Quotes from Richard
Warshak's book are in black
Comments and observations by Cheryl
Metellus are in green
The URL for this webpage is http://www.thelizlibrary.org/liz/poison/
Appropriate Alignment, 9-12 year olds
"On the other hand, research by Dr. Judith Wallerstein and Dr.
Joan Kelly found that children between the ages of nine and twelve years
are most likely to join forces with one parent against the other. This
is clearly an area in which more research is needed before drawing any
efforts to waffle, many psychologists have observed that tweens will align
with one parent and blame the other parent for the divorce and it is NOT
brainwashing by the more innocent parent. It generally resolves on it own
without draconian measures like yanking the kid away from the primary caretaker.
It is interesting that he not only dismisses the research of two women
but fails to even provide a citation
"In some ways, the difficulties alienated children present are
similar, though more intense and unexpected, than the difficulties teenagers
present when they begin to devalue their parents."
And if the child
in question is a teenager, maybe they are just acting like a teenager --
intensity and predictability of mouthing-off could be nothing more than
individual variability and not PAS.
"Within two months of his parents' separation, Jeremy insisted
that he hated his father and never wanted to see him again. His hatred
spread like a virus to encompass everyone associated with his father. He
didn't want to play with his cousins, and he rejected the grandmother who
had been his favorite person in the world."
"Hatred by Association"
the spreading of hatred as diagnostic of alienation. If it is safe, perhaps
clients could be counseled that playing with cousins or keeping in touch
with grandma should serve as a presumption against the existence of PAS.
What if the father's relatives agree that Dad is an abusive pig and the
child deserves protection from too much contact with the manipulative monster?
-- Unfortunately, the opposite situation, from the one woman I asked --
it is not PAS when the father keeps the child away from the maternal relatives.
"Some cases of alienation have less to do with the behavior of parents
than with mistakes children make themselves. Rejecting a parent may be
a child's misguided way of coping with difficult feelings."
Why is rejecting
an abusive parent and avoiding constant physical and emotional abuse misguided?
"Consider the case of a woman who
endured years of suffering in an unhappy, conflict-ridden marriage. Following
her divorce she fell in love with a man who lived in another state. He
was unable to relocate his work and did not want to move away from his
two young children, so when they married, the woman moved in with him.
In what was the most difficult decision of her life, she agreed that her
two teenage children could remain with their father so that they would
not have to make all the adjustments required by the move; changing schools,
giving up friends, living apart from extended family, joining new athletic
leagues, finding new music teachers, and so on. She made arrangements to
see the children during all school holidays, three-day weekends, and most
of the summer."
must have searched long and far to find the woman who married the man with
the young children. He could have easily found dozens of examples where
a middle-age man abandoned his wife and teen-aged children for a woman
with young kids and did not bother to wait for the divorce.
can we say that Warshak does not approve of ripping school-aged children
especially teenagers, away from their life and activities because Dad thinks
50/50 physical custody is more important than independent research with
a university professor, varsity football, the music scholarship at Juilliard,
or that best friend from kindergarten?
(Warshak goes on to describe how psychotherapy helped
the rejecting son, Jeff, to recover his love for his mother.)
When a mother talks,
it is brainwashing. When a therapist talks, it is the truth.
"Exclusively child-driven alienation involve older children-those
in which neither parent contributes significantly to the problem -- is
the least frequent path to parental alienation. In my experience, when
it occurs, the most common triggers are a parent's relocation, remarriage,
extramarital affair, or religious conversion of the parent or child."
Aren't one of these
factors involved in most divorces? At least those that do not involve domestic
or substance abuse and/or incarceration? Therefore, isn't most alienation
"Most instances of exclusive child-driven
alienation involve older children. Younger children are more susceptible
to their parents' influence. But teens often assume that their parents
are stupid dolts whose opinion is worth less than that of a perfect stranger.
Like Jeff, they will defend their mistaken beliefs rigidly and self-righteously
while stonewalling their parents' attempts at persuasion. Also, children
who are themselves adults at the time of their parents' divorce sometimes
take sides in the dispute and refuse to have any further contact with the
parent they blame for the divorce."
"Parents intent on alienating their children from their ex-partner
also engage in a stripping process. They do so by purging their home of
any reminders of the other parent. They remove all photographs of the absent
parent. Some even go as far as cutting their ex-spouse out of family photos.
They avoid mentioning the other parent at times when this would be natural.
And they discourage their children from speaking positively about the other
parent. This is usually done in a subtle manner. A child begins talking
about his father, and the mother withdraws her attention or changes the
subject... When I am evaluating a parent suspected of brainwashing, say
a father, I ask, 'What do the children tell you about their mother?' If
he answers, 'They never talk about her,' this alerts me to the possibility
that such talk is discouraged.
It should be easy
enough to put out a couple of photos of Dad every time there is a home
evaluation and having a few things to say or know about the ex should be
easy enough. It might be a problem when the abuse was so severe that seeing
or hearing about the ex triggers an anxiety or fear attack.
