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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Understanding Parental Alienation

Oldest Son Josh on the left and youngest, Colton on the right. We were at Dakotas Basket Ball game.

Parental Alienation #2. Understanding

American Journal of Family Law. Vol. 10. 121-133 (1996)

Understanding and Collaboratively Treating Parental Alienation Syndrome

Kenneth H. Waldron, Ph.D. and David E. Joanis, J.D.Madison, Wisconsin

Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is a special case of postdivorce conflict in which one parent appears to go to great lengths, at times including making fictitious allegations of physical and/or sexual abuse, to turn a child(1) against the other parent. Dr. Richard Gardner first described PAS in an article and then later in a book and portions of another.(2) Earlier researchers had rioted similar processes in families (for example, the "medea complex" described by Wallerstein and Kelly in the late 1970s), and professionals working with divorcing families easily recognized the syndrome, sometimes described as brainwashing, presented by Gardner. That his "syndrome" was so readily adopted is less a testament to Dr. Gardner's "discovery" than to his conceptualizing a familiar type of high-conflict divorcing family problem that is complex, perplexing, very resistant to change; and sometimes tragic.

Gardner's conceptualization of the problem and the dynamics underlying the problem proved at best incomplete, if not simplistic and erroneous. He portrays the alienating parent as virtually solely responsible for the dynamic, turning the vulnerable child against the innocent target parent.
Contextual factors can be used to detect the presence or absence of PAS. These factors fall on a continuum in the normal curve in all families. The factors that make up PAS may exist in many divorcing families to varying degrees, but they come together and pass a fulcrum point in a few. When PAS becomes the dominant family process, children reject a parent outright and the stage is set for gut-wrenching allegations, extreme resistance, threatened "move-aways," and often a great deal of litigation.


In most instances, all of the family members play a role for PAS to take hold. There is an easy temptation to place all of the responsibility for the process on the alienating parent, whose maneuvering is the most obvious and appears the most self-serving and malevolent. Gardner points out that even the child usually has some motive for enlisting in the process, although the child's motives may be vague and more defensive than malevolent. The child must play the part, however. The authors have seen instances where both parents appear to be playing their roles in the alienation process, but the child simply won't join in and is able to disengage from the parental battle and maintain independent relationships with each of the parents.
Exceptions exist, however. In some instances, the alienating parent's efforts at alienating the child will be so ruthless, sophisticated, pervasive, and persistent, playing heavily on the loyalties, fears, and even trust of the child, that the child's ability to maintain an independent relationship with the target parent will slowly be crushed. If the child continues to see the target parent in these cases, the child will often display a split identity (clinically referred to as vertical splitting). That is, when with the alienating parent, the child will appear thoroughly rejecting of the target parent, but when with the target parent, he or she will display affection, attachment, interest, fun, and freedom from the oppressive alignment with the alienating parent.

The Alienating Parent (AP)

In the typical PAS family drama, the AP has the motive to turn the child against the other parent; develops the content themes of the rejection; designs and employs the techniques of programming the child; and has limited insight into the damage caused but not into the motives or goals, which often include eliminating an unwanted parent. The damage caused is not only to the child and the target parent, but it is usually self-defeating and in some instances self-destructive.

(PAS) is a family dynamic in which all of the family members play a role, have their own motives, and have their own reasons for resisting the efforts of others at correction.
The AP's motives will vary from family to family. In some, revenge for felt injustice or for feelings of rejection will dominate, but in others, the fear of loss of or abandonment by the children will be the driving force. Distrust is so high in some divorces that the AP readily will believe the worst about the target parent (TP), especially if the AP has an early family history of abuse, molestation, or betrayal. The AP usually assumes that the child is fragile or in extreme danger in the care of the TP. These assumptions probably are projections, meaning that at the hub of the AP's personality are primitive feelings of anxious vulnerability. By maintaining proprietary control over the child, onto whom these dangers and vulnerability are projected, the AP is externalizing the defenses. The sometimes improbable and unsubstantiated allegations seen in these cases can reflect the AP's actual experiences or childhood fears.

The Target Parent (TP)

In cases of PAS, the TP may have abandoned or may wish to abandon the child. Despite the angry protests of the TP against the AP, the TP may talk of moving away from the area or may be satisfied with and perhaps desirous of a marginal role in the life of the child. The rejection by the child may be a convenient excuse for this way of thinking on the part of the TP. In some cases, there may be geographic distance between the TP and the child. The TP may have substantial weaknesses in parenting abilities or in the parent-child relationship; may have played the family "parent," with the AP joining the child in rebellion; or may have obvious psychological or emotional problems. The TP may have been violent, may be insensitive to the child, and usually has limited insight into his or her own contributions and role in the PAS (for example, failing to counter the alienation theme, focusing on the AP rather than the needs of the child) but good insight into the techniques and damage caused by the AP.

The Child

Children most vulnerable to PAS, due to several converging developmental issues, are in the 8- to 15-year-old range. Typically, the child adopts the content theme (for example, accusing the TP of being abusive); refuses to confront the AP even in the presence of contradictory evidence; employs the AP's techniques (such as spying); has various levels of insight and "real" cooperation with the AP; and fears the AP. While some children seem completely drawn into the themes of the alienation, seemingly believing every word they say others are very aware of the exaggerations and lies. One of the authors had a case in which two children in their early teens actively participated in the PAS, alleging sexual abuse on the part of their father. Their stories were consistent and believable, and while the father was found not guilty in a criminal trial, due largely to factual inaccuracies in the children's stories, he was nevertheless eliminated from contact with the children. The children refused even supervised contact. The vehemence of the rejection by alienated children is often telling. These children threatened to run away, or worse, "if you make us" even have dinner with their father. Two years later, one of the children surfaced the "lie," which the other child soon admitted. There had been no molestation and no real cause for the rejection. Even then the children had no good explanation as to why they had gone along with the instructions of their mother other than that they were "scared."

In families with multiple children, roles in a PAS drama often are divided up, with the children representing the range of alienation--usually one child completely alienated, one ambivalent, and one still attached to the TP.

