferred) or hired to be on the team representing the targeted parent. On the below YouTube video, you can watch Steve in 2014 present for 23 minutes to the Connecticut Task Force Committee, created to consider changes in their GAL processes. After Steve, Linda Gottlieb LCSW and LMFT, also presents. Linda lives on Long Island, NY and is 1 of only 4 parental alienation reunification specialists in the US (all those programs require court orders for 4 days at a hotel for the alienated children and the targeted parent plus a 90-day no contact with the other parent (who is required to get parallel treatment by a therapist that Linda approves and provides a treatment protocol). Brian H. cn put you in direct contact with Steve and Linda. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4N1sj8zOtXU
C. AMY BAKER PhD YouTube VIDEOs (you can play at 1.5x speed if desired): a. Parental Alienation New York Conference, Oct 2-3, 2010 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfJw2-DFq_4...; Amy Baker's 70 minute Focus on her study of 40 adults who were alienated children that eventually realized it b. Parental Alienation 2016 Toronto Conference, Amy Baker's 55-minutes https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue... (https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=193&v=9adWOSh1FJs) b.
D. MONTHLY CONFERENCE CALLS - INTERNATIONAL PARENTAL ALIENATION SUPPORT:
To register, email your name, phone number and state you live in to: email@example.com More info: www.familyaccessfightingforchildrensrights.org (http://www.familyaccessfightingforchildrensrights.org/) These speakers are our experts in the world regarding alienation. These calls are extremely helpful to all alienated family members in understanding more,You may call in on a free conference line There will be no replays of these calls so be available on these dates and times. All calls are on Sunday at 8 PM EST.
2018 Call schedule (always Sundays):
- December 9th Dr. Joshua Coleman, broad knowledge about parental alienation, runs a webinar series (Dr Coleman is very good, but for some reason he chooses to refer to "parental alienation" as "estrangement" (unlike nearly all other PhDs and MDs who are experts would prefer he NOT call it "estrangement" because that is the term for when a child has justifiable reasons to reject a parent (such as child neglect, physical, sexual, or emotional abuse).
2019 Call schedule:
- January 6th Dr. J Michael Bone and Dr. Robert Evans, PA authors, top expert therapists with legal knowledge
- February 10th Karen and Nick Woodall , incredible great experience as reunification therapists who live in the UK, Linda's book is an excellent one to buy - broad subject coverage, easy to read and follow.
- March 3rd Dr. William Bernet "Misinformation and Fake News Regarding Parental Alienation", THE leading expert on PA, a child psychiatrist and retired professor from Vanderbilt, Founder and president of the PA Study Group, and leading the charge for PA adoption in the DSM and ICD (international) manuals.
- April 7th Dr. Steven Miller, Harvard staff MD and Massachusetts based, expert PA witness and court strategist https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fgRJh26Jho
- May 5th Linda Gottlieb, LICSW< Long Island, NY based reunification therapist (one of 3 best in North America)
- June 2nd Dr.Demosthenes Lorandos - PA author and legal professional from Michigan
- July 7th Brian Ludmer, Toronto based lawyer - best in the world for PA
- August 4th Dr. Amy Baker, NJ based, THE leading author and researcher on PA with 6 books co-authored on various aspects of PA
- September 8th Dr. John Killenger, PA expert with lots of focus on how grandparents deal with PA https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhXZW2neENU
- October 6th Betsy Wuebker , author on Narcissism (I, Brian don't know much about Betsy's work yet)
- November 3rd "How to Cope with the Holidays" Several of our experts will join us on this call
