Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy Holidays!

As the holidays fast approach, many of you who subscribe to this page and related sites, will not see your children this season. Those of you who do, may only see them briefly or perhaps under awkward circumstances. Those remaining who, to the untrained eye, may appear to enjoy more normal contact with your once alienated children, may see signs of the trauma and distortion of thinking that often remains the artifact of parental alienation. Finally, there are probably some of you who have watched your children go through all of these phases, and somehow come out the other end, effected in ways but no longer damaged.

The message I wish to convey is that regardless of where you and your children are in this progression, it is a progression. It is always moving and changing, even in spite of appearances to the contrary. With movement there is life and there is hope.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lawyers and Parental Alienation

The more I have learned about the law and its practice within the Family Court setting, the more I am struck by how most (not all) Family Lawyers can be found in two groups. The first group are the lawyers who obviously did well in law school, clearly know the law, and understand the rules and their application. These lawyers are the ones who are most often flabbergasted by how the practice of Family Law is littered with violations of the rules and even statutes. It is like this group of lawyers are offended by the violations of the sacred rules, but have difficulty getting past that, saying often, "that was not supposed to happen," and then leaving the courthouse in disgust.

The second group of lawyers are composed of those who probably took the Bar Exam more than once, did not finish at the top of their classes and probably utilized all of the study guide short cuts (legal and illegal) available to them. These lawyers are not so troubled by the Rules of Evidence and Procedural Law, and are very comfortable in their abasement. These lawyers see such rules more as guidelines than rules and act accordingly. These lawyers will draft Motions and Pleading that do not follow the proper formulas, and lean instead towards hyperbole and accusations about the other party, albeit without any factual basis. This does not seem to trouble them either. This second group of lawyers can be a serious problem in cases where Parental Alienation are present. These lawyers will violate their ethical code as officers of the court and allege incidents that they know did not occur. They will lie freely and without compunction. I believe that they got this way because they get away with it more often than not. While these lawyers are devoid of ethical foundation, they are sometimes very good story tellers. Within the context of Family Court, this storytelling skill is very important and can create great difficulty when used improperly.

The rare find is the lawyer who belongs to the first group, but who also understands that the other side will violate every rule imaginable if allowed. These lawyers see it as being part of their job to prevent the other lawyer as well as the Judge from violating the Rules and the Law. These lawyers will take on the other lawyer in terms of their improper conduct as well as will then take on a Judge who is not doing their job. These lawyers understand that part of their role is to be a watchdog, keeping an eye on both the other lawyer as well as the Judge. They are willing to be perceived and difficult in order to represent their client's interest In the social reality of the Family Court culture, this is however, the rare lawyer. The other quality that they have they share with their more lazy and slovenly colleagues in the second group. That is, they are good at telling succinct stories, quickly and with conviction. These lawyers realize that their job is to get the Judge to identify with their client's situation. These lawyers realize that it is their job to get the Judge to feel what it feels like to be falsely accused and have your children taken from you. Finally, these lawyers prepare and give great thought to their presentations. They work at length with their clients and witnesses regarding their testimony and think about such things as the order of testimony and the unfolding of the story.

So here is is. These are the ingredients of the lawyer you are looking for:
1. The lawyer must know the law and the rules and be willing to fight for their enforcement.
2. They prepare excessively, and include the client in all of this preparation.
3. Finally, they are good story tellers, and they understand the importance of the story.

Good Luck!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Parenting with Parental Alienation

Parenting, when Parental Alienation is present, requires super-human strengths and the patience of Job. Parenting under the best of circumstances, is challenging. It creates the greatest joys of life as well as its deepest agonies. It is, to say the least, challenging. When you add Parental Alienation into the mix, the word “challenging” becomes pale and weak.

When children are in the midst of an alienating environment, they must somehow stay in the good graces of the alienating parent and still survive being in the middle. The result is behavior that becomes distorted, bizarre, angry, depressive, defiant and even threatening. Under these circumstances, effective parenting is more than challenging. It becomes almost super-human.

