Dr James Schaller
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Unless it has been proven or can be reasonably proven that your co-parent has been physically or sexually abusive, be careful about portraying them as the anti-Christ. Lets assume for now, you feel the need to be angry at the co-parent. You feel the need to be angry to remove them out of your life. Try to get over that fast, because Judges really do not care, and only care about your children. If you come off bitter and hateful toward the co-parent of your children, it bores them. They keep asking themselves, "So how does your anger help the child?"

So this is one of those situations where being "right" could be a problem. If you have severe hate, you might actually have markedly less contact with your children. You see, even if your spouse had an affair after 400 years of marriage, the court often does not assume that is connected to your former spouses ability to be a good parent. The only concern is not you but the child.

So be careful about the way you see your children's co-parent. In the absence of clear substance abuse and other clear physical or sexual abuse be careful in expressing hate to your kids and getting them to see the other parent as the devil. And by the way, some yelling is usually not seen as seriously as these other types of abuse.

If you are teaching hate for the co-parent, it will be come clear you are doing this, and it makes you look like a poor parent.

Folks who see the other parent as perfectly bad are generally suffering from the error they are perfect. They are annoyed at any suggestion they might need to grow psychologically. They deny all mistakes. They deny reality and their own weakness, and deny all the strength's of the other co-parent.

Parental alienation syndrome came from Gardner, and he explained it happens when children of divorce dislike and disconnect from one parent due to the words or actions or attitude of the other parent. One parent is clearly trying to end the attachment with the other parent. These actions are not described in a flattering manner. Articles use such words as "brainwashing" a child to dislike the other parent.

What does it look like?

  • Making false accusations of sexual or physical abuse
  • Telling a child the other parent "did not want them"
  • Mentioning secret errors of the other parent, like an eight-year-old DUI
  • Mentioning parental errors in front of the other parent
  • Pointing out driving errors that show a lack of safety
  • Mentioning excess spending or a lost job, and saying it shows "a lack of love for the child" by the other parent
  • Sharing the "secret" that the other parent really does not love them
  • Constant repetitive talk about the flaws of the co-parent, that makes the child fear or disconnect from the "bad" parent and connect for survival to the apparent "safe" parent spreading these hostile comments

The types of actions by the parent creating alienation

  1. Getting others to engage in slander against the co-parent
  2. Relentless litigation to cut off the co-parent's access to the child
  3. Undermining visitation
  4. Undermine participation in the children's school, sports, play, and party life by hiding details and invitations and dates
  5. Lying to the child and other third parties like neighbors, teachers, shared friends, about the co-parent
  6. Lying to professionals such as government child abuse evaluators, the pediatrician, and the child's therapist
  7. Violations of court orders and other decrees, which allow access.
  8. Blatantly and clear false allegations of physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse.

If you do these things you will be in trouble with the courts, and at some later date perhaps with your children, who will see you killed their relationship with a loving, but flawed, co-parent who they cared for and wanted to see. It will also hurt their ability to relate to others in their lives. So they are pawns of hate or truly loved. Which is it going to be?

My hope is you have wisdom in your suffering,

Dr. J.

Bank Towers, Tamiami Trail, Naples, FL
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