The Family System

The PAS is a family system defense mechanism. The function of the defense is not always obvious, but there is often a subtle underlying complicity on the part of the family members in the drama. The research provides clues to some defense functions:

· to protect the AP's self-esteem (for example, when PAS escalates as the TP becomes more "successful" after the separation, including getting on with life and remarriage);

· to help the AP cope with his or her difficulty "letting go" of the marriage (for example, when the AP can't stop thinking about or talking about the other parent; or when PAS escalates around birthdays, holidays, vacations, etc.);

· to maintain the AP's symbiotic dependence on the child (for example, when the AP calls the child every day when he or she is with the TP--one of the authors had a case in which the AP would tell the child that she "couldn't stand to go into your room while you were away, it makes me so sad");

· to deal with anger and revenge (for example, when the AP expresses moral outrage at the exposure of the child to a new romantic partner, when the real issue is anger for an affair, or simply at being so easily replaced);

· to help the AP through what he or she perceives to be a "grown up" version of a childhood experience; and

· to help the family cope with the AP's tendency to turn on the child or anyone else who disagrees, or to abandon the child if there is a change (the child fears having feelings independent of and in opposition to the AP and becoming a target of the rage and rejection he or she has seen the AP direct at others who disagree).

One of the authors has seen other "life and death" causes, such as where the PAS protected a psychologically fragile AP or where the AP was the agent of the AP's family of origin, eliminating the TP from the extended family network. When encountering PAS in a particular family and trying to determine its cause, a good question to ask is what the family would be dealing with if everyone wasn't so preoccupied with the PAS process.


The programming one sees in situations of PAS is often a longstanding part of the family dynamic that simply escalates after a separation. Although all of the family members play roles, the AP is in charge of the programming of the child, a process that usually follows stages.

Content Theme Identification

The content theme of the alienation is identified early, sometimes by the AP, sometimes by the TP and sometimes accidentally. One of the authors had a case in which there were two dominant themes: abandonment, which had been introduced by the TP through an actual abandonment that lasted about seven months; and, paradoxically, an intense fear of kidnapping by the TP, introduced by the AP. The TP was in a difficult situation where any lack of effort to see the children was viewed as abandonment (that is, proof that she did not care), and any effort to see the children was obstructed and set off a panic that it was an effort to kidnap them. In cases of PAS, the belief in the themes becomes delusional. Though there may be some foundation for the themes in an incident or two, the themes essentially are very unrealistic. In the above case, though the mother had abandoned the children for seven months, she had been consistent in her involvements and interest for the five years prior to the separation and six years since the abandonment. The real threat of a kidnapping of the 12- and 8-year-old children was minimal, especially since the children were so schooled in the threat.

Mood Induction

The next stage is mood induction, during which the AP may employ the following strategies:

· guilt (e.g., "I don't know why your father left us; everything seemed okay");

· intimidation (e.g., "Go to your mother's if you want, but you are not to hug her cute little boyfriend anymore. Do you understand?");

· fear (e.g., "I just want you kids to know that I'11 be here the whole time you are at your dad's and that you can call if you need me");

· playing the victim (or, "poor me") (e.g., "Jeez, your mom is taking me to court again. When is she gonna leave me alone to just spend time with you?");

· sympathy seeking (e.g., "Look kids, you need to know that I just can't afford to take you the places your dad takes you because he has much more money. I know that's not fair to you but it is just the way it is");

· telling the child the "truth" about past events (e.g., "I hid a lot from you before your mom left us because I didn't want you hurt, or for you to hate your mom, but now you deserve an explanation ... ");

· overindulgence and permissiveness (e.g., "Of course it is all right for you to own your own hunting rifle. Your mom just doesn't want us to have fun together"); and/or

· threats (e.g., "So, you had a good time. Maybe you'd like to go and just live there. I just want you to know, if you do, you won't see me again").

The theme, with mood induction, is processed over and over until the AP begins to gain the child's compliance, usually with the TP participating by escalating the emotional battle with the AP rather than working directly with the child. Once the child's compliance is gained, the AP begins to back off, letting the child carry the ball, although often there will be tests of the effectiveness of the program. The most powerful method is to tell the child, "It is your choice." The more the child supports the AP in rejecting the TP, the more emphatically the AP wants people to "just listen to the child." This can reach the point of the AP seeing himself or herself as the champion of the child in a world ignoring the child's feelings. Another common test is that the child will consistently report bad experiences at the home of the TP (whether true or not) that usually reflect the theme chosen by the AP. These reports are often recorded in some way by the AP and may not be used in the judicial system for years.


Once tested, the child's complicity is rewarded and any sign of a breakdown in the child's alignment with the AP is punished, sometimes very directly, or in most instances in a re-escalation of the earlier stages of the programming. There are many patterns in this stage. If the child, for example, reports that "Dad never pays attention to me when I am there," the AP might "make up" for the lack of attention by doing special things with the child after visits if the child reports the visits negatively, if the child reports a positive visit, the AP might be vaguely inattentive or may say overtly "Well, I guess you've had your fun, so now we have to get down to the real business of life." Once the program is in place, generalizing begins to occur, leading the child to a loss of ambivalence and to total rejection of the TP. By this time, everything the TP does will be "wrong."

Unfortunately, these cases often reach professionals at the point where the program has been generalized and simply is being maintained. The AP may be doing very little alienating, since it is already in place as a family dynamic. At this stage, the AP simply will watch for slippage in the child's resolve and shore it up when it happens. The AP role may miss detection at this stage. The AP may say things like, "I tried to encourage the relationship," or, "I really wish he'd visit his father. I could use the break, frankly, but it isn't fair to make him, considering the way he feels," or, "I just can't make her go. I have tried."


The AP's techniques usually are in various combinations:

· Denying the existence of the TP: This can be blatant ("I don't ever want to hear her name in this house") or very subtle (refusing to acknowledge that the child has positive experiences in the other house). In one family, the father would play catch with the children and would not look up when the mother drove in, nor would he stop the game. He held the children's attention until the mother was forced to intrude openly, at which point he would walk away from the children and mother, never acknowledging her presence.

