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Scandal at the World Meeting of Families

Scandal: World Meeting of Families President Funded Planned Parenthood Director’s Campaign

The World Meeting of Families, which will take place in Philadelphia from September 22-27, describes itself as “a week-long international event of prayer, catechesis, and celebration that draws participants from around the globe. It seeks to strengthen the bonds between families and to witness to the crucial importance of marriage and the family to all of society.” The WMoF website further explains that:


A Conversation with a Fatherhood Expert.

Kevin Roy, an associate professor at the University of Maryland,  is an expert on fatherhood and social policy. His new bookNurturing Dads, challenges ideas about mainstream fatherhood and discusses ways to encourage meaningful engagement among different kinds of dads and their kids. His conversation with Center Director Julie Drizin follows:
DRIZIN: Why did you and Bill Marsiglio decide to write Nurturing Dads?
ROY: Bill was approached by the Russell Sage Foundation to think about a book on fatherhood and social policy. We’ve been working together for probably about 10 years and we really have been working on this idea of nurturance as being pretty important for fathering. Typically when anyone in social policy or even popular media talks about fathers, its’ a very traditional stereotype. It’s guys who are providing for their kids and residing and married to their partner-- you see that a lot with Father’s Day. You get these very typical images of ties and blah blah. But we know through the work I’ve been doing that men and families and their interaction with kids and family members is so diverse, and really has been changing a lot in the past couple decades.
So what we focus on is nurturance, and that’s the relationship of men with children and families… Providing and residing in marriage and the relationships with mothers and the kids are still important, they don’t go away, but we really thought, here’s a policy book that shows what men are thinking, what they want out of policy and law, which is a way to support their efforts to be nurturing providers or nurturing caregivers really…
DRIZIN: Unlike girls who are raised largely their whole lives to imagine that motherhood is part of their life goal and trajectory--they’re raised with dolls, raised to be extremely sensitive to the emotional states of other human being, and boys are socialized differently. I remember when I was growing up, Free to be You and Me, the Marlo Thomas book came out and the song “William Wants a Doll” was a very big deal and eventually the grandmother tells his parents, let him have a doll. And she buys him a doll because someday he’ll be a father and we want to know that he knows how to be a loving dad to a baby.

Isn’t part of the issue with redefining or enhancing the role of fathers start with educating boys to be babysitters, educating boys to think about a combination of engagement as well as responsibility?
ROY: Absolutely, absolutely. I think it’s interesting because from what we’re learning now, a lot about boys, early adolescents, teenagers, teenage boys, they do engage in very caring relationships with their siblings, with their peers. There’s some research now showing how deep and intimate boys’ friendships are--one researcher says it’s almost like reading about a love story…
Boys get a very heavy dose of aggressive behavior and learning to deal with violence and guns and all these different things. I think it becomes clear to them as they get older that this is the way they should be attuned, and not to the care giving, emotional side. I think there’s interesting research that shows about the age of 13 or 14, boys are kind of suddenly told, “You don’t want to express this around your friends or people you care for because that’s not manly.” And so they still feel this need to be this way. It’s part of who they are, but what’s reinforced is kind of the ability to stand alone, to be macho, to be independent, to be cool emotionally and not let things affect you.”
So I think there are kind of bridges we need to build. You know there’s a long time between the ages of 13 and the age of 25 or 30 or 35 when men have kids. Can we continue nurturing within that time period? Can we go ahead and support men to express themselves in a caring way at different points in their lives and make that safe for them? But I agree. It has to start early. It doesn’t just start with having kids. What’s interesting is the Free to Be You and Me is very much part of our culture now.
When I grew up with it and my kids are growing up with it, it’s kind of like a no brainer. They think “oh ok, boys can do this.” But it’s cooler to have video games with shooting. So it’s out there. They’re competing for our boys right now, these two visions of boyhood.
DRIZIN: So you mentioned when boys become men or when they become fathers at 25, 30, 35, whatever. The truth is though that there are plenty of young men who become fathers very young, just as there are women who become moms very young. And that many, many of those pregnancies are unplanned, unintentional, unwanted, and it puts people in a position where they sort of have to rise to the occasion. And I’m wondering what kind of interventions work in those circumstances.

