It’s the Parent’s Fault? Are Divorce Courts Causing Harm to America’s Children?

It’s the Parent’s Fault? What if your child is against you? What if your child does not want to live with you? What happens when the court places your child in a position to choose between parents? Does this warrant marginalizing a parent?

 Does it really matter what it is labeled? Not really. The result is the same. It’s the cause that matters. What is harming our children and their relationships with their parents in divorce? The courts want and do blame the parents. In divorce and custody battles if a child sides against you the courts tend to side against you and take your rights and distribute them unequally by giving them to the other parent. Are they supposed to do this? No, not without meeting some very strict legal triggers. Are those legal triggers usually present in divorce and child custody? No. Is this leading to a form of parental alienation? Yes. Isn’t this harm to the children? Yes. The courts claim that divorce is harmful to children and they want the parents and society to believe that the parents are to blame for the chaos and tragedies that happen in high-conflict divorces.

This post focuses on where the harm is really coming from and how it hides. What might possibly be leading up to a form of parental alienation happening more in divorce than in possibly any other time in a child’s life. Our theme, as in other posts, is what is the real root cause of this in divorce. Are we missing the root cause because everyone is so busy blaming the parents? What is being covered up by the courts and those that work within the courts and for the courts? This is not a conspiracy article.

Are parents that go through divorce more susceptible to being alienated by their child? Yes.

Why? Parents have less and less control over what their children are exposed to in divorce. It was already difficult for parents to be in control over what their child was exposed to in today’s society with Internet and smartphones. When you introduce the dynamics of today’s divorce and custody process that becomes even more difficult if not impossible. Divorce becomes a petri dish for parental alienation. Children before divorce that weren’t allowed to watch rated R movies, or go to someone’s house before you knew their parents, or were required to let you know their whereabouts after school, or weren’t allowed to have a boyfriend or girlfriend, are able to do all of these things now in divorce. You add to that that “Parenting prior to the 1920’s emphasized obedience, respect, and conformity. It used to be that the child had to earn the parent’s love and respect. Now it’s the parent who is supposed to earn the child’s love and respect. We also pay attention to what children think and feel far more than we ever did before.”[1] When you combine that shift in society and the court using government power to restrict a parent from parenting their own child, you have a recipe for the results that we are seeing in children today:

·         Parental alienation

·         Children getting into trouble more often in divorce situations

·         Crime

·         Mental health issues

If a parent attempts to continue to parent their child they become subject to being accused by the other parent’s attorney of interfering in the child’s life now, they run into school personnel that have been told lies about them and told things like the parent is overly controlling or bipolar or even told that parent is not to be allowed to be involved in the child’s school activities or be around the child while the child is in school. A parent that normally participated in the child’s school functions and ate lunch with the child might be told they are not allowed to do this anymore. I was told that “your child is getting to an age where they don’t want you at school eating lunch with them anymore, or helping with anything in their class. Yesterday, my son asked me to eat lunch with him at school, and talked about a parent that helps out in his science class every day! This is four years later and he will be starting high school next year. The schools are revered as the authority in this in divorce court. The parent is marginalized and nothing they say holds any weight. It doesn’t matter that they regularly participated with their child before the divorce. The court takes it upon themselves to decide that they know what is best and everyone else around knows better than the parent.

In divorce, a parent tries to continue to parent and participate with their child they are seen as defying the other parent who has been given the primary residential rights to the child. They are seen as defying the other parent’s attorney. They can even be seen as defying the court. If the school decides that a parent shouldn’t be there with the child or if the other parent’s attorney wants to claim that this is a violation of the court’s orders, or that it is inappropriate because it is not that parent’s allocated time to be with that child, the parent is threatened and blocked. It is disregarded that this is not interfering with the other parent’s time at all. The other isn’t with the child either. The other parent is at work. Who is thinking about the child now? The court? The school? This is what everyone that is supporting these courts is considering in the child’s best interest. Cutting a parent out of a child’s life that had been participating in the child’s life, and might possibly be the only parent that was participating in that child’s life during this time at school.

