Just spoke with a Dad yesterday who spent three months incarcerated for something that was a simple procedural issue. (That’s a separate issue.) Despite his incarceration, he declined to have the mother put in jail when she violated the orders. To this day however she has continued to interfere with his and his children’s ability to freely associate. The children have had to use extraordinary measures just to communicate with their father, they are kept from having their father in their activities and they are not encouraged to have a relationship with him. My recommendation for parents faced with this dilemma in the future, when faced with the choice of whether to have the other parent thrown in jail for violations that the court finds them guilty, if you feel the need to give them another chance at following orders, request that the court suspend the sentence. This allows you to show compassion while at the same time keeps the other parent on notice. And if they choose to flip their nose at the court’s orders again, you won’t have as great a hurdle to get the court to take action and your children won’t have to suffer as long.
If you let this behavior go on for too long, the children are at risk of adapting to the situation and turning on you—alienating you, and acting out against you. This is how children resolve the situation on their own when it gets too stressful for them to continue to associate with you. And that resolution usually is to cut you out. It becomes easier on them to not have to deal with the poison coming from the other parent. They find that not having you in their life and hiding the hurt that this causes them is easier for them, then dealing with the other parent’s hate and anger towards you. The way the kids see it, you haven’t been able to make this stop and therefore they learn to adapt to their environment so they can get along and survive. This is also why it is so important that children have equal time with each parent. When there is one parent that is bitter and controlling, the children need a break and need to be able to have assurance that neither parent has the ability to interfere with the other parent’s time. This Dad’s children wouldn’t be as upset about the mother and the mother wouldn’t have as much ability to keep the Dad un-informed about their activities if he was an equal parent with equal parenting time. You won’t be able to stop the other parent’s behaviors but you can make it so that their behavior has less impact on you and your children’s equal relationship.
So, do yourself and your children a favor, when you enforce orders make it meaningful for you and your children. The court will take you more seriously as well and you might find standing your ground on this will lead to less litigation. And, after all, weren’t the orders made “in the best interest of the child?”