ROY: Interesting. I think a couple things. Teen pregnancy is always a concern, decade after decade, and the rates of teen pregnancy haven’t really changed much in about 100 years. What’s changed is that teens aren’t getting married. And that’s kind of a big concern. Suddenly you’ve got babies having babies but they’re not doing it together. So what kind of support system do you actually have for this? The successful interventions from what I can tell don’t leave it in these teenagers’ laps to figure out, ok you’re getting married and then everything will work out. [Successful interventions] involve families, extended families and kin. So both girl’s and boy’s families may come into the mix-- particularly their mothers--to offer support, to work things out with the courts or with community groups.
I think the other thing is that it’s important that these young men be involved because for the most part there’s an initial moment where they feel mentally responsible and obligated. But they’re very captured by this turn in their life and they really want to be able to take part in it. And often times I think it’s kind of easier to shut them out and have, you know, the mom and her family deal with it. It’s very hard to make this work across families, but when it does, you can see that it broadens the resources that families have…
DRIZIN: It seems that in the last few decades, there’ve been a couple of instances where fatherhood has taken; I guess you could say the spotlight. I remember back in the 80’s or 90’s there was the whole promise keepers movements of stadiums filled with Christian Fundamentalist and Evangelical dads who were sort of reclaiming their role as head of household. And then we had theMillion Man March which was African American men coming together not just around fatherhood but around a range of issues.
Have there been other major developments or movements that you’ve seen that are having an impact in the new millennium in the role of fathers?
ROY: It’s interesting. So both of those kind of social movements really took place in about the mid 90’s and that was also a time when the Clinton administration, particularly Vice President Gore were really involved in promoting responsible fatherhood. And it was very much kind of the understanding that what it would take was for men to have a change of heart. They need to step up and be responsible. And what was interesting is it echoed across kind of classes and incomes and races and ethnicities. It captured a lot of men’s imagination and recast their relationships with their kids…
The paternity establishment were really set up in the mid 90s (through welfare reform) to kind of be… more punitive, unfortunately. But what came out of that I think 5 years later, 10 years later, was an emphasis on marriage and promoting marriage. And that was under the Bush administration. And I think just more broadly, general recognition that we can promote fathering but you can’t do so without taking mothers into consideration and the relationships they have… So that kind of went on until I would say the mid 2000s, late 2000s.
What you have now is a child support and a paternity establishment system that’s been running for 15 years and is more and more efficient and effective. But I think you do have demographic changes than even we had just 15 years ago so that now the majority of women who have kids in their 20s are doing so outside of marriage. And that means something for men in that situation, right? So that means the majority of men are non residential fathers in their 20s. I think what you’re seeing is a very slow, I would say diversification. More and more men can do more and want to do more in their kids’ lives. And more and more men are feeling disengaged. So I think that kind of the high and the low end are spreading out, and there’s larger and larger gaps between what fathers experience as the common father. There’s a lot of diversity in there and I think that’s kind of what’s been happening over the past 20 years.
DRIZIN: Right now our country has been facing tremendous economic turmoil. A lot of men have lost their jobs and along with that have lost their ability to fulfill what they thought was their role, which was as bread winner for their family. And many more men are home with kids either by default or increasingly by choice, in part because the women in their lives, the mothers of their children or their wives are able to hold on to jobs or have greater earning power at the moment. So this seems to be, I mean, it doesn’t cut cross necessarily, class lines, but it does seem to be this sort of new “hipster” dad, more engaged dad, kind of role popping up.
ROY: Right and you can see it was on the cover of the New Yorker where you’ve got 45 dads in the playground and one mom walks onto the scene and feels very strange with all of the fathers with their strollers. I do think that’s happening. And you can see it you know on the cover of Time and Newsweek and they talk about the new man. I mean, I think what’s happening are these very individual negotiations where parents are sitting down at the table trying to figure out, you know, who’s going to be working, who can be working, who’s going to stay at home? How do we make these kinds of decisions when we are pretty strapped? And I think what you’re finding is very intense negotiation between parents--and that’s even if they’re not married or living together…
I don’t think fathers are locked in to any kind of one way of being, like, Mr. Mom forever. I think it depends on the child’s age and what kind of access the family has to resources. And so that’s introducing a totally new dynamic into families because I think they need to negotiate their identities anew every month in many ways, and it’s exhausting and these families are always on the hunt for making sure that they’ve got stability, you know, month to month.
I think it’s pushing men to consider new fields of jobs that may have been traditionally women’s jobs. And I think things will look very different 5 or 10 years from now in terms of the work that men are doing.
DRIZIN: Think we’re going to see a bunch of “Daddy Day Cares?” 
 ROY: You could. It wouldn’t surprise me. It wouldn’t surprise me at all.
DRIZIN: It is kind of interesting, I mean there’s always been this anything that’s associated with children seems to have a lower stature in our society such that child care workers and teachers, you know when the teaching profession transitioned to be primarily, almost entirely female, It just became less valued, and there just aren’t that many men engaged in the care of children. I don’t want to say it’s freakish but you know it’s always surprising if you go into a childcare setting or even an elementary school and there are men present.