Q. Does this make parents more vulnerable to being rejected by their children? Yes, it gives them much more power. Also because of pop psychology they believe they have a bigger case against their parents if their lives don’t turn out well.”[2]Divorce makes parents more susceptible to being cut out of their children’s lives, not because of the divorce itself necessarily but because of the process and the dynamics created by that process in the family courts.

If a child complains about going to school or brushing their teeth or says they want to drink or drive a car before the legal age, they are denied those. But if a child says they don’t want to be with one of their parents they are supported, encouraged, and helped to cut that parent out.

A parent can complain that one parent is not there enough for the children in court and then make a request that the court cut that parent out of the children’s lives even more! It’s as if the courts do not think at all. If the complaint is the parent doesn’t spend enough time with the child, why would the court cut that parent out even more? Why would more restrictions be placed on that parent’s time with their child?

How might the child feel now? Certainly not the way the school interpreted it. This school is touted for winning awards and being a top notch education. Yet I experienced the worst attitude ever during one of the most trying times in mine and the children’s lives from this school. They told lies. They were closed, inappropriate, insensitive, and made statements that were misleading, naïve and destructive. Sound familiar? This happens to many parents from many schools in many states. This is made possible when courts let attorneys run the show and they entertain arguments that never rise to a legal cause of action, and are nothing more than a parent that wants to control the other parent, hurt the other parent, and get revenge on the other parent. They empower the parent to do this while this ultimately ends up punishing the children.

It’s the parent’s fault. The current view is that if the kid doesn’t turn out well, then the parent must have done something really wrong.”[3] It has been a common view of many courts that if the child doesn’t want to be with the parent then that parent must have does something really wrong.

“Well, sometimes that’s true, and sometimes it isn’t. Freud started this idea and many others have also blamed parents over the years.”[4] And in divorce now the children are susceptible to even more intense mental health dynamics like feeling responsible to side with one of their parents, many times being the parent that they feel they will lose if they don’t side with them, and many times with the parent that violates the orders more because they feel that since no one has made that parent follow orders siding against them will not change the results. I don’t even like discussing this issue of siding with one parent or the other because that is what I believe the root of this entire problem. Take away this siding crap and you lift the burdens from the children, you remove what facilitates the grounding and permanency of parental alienation, and you protect the children to being able to love and be with both parents. You also remove the fuel that causes emotional escalations. What a parent is fearful of losing their time with their child, when the most influential thing in the child’s life is time with that child, is control over equal time with that child. “However, current research shows that while parents are important, children are also hugely affected by peer group, genetics, neighborhood, siblings, socioeconomic level, and interaction with other adults.”[5] Therefore, it is safe to conclude that by eliminating a parent’s time with their child or even reducing their time to less than equal with the other parent, that parent is rendered less influential and has less ability to affect their child’s beliefs, values, morals, behaviors, and activity choices. Again, this cannot be in the child’s best interest. How can this not be a punishment to the parent and the child? By getting you to believe that they are making decisions in the best interest of your child. By getting you to believe that the court and everyone else is now superior to your right to make these determinations is where a parent will have failed.

“Divorce. Divorce can cause children to evaluate their parents more as individuals in terms of what they did or didn’t provide to the child, rather than as a parental unit. In addition, divorce provides the opportunity for the more troubled parent to poison the child against the healthier parent.”[6] Courts allowing children to be used. Courts using children. Courts expecting children to choose one parent over the other or give them information to help them choose one parent over the other are destroying parents’ abilities to develop and rear their children how they see fit.

In divorce, that has been completely flipped to the point where a child resisting a parent can become grounds for that parent being completely rendered helpless to do anything about it and completely cut out at the child’s discretion. The parent can no longer make rules that can be enforced. And sometimes simply making a rule allows a child to avoid it by refusing to be with that parent. The child no longer has the guidance, comfort and support of being parented by one of their parents. The child is now left to make their own decisions before they are biologically equipped to make good decisions.”[7]

Are these practices fooling experts and professionals into thinking that they are protecting children when they are really hurting them? Are these practices allowing courts to punish a parent when that parent did not warrant punishment under the laws of our country?

Perhaps we should let the statistics speak for themselves, to show that cutting a child out of a parent’s life and rendering them to one-parent homes is bad for our children and bad for society.

