Crisis In The Family Courts

The So-Called Parental Alienation Christian View: Don't Go Trying to Get All Religious on Us Now

Posted in domestic law by abatteredmother on March 31, 2010

 

By the Brilliant Randi James

Ask yourself: Can you tell the difference between a nice wholesome Christian family and one who is not? And if so, what is/are the difference(s)? Don’t fool yourself for the sake of trying to be holier than thou. We see Christian families on the news everyday for a variety of incidents that aren’t so wholesome. But, someone will say they aren’t Christian enough, they have backslid, they aren’t really Christian, etc.

In Monika Logan’s attempted appeal to the Christianity in you, she begins with this excerpt by Judith Wallerstein, a "scholar" whose works has been repeatedly misrepresented:

I discovered a well- known scholar’s excerpt, by Judith Wallerstein that reads, “We’ve seriously underestimated the long-term impact of divorce on children [and]…the numerous ways a child’s experience differ when growing up in a divorced family.”I am blessed as I do not know what it is like to be a child of divorce. I was raised in an intact home.

First off, the long-term impact isn’t necessarily the divorce. This has been stated countless times in research. It is the conditions that existed prior to the actual divorce and then extend thereafter. Divorces don’t happen in a vacuum.Children are often witnesses and participants of dysfunctional behaviors that pre-existed in the "intact" family. And what is an "intact" family anyway? Merely one that hasn’t divorced? Divorce is only a legal procedure in which the government is involved. Intact doesn’t mean better, or non-dysfunctional. As outsiders, we can only know what families choose to reveal to us. Everyone has a public and private face, even Christians.

Lastly, I am keenly aware that Churches frowns upon divorce and that Parental Alienation (PA) is misunderstand .I was taught that God hates divorce (see Malachi 2:16 NIV), but also was taught that God forgives. He is a God of grace and one that allows for second chances.

Churches frown upon divorce because of the inherently patriarchal and sexist attitudes that exist within its membership–amazingly, the same attitudes we see outside of the church. That God hates divorces but forgives is evidence of the contradictory nature of the Bible. People use whatever part of the Bible they see fit to support their opinion.

The idea of divorce does not occur to newly marrying couples.

It doesn’t?

Divorce was also not Gods original intention. God allowed a clause about divorce to be included in the Law of Moses (Deuteronomy 24:1). God wanted to prevent men from dumping their wives for frivolous reasons. Subsequently, I started to wonder about children who dump their parents for frivolous reasons

Did God say anything of "allowing" women to "dump" their husbands? And what exactly would be regarded as frivolous reasons? Great segue to her opinion.

In some divorces, especially vitriolic divorces, one parent attempts to turn the child against the other parent. The parent desires to wreak havoc on the other parent’s relationship with the child; a few methods include cruel words and the allure of material gifts. Messages made by parents that are perpetual and poisonous produce troubled kids. Eventually, the relentless actions and words of embittered parents pay off. These kids’ discard relationships of once-loved parents and treat their parents as their worst foe.

Are these vitriolic divorces the same as the "high-conflict" ones? If so, we cannot make any assumptions about why this level of vitriol exists in a family. Again, remember, that families choose to reveal what they want to reveal. We cannot know what the child’s original feelings were about his or her parent(s) unless we were a part of that child’s inner world. Troubled kids are produced by a lot more than poisonous messages–troubled kids need an environment in which there are few resources/little support. Troubled kids are not treated like people but rather objects. Troubled kids’ emotions and space are not validated or respected. The truth is, we cannot know the depth of feeling any child once had for his/her parents, based off our own observation, or the word of the other parent.

Sadly, many Christian parents whose kids reject them feel alone in their shame. Many believers fall prey to the idea that good parents always have good kids. They frequently support this standard by one preferred scripture, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6, NIV). Other scriptural lessons are discarded, such as Job or Aaron’s sons as seen in Leviticus 10.