- December 1st Dr. Joshua Coleman, broad knowledge about parental alienation, runs a webinar series (from California)
E. FREE ONLINE COURSES (just 1.5 hours each - excellent quality) on Parental Alienation by the National Coalition Against Parental Alienation (NCAPA) and the Parental Alienation Study Group (PASG) http://ncapa.thinkific.com/ (Note: you can speed up the videos by clicking the wheel shape in the lower right and selected a speed like 1.5X)
F. "SHARED PARENTING" a great step to reduce parental alienation! Join the National Parents Organization (which happens to have been founded in Massachusetts). Our Massachusetts Bill #3090 passed the House in early 2018 but was prevented from reaching the Senate floor for a vote before the legislative session ended - so it needs to be re-filed in 2019. https://nationalparentsorganization.org/
G. RECOMMENDED BEST BOOKS (ask Brian H. for guidance for best books specific to your situation). By Amy J. L. Baker Phd, one of the leading parental alienation (PA) researchers and author / co-author of 6+ excellent, easy to read books serving a variety of aspects / parent needs including:
1) Surviving PA., a Journey of Hope and Healing c2014
2) Co-parenting with a Toxic Ex c2014
3) High Conflict Custody Battle, Protect Yourself and Your Kids from False Accusations c2014
4) Adult Children of Parental Alienation - a Study of long-term effects on 40 people c20xx
5) A Clinical Guidebook for Therapists Working with Alienated Children and Families c2013
Other books by other great authors on parental alienation:
1) Divorce Poison, by Richard Warshak c2010
2) Splitting, Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Someone with Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder by Bill Eddy and Randi Kreger c2011
3/ Parents Acting Badly: How Institutions and Societies Promote the Alienation of Children, by Jennifer Harmon, PhD c2016
"NO CONTACT" PARENT ORIENTED RESOURCES:
A. WRITING LETTERS: There are 2 different types of letters to write to your children, one seeking reconnection and one for using when the best move is to write a, "goodbye for now" letter that builds a foundation for future reconnection.
GOODBYE FOR NOW letter: See Karen Woodall's great book on alienation for her wonderful guidance on this letter and why it makes sense and can be the right thing to do. (Ask Brian for more info)
RECONNECTION LETTER to an alienated children. Adopted from: Amy Baker & Paul Fine, Surviving Parental Alienation ©2014:
1. Opening, “Dearest Peter/ Maria,”
2. Acknowledge reality, “I’ve been thinking a lot about the distance in our relationship.”
3. Desire for improvement, “I very much want to heal the breach between us.”
4. Vision of Better Future, “Often family members can find a way to work things out that feels right for everyone.”
5. Show empathy, “I can see (or sense) that you are feeling hurt and angry with me and I am sorry for the pain that I have caused you.” (Brian’s comment – some therapists say no apologies unless warranted)
6. Ask about the issue/s, “I am wondering if XXX is bothering you” … “I’d like to hear and understand your feelings” … “so I understand your point of view”
7. Invite working things out, “I would like to offer the opportunity to share your perspective with me about what is bothering you. We could do it in writing, on the phone, in person, or with a therapist of your choosing.”
8. Spark a sense memory (smell or taste), “Remember the bakery smell…or remember the park smell…or Grandma’s lasagna smell…” or mention a photo you came across.
9. End the letter, “Please know that you can text or call me at 222-333-4444. I want nothing more than to move forward in our relationship.
10. Review the letter with the help of a close friend. Hold it for a day and re-read it for opportunities to improve it.
11. Keep your expectations low, they could respond positively (opportunity to heal) or with anger (any response is a good sign, or not at all (know your are trying and likely provoking some question or doubt in their mind about who you are.