ROY: That’s right. And it’s a two way street. So the question is, how many men are attracted to those jobs, and then if they are, what kind of message do they get that this is not the place for you, that you’re not trusted, that this is threatening for kids because of abuse situations or what have you.
I think that a lot of it has to come down to training and kind of structural incentives… it’s a broader issue about the way that we support workers who care for our elderly or our kids or our kids in school. You know, do they have the stable jobs, do they have the benefits, are they paid well enough to make those jobs attractive? And you know, I’m not sure if men moving in to those fields of occupation is going to give them a higher status.
They’re going to be lower status because they’re seen as, you know, care occupations.
But I think that there are ways that we can, and I think other countries have invested resources and changed incentives and priorities to kind of give them a little more stability and a little more heft. We’ll see…
DRIZIN: So reporters who will be reading this and editors might be looking for some new story ideas on how to cover Father’s Day. What to do that’s not just a greeting card look at this annual holiday. Can you name a few ideas perhaps they’re coming from your book or research or programs that you’ve seen around the country that would be worth profiling? Some story ideas that some journalists can get connected to?
ROY: Sure, sure. One of the things I think is important is not just to recognize fathers who are kind of there in the household ready for breakfast and bed kind of thing. That there are a lot of men who are not with their kid on Father’s Day and in very different situations.
We’ve been looking a lot at fathers who are in the military as well as fathers who are incarcerated. These are men…who are not with their kids, but they’re striving to retain those relationships. And Father’s Day is a big day for them too, so how are they able to communicate and get involved with their kids? And so what kind of systems and structures and maybe resources do we need to provide to keep those folks engaged with their kids?
These things are important for a few different reasons, because those men will be coming back to their families and communities. And oftentimes for incarcerated men, they may go right back into prison if they don’t have a strong relationship there that will keep them in that community. So literally promoting father child involvement for incarcerated men can prevent recidivism. And the same goes for men who are coming back from being deployed; I think that they’re dealing with physical and mental stress, and things have changed in their families and things have changed with themselves…
The other thing I think is important to think about is that fathers across classes are dealing with children in multiple families. So the way it’s thought about with low income families is these are guys who have multiple kids with multiple partners and it just seems very chaotic and hard and oftentimes the images that he’s involved with the kids he has now but he doesn’t see his kids from previous relationships at all. And we find that that’s not true. That actually fathers when they’re able to kind of stabilize their family situation want to go back and have those relationships with their kids. And how do you do that on Father’s Day?... Father’s day is about celebrating multiple men involved in each child’s life to some extent. And that’s a pretty complicated message to send to kids in particular, but that defies any stereotype that we have. It suggests that there are families and maybe even groups of men can work together to really dedicate themselves to really nurturing their kids. And that’s something that it’s usually, we see it as on one father’s shoulders, it’s you know, on his plate, he’s got to make it work. But in the book we really emphasize that fathering is a social arrangement, and it doesn’t mean that takes men out of the picture at all. They’re very much involved and engaged and motivated, but it works in tandem with other relationships in their lives, very much so. So I think that’s something that a Father’s Day message, it would be very different to emphasize that.
DRIZIN: And it’s interesting because it seems like there’s a tremendous number of supportive programs and systems in place for moms. I mean there’s the whole mommy blogosphere, there’s all these new mothers groups, there’s La Leche League and Mocha Moms. There’s a whole range of support networks that women tap into when they’re home with kids whether it’s mommy and me and all these things that bring moms together with their kids to support each other in their new role. I don’t know whether there are parallels for dads, and I’m sure you discovered them with your research in this book.
ROY: There are some. They’re beginning to get some recognition. There are boot camps for young dads. There are dads coming together, there’s a group in California called Eco Dads  that see themselves as kind of guardians of the community and the environment and so they’re working with kids on sustainability issues which is really interesting. I think the hard part is that in emphasizing men’s nurturance with kids and their relationships, we don’t want to take away from mother’s relationship with kids because it’s not an either or situation…
DRIZIN: And we’ve also seen Quite an explosion in the last decade, 15 years, of gay male couples who have become fathers, which is a huge social change. I mean there have always been gay male fathers, sometimes in marriage, sometimes in divorce. But now, you know, two men as a couple, married couple in some cases intentionally adopting or doing surrogacy is really big social change in this country.
ROY: Right, and I think there the issue from our perspective is really one of policy and law and how uneven we are across the country in terms of allowing gay couples to adopt and supporting marriage first and foremost and then in terms of gay men’s involvement with kids and raising kids. It seems like there are obviously kind of regions and spaces where this is supported and comfortable and safe and other where it is not. And that’s going to be a dynamic I think for a long time. Although it seems to us, when Bill and I talked about it, that there’s a kind of cohort differences that younger men feel somewhat differently about this than let’s say folks in their 60s or 70s. So it could be in 20 years that a lot of these changes will move though and that gay fathers will be accepted along with heterosexual fathers as being you know, we’ll kind of, you know, applaud their involvement with their kids. But at this point, it seems that a lot of it is being structured by policy and law in a very uneven way across the country.