Many kids reject their parents, even non-Christian ones. This is on account of a range of behaviors of that parent. Is it so hard to understand that just because someone is the parent, blood-relative, etc, that there is no guarantee that the temperaments will match…that they will have similar interests as their children? Love is not guaranteed to be reciprocated, nor can you dictate how someone else loves you. Children are people. How should we treat children? Well, Monika cites Proverbs 22:6, but a few verses later in, 22:15, it says this: "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him." She also mentions that Christians disregard Leviticus 10, where you can also find this part: “For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.” (20:9) Hmmm.

Divided homes breeds deception, deceit, and disparagement. Common Christian advice is that parent’s post-divorce should keep the same chores, discipline, and rules. This guidance is helpful, but is not applicable to cases of PA. Dr. Warshak points out… “your children are being manipulated to serve as vehicles to express their other parents hostility…” (p.38). Parent’s in these cases do not care about the rejected parent’s wishes or their children’s best interests. It is a form of emotional abuse.

Non-divided homes breed the same things. How do you deal with it in those cases? The emphasis shouldn’t be placed on thehome though, it is the people involved in the situation. Kids thrive with consistency and thus the same schedules should continue as possible. But we don’t really hear that these days. All we hear is joint-custodya situation that breeds no kind of continuity other than being a timeshare product. Separated parents can share parenting, where parenting was once shared before. Separated parents should not split 50-50 custody, where there was no 50-50 split in the child’s time previously.

Children are being manipulated by parents who come to the sudden realization that, without the other parent’s assistance, he/she has no real connection to his/her child. That parent did not build, maintain, and continue to foster a relationship with his/her own child. So now, in absence of any support, that parent refuses to understand the current dynamics are based on the past. And so that parent’s escape, is
to blame "alienation" on the parent to whom the child is closer. The parental alienation tactic allows an otherwise physically, emotionally, or spiritually absent parent to experience the absolution that is provided in Christianity.

In the cases where that parent was the abuser in the family, often times we cannot know because it was that same nice, wholesome, upstanding Christian neighbor.Abusers do seek to undermine the child’s relationship with the parent to whom he/she is closer. This phenomena is not parental alienation.Parental alienation theorists are trying to mix all the definitions up in order to obscure an agenda–that the parental alienation tactic is historically based on acover for child sexual abuse. Even in the original definition of parental alienation, if domestic abuse was present, parental alienation could not be considered as a "diagnosis." The definition continues to expand.

Alienated children often resemble children that are diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (Warshak, 2010, p. 27). These kids are angry, resentful, spiteful and vindictive . The only difference is that their unwarranted behavior is towards one parent, not both. I do not think Parental Alienation is the thorn in our flesh (see 2 Corinthians 12:17). Target parents are often humble enough. Parents and children need support, prayer, and love. Prayer is also needed for ex-spouses’ as many are un-happy and lonely after an un-wanted divorce. We should reserve judgment for God.

    In an interesting conclusion, Monika tries to merge psychology with one more Christian rambling. Kids in any type of dysfunction are angry and resentful. As they fail to see any resolution to their problems, these kids can become spiteful and vindictive. These traits are not limited to the kids. And without careful inquiry we are not in a position to know whether that behavior is warranted, or not. We are also not in a position as outsiders to force our beliefs upon these children, especially in cases where domestic abuse may be the underlying cause. We are only looking at the signs and symptoms as they are revealed to us. What we can offer is support and belief in the children’s words as they choose to present it to us. They need one positive adult with whom they can bond, and that adult should be his/her preferred parent.

    As for the ex-spouse, some are un-happy, some are happier. Some are lonely, some re-partner quickly, some have no intention of partnering, some are dedicated to their child[ren], some have completely other interests. We don’t need to assume. But by placing psychology into the dynamic of families, we are serving as judges. What would God think about that?Hopefully the Christian God is different from the God that Catholic priests and children are referring to. Then again, if He believes in parental alienation, maybe not.

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