This three part Course, Parenting with Parental Alienation, addresses these specific challenges with specific tools and strategies.
• The first course,an Overview provides a roadmap or a template to understand the “whys and wherefores” of parenting.
• The second course, Dealing with Difficult Behavior is, as the title suggests, focuses on absorbing and deflecting the behavioral challenges of the alienated child.
• The third segment, Teaching Your Children to Think for Themselves, focuses on helping the alienated child begin to separate from their enmeshed parent, and to see themselves as being a separate and independent person.

These three, one hour audio courses are only the beginning of much more in the way of evidence based strategies that work.

I hope that you find these courses to be of help. As always, I invite feedback and suggestion.


J Michael Bone, PhD

Monday, September 27, 2010

Being a War Veteran Does Not Make You an Expert on War

Let me say that again. Being a veteran of a war does not make one an expert on war. By that I mean this. The war veteran is an absolute expert on his or her experience with the war in which they found themselves, but this experience alone does not equip them to teach at, say The War College. Likewise, ones personal experience with parental alienation, as tragic as it may legitimately be does not - by virtue of that personal experience alone - qualify one to serve in an expert capacity for other peoples cases. Expertise to do this should be grounded in a combination of deep academic experience, research experience, clinical experience "in the trenches" as they say, with many many families in a variety of circumstances, as well as with professional experience in a more general sense in order to place all of these specific experiences in a broader context.

But, you say, what about all of the support groups, websites, etc offering support and advice? Are they not legitimate? Of course they are, and I applaud the wonderful work and support that they provide, and this is not what I am referring to at all. I am a supporter of a great many of them, and hold them in the highest regard. They are wonderful sources of education and validation of the experience of alienation, and enough cannot be said about how profoundly valuable these efforts are. The distinction I wish to make is the distinction between support and education, and the giving of specific strategic advice - which is based in mental health or legalistic principles - to individuals in their cases, and doing so for a fee.

I hear stories from time to time that make me cringe as I hear of the specific advice that has been handed out to a client under these circumstances that was obviously based more on that advisor's own personal experience with parental alienation, than it is based on the facts and factors of the client's specific case. It is important to understand that, while the phenomenon of parental alienation is indeed very patterned, that it also is individually nuanced. One size does not fit all. The best advice I can give is to kick the tires of any potential advisor. Find out about the depth of their academic background, the depth of their experience in dealing with parental alienation, as well as the depth of their experience in dealing with families where parental alienation is not present. Both categories should be significant. Find out about the number of cases in which they have been involved and ask for references. In my experience, parents who have experienced parental alienation are very often inspired to help others and will not be put off by being listed as a reference. Finally, find out how versed they are in the legal system, assuming they are not a lawyer. If their advice comes from more of a mental health perspective, find out what expertise, training and background they have in the mental health field, both related to parental alienation and not related to parental alienation.

None of the questions suggested here should put off anyone you are considering becoming involved in your case. They are reasonable and completely justifiable, and should not ruffle feathers. If feathers do get ruffled however, perhaps the wind is blowing in the wrong direction. Take care.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Persuasive Rhetoric: The Tool of Choice for the Alienating Parent

Persuasive Rhetoric refers to using language in an emotionally laden manner with the purpose of convincing the audience of some particular perspective. Persuasive Rhetoric is a tool for selling ideas, beliefs and positions on a given topic or subject. It is unrelated to truth. It only refers to the spin, the story and the goal of winning over the audience. Nothing in the message requires truth.

In the case of Parental Alienation, this concept is useful in that it describes a favorite modus operandi that the alienating parent uses to vilify the targeted parent. In this context, the alienating parent will allege something either entirely untrue or grossly distorted regarding the targeted parent. It is done with such emotion and tenacity, that the audience is typically drawn into its message. Then the alienating parent does the same thing with another listener. Now there is a group of three who all believe the same either untrue or grossly distorted thing. There are now three voices in this chorus, and the intensity level tends to increase with the volume and the numbers of those involved. Then someone in this group of three relates this to another person, who questions it but is told that several other people told them the same thing, so it must be true. This new "convert" to the distortion then unwittingly spreads the distortion to someone else, and to someone else, and to someone else.