·         “84% of all non-custodial parents are the FATHERS (USDHHS)

·         63% of youth suicides are from…FATHERLESS HOMES ***5 Times the average***

·         90% of homeless and runaway children are from…FATHERLESS HOMES ***32 Times the average***

·         71% of all high school drop outs are from…FATHERLESSHOMES ***8 Times the average***

·         70% of youths in state operated institutions are from…FATHERLESS HOMES ***9 Times the average*** (US DOJ)

·         43% of US Children live…WITHOUT THEIR FATHERS (US Census)

·         71% of pregnant teenagers come from…FATHERLESS HOMES (USDHHS)of wedlock”

·         75% of adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers are from…FATHERLESS HOMES (Rainbows for all God’s Children)

·         85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from…FATHERLESSHOMES ***20 Time the average*** (Center for Disease Control)

·         80% of rapists with anger problems are from…FATHERLESS HOMES ***14 Times the average*** (Justice and Behavior)

·         85% of youth in prison come from…FATHERESS HOMES ***20 Times the average*** (Texas DOC)”[8]

Perhaps we should stop divorcing children from their parents in order to reduce this harm. One of my older daughters once said “When parents divorce, the children choose one parent over the other… The children divorce one of their parents.” Are children intuitive? Absolutely. Do they know what is expected of them by the courts? Absolutely. Do children make the best decisions for themselves in divorce? No. Are children supposed to be put in this position? No. Is it necessary to put the children in this position to protect them from child abuse in divorce court? No. Are divorce courts issuing orders that equate to punishment to the other parent when they restrict that other parent to their children? Yes. Are the courts technically allowed to call rendering one parent a visitor in a child’s life in the name of the best interest of the child without a proper trigger under the law? No.

What a huge burden the courts have placed on OUR children. They try to claim they are lifting the burdens by letting the children speak and then doing what the children want. When what they are really doing is teaching our children to be more defiant, to not trust their parents anymore, to feel that they can only rely on themselves, to feel alone, to blame their parent, and to turn on the parent that the court has turned on. The court had a duty to protect both parents’ rights from attack, from interference, and from the pressures of the other parent. When the court fails to do this, they fail to do what is best for the children, for the families, and for society. Many courts still deny that parental alienation exists. Do they deny it because they have caused it?

We are not saying that none of these children would have alienated their parents naturally as early adults through the natural course of natural development temporarily when they move away to college. “Estrangement as identity. Many adult children cut off their parents because they have no other way to establish their own feelings of autonomy and independence. They haven’t yet mastered how to feel close to the parent and not feel too influenced by him or her. This is especially true in those homes where there was a very close relationship between parent and child before the child moved out.”[9] This is not the same thing as court induced parental alienation. These are children that have parents the court has failed to protect equally. These are children that were made to feel uncomfortable and insecure by the court not allowing their parents to be secure and protected to made separate decisions away from the force and influence of the other parent. These are children that have been hurt and angered and stripped of the support of both of their parents. The children that are estranged naturally have cut their parent out for a time with love and not with hatred. We are saying that the type of parental alienation that divorce is causing is an extreme and artificially induced. We are saying that this is a type that causes mental health issues in both the parents and the children – anxiety, abandonment, shock, PTSD, fear, depression, hatred, confusion, insecurity, and even death. We are saying that the current court practices are at fault.

We post this today in recognition of parental alienation awareness day, April 25, 2013. This is close to my heart because two of my children remain alienated. They are adults and no laws can protect or prevent the harm that the court actions and lack of actions did to them.  

If we don’t start to realize that it is the family court process that is causing this harm to the children, it will continue, and more parents will look forward to a future without being a part of their children’s lives or their grandchildren’s lives. It is important to apply the cause properly so that the proper changes can be made to stop the harm and damage to the children and to their futures. It is the court behavior is forever negatively altering our children’s lives and restructuring the families in ways that cause them to cut one side of their family out. And it is this denial and blindness that allows this behavior and harm to continue.