DRIZIN: So if there were a few key policy changes that you think would make a difference in inspiring dads to be more engaged and more nurturing on a national level, what are the key policy areas or laws that you think should be put in place?
ROY: Right. I don’t think there are any kind of easy kind of laws to put up there are things will change overnight. I think that one that we saw and we’ve recognized for a long time is pass through laws which is the child support that low income fathers pay that goes to reimburse the state for welfare payments and doesn’t go to their children or the mothers of their children. So in effect, fathers are paying child support to the state. Their kids didn’t see any of that money, and there was very little incentive for them to pay. And so you’ve seen a lot of child support over the past 10 years kind of plateau out, and you haven’t seen a growth as more and more fathers become part of that system. Part of it may be they can’t pay because of the economy, but a lot of it is the incentives behind that.
So Danny Davis and Barack Obama and Evan Bayh tried for a number of years to try and change the pass- through laws so at least the money from the child support from the fathers would go to the families. And I think that would be an important piece. There are much broader more extensive things that need to happen. For example, there are a number of people in the child support enforcement across the country and then at a federal level who are doing really innovative things with fathers. A lot of them are very small programs. They’re not linked together. They’re kind of not systemic. They’re happening at different spots around the country. And it’s an interesting tool that these are men who are divorced or men who were never married- they’re involved in the child support system. But to be able to provide them resources to be nurturing even at a distance would be very powerful and an effective way to kind of engage men I think. But what’s happening at the state and federal level is different than what’s happening at the local level. And so, what Bill and I propose is really we need to talk across levels because oftentimes initiatives come down from the top…
There’s also a need for a broad discussion of getting fathers involved with their kids. Not necessarily just through marriage or just through their jobs. How do you do that? Is there one way to kind of nurture kids? Part of it is I think creating a context for men to be involved with their kids more often, whether that is through their jobs as caregivers and teachers and working in hospitals and wherever kids are you see men. That’s one way of doing that. And that could be providing incentives for men to take those kinds of jobs and the training and education that they need to kind of make those career choices. Beyond jobs I think really looking at family law and ways that we often focus on couples and pit couples against each other in our law and policy as opposed to creating situations where they’re working together...
I think that the types of policies that need to come out are going to take a lot of effort on many different levels. We don’t unfortunately have one or two major policy changes that we would suggest-- it’s more of a rethinking of basic ways that parents are raising their kids.
DRIZIN: Now Kevin, your expertise in this area is not entirely and exclusively professional. You also have personal expertise and I’m assuming that as a father, a lot of your interest in this academic field stems from your personal experience. So I’m wondering if you would add something about what it means to you to be a father in 2012 and you know just some reflections on the importance of that role and relationship in your own life.
ROY: Sure, sure. So I have 3 sons who are 5, 9, and 13, and I was involved with the fathering research before any of them were born. And what I realized even before that was that my relationship with my father, who was a middle class, stable father, my parents divorced, was in many ways not as good as the type of guys I was working with, guys who had fathers who were low income, non-residential and unmarried. It really kind of surprised me as I began working with them that they had very close relationships with their kids, but they weren’t providing for them, they weren’t residing with them. And so, you know, how does that happen? And I learned a lot. And I always learned a lot over the past 20 years in working with men who are struggling and challenged to be with their kids.
And so my relationship with my sons is something I do not take for granted at all. It’s something that from the very beginning, my wife and I have strived to kind of share all of the care and the decisions and the kind of day-to-day grunt work that we do. And I think unfortunately I see a lot of young boys or young men who don’t have fathers in their lives or who did for a moment and they’re not there now. My boys recognize that I’m still here. And I think they respect that and like that.
You know, I see it as my responsibility to raise three boys who are aware of all of the gendered stereotypes out there and ways that they can really be engaged and care for each other and other people. That’s important…And they see me in terms of I teach about families and how that’s a very different role. You know, other fathers are lawyers and doctors and I work with people who are therapists and social workers and working with kids. And I think they see that it’s ok, it’s something that men can do. They don’t really think I’m a real scientist, but I do.
[My sons] are also aware of a lot of the struggles that men face when they want to be involved with kids because I researched that and it happens in our lives. We talk about a lot of that. It’ll be interesting to see where they go when they grow up and to be along for the ride.
"Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy to a friend." ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Nurturing Dads: A Conversation with Fatherhood Expert Kevin Roy | JCCF