Rightly or wrongly, we humans do tend to be herd animals. Due to our wiring and our evolution, when the herd is exposed to some message that is potentially dangerous or at least negative, we do tend to give it extra weight, and then pass it on. This is a self protective reflex that is easily exploited by the alienating parent in their mission to obliterate the targeted parent.

Socrates, the story goes, is approached by a man who wants to tell him some urgent news. Before he does this, Socrates stops him and says he would first like to ask him three questions before he tells his story. The man agrees. The first question is, "do you know the person to whom this news occurred?" Answer: "No, but I know someone who does know them. " Question two: "did you witness the event yourself?" Answer: "No, but I spoke to someone who was there." Question Three: " Is the news good or bad?" Answer: "It would be considered bad news." Socrates reviews accordingly, "You do not know the person to whom this happened, you only heard about it from someone who says they were there, and it is bad news. Thank you, but I think I would rather not listen to this news."

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dealing with Worry and Danger

Have you ever wondered why it is that after you tell yourself not to worry about something, or not to think of something that is painful, that you still find yourself worrying, and still find yourself thinking about the negative thing that you have no control over? Ninety-nine percent of the population will identify with this question and this experience. It is normal. Now insert the reality of an alienated child and a former spouse who places this child in the middle, and it is easy to see how this very human proclivity to worry and perhaps even dwell at times on the negatives of life, hits warp speed with the realities of loosing a child to parental alienation. It is like the realities of parental alienation takes this otherwise normal human foible, and blows it up into becoming the theme of one's life.

There are very sound reasons to explain why we are vulnerable to worry and may tend to even focus more on the negative than the positive. The reasons have to do with how we are hard wired, that is, how our brains are wired and how they have evolved over the centuries. We do have certain hard wired biases that have helped us to survive but also have created this vulnerability to be on the lookout for the negative. Add to that the unprecedented explosion of information technology within only the last generation, and it becomes easy to see how this informational excess, layered on top of this neurologically grounded vigilance, further drives us to warp speed, just trying to keep up. Again, then insert the alienated child into this maelstrom, with the themes of being falsely accused of things you never did, nor would ever do, and being treated as a criminal by relative strangers who perhaps used to be friends, and it is all the easier to see how being a targeted parent is such a challenge.

One good thing about we humans is, however that we are very adaptable. Human beings are about the only creatures (other than perhaps cockroaches I am told) who have successfully adapted to virtually all climates and environments known to this planet. Not only have we adapted, but even in the harshest environments, we call these extreme places home. We are very adaptable indeed. Likewise, I believe that parents who identify with the label of "targeted parent" of the parental alienation variety, can also learn to respond to the cruelties of parental alienation in ways that bring light back into their own lives, and that increase the chances of reconnection.

More to come.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Resiliency and the Targeted Parent