· Pairing good experiences or feelings with bad feelings: This is displayed by not responding to the child's expressions of love or enthusiasm for the other parent, or pairing these good experiences with bad feelings ("Oh, that's nice. I had a terrible weekend without you").

· Constantly attacking the TP's character or lifestyle: Here, the AP creates an illusion of what "might happen." Attacks are on the TP; the TP's extended family ("Your mom can't help the way she is, her parents abused her when she was growing up"); the TP's career, living arrangements, activities, travel, or even religion; and the TP's associates, especially new romantic partners.

· Putting the child in the middle: This technique may involve engaging the child in a "spy game," using the child as the principal communicator between the parents; or giving the child subtle "third degrees" (for example, one of the authors had a case in which the mother could reduce the child to a bundle of nerves by saying, "Let's talk about...."--the child had learned that this was a signal to hate something that the father had said, done, chosen, etc.).

· Generalizing from one or two instances to a global meaning: An AP using this technique might say, "Remember when your mother was screaming after us when we drove away [not mentioning that he closed the window on her when she was trying to kiss the kids goodbye]? That's what I mean when I say that she is, well, out of control. She just doesn't have control over her emotions. That's why I get scared when you are over there."

· Taking normal differences and turning them into good/bad and right/wrong problems: The AP can manipulate circumstances to put the TP into a bad light in the child's eyes or undermine the TP by expressing puzzlement about what is wrong with him or her. "I don't know what's the matter with your father. He knows that kids need to be in bed by eight". The use of this technique can be very subtle (e.g., a shake of the head and a smirk when the child reports an activity with the TP).

· Creating alliance in the parental battle: An obvious use of this technique would be, "Do you think it's fair for your rich father to take your poor mother to court all the time?" A more subtle approach would be, "If you were the mother, what would you do? Would you go to court to try to protect your children?" This can include the powerful tool of the threat of withdrawal of love, or complete abandonment, if the child demonstrates love for or interest in the TP. Another version of this technique is to convince the child that kids need one parent (the primary parent syndrome) or to give the child the illusion that "I am the one who really loves you." The other parent then becomes the threat because "she is trying to take you away from me."

· Portraying the child as fragile and needing the AP's protection: This is very common in PAS. The child convincingly will portray his or her life as fragile, about to fall apart if anyone "makes" him or her have contact with the TP. The AP solidifies the relationship with the child by creating an image for the child that he or she is at great risk out of the control and protection of the AP. A frequent twist of this technique is to portray the AP as fragile to the child, requiring the child's presence to maintain balance.

· Lying: False or highly suspicious allegations of abuse, neglect, or molestation are examples of this. The blatant nature of some of these lies creates an illusion for the child, and many children simply do not have the nerve to confront or contradict the parent.

· Brainwashing: Through a process of rewriting the child's experiences in a way to create reality confusion, the parent incorporates the child into a false view of reality. This can include outright lies ("Your father never enjoyed spending time with you. He complained about that all the time, but not in front of you because he didn't want to hurt your feelings. I wonder why he wants to see you now"), subtly implied rewrites of the child's feelings ("You were scared of her even when you were a baby. You wouldn't even let her hold you"), or implanted memories ("Remember when your father used to hit me, or have you blocked this out of your mind?"). The child resolves the confusion by adopting the AP's view of reality.


The motivational factors underlying PAS vary greatly from family to family. In the AP, these can include revenge; self-righteousness; guilt; fear of loss of the child or the role of primary parent; the wish to have proprietary control over the child; jealousy; the desire to obtain sufficient child support; loss of identity; a history with the family of origin of abandonment or alienation; pain avoidance (out of sight/out of mind); self-protection; avoiding scrutiny by pointing the finger; maintaining the marital relationship through conflict, power, and domination; or protecting his or her own precarious self-esteem. The TP's motives may include a desire to abandon, anger at the AP, self-righteousness, a history of problems in the family of origin, stupidity, a personal history of scapegoating, protecting the fragile mental health of the AP, the assumption of a victim stance, or a fear of a relationship with the children. The motivation of the child can include coping with loss, resolving parental conflict for self-preservation, normal developmental pressures, real relational difficulties with the TP, resolution of ambivalence about the AP, or fear of the AP.

As discussed previously, there is also the family system defense. The question has to be asked, "What would happen in this family if the alienation issue was resolved?" Usually there is a very serious underlying family problem needing attention. PAS can serve the function of a lot of smoke, covering up other difficulties that defy identification.


Detection, especially in the last stages, may seem difficult. The "truth" of the family becomes very relative. However, typical patterns in PAS allow for detection by a professional familiar with this form of family conflict:

1. Contradictions: This is relevant especially when the child's own statements are contradictory, or they contradict factual history or the perceptions of unbiased individuals;

2. Child has inappropriate and unnecessary information (e.g., "My dad had an affair while my mom was in the hospital having me," or, "My mom wanted me aborted");

3. Child engages in character assault: This can include the use of globally negative descriptions for which the child has trouble coming up with specifics sufficient to justify them;

4. Collusion and one-sided alliance with the AP: This is often given away by the use of blended pronouns (e.g. "When my dad left us ...," or, "We don't have enough money to live on");

5. Child parrots themes of the AP, even using the same words--the child's identity becomes enmeshed with that of the AP;

6. Child reports on the TP, even to professionals, the way a spy would;

7. Child displays a sense of urgency and fragility: Everything seems to have life-and-death importance (e.g., "If you make me have dinner with him, I'll run away or kill myself");

8. Child's affiliations with the TP's associates and family change;

9. Splitting: The child cannot come up with any positives about the TP nor with any negatives about the AP;

10. Marked absence of complex thinking about relationships: Splitting is one example, and simplistic characterizations of the parents (e.g., "My mom is the homebody and my dad is the entertainer") are another;