"PARENTS WHO STILL HAVE CONTACT" ORIENTED RESOURCES (INCLUDES COURT / CUSTODY ISSUES):
A. How Can One OVERTURN the Programming of a Child Against a Parent? Ludwig.F. Lowenstein Ph.D
Southern England Psychological Services http://www.parental-alienation.info/publications/30-howcanoneovetheproofachiagaapar.htm
B. DOs and DON'Ts when as a loving parent you are confronted with a severe case of PAS in your child by William Kirkendale, http://www.fact.on.ca/Info/pas/kirken98.htm
C. Parents Who Have SUCCESSFULLY FOUGHT Parental Alienation Syndrome by Jayne A. Major, Ph.D. http://www.majorfamilyservices.com/parents-... (http://www.majorfamilyservices.com/parents-who-have-successfully-fought-parental-alienation-syndrome-by-jayne-a-major-phd.html)
D. LINK TO A FREE 23-page PDF By Amy Baker, "Beyond the High Road: RESPONDING TO 17 Parental Alienation Strategies without Compromising Your Morals or Harming Your Child" https://www.researchgate.net/publication/265450917_Beyond_the_High_Road_Responding_to_17_Parental_Alienation_Strategies_without_Compromising_Your_Morals_or_Harming_Your_Child (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/265450917_Beyond_the_High_Road_Responding_to_17_Parental_Alienation_Strategies_without_Compromising_Your_Morals_or_Harming_Your_Child)
2. Limiting Contact
3. Interfering with communication
4. Interfering with symbolic communication (i.e. pictures and photos)
5. Withdrawal of love
6. Telling the child the targeted parent is dangerous (may include filing false charges with Child Protective Services)
7. Forcing the child to choose between parents
8. Telling the child the targeted parent does not love him or her or is dangerous
9. Confiding in the child
10. Forcing the child to reject the targeted parent
11. Asking the child to spy on the targeted parent
12. Asking the child to keep secrets from the targeted parent
13. Referring to the targeted parent by first name and encouraging the child to do the same
14. Referring to a step-parent as “Mom” or “Dad” and encouraging the child to do the same
15. Withholding medical, academic, and other important information from the targeted parent/keeping the targeted parent’s name off medical, academic, and other relevant documents
16. Changing the child’s name to remove association with the targeted parent
17. Cultivating dependency/undermining the authority of the targeted parent (may include overly permissive parenting by the alienating parent)
E. LINK TO A FREE PDF This 15-page PDF by Richard Warshak also includes Practical recommendations for each of the 10 Fallacies used against parental alienation in the courts. This paper includes 113 research references. http://www.alienazione.genitoriale.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Warshak-2015x.pdf Dr. Warshak's PDF is possibly the best information that will help you, your attorney, and your therapist (plus any Judge, GAL, Probation Officer, Parent Coordinator, etc). An alienators' childhood based personality trait issues causes them to be delusional, which drives their abusive (to the child and the targeted parent) behavior and actions. The court system has not "caught up" on all the scientific research on parental alienation. Therefore, parents need an attorney who has experience litigating custody cases and willing to hire and be guided by one of several parental alienation experts in the US to educate the courts. Two very important fallacies listed below are #9 and #10 which describe how weekly session types of "reunification therapy" never work (despite many therapists who think they can and are willing to try). However, court mandated 4-day residential programs with 90 days no contact with the alienator has success rates in the 90% range (at several of the approximately 4 programs available in the USA). The FREE PDF includes the Ten Parental Alienation FALLACIES That Compromise Decisions in Court and in Therapy, By Dr. Richard Warshak, author of “Divorce Poison”. Peer reviewed and published in 2015 by the American Psychological Association (APA).
MYTHS and FALLACIES THAT ARE NOT TRUE!
1. Children never unreasonably reject the parent with whom they spend the most time.
2. Children never unreasonably reject mothers.
3. Each parent contributes equally to a child’s alienation.
4. Alienation is a child’s transient, short-lived response to the parents’ separation.
5. Rejecting a parent is a short-term healthy coping mechanism.
6. Young children living with an alienating parent need no intervention.
7. Alienated adolescents’ stated preferences should dominate custody decisions.
8. Children who appear to function well outside the family need no intervention.
9. Severely alienated children are best treated with traditional therapy techniques while living primarily with their favored parent.
10. Separating children from an alienating parent is traumatic.
F. Hire a parental alienation coach for the below benefits:
1) Saves you money $$ to help you select an attorney that has the specialized skills required to win you custody. a) Many family law attorneys have very little trial experience, alienators love trials, their lack of emotional range gives them a "calm, cool, and collected" affect that enables them to fool / convince their attorney, therapists, and court staff that they and the children are victims from you! b) Many family attorneys truly believe their experiences negotiating parenting schedules will be sufficient for your case - that is a gross under-estimation of what will happen in your case. c) Hiring the "best" attorney doesn;t matter, what does matter is hiring an attorney with the specialized skills, knowledge, and experience required to win custody. d) Fighting for custody (at least some parenting time) is expensive, but unless you invest in experts, ALL that money will be wasted, so you should accept that you need to spend 30% more, but at least you have a much better chance to not have wasted all your money.
2) Complements the work that your attorney does (but at a lower rate) to develop a strategy and also "working behind the scenes" to assist in helping clients anticipate and meet the various demands of the case such as selecting and organizing the evidence that will be most useful to support your case. Provides you with guidance through the many confusing aspects of a high conflict custody dispute, including how to present yourself in court and in the community. There are many things that can go wrong, and they often determine an adverse judicial decision, for reasons other than the merits of your case (family court judges have more discretion than other judges).