In my recent presentation at the PAS (SAP in spanish) in Spain, I began sketching out the foundation of what I believe will be a very helpful set of coping strategies designed specifically for for targeted parents. Targeted parents, after all, live in perpetual states of reactiveness. The Targeted Parent is chronically left to respond to attacks, accusations, provocations and various slanders of all descriptions by various accusers. This enormously difficult psychological environment is a recipe for the development of either acting out behaviors and/or depression. In the psychological literature we refer to this as an "external locus of control" whereby the individual is left to simply react to whatever may be the next incoming volly of accusations. I remarked in an earlier blog that it is much easier to throw missles than to catch them, and the Targeted Parent is in the perpetual position to be always having to catch them. At least this is what it feels like, and this is what an "external locus of control" feels like. In past studies focused on this perspective, what was found to have happened to these individuals who were depressed and whose sense of control was external to them, was that when their depressive symptoms had abated, what had actually happened was that their perceived locus of control had become internalized. Their "locus of control" had moved from being external to being internal. In other words, they had found ways to refocus their sense of control and attention to things that were within their control. In cases of prisioners of war, we find that the most resilient prisioners were also able to accomplish this. The classic movie The Great Escape provides repetitive examples of this. The character played by Steve McQueen survives unbelievable periods of isolation in the Cooler by throwing a baseball in a repetitive manner, obviously taking him to a different experiential place. When Ruben Carter, the former prizefighter was falsely imprisoned for murder, he chose to be awake at night and sleep during the day, symbolizing not only his protest but also his refusal to be in that place. What these resilient examples reveal is the importance of finding avenues of control, often in very creative ways, that then protects one from giving in to the depths of depression or to the depravity of violence. This is no small feat. Like many things in life, it is simple, but not easy.

The compilation of strategies which I am compiling are not exotic or particularly secret, but when placed within an understanding of their power, they can be just that, quite powerful. Therefore, rather than just providing a list of these Intentional Behaviors, I think it is vital to set the stage, so to speak, so as to make it clear and indelible why they are so important. Therefore, the first part of this newly developed course is devoted to just that. I will address why, as humans, we have become so vulnerable to the things that Targeted Parents live on a daily basis. This vulnerability can be traced down to the brain and its structure and development. It is literally in our DNA. That said, we still have the power to overcome this bias with the right tools.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

PAS Congress in Spain

I have just finished my involvement with the Second International Congress on Parental Alienation Syndrome (SAP in Spanish) in Alcala de Henares, just outside of Madrid. I spoke at the conference as did Jayne Major, as did the imminent German Psychiatrist Wilfred Von Boch-Galhau. Also present as a presenter was well known Spanish Psychiatrist, Jose Miguel Gaona. There were also many prominent Spanish psychologists such as Jose Manuel Aguilar Cuenca and Asuncion Tejedor Huerta, and just about every other Spanish authority on the alienation of children. Also in attendance were two very supportive Judges, the national President of the Spanish Family lawyers, as well as investigators, attorneys, psychologists, and parents. The meeting was organized by Juan Carlos Presa Periera, who is the President of the Association for the Rights of Children. While I have attended many such meetings, I do not believe that I have attended any where the level of enthusiasm and commitment to improve the situation of children caught in the middle, leading often to their alienation, was so great.

As I became more familiar with the issues in Spain, I was astounded to learn that a situation exists in Spain where fathers are in great jeopardy not only of loosing their children, should they divorce, but are also in jeopardy of loosing their freedom. Currently in Spain, under the authority of the Ministry of Equality, any woman or child who accuses the husband/father of abusing them, I any way, ranging from name calling to physical abuse to sexual assault, will result in the automatic and immediate arrest of the accused man, with absolutely no proof being necessary. Consequently, it is common in contested divorce situations for a father to arrive at the home of the mother to pick up the child for visitation, to be met by a law enforcement officer, due to the mother having called in some false accusation of abuse. Under the current law, the officer has no choice but to arrest the accused father. I was told that it was common for fathers to go to pick up their children, with a packed bag so as to accommodate the weekend stay in jail. This is no joke! This is really happening. I know that this sounds suspect. I wondered about this too. However, the more I looked into it the more I found it to be true. During the weekend of this meeting a man who had been held in jail for 14 months was finally released after it was determined that there was absolutely no evidence for the crime that he was jailed for. His former wife had made a claim of his having assaulted her, and he was arrested. Period. In the 14 months he was false incarcerated he lost his job and his home.

Perhaps it should not be a surprise that there has been an increase in suicide amongst this population of men, which there has. Imagine being accused of doing something which you did not do, being arrested for it, being forced to leave your house, which you must still pay for, and then loosing your access to your child. As if this is not enough, if you stay in jail long enough, you probably will lose your job. It is not difficult to imagine that this set of circumstances could not cause one to loose all hope.