Are parents that go through divorce more susceptible to being alienated by their child? Yes.
Why? Parents have less and less control over what their children are exposed to in divorce. It was already difficult for parents to be in control over what their child was exposed to in today’s society with Internet and smartphones. When you introduce the dynamics of today’s divorce and custody process that becomes even more difficult if not impossible. Divorce becomes a petri dish for parental alienation. Children before divorce that weren’t allowed to watch rated R movies, or go to someone’s house before you knew their parents, or were required to let you know their whereabouts after school, or weren’t allowed to have a boyfriend or girlfriend, are able to do all of these things now in divorce. You add to that that “Parenting prior to the 1920’s emphasized obedience, respect, and conformity. It used to be that the child had to earn the parent’s love and respect. Now it’s the parent who is supposed to earn the child’s love and respect. We also pay attention to what children think and feel far more than we ever did before.”[1] When you combine that shift in society and the court using government power to restrict a parent from parenting their own child, you have a recipe for the results that we are seeing in children today:
·         Parental alienation
·         Children getting into trouble more often in divorce situations
·         Crime
·         Mental health issues
If a parent attempts to continue to parent their child they become subject to being accused by the other parent’s attorney of interfering in the child’s life now, they run into school personnel that have been told lies about them and told things like the parent is overly controlling or bipolar or even told that parent is not to be allowed to be involved in the child’s school activities or be around the child while the child is in school. A parent that normally participated in the child’s school functions and ate lunch with the child might be told they are not allowed to do this anymore. I was told that “your child is getting to an age where they don’t want you at school eating lunch with them anymore, or helping with anything in their class. Yesterday, my son asked me to eat lunch with him at school, and talked about a parent that helps out in his science class every day! This is four years later and he will be starting high school next year. The schools are revered as the authority in this in divorce court. The parent is marginalized and nothing they say holds any weight. It doesn’t matter that they regularly participated with their child before the divorce. The court takes it upon themselves to decide that they know what is best and everyone else around knows better than the parent.
In divorce, a parent tries to continue to parent and participate with their child they are seen as defying the other parent who has been given the primary residential rights to the child. They are seen as defying the other parent’s attorney. They can even be seen as defying the court. If the school decides that a parent shouldn’t be there with the child or if the other parent’s attorney wants to claim that this is a violation of the court’s orders, or that it is inappropriate because it is not that parent’s allocated time to be with that child, the parent is threatened and blocked. It is disregarded that this is not interfering with the other parent’s time at all. The other isn’t with the child either. The other parent is at work. Who is thinking about the child now? The court? The school? This is what everyone that is supporting these courts is considering in the child’s best interest. Cutting a parent out of a child’s life that had been participating in the child’s life, and might possibly be the only parent that was participating in that child’s life during this time at school.
Q. Does this make parents more vulnerable to being rejected by their children? Yes, it gives them much more power. Also because of pop psychology they believe they have a bigger case against their parents if their lives don’t turn out well.”[2] Divorce makes parents more susceptible to being cut out of their children’s lives, not because of the divorce itself necessarily but because of the process and the dynamics created by that process in the family courts.
If a child complains about going to school or brushing their teeth or says they want to drink or drive a car before the legal age, they are denied those. But if a child says they don’t want to be with one of their parents they are supported, encouraged, and helped to cut that parent out.
A parent can complain that one parent is not there enough for the children in court and then make a request that the court cut that parent out of the children’s lives even more! It’s as if the courts do not think at all. If the complaint is the parent doesn’t spend enough time with the child, why would the court cut that parent out even more? Why would more restrictions be placed on that parent’s time with their child?
How might the child feel now? Certainly not the way the school interpreted it. This school is touted for winning awards and being a top notch education. Yet I experienced the worst attitude ever during one of the most trying times in mine and the children’s lives from this school. They told lies. They were closed, inappropriate, insensitive, and made statements that were misleading, naïve and destructive. Sound familiar? This happens to many parents from many schools in many states. This is made possible when courts let attorneys run the show and they entertain arguments that never rise to a legal cause of action, and are nothing more than a parent that wants to control the other parent, hurt the other parent, and get revenge on the other parent. They empower the parent to do this while this ultimately ends up punishing the children.
It’s the parent’s fault. The current view is that if the kid doesn’t turn out well, then the parent must have done something really wrong.”[3] It has been a common view of many courts that if the child doesn’t want to be with the parent then that parent must have does something really wrong.
“Well, sometimes that’s true, and sometimes it isn’t. Freud started this idea and many others have also blamed parents over the years.”[4] And in divorce now the children are susceptible to even more intense mental health dynamics like feeling responsible to side with one of their parents, many times being the parent that they feel they will lose if they don’t side with them, and many times with the parent that violates the orders more because they feel that since no one has made that parent follow orders siding against them will not change the results. I don’t even like discussing this issue of siding with one parent or the other because that is what I believe the root of this entire problem. Take away this siding crap and you lift the burdens from the children, you remove what facilitates the grounding and permanency of parental alienation, and you protect the children to being able to love and be with both parents. You also remove the fuel that causes emotional escalations. What a parent is fearful of losing their time with their child, when the most influential thing in the child’s life is time with that child, is control over equal time with that child. “However, current research shows that while parents are important, children are also hugely affected by peer group, genetics, neighborhood, siblings, socioeconomic level, and interaction with other adults.”[5] Therefore, it is safe to conclude that by eliminating a parent’s time with their child or even reducing their time to less than equal with the other parent, that parent is rendered less influential and has less ability to affect their child’s beliefs, values, morals, behaviors, and activity choices. Again, this cannot be in the child’s best interest. How can this not be a punishment to the parent and the child? By getting you to believe that they are making decisions in the best interest of your child. By getting you to believe that the court and everyone else is now superior to your right to make these determinations is where a parent will have failed.