3) Helps you prepare for the custody evaluation by helping you anticipate the various components and goals of the evaluation and help you avoid common pitfalls, such as being overly anxious or trying too hard.
3) Help you with the few advantages you have to offset some of the many advantages that an alienator uses, such as: a) they have no hesitation to make false allegations of child abuse - physical or sexual; and there are no repercussions if they are found to be "unsubstantiated" by DCF - no perjury charges are ever made. b) An alienator does NOT have the CAPACITY / INSIGHT to prioritize their child's needs before their own - so they don't have to care about damage to the children, using them as pawns for their own fears, disappointments, anger, and desire for revenge.
Helps you protect the heart and mind of your child by guiding you to the right actions (with them and your ex). Having or winning physical custody is only half the battle, you need to win the heart and hinds of your children, and that requires you to get specialized guidance for the type of effective parent you need to be under these incredibly unique and challenging circumstances - contending with alienation requires you do things that are counterintuitive. Making mistakes is easy - and those mistakes will cost you your relationship with your child.
3) Helps you prevent the loss of child support $$ due to loss of custody. Many Massachusetts judges will let children of about 13 and older decide which parent they want to live with. This is a very misguided decision, children do not make good decisions that are best for their health, they are brainwashed and under the fear of psychological retaliation, and making this decision places terrible guilt on them for disappointing a parent.
4) Helps prevent you from having to pay child support $$ and college expenses $$ for a child that doesn't even speak to you. As if losing your relationship with a child wasn't enough, you will have to pay.
5) Saves you money $$ by reducing the number of days that you are out of work dealing with PA issues
6) Saves you time that you would need to spend reading the hundreds of peer reviewed (respected) research articles, books, videos, websites, etc by both telling you the specific information for your situation/case and guiding you to the most relevant materials.
7) Helps you build a foundation for an eventual reconnection, and speeding that to happen sooner.
(Brian H. can help you with coaches, attorneys, expert witnesses, and specialized therapists to choose from.)
G. HOW TO FIGHT PARENTAL ALIENATION - adapted from: http://familyunity.com/
a. Find the rare expert that understands this phenomenon and can educate the court (your judge) on this.
b. Make sure you only hire an attorney or GAL, expert witness or therapist, who is not intimidated by the court or status quo.
c. Do not leave the marital home when one party files for divorce as this will become the status quo and will hurt your chances to obtain joint custody.
d. Do not agree to go before any court evaluator that does not understand PAS or who is chosen by one side and not the other
e. If a Guardian ad litem does not understand the phenomenon of parental alienation, ask that he/she be recused
f. Beware of any settlement negotiated by your attorney which does not give you equitable (equal) rights
ABOUT THIS MEETUP GROUP: Boston Parental Alienation / Estrangement (Child Custody): We are parents supporting other parents with positivity and to help navigate the challenges of being rejected by their child. We are a resource for parents to learn from others that they are not alone and help identify resources that can help their specific situation. current spouses / significant others plus family and friends that support you are encouraged to attend.
If you have found this group through an internet search and this situation is happening to you and your child, please connect with us quickly because early intervention is critical! Even though it is estimated to affect 22 million families in the US and 1% of children today (over 700,000 in the US), this scientifically proven pathology has low public and even professional awareness. Unfortunately the courts (judges and most staff), and nearly all lawyers are not knowledgeable about personality disorders, that they unwittingly make the wrong decisions. Even 95% of therapists don't understand PA well enough to coach a Targeted Parent, but they can help you deal with the expected situational anxiety and depression you may have. Do not believe or accept any court or therapist's guidance to have an alienated child treated by a therapist, it NEVER works and usually makes things worse! (Unless it is with a nationally recognized expert). Attempting the treat (cited by Judges as a "therapeutic intervention") the child (or child and targeted parent) WILL result in additional damage to their relationship. Contact Brian for guidance on what will work.
FYI - Dana Laquidara, a Boston area adult alienated child's website - includes podcasts: https://danalaquidara.com (https://danalaquidara.com/)