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Parentectomies are psychologically lethal to children and parents.

Parentectomy is the removal, erasure, or severe diminution of a caring parent in a child's life, following separation or divorce.

Parentectomy covers a large range of parent removal from partial parentectomy, "You may visit your Daddy or Mommy every other Sunday"; to total parentectomy, as in Parental Alienation Syndrome, described by Gardner; or complete parent absence or removal. The victims of parentectomy are the children and the parents so severed from each other's lives. A parentectomy is the most cruel infringement upon children's rights to be carried out against human children by human adults. Parentectomies are psychologically lethal to children and parents.

In the worst consequential wake of a parentectomy , the victim parent gives up and walks away from the surgically-minded adults and the victim children. When this happens, the victim parent walks away from the chronic warring battlefield with intense ambivalence and confusion, faced with an insoluble dilemma. He or she knows that the chronic war in which one parent tries to erase the other parent, and the other parent struggles to stave off the parentectomy, is itself destructive to the children, as it causes ongoing tension and stress in them, as well as in the ongoing interaction between the children and each of their parents. On the other hand, if a mother or father gives up and walks away from the war, the children feel abandoned by a loved and needed parent, and unusually resent and become depressed over the abandonment.

Although children hate fighting and pray for it to stop, they misinterpret a parent's giving up the fight as that parent's not caring enough about them. Yet, clinicians know that, in these cases, even when a father or mother gives up the battle for custody, it is hardly ever due to not caring for their children enough. Rather, they give up the fight because they are emotionally depleted, physically exhausted, worn out, depressed or financially drained; they don't want to continue to subject their children to the relentless warring; they discover that they have little chance of success against a prejudiced legal/judicial system, and little chance of success against a prejudiced, incompetent or skillful "hired gun" - mental health professional, who has been paid to facilitate a parentectomy. Unfortunately, for the right price, such psychological surgeons can be found.

Further Consequences of a Parentectomy

In addition to the worst scenario of actually being abandoned, when a parentectomy occurs, children lose the rewarding ongoing opportunity to give and receive love to and from a parent who has loved them.

These children frequently become depressed - especially in later adolescence. At times their depression reaches suicidal proportions. In my own clinical work, as well as in school and emergency room consultation experience during the past 15 years, I have found a very high correlation between suicidality in adolescents and a divorce in their earlier years, which virtually results in one parent being erased from their lives.

They often lack self esteem, particularly if they believe the erased parent willfully abandoned them, or when the remaining parent behaves as if the erased parent never existed or never loved and cared for the children.

Children with parentectomies often go on to mistrust and fail in adult intimate relationships, this is for several reasons. first, they tend to see people as good or bad, right or wrong, loving or hateful, worthy of gratitude or worthy of punishment. Secondly, they have usually witnessed models of adult relationships based on mutual accusations and defensiveness, as opposed to the healthier model of tolerating ambivalence about the good and bad in others and in oneself. Further, in cases of Parental Alienation Syndrome, they may leave home prematurely or turn against the "favoured' parent later in life. Their turning against the one favoured parent may come about in later adolescence, when they realize they were "brainwashed" victims caused by a malicious, angry, or disturbed parent, to unjustifiably hate the other parent.

Methods Used in the Service of Parentectomy

A parent seeking to perform a parentectomy usually enlists the help of attorneys, relatives, friends, and mental health professionals, in the pursuit of the radical removal of the other parent.

They have several methods at their disposal. First they can get the potential parent victim - usually the Father - to see a "friendly," "brilliant" mental health clinician or child development specialist, who will brain-drill the potential parent victim about a distorted, out-of-context version of the psychological and developmental needs of children. The child development specialist will reiterate that children - especially young children - need the stability, constancy and consistency of one home, and that it is emotionally harmful for the children to be shuttled back and forth between homes. 
They will reiterate that children need a primary psychological caretaker.

From my own clinical experience with children, I would agree with the position that one home provides stability and continuity. However, when parents are divorced, the children cannot enjoy the benefit of both parents living with them in the same home. Therefore shuttling between homes may be inevitable. In divorce, we usually do not have the option of choosing what is in the best interest of the children. Instead, we most often must choose the least detrimental of several detrimental options.

This is especially so when a child has been psychologically bonded to two parents. Of two potential evils for children - the evil of shuttling between the homes of two loving, caring parents versus the evil of losing one such parent - certainly the lesser evil is shuttling between two homes. It is the continued parental bonding, not the number of homes or vehicular travel, that will be the crucial determinant of children's forward psychological development following divorce. In these days, when both parents frequently work, and rely on sharing the child-rearing with each other, with other family members and with housekeepers and day care personnel, the concept of one "primary psychological caretaker" is outdated. frequently there are two psychological caretakers or a network of caretakers, supervised by two parents.

Should the "friendly," "brilliant" mental health clinician described above fail to convince the victim of the need for a parentectomy, the determined other parent can then enlist the aid of the "hired-gun" child development expert. After a brief, superficial contact with the other parent, of times without ever seeing the victim parent or without ever seeing the children interact with the victim parent - the "hired-gun" will unequivocally and with utmost scientific certainty declare:
  1. that the children mistrust and are afraid of the victim parent;
  2. that the victim parent lacks empathy for the children;
  3. that the victim parent emotionally abuses the children;
  4. that the victim parent is an alcoholic or other substance abuser;
  5. that the victim parent is impulsive and prone to potential child physical abuse; and,
  6. worst of all, that the victim parent suffers with a serious psychiatric disorder, such as Borderline Personality, Narcissistic, Anti-Social, or Obsessive Compulsive Personality disorder, or perhaps even Paranoia or Schizophrenia.

Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse

Should the "friendly" counselling and "hired gun" approaches fail, the parent determined to perform a parentectomy can make an allegation of Child Sexual Abuse. This is most effective when the child is of preschool age, and easily confused. Such allegations need careful expert professional attention. Proper thorough evaluations must be conducted, during which time the child should not be removed from either parent. In selective situations, following parental separation and divorce, mothers, father and children are highly vulnerable to sexual abuse activity. When a child or parent is quantitively deprived of loving parent-child contact, the child or parent may over-cherish or over-respond to physical contact, which may become eroticized. When there is no other adult to console a lonely parent who feels frightened at night and that lonely parent's child also feels lonely and frightened at night, the parent and child may wind up sleeping in the same bed together. this increases their vulnerability to erotic, sexual contacts.

Although we should not summarily dismiss the possibility of actual sexual molestation, at the same time we have found that most allegations of child sexual abuse during custody wars are false allegations. Some are calculated manipulations, while others result from parents' anxieties, misinterpretations, and their clouded perceptions during custody battles.

Absence of Cooperation

If all the above methods fail, the parent determined to perform a parentectomy can then claim, "We can't cooperate and therefore we cannot share parenting by way of any form of joint custody, as joint custody requires substantial parental cooperation." Unfortunately, this declaration is often supported by mental health clinicians, because of their misunderstanding or over-statement of the writings of Dr. Richard Gardner. Dr. Gardner's clinical experience with children and parents of divorce is often misused to reinforce this faulty point of view about parental cooperation.

When Richard Gardner stated that "joint custody" requires a high degree of parental cooperation (1986, 1989), he was using his particular definition of joint custody - one in which there is a free-flowing, flexible arrangement; one in which the children and the parents may frequently shift schedules, may often change the days and times the children are with each parent; and may alter parental responsibilities for the children's school and social activities. In such flexible arrangements, the shifts in schedule and responsibilities can occur during any given day, week or month. Of course, such an unstructured, ever-changing form of joint custody require frequent parental contact, negotiation and discussion, and often involves the children. Such a form of flexible, free-flowing joint custody would require parental cooperation, and would not work well where one parent hates or is emotionally allergic to the other parent.

This particular form of joint custody however, is now a rare and somewhat antiquated form of joint custody. It reflects the efforts of those few special early "pioneer" parents who respected each other as parents and individuals. They were therefore able to explore flexible joint arrangements in attempts to continue their children's lives with both parents. In essence they explored and maintained living environments, approximating the pre-divorce situation. In contrast to Dr. Gardner's definition, my definition of "joint custody" is a multi-faceted one. At one end of the spectrum, it includes such flexible unstructured, free flowing arrangements, defined by Gardner. At the other end of the spectrum it includes a detailed, rigid and highly structured parent-child plan, which minimizes the need for parent contact, negotiation and communication.

Between the two extreme ends of the spectrum are varying arrangements in which real significant living time, including overnights, is shared with the children by both parents, with varying degrees of structure and rigidity, as required. Indeed, with warring, unfriendly, uncooperative parents, a highly structured, rigid, inflexible custody schedule is necessary and appropriate. The structure for high conflict parents should include transitions for the children between parents, on neutral grounds; for example, the children can be picked up from and be returned to school, instead of the other parent's residence. This arrangement avoids points of battle between the parents, and avoids the need for frequent negotiations on a day-to-day, or week-to-week basis, which, in turn, avoids the need to battle over decision-making, residential time, or parental authority in front of the children.

It is unfortunate that Dr. Gardner has been misunderstood and misused by some mental health clinicians advocating for sole custody to one parent. In consultation with Dr. Gardner, I learned that he believes that when there are two highly bonded loving parents, a rigid structured schedule of even 50-50 shared residential overnights, as well as a pre-defined structure decision-making authority plan for each parent may be appropriate to best serve the children. He would just not define such a 50-50, rigid, structured arrangement as "joint-custody".

Dynamics Behind the Pursuit of Parentectomy

Parental Identity

The fear of losing one's parental identity is the principal dynamic behind parentectomy efforts. Throughout life, all persons gain and integrate many identities, which become part of their self-images. These identities include one's identity as: a child member of a family; a student; a peer or team member; a professional or other worker; a mate with marital identity; a person with a parental identity; and a grandparent with a grand-parental identity.

Until recent times, some parents, more traditionally mothers in our western culture, reached a point of divorce with primarily marital and parental identities. For such parents, as their mate or marital identity dissolves, as it does in divorce, the only identity often left for them to hold on to, cherish, and fight for is their parental identity.

Grandparents, especially when they are retired from both work and parenting, often fear loss of their primary remaining identity - their grandparents identity. As they envision sharing or losing valued time with their grandchildren, their fears may prompt them to harp on their sons and daughters to fight for sole custody of the children, so they will not become "unemployed" grandparents.

The appearance of a potential stepmother or stepfather on the scene is highly threatening to parental identity. This is especially so when that newcomer has a great need to parent. Hearing one's children refer to a step parent as "mommy" or "daddy", often triggers the search for the parental scalpel.