I plan to look more into this situation. From what I see now, I believe that this deserves international attention.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Criticisms of Parental Alienation Exposed

Recently, there has been a increase in negative and unfounded criticisms of parental alienation. In these criticisms, parental alienation is typically referred to as being "junk science" or as a shield for abusers of their own children. Neither is accurate nor founded on any responsible scientific principal.

The scientific basis for parental alienation is wide and deep. The phenomenon of one parent influencing the child against the other parent is familiar to all involved in the field of psychology as well as in Family Law. To argue that this is without foundation is preposterous. In fact virtually all states have statutory language that identifies the negative influences of one parent onto the child regarding the other parent (parental alienation) as a reason to favor the targeted parent in consideration for custody. Additionally, there are literally hundreds of peer reviewed articles that are premised on the phenomenon of parental alienation. Additionally, the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) has devoted its entire annual meeting specifically to parental alienation.

Secondly, it is well established in the literature that if real abuse is present on the part of the unfavored parent, that parental alienation cannot be diagnosed. Period. There is no debate about this.

it is difficult for me to grasp where this unfounded criticism is coming from and why. It is like arguing that the earth is flat.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Proving Parental Alienation

I frequently get the question, "How do you prove parental alienation in Court?" My response is that, luckily, you do not have to prove it, you just have to get the Judge to believe that it is present. By this, I do not mean that your job is to falsely convince the Judge of anything, but that absolute proof of such a thing is not necessary. There are many a judge who "get it" based on how the case is presented and how the various players impact the judge. If the combination is right, the Judge will most likely "get" that parental alienation is present and hopefully will rule accordingly. Given the special circumstances of Family Court, the Judge has immense discretion in his or her ruling, so getting the Judge to believe vs having to prove is less difficult. That said, it is no easy matter.

I often receive email requests asking for the name of an expert in a given area. I typically respond that an expert is only part of the presentation - an important one - but only part. What is needed is a carefully and thoroughly planned strategy wherein the expert is a portion of the plan, who typically ties up the loose ends of the testimony and gives specific meaning to what the fact witnesses have described; but it is not the end all and be all. I have seen too many disasters where this reality was not adequately recognized.

In my effort to educate parents to these difficult lessons and issues, I have created a course on Family Court that I believe is filled with helpful information. To access that, just CLICK HERE. I believe that this information can be crucial to your outcome.

Again, my mission is to get this sort of information to you before you learn it the hard way. I hope that this is helpful.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Education, Education and Education

As you may already know, a big focus of my work within the last few years has been that of education. I have found that most parents learn of the minefields and trip wires of parental alienation only after they have been stumbled upon and have exploded. For example, an "explosion" might be when a parent learns that the truth will not automatically "come out" in their case, and that how it is presented is critically important. An explosion may be when a parent learns that the court's schedule is treated with more importance than the case it is supposed to hear. Another such explosion may be when a parent learns that it does not really matter if the false allegation about them is never proven, but that the Judge only has to believe it, in order to prevent them from seeing their children. These explosions, or miscarriages are typically met with a sense of shock and surprise, even from your own lawyer, because it is not "supposed" to work that way. But as any "seasoned" targeted parent will tell you, these explosions are more often the rule than the exception in cases where parental alienation is present. But again, these horrible lessons are typically learned only after the damage is done.

I want to change that. My goal is to educate those parents who find themselves in these situations by giving them specific tools and ways of thinking about the "system" that forearms them, and gives them them a far better chance of hatching a more reasonable and happy outcome for themselves and their family. It is within this spirit that I wish to draw attention to the various audio courses and informational papers found on my associated website, Click here While a good amount of this information is offered without charge, some items are for purchase. The courses and papers for purchase have been specifically created with the above goals in mind, such that the only way that I can devote the time necessary for their creation is to charge for them.