11. Child demonstrates a feeling of restriction in permission to love or be loved.


PAS must have seemed a boon to lawyers representing fathers (who are most often the target parents) and criminal defense lawyers, since allegations of physical and sexual abuse frequently occur in cases involving PAS. Dr. Richard Gardner has stated:

Fabricating children [in cases of fabricated allegations of sexual abuse] are more likely to exhibit manifestations of the aforementioned parental alienation syndrome. Children with this disorder typically involve themselves in a campaign of vilification of their fathers and idolization of their mothers. They have been programmed by their mothers to hate their fathers and also contribute their own scenarios of hostility. The fabricated sex-abuse allegations may very well be one manifestation of this disorder. Its presence strongly supports the argument that the sex abuse is fabricated. Children who have been genuinely abused do not usually manifest the signs and symptoms of the parental alienation syndrome. Although there are situations in which a child with parental alienation syndrome has suffered genuine sexual abuse, I suspect that this is rare.(4)

Think of the opportunity here. If a lawyer representing an accused child sex abuser can find a mental health professional who will testify that the children are victims of PAS, the same expert can take the next step to say that it would be rare for a child suffering from PAS to suffer genuine sexual abuse. By simply naming the child's antipathy for the parent as PAS, the lawyer has a defense.

Even absent such extreme allegations, lawyers representing men whose children dislike them in divorce actions can, by labeling the hostility PAS, blame the mother for the child's feelings.

These concerns have been collected and published in the Spring 1994 edition of the Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review under the title, "Notes and Comments: The Parental Alienation Syndrome: A Dangerous Aura of Reliability."(5) The comment argues that evidence of PAS should not be admissible in court because the theory has not gained acceptance among experts in the field. The comment does note the "general acceptance" standard promulgated in Frye v. United States.(6)

The article attacks Dr. Gardner in strong terms. The commentator points out that the PAS theory is built upon criteria that Dr. Gardner invented and included in his widely discredited sex abuse legitimacy scale. It then goes on to argue that testimony regarding PAS should be excluded from the court both under the Daubert test and under the Frye analysis. Under Daubert, the trier of fact must rule on admissibility based on an expert's opinion as to whether the evidence is reliable and thus relevant. Under Federal Rule of Evidence 104(a), the trial judge must make a preliminary assessment of whether the reasoning or methodology underlying the testimony is scientifically valid. in other words, the court may consider whether the theory has been tested, whether it has been subjected to peer review and publication, and whether it has attracted widespread acceptance.(7)

PAS must have seemed a boon to lawyers representing fathers (who are most often the target parents) and criminal defense lawyers.

In spite of the commentator's concerns, PAS has not received an enthusiastic acceptance in the courts, as shown in reported cases. The most frequently cited case showing the dangers of PAS is Karen "PP" v. Clyde "OO."(8) In that case, the mother sought a requirement that the father's visits he supervised because of alleged sexual abuse. The experts differed in their opinions as to whether sexual abuse had occurred. In its opinion, the court cited at length from Dr. Gardner's text. It is for this that this decision has been subjected to criticism. However, an examination of the text indicates that the court based its decision on the evidence and the testimony from witnesses rather than Dr. Gardner's theories. In the end, the court transferred custody from the mother to the father and suspended the mother's visitation, with the resumption of contact subject to treatment and monitoring.

In other cases, reviewing courts have similarly made their decisions without making a determination as to whether PAS is a generally accepted diagnostic tool.(9) In T.M.W., a birth father opposed the adoption of his daughter by her stepfather. The court granted an order requiring a psychological evaluation of the child with a view to determining whether PAS was present. The appellate court overturned the order requiring the examination because it failed to meet Florida's technical requirements. It permitted a new order to be issued provided the new order met the requirements of the statute. In this case, the father was contending that the presence of PAS would justify his conceded lack of contact or communication with the child for several years. In a footnote, the reviewing court noted that no determination was made as to the general professional exceptions of PAS as a diagnostic tool and went on further to recite the cautionary words of other commentators:

"When considering the theory of expert testimony discussed in this subsection, it is vitally important to avoid confusion engendered by reference to syndromes.... [A]t the present time experts have not achieved consensus on the existence of a psychological syndrome that can detect a child's sexual abuse. Use of the word syndrome leads only to confusion and to unwarranted and unworkable comparisons to battered child syndrome. The best course is to avoid any mention of syndromes." citing Myers, Expert Testimony in Child Sexual Abuse Litigation, 68 Neb. L. Rev. 69 (1989).

In a 1994 Iowa case,(10) the father brought an appeal challenging the trial court's temporary order transferring custody of his children to their mother. The father contended that the trial court placed too much emphasis on the testimony of a psychologist regarding PAS. The father contended that the theory is not accepted in the field of psychology. The trial court made a modification in the effective date of the transfer but otherwise affirmed, saying:

We do not pass upon the issue of whether Parental Alienation Syndrome is a reliable theory. Rather we look at the evidence introduced and draw our own conclusion. Because this is a de novo review, we only look at the evidence we deem admissible. We consider the opinions of all the experts as we do the other testimony. We give opinion testimony the weight we consider it deserves after considering, among other things, the expert's education, experience, familiarity with case; reasons given for the opinion, and interests, if any, in the case.

In a 1992 Ohio case,(11) the appellant's expert witness testified in favor of a change of custody, claiming that one of the children exhibited symptoms of PAS. The court affirmed the decision of the trial court, denying the father's motion for change of custody and stating that the appellant's argument was not persuasive. The court said that while evidence had been presented to show that the child was being pressured to distrust and distance herself from her father and there was testimony from a psychologist as to the existence of PAS, there was also evidence indicating that the mother had encouraged the relationship between the father and the daughter, and another psychologist testified that the mother provided a supportive and caring environment for the daughter. The trial court was therefore affirmed in its decision.

The appellant's expert witness testified in favor of a change of custody, claiming that one of the children exhibited symptoms of PAS.