The Loss of the Family

For adults, the pain of losing one's family structure is very intense, and in may cases, much more intense than the pain of losing one's mate. Divorcing parents often desperately hold on to a myth that their family has not fallen apart, in their attempt to not feel the pain and depression which accompanies the rupture of the family. They maintain the myth of a one-family structure, embodying elements of one home and one family. This myth is much easier to hold on to is a parent does not have to see the other parent. It is especially easier to hold on to if a replacement is brought in to fulfill the other parent's role, namely a boyfriend, stepfather, girlfriend, or stepmother.

In counselling parents of divorce, I have found it much more productive to focus on the pain caused by the loss of family structure, as opposed to focusing on the pain caused by the parent's prior battle with each other, or the pain caused by their loss of each other.

The literature on divorce leans heavily on the concept that divorced parents chronically battle in an effort to hold on to each other and not lose the marital relationship. Although that dynamic does exist, in my experience it is not a universal post-divorce dynamic, and it is not the primary reason behind prolonged custody struggles or prolonged custody wars. Instead, I find the need to hold on to this myth of one non-ruptured family is a more usual dynamic behind prolonged custody wars.

Unfortunately, maintaining that myth of one family, requires erasing the other parent.

Envy, Rage and Revenge

A parent's desire to punish the other parent by depriving the other parent of his or her children often relates to the other parent's apparent or fantasied greater success or luck in life. This can create rage and envy. The real or fantasied greater success is in the area of: finding a new and rewarding love relationship; achieving greater financial security; having a wholesome extended support system of family and friends; and most ironic, envy and rage in relation to the other parent's fantasied or actual greater success in relating to their children in warm, comfortable, loving and trusting ways.

It is this rage, envy, and the wish to punish that we see most often in severe cases of Parental Alienation Syndrome, with very pathologically disturbed parents.

Psychological "Allergic" Reactions to the Other Parent

We frequently see situations in which one parent became psychologically dependent upon the other during the marriage.

Once separated and needing to break the dependency but fearful of the continued power of dependency, such a dependent parent feels and urgent compulsion to avoid the other parent as one avoids poison ivy. Feeling emotionally "allergic" the dependent parent fears susceptibility to renewed dependency. To avoid the allergen - namely the other parent - the dependent parent attempts to achieve complete avoidance which, of course, is easier to achieve if that parent can be kept out of the children's lives. The allergy medicine - parentectomy - becomes the children's poison!

Prevention of Parentectomy

The following recommendations on how to prevent parentectomies may, in part, appear drastic. These prevention measures which are presented in the spirit of suggestions, and based on clinical experience, include:
  1. Person contemplating marriage and children should consider a proposed mate's tendency toward relying on the role of being a parent as his or her exclusive identity. Such persons may need to rely totally on full-time control over the children for identity following divorce.
  2. One should try to fall in love with and have children with a mate who has great empathy for children's needs and feelings. A mother or father with empathy who loves his or her children will usually not subject the children to a parent removal.
  3. One should not separate from one's mate without a scheduled, structured, legal custody arrangement, in advance of parting the marital relationship.
  4. Once separated, a parent should never speak with and certainly should never see a mental health professional - other than a court appointed one - that he or she has not helped choose in advance, and should further avoid like the plague a friendly-sounding psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or counsellor, who calls and says he or she wants to help the parents and children through the pain of divorce. this is especially so when that professional has already seen the children and the other parent.
  5. Parents should seek and hopefully find attorneys not biased by the conviction that all children need a primary home and a primary caretaker after divorce.
  6. The first moment it becomes clear that scheduled custodial time with one's child is being consistently blocked, the parent so blocked should, run not walk, with his or her attorney, to the nearest family court.
Many parents, mental health clinicians, and attorneys have had contact with the process of parentectomy as a victim or as someone close to a victim. Professionals must guide victims or potential victims through the maze of legal, judicial, mental health and family processes which can lead to the radical "surgery" of parent-erasure I call parentectomy. Attempts at parentectomy create a psychological reign of terror, for the intended parent and child-victims. Those victims who survive are emotionally bloodied, bitter, war-torn, and exhausted. They often form and join support groups with committed and caring persons in organisations to protect their children and themselves, or to help others to protect their children and themselves from the dreaded sequelae of parentectomy. Most parentectomy victims and most of those who try to help such victims, experience a great deal of chronic emotional pain.

I wish there were a panacea to help reduce that pain. There is not. The author has shared his experience and thinking around children and parents of divorce, in the hope that increased understanding of the dynamics behind parentectomy, will help clinicians, attorneys, judges and parents eradicate this most dreaded, malevolent and destructive affliction of parents and children who love, care for and need each other.