Finally, as with any information that is found on my website or its related links, I earnestly invite your feedback and suggestions. It is only through your experience - tragic as it may be at times - that any of this has any meaning at all.

Thank You,

J Michael Bone, PhD

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Dealing with Alienation and Keeping your Sanity

I was sitting in the waiting room of my doctor's office reading an article is some magazine that I normally would not have been reading. An article caught my eye in which the author was making the observation that the half dozen men he was writing about in the article - all very successful - shared one common characteristic: none were cynical. Being an occasional cynic myself, this troubled me. Then I began to think of all of the Parental Alienated parents with whom I have known for all of these years, and it occurred to me that those who somehow found success in the mine field of parental alienation in fact did not appear to be cynical. Maybe this guy was right. Then I thought about how difficult it would be to not become cynical after being told that you are hated by your children, that you must pay for all sorts of services that never seem to make things better, and that the people who are charged with finding the truth and acting in the best interest of (your) children do not really seem to be acting that way at all.

Related to this, I recently spoke with a father who had clearly been the target of parental alienation. He had three children, all of whom have become alienated from the mild to the moderate to the severe levels. His eyes were wide open to the fact that those appointed by the court seemed to get what was going on, but would not step up and do what was necessary to fix it. He approached this like a problem to be solved more than the overwhelming and even hopeless tidal wave that it can so easily and often feel like. He somehow never became cynical about it. At any rate, when I spoke with him on the phone I asked him how things were going, and he replied that it was both good and bad. He had good days with his kids and bad days with them. As an example, he pointed out that as I was speaking with him at that moment that he was standing in a lift line with his children and that they were skiing. By contrast, he pointed out that one of these same children had called the police on him the week before. He said that, "its good today," so I am thankful of that. He added, "last week was last week'" and laughed.

I had an anthropology professor in graduate school who had lived for many years with pre-literate peoples, in New Guinea as well as in the Arctic. In both of these cultures, life was very tough and tragedy was potentially close at hand at any moment. One of the things this professor would lecture and write about was the remarkable world view and philosophy of these people in these very difficult situations. They knew from their earliest moments that life was not fair and that bad things very often do happen to good people, and that this is just the way it was. I am not sure why that seems significant here, but it does. I guess cynicism results from feeling victimized. From what I recall from my professor, these primitive peoples who lived in these harsh and difficult environments never seemed to feel that way. It is just the way that life worked...they would say.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Reaction to Jenny Sanford's book and interview

I am curious to see if my reaction to what I recently heard on the radio is just me. I was driving home the other night and was listening to NPR in the car. Jenny Sanford, the soon to be former wife of the South Carolina Governor, Mark Sanford was being interviewed about her new book. It is an autobiographical account of her husbands failure of judgment when he had an affair with a woman from Argentina and secretly left his watch as Governor and went to Argentina to see her. I had read about all of this in the newspapers and recall shaking my head when I read it then. What I heard on the radio interview with Jenny Sanford was her description of how she handled this when she found out about it. It turns out that the Sanfords have four sons. Upon realizing what her husband had done, she assembled the four boys and told them about their father's affair and his related lies. From her description, as she read the passage from the book, she essentially presented it to them as their father's affair being not only a betrayal of her as their mother but also a betrayal of them as his sons.

My reaction was twofold. First, I would strongly suspect that the way that this information was presented to the four sons would have a significantly alienating effect on them and create an environment in which their not feeling personally betrayed by their father's actions, would be a betrayal of their mother. I then thought about how this message essentially conveyed to them that their father's actions - as regrettable and terrible as it was - would be internalized by them as evidence of their father not loving them. Regardless if this is true or not, I was thinking about this not being a helpful message to be sending to these boys: that they were not loved by their father. I believe that Jenny Sanford believed this to be the case, but why would she want her boys to believe this? Would it not be better for them to believe that their father had a horrible failure of judgment, and that in spite of this tragic error - which it clearly was - their father still loved them?

