MESSY DIVORCES PRODUCE DAMAGED KIDS!
At Wingate Wilderness Therapy we see the damage caused by nasty divorces all the time. Divorce obviously happens, and the rate of divorce probably will not be going down any time soon. However, there are some critical things that parents, divorce attorneys, and the courts can do to minimize the damage to the kids caught in the middle.
Unfortunately, those who can prevent or minimize the longlasting detrimental effects of a nasty divorce don't do much to help - in fact, in many cases they make matters worse. This situation plays out all over the country every day. However, you are reading this because there might be something you can do to prevent, or help to overcome, the damage caused by a horrific divorce.
There are things that can be done, especially if done before the children reach adulthood. It's really basic common sense, but there must be a tremendous commitment by all parties to keep the children above the frey. There are things that can be avoided or mitigated, lessoning the detrimental problems associated with teenagers damaged through an ugly divorce - such as immediate therapeutic intervention.
Originally posted by Miles Morrison in the recent newsletter from “What’s Best for Kids”
In my newsletter this month, I want to revisit PARENTAL ALIENATION. Why? Our practice handles the mental and behavioral health aftermath of the results of two parents fighting to win the divorce war instead of showing their love for the children caught in the web of divorce disasters.
Our caseload of messy divorce cases increases year after year, and after a number of years of seeing the remains of these cases, we are beginning to see these children become adults, and the dysfunctions of their own relationships. Like it or not, these children who are now adults and having relationships, have learned the unhealthy ways taught to them by their parents’ actions and words.
Let’s face it…we become a product of how our parents have performed, in one way or another.
Quite often, these unnecessarily messy divorces are fueled by a parent or parents who demonstrate narcissistic tendencies, sociopathic behaviors, and vindictive anger. Their children often develop depression, anxiety, separation issues, substance and alcohol abuse, and personality disorders that may not be remedied.
The following information is a capsulized version of pieces of information available to you on the website divorcesource.com and the writings of Douglas Darnell, Ph.D.
Three types of parental alienators have been identified, the most severe being who Darnell calls the OBSESSED ALIENATOR.
Some of the more prevalent signs of the OBSESSED ALIENATORS:
- They are absolutely obsessed with destroying the other parent’s relationship with the child.
- They have instilled in the child to express the feelings of the parent instead of the child’s own, based on the alienators’ experiences, not the child’s.
- They will show up in court with an entourage of family friends, quasi-political supporters and religious leaders to attempt to persuade the judge to be swayed.
- They want the court to punish the other parent by blocking visitation with the child. They believe in a higher cause that is beyond the understanding of a judge.
- The court’s authority does not intimidate them.
Recognizing SEVERELY ALIENATED CHILDREN:
- They have an intense hatred toward the other parent.
- They repeat word for word the words of the alienator.
- They have unfounded and irrational beliefs toward the other parent.
- They feel no guilt for how they treat the alienated parent, the parent’s family, or others who are supportive of that parent.
- They can appear normal UNTIL THE SUBJECT OF THE ALIENATED PARENT COMES UP. Then, the hatred appears.
If any of the above mentioned situations were a reality in your divorce, our recommendation is that you seek immediate therapeutic help from a trusted professional. Don't wait.
What can you and I do to help these kids?
If you are the parent or attorney on either side of this treacherous fence, you must put the child first.
- Insist that each parent get into counseling.
- Insist that the child have his/her own counselor.
- Work hand in hand with your mental health professional.
- Ask for a parenting facilitator to be appointed.
- Get a reunification therapist involved to work with the child and the alienated parent.
- Seek therapeutic intervention - before it's too late
UNDERSTAND THAT THE CHILD WILL POSSIBLY SUFFER LONG-TERM IF WE ALL DO NOT INTERVENE!!
This is but a brief note on the dangers of parental alienation.
Miles I. Morrison, LCSW, CMFSW, SAP
2222 West Spring Creek Parkway, Suite 116
Plano, Texas 75023