A Wisconsin case directly comments on PAS.(12) The father had petitioned the trial court for a change of primary placement from the mother. His basis was that the children suffered from PAS, the condition was caused by the mother, and the only cure was to transfer primary placement to the father. The trial court found the children were alienated from the father but concluded that it would not be in the children's best interests to transfer primary placement to him to cure the syndrome. The father's expert testified that both children suffered severely from PAS. The psychologist also stated that he was positive that the mother was the cause of the syndrome and the only remedy was to place the children with the father. The trial court rejected the psychologist's recommendations, pointing out that the psychologist had admitted that transferring primary placement involved certain risks. The trial court acknowledged that the long-range negative effects of the alienation would exist but said it was speculative that the degree of harm described by the psychologist would actually occur. Moreover, the trial court pointed out that the transfer could jeopardize the children's progress in school and their relationships with friends. The expert's testimony itself indicated that the cure was controversial and that there was limited research data to support the success of transferring the children to the "hated" parent. The court concluded that the evidence was not strong that the alienation would be cured by placing the children with the father. The trial court also interviewed the children and found that they did not like their father and did not want to live with him. One child told the judge that her feelings came from her own observations. Because the children were adamantly opposed to living with their father, the trial court stated that the potential risk of harm to the children outweighed the questionable benefits of transferring placement. It then concluded that the cure proposed by the father presented too high a risk for harm.

Even though the psychologist who testified on behalf of the father was the only expert who testified, the appellate court found it reasonable for the trial court to reject that testimony, saying that the expert's "testimony indicated that the cure was controversial, bears limited research data, and there are certain risks. Furthermore, the testimony of both parents and the children was other evidence that the cure ... would not be successful and was not reasonable."

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals took pains to point out in a footnote that the trial court had examined both parents' personalities and roles in the ongoing dispute and that both were blameworthy for the children's alienation. The court disapproved of each party's actions toward the other and of their ongoing tactics to place the children in the middle of their anger toward one another. This footnote was entered so as to stress that the trial court and the appellate court decisions were not to be seen as rewarding one parent over the other.


The effect of PAS on the child is never benign; it is malevolent and intense. The degree of severity will depend on the extent of the brainwashing, the amount of time the child spends enmeshed with the AP, the age of the child, the number of healthy support people in the child's life, and the degree to which the child "believes" the delusion. (In many cases of PAS, the child will exhibit all of the signs of absolute rejection of the TP, but in private will disclose that the rejection is just an act.) The effects run across all areas of functioning.

The child's internal psychological and emotional organization becomes centered around the rejection of the TP. The child develops identity and self-concept through a process of identification with both parents, a process that begins very early in the child's life. The rejection of the hated parent becomes an internalized rejection and leads, over time, to self-loathing fears of rejection, depression, and often suicidal ideation. These developments often are a surprise to the AP and others, since at the time of the alienation, the child will often look mature, assertive, and confident. These are facades, however, often reflecting the feelings of power granted the child in cases of PAS, who is given reign to lie, be manipulative, and be as hostile as he or she wishes without reprimand. The child is also internalizing the rage of the AP as part of the self-concept, which often combines with intense guilt over the harm done to the TP to become chronic feeling states. Sadness and longing often accompany these other feelings.

The child ... learns that hostile, obnoxious behavior is acceptable in relationships and that deceit and manipulation are a normal part of relationships.

When the PAS includes grave distortions of reality, the child's reality-testing abilities become compromised, and he or she has permission to distort other aspects of life. For example, the child may develop a fantasy relationship with the TP or even with a fantasy parent and begin to relate to that as though it is real. (Remember, the child is relating to the TP as a hated rejection-worthy parent as though that is real, when it is not.) This approach to relationships often generalizes as the child becomes older and continues to relate to his or her fantasy of others rather than reality.

The child's interpersonal functioning is affected even more directly. Often, the enmeshment with the AP inhibits the development of the child in other spheres of functioning. For example, the child may become socially withdrawn, regress in social situations, or be seen by others as immature. Often these won't show up until the child reaches the final stages of individuation in early adulthood. Unable to make the break from the family of origin, the child persists in adolescent types of relationships and often continues to be enmeshed with the AP. The child also learns that hostile, obnoxious behavior is acceptable in relationships and that deceit and manipulation are a normal part of relationships.

A dominant emotion for the child is loss, though this may not show up right away. Worse yet, the effects of the loss of the parent on other aspects of adjustment are pervasive. Children who are raised by one parent and who lose the other have been found to have lower academic performance; increased chance of psychological disturbance; lower self-esteem; cognitive deficiencies; higher impulse control problems; school adjustment problems; higher fear and anxiety (particularly about abandonment); greater dependency, which interferes with other aspects of development; and impaired sex-role identification.(13) There are generally negative effects on sibling relationships.(14)

Other studies have demonstrated the reverse is true for postdivorce families in which children experience the active involvement of both parents. Children who maintain continuing relationships with both parents have higher satisfaction with their families, better overall adjustment (including higher self-esteem, better sex-role identification, higher IQ scores and academic performance, better adjustment to the divorce, and better adjustment to adolescence), substantially lower levels of fear and anxiety (again, especially of abandonment), and an increased quality of relationship with both parents.(15) No study of which the authors are aware has demonstrated that children are better raised with one parent absent (with the possible exception of cases in which there was severe physical abuse by the absent parent).


No policy or approach can be applied universally. Each family circumstance, despite the similarities of the symptoms, has its own complex, interacting, underlying dynamics. What can be said about all cases of PAS is that successful intervention requires the collaboration of the professionals involved, particularly between the legal community and the mental health community. There is a danger in PAS cases that the professionals will become as split and contentious as the parents, only further demonstrating to the child the inadequacies and ineptness of the adults in his or her world. Contentious attorneys, battles of the experts, and confused judges will be great obstacles, and perhaps even decisive impediments, to improvement.

Each of the professionals involved can play a constructive role in each family. Each case of suspected PAS must be carefully, thoroughly and collaborativeiy assessed, a plan developed, and interventions enacted.