“Divorce. Divorce can cause children to evaluate their parents more as individuals in terms of what they did or didn’t provide to the child, rather than as a parental unit. In addition, divorce provides the opportunity for the more troubled parent to poison the child against the healthier parent.”[6] Courts allowing children to be used. Courts using children. Courts expecting children to choose one parent over the other or give them information to help them choose one parent over the other are destroying parents’ abilities to develop and rear their children how they see fit.
In divorce, that has been completely flipped to the point where a child resisting a parent can become grounds for that parent being completely rendered helpless to do anything about it and completely cut out at the child’s discretion. The parent can no longer make rules that can be enforced. And sometimes simply making a rule allows a child to avoid it by refusing to be with that parent. The child no longer has the guidance, comfort and support of being parented by one of their parents. The child is now left to make their own decisions before they are biologically equipped to make good decisions.”[7]
Are these practices fooling experts and professionals into thinking that they are protecting children when they are really hurting them? Are these practices allowing courts to punish a parent when that parent did not warrant punishment under the laws of our country?
Perhaps we should let the statistics speak for themselves, to show that cutting a child out of a parent’s life and rendering them to one-parent homes is bad for our children and bad for society.
·         “84% of all non-custodial parents are the FATHERS (USDHHS)
·         63% of youth suicides are from…FATHERLESS HOMES ***5 Times the average***
·         90% of homeless and runaway children are from…FATHERLESS HOMES ***32 Times the average***
·         71% of all high school drop outs are from…FATHERLESSHOMES ***8 Times the average***
·         70% of youths in state operated institutions are from…FATHERLESS HOMES ***9 Times the average*** (US DOJ)
·         43% of US Children live…WITHOUT THEIR FATHERS (US Census)
·         71% of pregnant teenagers come from…FATHERLESS HOMES (USDHHS)of wedlock”
·         75% of adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers are from…FATHERLESS HOMES (Rainbows for all God’s Children)
·         85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from…FATHERLESSHOMES ***20 Time the average*** (Center for Disease Control)
·         80% of rapists with anger problems are from…FATHERLESS HOMES ***14 Times the average*** (Justice and Behavior)
·         85% of youth in prison come from…FATHERESS HOMES ***20 Times the average*** (Texas DOC)”[8]
Perhaps we should stop divorcing children from their parents in order to reduce this harm. One of my older daughters once said “When parents divorce, the children choose one parent over the other… The children divorce one of their parents.” Are children intuitive? Absolutely. Do they know what is expected of them by the courts? Absolutely. Do children make the best decisions for themselves in divorce? No. Are children supposed to be put in this position? No. Is it necessary to put the children in this position to protect them from child abuse in divorce court? No. Are divorce courts issuing orders that equate to punishment to the other parent when they restrict that other parent to their children? Yes. Are the courts technically allowed to call rendering one parent a visitor in a child’s life in the name of the best interest of the child without a proper trigger under the law? No.
What a huge burden the courts have placed on OUR children. They try to claim they are lifting the burdens by letting the children speak and then doing what the children want. When what they are really doing is teaching our children to be more defiant, to not trust their parents anymore, to feel that they can only rely on themselves, to feel alone, to blame their parent, and to turn on the parent that the court has turned on. The court had a duty to protect both parents’ rights from attack, from interference, and from the pressures of the other parent. When the court fails to do this, they fail to do what is best for the children, for the families, and for society. Many courts still deny that parental alienation exists. Do they deny it because they have caused it?
We are not saying that none of these children would have alienated their parents naturally as early adults through the natural course of natural development temporarily when they move away to college. “Estrangement as identity. Many adult children cut off their parents because they have no other way to establish their own feelings of autonomy and independence. They haven’t yet mastered how to feel close to the parent and not feel too influenced by him or her. This is especially true in those homes where there was a very close relationship between parent and child before the child moved out.”[9] This is not the same thing as court induced parental alienation. These are children that have parents the court has failed to protect equally. These are children that were made to feel uncomfortable and insecure by the court not allowing their parents to be secure and protected to made separate decisions away from the force and influence of the other parent. These are children that have been hurt and angered and stripped of the support of both of their parents. The children that are estranged naturally have cut their parent out for a time with love and not with hatred. We are saying that the type of parental alienation that divorce is causing is an extreme and artificially induced. We are saying that this is a type that causes mental health issues in both the parents and the children – anxiety, abandonment, shock, PTSD, fear, depression, hatred, confusion, insecurity, and even death. We are saying that the current court practices are at fault.
We post this today in recognition of parental alienation awareness day, April 25, 2013. This is close to my heart because two of my children remain alienated. They are adults and no laws can protect or prevent the harm that the court actions and lack of actions did to them.
If we don’t start to realize that it is the family court process that is causing this harm to the children, it will continue, and more parents will look forward to a future without being a part of their children’s lives or their grandchildren’s lives. It is important to apply the cause properly so that the proper changes can be made to stop the harm and damage to the children and to their futures. It is the court behavior is forever negatively altering our children’s lives and restructuring the families in ways that cause them to cut one side of their family out. And it is this denial and blindness that allows this behavior and harm to continue.