Lack of ambivalence is a hallmark in alienation
"Lack of ambivalence is a hallmark of alienation. I often wonder how
parents engaged in bashing explain the fact that the fell in love with,
married and had children with people who are so utterly lacking in redeeming
Maybe the ex- was
not a wife-beating alcoholic who fondles ten year olds when they got married
-- More to the point, it is important that the kids have something good
to say about the ex, no matter how monstrous. Maybe he helped them with
their homework or took them fishing once, Then, maybe when the kid tells
the court he does not want to go over to his father's house to be thrown
against the wall and watch his little brother get molested, maybe the court
will believe the boy.
The Fifth Commandment
"Honor thy father
and thy mother" trumps Commandment 7-10,
7. You shall not commit adultery. 8. You shall not steal. 9. You shall
not bear false witness. 10. You shall not covet anything that belongs to
your neighbor. Warshak suggests having the religious counselor speak to
the child and emphasize for the Fifth Commandment on the sanctity of the
parent-child relationship if the child or the co-parent objects to any
of the alienated parent's behaviors.
However, the Fifth
Commandment only requires respect; it does not require the child to condone
or celebrate the choices made by their parent. For example, page 128-29
of To Be a Jew, by Rabbi Hayim Halevy Donin, Basic Books, Inc. ,
Publishers, New York, 1972: Some general principles regarding
children and parents are: If there is a conflict between what a father
or mother says and what the Torah teaches, it is the wishes of the Father
in Heaven that must take precedence, since the parents too are bidden to
revere Him. But even where parents disregard the Torah, never must a son
or daughter speak arrogantly or angrily to a parent; never may they be
insulting or abusive. There is never any justification for such behavior
no matter how objectionable or vile the behavior of a parent might be.
Addictions and Mental Illness
"A personal problem, such as alcoholism, substance abuse, depression
or impulsivity may have contributed to the failure of the marriage and
your children's discomfort around you. Even if your ex exploits the situation
to turn the children against you, provide the level of reassurance that
your ex and the children have the right to expect regarding your state
of recovery. Let them know that you recognize that you have a problem and
that you are getting help for it. This will set a good example for your
children about how to handle a difficult personal problem with honesty
and dignity. Devise an explicit relapse prevention program and share this
with your ex and with your children if appropriate. Because your communication
may someday have legal ramifications, you may want to have your attorney
review them before delivering them."
He makes an explosive
addict sound like someone who bites his nails. People take this guy seriously?
What about the mentally ill and addicted fathers who are not in recovery?
Would Warshak agree they should not have custody? How about no treatment,
no recovery, then no unsupervised visitation or "parenting" time?
Cheryl Metellus is the pseudonym
of a client of the lawyer who passed these comments on to liz. Cheryl is
a lawyer herself (not a family lawyer), a married woman with a small child.
Although she regularly is subjected to the most despicable and sadistic
torture, rape and threats, she is unable to file for a divorce. The way
she is abused, you see, does not leave blood and broken bones. To go public
with the situation, would, under optimal circumstances, subject her to
humiliation, damage her credibility, and put her career and life into upheaval.
The divorce and assured custody litigation and attendant claims would cast
doubt on her mental stability and likely would damage her reputation in
her field, one which requires sound judgement and high mental functioning.
But it's worse than that: she and her child have been threatened with death
if files for divorce -- a threat she believes to be credible. Chances are,
any attempt she made to leave would be an exercise in futility anyway.
In the current political climate, which simply does not respect mothers'
claims, or the right of a mother to take her children and go live in peace,
and exalts fathers' "rights to be involved" there is no way for
Cheryl to obtain a divorce without prolonged and intrusive custody litigation.
There is no way for her to obtain sole custody of her child without the
abuser getting visitation rights, notwithstanding that he has never been
interested in caring for or spending time with the child at all. There
is no way for her to leave with her child, protect both of them, and keep
her life otherwise intact. Unlike women who know nothing about the law
and find out the reality only after losing custody to sadistic men who
have sought it to punish their ex-wives, Cheryl is a lawyer who researched
her options. And so she stays. She knows that it's likely that she would
not be believed in a divorce case, and that her having hid her private
torment for years out of shame and in fear of her and her child's safety,
would work against her. She also knows that if she tells her story for
the first time in connection with a custody case, she likely would be diagnosed
as an "alienator," "vindictive," and a liar. And so,
in the 21st Century in the United States of America, Cheryl is a prisoner.
are not copyrighted.
Warshak's book is. Behave accordingly.
now a gentle word from liz:
single child custody evaluator, therapist, lawyer, and judge who ever has
advocated wrenching a frightened and resistant child from his or her home
(PAS "cure" recommendations from Rachel Foundation, Richard Gardner,
Richard Warshak, et al. custody evaluators) in order to "separate
that child from the alienator" in the interests of "doing therapy"
for "counter conditioning" or some such, should be forcibly
yanked, preferably suddenly and without warning, against his own will,
right the hell out of his own home and life, placed into a house with
complete strangers in the employ of liz, and be required to remain there
under the rules of liz, isolated from contact with friends and family,
for as long as it takes for liz to "counter the conditioning"
and get this deeply disturbed and delusional individual to express
an appropriate change of attitude and admit that what he has been advocating
is egregious child abuse.