Role of the Attorney

The attorney likely is the first to come into contact with a case of PAS, in the initial interview with the AP or the TP. The American court system is inherently adversarial, which does not serve the family in conflict well. The adversarial process further alienates and polarizes. Unfortunately, the charges and countercharges inherent in a PAS-involved family fit tongue-and-groove into the adversarial system.

Nevertheless, the attorneys, including an attorney appointed to represent the interests of the child, each can play constructive roles. The question then is, how are those roles played out against the backdrop of PAS given the certainty that extreme adversarial conduct will almost always result in a poor outcome for the parties and the child? Despite the simultaneous demands to represent the client and to intervene constructively in the PAS, it is possible to be an effective advocate and still deal with the short- and long-term implications of PAS.

There is a danger in PAS cases that the professionals will become as split and contentious as the parents, only further demonstrating to the child the inadequacies and ineptness of the adults in his or her world.

A lawyer for either the husband or the wife who recognizes that his or her client is either the AP or the TP should begin by giving as much information as is available to the client regarding PAS. The attorney for the TP will find a more receptive audience than the attorney for the AP. The next step is to identify the alienating behaviors employed by both the TP and the AP and to tell the client to stop the behaviors. While this may sound sophomoric, clients do listen to their attorneys, whom they are likely to assume have their interests at heart. Obtaining the client's agreement to stop engaging in PAS behaviors is somewhat like obtaining an alcoholic's agreement to stop drinking, since, like drinking, engaging in PAS behavior is ultimately self-defeating for the client. The decision to stop is the first step. Although this may not "cure" the problem, the termination of the destructive behaviors undergirds further progress.

The lawyer for the AP has a difficult role. The AP has collected evidence and invested time and energy in his or her role and has rectitude and certainty on his or her side, or so he or she believes. The AP wants badly for the lawyer, the mental health professional, and the system to agree with him or her.

The lawyer has been hired, however, for his or her knowledge and judgment. Both attorneys should cooperate with each other, with the guardian ad litem or other counsel for the child when one has been appointed, and with mental health professionals working on the case. The interests of the client will be served best when there is a commitment from both parents to the benefits of the children having a healthy relationship with both of them.

When an attorney (or nonattorney ombudsman), such as a guardian ad litem, has been appointed to represent the interests of the child, a special opportunity arises for coordinating the collaboration among the other professionals. This attorney needs to avoid being swept up in the seductive process of PAS and remain neutral, with a focus on concrete evidence. The AP cannot be rewarded for hysteria or histrionic claims, nor can the TF be permitted to play the role of victim. The child's advocate can serve as the focal point for information, obtaining and disbursing information to the professionals involved and potentially to the court, and can advocate appropriate treatment steps. The lawyer in this role must be active to constructively slow or stop the cancerous growth of the process.

Role of the Psychologist

If the initial interventions of the attorney do not turn the family to a more constructive route, the next step is to involve a mental health professional who is familiar with divorce, custody assessment, and PAS in a family assessment. It is crucial that the attorneys collaborate on the choice of a professional and that efforts be made to avoid bringing in hired guns for each side of the issue. The psychologist must look first to identify whether the case truly is PAS, since in some families, the rejection of a parent by a child is not the result of PAS. The evaluation must go beyond the identification of PAS to the motives of all of the family members, the defense factors or functions of PAS in the family, the specific techniques employed, and the patterns involved.

There are several reasons for so thorough an evaluation. First, progress will not be made without treating the factors and motives underlying the PAS. If the family has organized itself around maintaining the fragile mental health of the AP, for example, pressuring for change likely will lead to more defensiveness, not less, or may put the AP at undue risk of a mental breakdown or even suicide. The AP, in our example, must be given collateral supports and perhaps counseling before pressure for change can be applied. The techniques used to accomplish the alienation can also be good clues as to interventions that are likely to work. For example, if denying the existence of the TP is one of the techniques, a corrective intervention may be for the AP to go to great lengths to acknowledge the importance of the TP to the child.


Once the evaluation is complete, the mental health professional and the attorneys involved must collaborate on a plan. Each plays an important role in this process. This should be an open process, since the process itself models for the family a healthy problem-solving approach. The intervention plan must be based on the factors in the individual case, though in all cases there will be some similarities in approach, including but not limited to the following steps:

1. Establishing the benefits of ongoing contact between the children and the TP. Some of these are inherent in the parent/child relationship. Others may be family specific (e.g., "My father may be more willing to contribute to my college expenses if he has ongoing contact with me"). With all family members contributing to the process of identifying the benefits of contact, they begin to incorporate a family culture of valuing the contact rather than disputing it. The family also needs to identify any drawbacks to contact between the child and the TP, but these ought to be reframed as obstacles to be overcome rather than as reasons for elimination.

2. 2. Establishing structure around the contact. This may include behavioral contracts regarding concerns and problematic behavior. Frequent telephone calls by the AP to the child, for example, may prevent the child from having an independent experience with the TP. Contracting to a certain number of calls at certain times may reduce the anxiety. If the TP makes bothersome statements to the child, contracting can include limiting these. The structure, particularly initially when the system is fragile, must have a reliable system of reporting and enforcement.

3. 3. Avoiding the use of placement as a corrective tool. In most cases, the child's relationship with the AP is important. In many instances, the AP has played the role of primary caregiver, and the threat of breaking that attachment may drive the destruction deeper into the family system. However, frequent contact with the TP provides counterbalancing influences to the PAS process and may also provide the child reliable contact with other people (for example, grandparents) who are respected by and important to the child. If necessary, therefore, placement may be a tool to provide corrective experiences for the child.

4. Encouraging the TP to have expert counseling in approaching the child with sensitivity, cool patience, and loving persistence. The TP, often the weak link in the destructive system, may be required to provide delicate explanations of the situation to the child without denigrating the AP. Drawing the TP out of the family process first provides the child with some sense of relief from the pressures.