[1] Coleman, Joshua, Ph.D., “Helping Parents Heal” blog post. http://www.drjoshuacoleman.com/books/helping-parents-heal/ accesed on April 25, 2013.

[2] Coleman, Joshua, Ph.D., “Helping Parents Heal” blog post. http://www.drjoshuacoleman.com/books/helping-parents-heal/ accesed on April 25, 2013.

[3] Coleman, Joshua, Ph.D., “Helping Parents Heal” blog post. http://www.drjoshuacoleman.com/books/helping-parents-heal/ accesed on April 25, 2013.

[4] Coleman, Joshua, Ph.D., “Helping Parents Heal” blog post. http://www.drjoshuacoleman.com/books/helping-parents-heal/ accesed on April 25, 2013.

[5] Coleman, Joshua, Ph.D., “Helping Parents Heal” blog post. http://www.drjoshuacoleman.com/books/helping-parents-heal/ accesed on April 25, 2013.

[6] Coleman, Joshua, Ph.D., “Helping Parents Heal” blog post. http://www.drjoshuacoleman.com/books/helping-parents-heal/ accesed on April 25, 2013.

[7] Childress, Craig, Psy, D., Meaning Construction, The Developing Brain and Parental Alienation. 2011.

[8] “Fatherless Facts and Statistics on our Children as a result of Divorce or Separation.” Fathers 4 Justice, Donald Tenn, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pS6uT6Uu92o&feature=share&list=UUevyfQ4qQ-jR0a4Klu-KJgw accessed on April 25, 2013.

[9] Coleman, Joshua, Ph.D., “Helping Parents Heal” blog post. http://www.drjoshuacoleman.com/books/helping-parents-heal/ accesed on April 25, 2013.