Preventing Parentectomy Following Divorce

By Frank S. Williams M.D.Keynote Address, Fifth Annual Conference
National Council for Children's Rights
Washington DC, October 20 1990
The therapy that’s shaping custody battles costing upwards of $30,000

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23, 2015 – In an about face that makes little sense,  Michigan judge Lisa Gorcyca recently forced three children from the Tsimhoni family to undergo reunification therapy. Under that therapy, the children reportedly would be locked in a hotel room with their estranged father for five days.

This Tsimhoni family case has made domestic and international headlines due to the judges seemingly biased position against the children.

The about face comes from the fact that the same judge, in the same custody case, had previously rejected the same reunification therapy, CDN has learned.

“In these therapies, the children do not give any form of consent, their autonomy is disregarded, and privileges are withheld until they comply with the program expectations. In the view of many child psychologists this is more akin to a brainwashing prison camp than a therapy program…. Coercion plays no part in [a successful therapeutic program] and delays meaningful and lasting reunification even if the children show surface compliance.”

Charges of “parental alienation” may sometimes lead to court-mandated “reunification therapy” treatment, as in the complex Michigan custody case between Omer Tsimhoni, Maya Eibschitz-Tsimhoni, and their three children. Above is the judge in the case, Lisa Gorcyca. (Daniel Mears/Detroit News via AP, Pool)
An acrimonious Michigan custody case that drew national media attention in July when a judge ordered three children into juvenile detention for refusing to meet with their father continues to make headlines. This time it’s as the kids reunite with dad Omer Tsimhoni after going through a controversial court-ordered “reunification therapy” treatment.
According to the Detroit Free Press, which examined Oakland County court records, the three siblings — ages 9, 11, and 14 — have been living with Tsimhoni, his second wife, and their young half brother since Aug. 13, after attending the intensive five-day treatment “designed to treat parental alienation.” That, according to the late psychiatrist Richard Gardner, who coined the phrase Parental Alienation Syndrome in the 1980s, concerns the harmful effect of one parent turning children against the other parent during a hostile divorce. The concept last gained major attention several years ago, when Alec Baldwin alleged ex-wife Kim Basinger had alienated him from their daughter Ireland, detailing the effects in his book A Promise to Ourselves.
STORY: Military Mom Returns From War to Discover She Must Fight for Custody of Kids

New information obtained by CDN shows that in March 2015 lawyers for the mother, Maya Eibschitz-Tsimhoni, initially suggested that the children go through reunification therapy.“One of the things that we proposed was to start reunification therapy now,” Eibschitz-Tsimhoni’s then attorney, Andrew Bossory, told the court, “if the court wants to entertain that.”
Tsimhoni Testimony
William Lansat, guardian ad litem,  for the three children, responded: “I don’t wanna to do that now.”

In this Michigan case, Tsimhoni has alleged that the children’s mother, Maya Eibschitz-Tsimhoni — who filed for divorce in 2009 — has poisoned the kids against him, and that she has mental-health issues. In the past, Eibschitz-Tsimhoni has accused her ex of abusing their 11-year-old, which the father denies. Tsimhoni recently filed a motion seeking full legal and physical custody of his children. Meanwhile, the mother’s former attorney Henry Gornbein, in speaking with Yahoo Parenting in July, has called the entire custody case “off the wall.” 

Maya Eibschitz-Tsimhoni speaks with her attorney Lisa Stern during a break in the continuing court battle with her ex-husband. (Photo: Daniel Mears /Detroit News via AP, Pool)

The latest twist in the case concerns the court-ordered therapy — and a request on Tsimhoni’s part for the judge to bar the kids’ mom from contacting them for 90 days to support the reunification process.

Because the court file on the therapy matter is sealed, according to theDetroit Free Press, not much is known about the specifics. But this type of treatment is controversial among psychotherapists, with proponents saying it’s necessary to help the child heal from the abusive alienation from a parent and detractors saying the treatment amounts to “deprogramming” that can be traumatizing, and that it may unwittingly force children into the presence of an abusive parent.

Such therapy approaches vary widely based on the practitioner, with some intensive, retreat-like styles (which appear to be what was used in the Michigan case) costing upwards of $30,000 for a few days, according to Dr. Douglas Darnall, author of Divorce Casualties: Protecting Your Children From Parental Alienation. Other practitioners, including Dr. Ronald Silikovitz of New Jersey, employ a more spread-out method, gaining a family’s trust over time and involving the children and both parents in the process. “I try to involve everyone,” he tells Yahoo Parenting. “Sometimes it works great, other times not.”

Footprints xoxohttps://world4justice.wordpress.com/2015/09/28/footprints-xoxo-9/
Posted by Children's Rights on Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Why say NO to attorneys in the Legislature?

Why say NO to attorneys in the Legislature?

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"So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none. When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision. When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home." (Tecumseh).

American Fathers Liberation: ALL Men’s Rights are Human Rights. ’nuff said http://bit.ly/1JgMgEm

Posted by American Fathers Liberation Army on Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.


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