5. Eliciting some permission, even if insincere, from the AP for the child to love and be involved with the TP. If the AP is on record as giving such permission, the child may have the courage to progress. This may also provide some reassurance to the child at times, in that others can point out that while the AP may in part be reluctant, there is at least some wish for the relationship between the child and the TP to be successful.

6. Having an outside professional take a strong role in protecting the child by giving a powerful message that the TP is nor a bad person, directly opposing the message of the AP. This must fit the real experiences of the child, however. If the TP has misbehaved, this should not be ignored or glossed over.

7. Conveying a clear, strong message to the family that the alienation process is harmful to the child. In some instances, it may be wise to identify PAS as a form of psychological abuse and to indicate that the courts will not tolerate its continuance. Not all cases require a court order; in some, this may be counterproductive or an exercise in futility. Some cases absolutely cannot proceed without the external authority of the court order, but only if the court is willing to enforce. The judge or family court commissioner, therefore, must be included in the collaborative assessment of the family and the recommended plan of intervention.

8. Developing a clear picture of the benefits to the child in maintaining contact with the TP. These include both the general benefits (e.g., the biological needs of the child for the parent; benefits to the identification process; maintaining a reality foundation for the child's fears [no contact will almost always lead to an irrational increase in the fear level, and the fantasies about the TP almost always become irrational]; and prevention of the loss of a love object [which most often leads to self-resentment by the child and guilt, regardless of the cause of the loss]) and the specific benefits given the AP, the TP, the TP's associates, and family. A clear picture of these benefits will help the collaborating professionals take the unambiguous approach required. Any ambivalence regarding the benefits will feed the polarization in the family. If there are no clear benefits to the child, given the nature of the family, treatment may prove fruitless.

9. Realizing that confrontation rarely helps. For example, if the issue is loss, focusing on reducing the loss is more likely to help than confronting the alienation and bringing on the threat of more loss.

10. Providing emotional support. The AP may need a great deal of emotional support for correction to take place, as the breakdown of the alienation may bring to the surface serious problems for the AP.


The probability of successful intervention is moderately poor (informal estimates range between a third and a half of these cases resolving well). This may be more of a statement about the state of the art in dealing with the more difficult issues in high-conflict divorces such as those involving PAS, however, than the tenacity of this particular type of conflict. The approaches identified in this article, for example, are relatively new, based on our increasing body of knowledge about high conflict in divorce. It is our responsibility to continue to study and work at these high-conflict cases. Even with the best of approaches, however, the dynamics underlying PAS are resistant to an easy fix and require hard work over a sometimes long period of time to provide the relief all of the family members, including the AP, are likely to experience, and for which each secretly hopes.


1. Throughout this article we will refer to a child in the singular, although in most instances. the same could be applied to the plural, children.

2. R. Gardner, Parental Alienation Syndrome and the Differentiation Between Fabricated and Genuine Child Sex Abuse (Cresskill, N.J. 1987).

3. Clawar & Rivlin, Children Held Hostage: Dealing with Programmed and Brainwashed Children (American Bar Association 1989).

4. Gardner, supra note 2. at 109.

5. C.L. Wood, Notes and Comments: The Parental Alienation Syndrome: A Dangerous Aura of Reliability, 27 Loy. L.A. L. Rev. 1367 (Spring 1994).

6. Frye v. United States, 293 F. 1013 (D.C. Cir. 1923). superceded by Fed. R. Evid. 702, construed in Daubert v. Merell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 113 S. Ct. 2786 (1993).

7. Wood, supra note 5, at 1411-12

8. Karen "PP" v. Clyde "OO", 574 N.Y.S. 2d 267 (Fam. Ct. 1991), aff d sub nom., Karen "PP" v. Clyde "OO", 602 N.Y.S. 2d 709 (App. Div. 1993).

9. In the interest of T.M.W., 333 So. 2d 260 (Ra. Dist. Ct. App. 1989).

10. In re Rosenfeld and Rosenfeld. 524 N.W.2d 212 (Iowa Ct. App. 1994).

11. (Hornby) Simms v. Hornsby (Ohio Ct. App. 12th Dist., 1992)

12. In re Marriage of Wiederholt v. Fisher, 485 N.W.2d 442 (Wis. Ct. App. 1992).

13. E. Ferri, Growing Up in a One-Parent Family (NFER 1976); J. Santrock, & R Warshak, Father Custody and Social Development in Boys and Girls, 35 J. Soc issues 112 (1979); M. Shinn, Father Absence and Children's Cognitive Development, 85 Psychol. Bull. 295 (1978); C. Marino & R. McCowan, The Effects of Parent Absence on Children, 6 Child Study J. 165 (1976); E. Heatherington, Effects of Paternal Absence on Personality Development in Adolescent Daughters, 7 Developmental Psychol. 313 (1972); R. Sears, E. Maccoby & H. Levin, Patterns in Childrearing (Row Peterson 1957); J. Santrock. Infuence of Onset and Type of Paternal Absence on the First Four Ericksonian Crises, 3 Developmental Psychol. 273 (1970); W. Hedges, R. Wechsler, & C. Ballantine, Divorce and the Pre-school Child, 8 J. Divorce 33 (1979); J. Vess, A. Schwebel, & J. Moreland, The Effects of Early Parental Divorce on the Sex Role Development of College Students, 7 J. Divorce 83 (1983).

14. W. Hedges, Interventions for Children of Divorce: Custody Access, and Psychotherapy (New York, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 1991); R. Gelles, Child Abuse and Violence in Single-Parent Families: Parent Absence and Economic Deprivation, 59 Am. I. Orthopsychiatry 492 (1989).