What do you think?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Success in Court

I regularly receive requests for help from parents who find themselves in the throes of parental alienation. Very often, the parent calling will have educated themselves to some degree about the phenomenon, and then call me with a specific request for something that they feel will help their situation. I recently got a call from a father who wanted me to review some documents and then write an affidavit which he could submit to the court as evidence that these documents revealed parental alienation. While his thinking was accurate about realizing the importance of having the court understand what had happened to his children, his method of educating the court, an affidavit from me about parental alienation in his case, would have been unsuccessful had I agreed to provide this service. I pointed out to him that when a child has become alienated to the degree that they say that they never want to see that parent again, a powerful case strategy is what is needed, and an affidavit by myself or anyone else would simply not work.

I believe that it is important to understand that when a child becomes severely alienated, the Court becomes automatically biased in favor of the child’s position, even if the Judge believes that the child got that way due to the influences of the other parent. The statistics on this are very clear. In other words, it is a significant task to get a Judge to recommend a solution over the protest of the alienated child. In my experience, Judges only do this when they have been shown enough argument that forces them to see the peril that exists for the alienated child to be left with the alienator. What this represents essentially is a “two against one” phenomenon where the child and the alienating parent are saying one thing and the other parent is saying something else. Therefore, when this is the case, the targeted parent is well advised to put together an overwhelming argument about why this child should not be given what they say that they want. So…in the above example, what this father really needed was a comprehensive plan to create this overwhelming argument. It might go something like this: first, an analysis of the judges biases and proclivities regarding parental alienation, the use of psychological experts and personal history should be undertaken. Next, an appropriate expert conforming to these biases would be researched and found. Next, the attorney for the targeted parent would craft direct and re-direct questions to the expert which would be developed in a hypothetical manner that allowed the court to understand how alienation had worked its way into this family’s life. This hypothetical testimony would be structured to echo the fact witness testimony from witnesses that describe specific incidents that show alienation. These steps are only the beginning.

While all parental alienation cases are different, one thing that they have in common is the challenge of making it clear to the Judge why the child should not be left in the situation that they claim they want to be in. Successful results are virtually always premised by the creation of a well thought out, well prepared case that addresses the problems in the case and systematically creates counter-measures for their solution. These cases are simply not won by the “seat of ones pants.” They are the result of careful and painstaking planning and preparation.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Taking Action and Never Giving Up

I met with a dad recently who is sadly representative of so many mom’s and dad’s who are: (1) being falsely accused of doing things that they have never done, (2) of having scary qualities that they never have had and somehow of (3) posing a danger to the child that they have been moving heaven and earth to somehow see. This familiar and tragic situation can easily overwhelm the strongest parent, yet I continue to notice how few actually give up and walk away. In this dad, I saw the same thing that I have seen so many times: a parent desperately searching for actions, or things to do that will combat and overcome the campaign of vilification that is being waged against them in an effort to poison and remove their children from them. This might be the most important message of his story, the refusal to give up and become inert and defeated. The actions that represent this refusal to give up can take many forms and new ones are explored constantly. I recently heard of a dad who planted a tree in honor of his absent and alienated son. The tree became a symbol of his commitment and love and this father’s care of it kept him sane I think. I heard of a mom who began rescuing the breed of dog that her absent and alienated son had always wanted. Her commitment to this love of his kept her connected to him and moving forward. I heard of a dad who began a website devoted not just to his absent and alienated children, but also served as a touchstone and message center for other alienated children providing them a place to reach out anonymously to other like children and even to their missing parent. I hear many stories of parents who start support groups, chat groups and discussion groups.

I guess that the point is that one must have an action plan in order to be successful. Sometimes the plan may be directly related to the court case, or to the therapy or to the evaluation, but other times the action is more personal and indirectly related but still a part of the refusal to give up. I routinely marvel at the creative actions that parents can do in these circumstances.