15. Ferri, supra note 13; S. Kellam, M. Ensminger, & F. Turner, Family Structure and the Mental Health of Children: Concurrent and Longitudinal Community-wide Studies, 34 Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 1012 (1977); J. Santrock & R. Tracy, The Effects of Children's Family Structure Status on the Development of Stereotypes by Teachers, 70 J. Educational Psychol. 754 (1979); Hedges, supra note 14; E.E. Maccoby & R.H. Mnookin, Dividing the Child (Harvard Univ. Press 1992); F. Furstenberg & C. Nord, Parenting Apart: Patterns in Childrearing After Marital Disruption, 47 J. Marr. & Fam. 483 (1985); M. Bowman & C. Ahrons, Impact of Legal Custody Status on Father's Parenting Post-divorce, 47 J. Marr. & Fam. 483 (1985); M. Kline et al., Children's Adjustment in Joint and Sole Physical Custody Families, 25 Developmental Psychol. 297 (1989); N. Coyish et al., Parental Post-divorce Adjustment in Joint and Sole Physical Custody Families, 10 J. Fam. Issues 52 (1989); J. Arditti, Differences Between Fathers with Joint Custody and Noncustodial Fathers, 62 Am. J. Orthopsychiatry 186 (1992); J. Wallerstein & J. Kelly, Surviving the Breakup: How Children and Parents Cope with Divorce (Basic Books 1980).


Kenneth H. Waldron, Ph.D., is a psychologist in Madison, Wisconsin, with a practice focused on divorce. His practice includes divorce mediation, coparenting counseling, custody assessment, parent education, and consultation to courts and court-connected mediation and investigation services.

David E. Joanis practices law with the Madison, Wisconsin, firm of Boushea, Segall & Joanis. His practice focuses exclusively on family law

Saturday, February 27, 2010

1. Parental Alienation

The effects of Parental Alienation can be extremely damaging to children and families alike, my goal here is to inform and educate, give resources and help you find ways to protect your children from the harmfull effects of parental alienation.I would like to open the blog to your comments and suggestions for our users.Our children deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,The Honorable Judge Gomery of Canada stated, "Hatred is not an emotion that comes naturally to a child. It has to be taught. A parent who would teach a child to hate the other parent represents a grave and persistent danger to the mental and emotional health of that child."In severe PAS the child is often fanatic or obsessional in his/her hatred of the target parent. For this reason alone the PAS-inducing parent no longer needs to be active, although the PAS-inducing parent will resort to anything to prevent the child maintaining a relationship with the targeted parent. The child takes on the PAS-inducing parent's desires, emotions and hatreds and verbalises them all as its own. The child views the history of the targeted parent and the targeted parent's family as all negative and is unable to either remember or express any positive feelings for the target parent..The child is very likely to refuse Contact, make false allegations of abuse, threaten to run away, threaten to commit suicide or even murder - if forced to see the targeted parent. The PAS-inducing parent will hold little or no value for the targeted parent and hatred may be completely overt.. The child and the alienating parent have a pathological bond that is invariably based on shared paranoid fantasies of the targeted parent, sometimes to the point of folie a deux.What Does a Severely Alienated Child look like?They have a relentless hatred for towards the targeted parent.They parrot the Obsessed Alienator.The child does not want to visit or spend any time with the targeted parent.Many of the child's beliefs are enmeshed with the alienator.The beliefs are delusional and frequently irrational.They are not intimidated by the court.Frequently, their reasons are not based on personal experiences with the targeted parent but reflect what they are told by the Obsessed Alienator. They have difficulty making any differentiate between the two.The child has no ambivalence in his feelings; it's all hatred with no ability to see the good.They have no capacity to feel guilty about how they behave towards the targeted parent or forgive any past indiscretions.They share the Obsessed Alienators cause. Together, they are in lockstep to denigrate the hated parent.The children's obsessional hatred extends to the targeted parent's extended family without any guilt or remorse.They can appear like normal healthy children until asked about the targeted parent that triggers their hatred.Children in the severe category are generally quite disturbed and are usually fanatic. They join together with their alienating parent in a folie à deux relationship in which they share her paranoid fantasies about the alienated parent. All eight of the primary symptomatic manifestations are likely to be present to a significant degree, even more prominent than in the moderate category. Children in this category may become panic-stricken over the prospect of visiting with their alienated parent. Their blood-curdling shrieks, panicked states, and rage outbursts may be so severe that visitation is impossible. If placed in the alienated parent's home they may run away, become paralyzed with morbid fear, or may become so continuously provocative and so destructive that removal becomes necessary. Unlike children in the moderate and mild categories, their panic and hostility may not be reduced in the alienated parent's home, even when separated from their alienating parents for significant periods. Whereas in the mild and moderate categories the children's primary motive is to strengthen the stronger, healthy psychological bond with the alienating parent, in the severe category the psychological bond with the alienating parent is pathological (often paranoid) and the symptoms serve to strengthen this pathological bond.

Friday, February 26, 2010

It’s 99% about money!

Many people are now weighting in on this subject and I thank you for your support but, this is not what I’m looking for and this is not what my blog is about. Even though I use my experience and reference the public/documented facts in this blog, this is not about my situation. It is about stopping this from occurring to other families.

My ordeal continues and it’s disturbing to say, may never end because my ex keeps pursuing me. Just last week I filed my income taxes for 2009 just to have them rejected because, I came to find out, that Linda must have claimed both of the children on her income taxes because that credit was no longer available to me. She did the same type of thing to the oldest son when he graduated, years ago. I had him solely in my house. Yet she advised him to claim himself for the whole year on his very small income tax return. She did this the 1st of January that year before I even knew, her only goal was to harm me and my tax position. This points to the issue of money and how important a factor it is with a person like my ex. I make $3,500 a month and pay $1,850 a month in child support to her. (yes, I have to pay my bills on what is left. The reality is that I have to borrow money right now from a friend to make my commitments and hope that I can get a medical loan for my cancer treatment). I received a letter from the Orthodontist that Linda is now refusing to make the monthly payment to finish Colton’s work. So, instead of fighting her over this issue, I paid and will finish paying the bill. Now I’m paying over $2,000 a month in child support for children that will not call me after finding out that I have cancer. I will keep paying until I have nothing left. Please leave me your comments on this; I pay over $2,000 a month to support my kids and Linda takes the tax credit for raising them both…Is Her action justifiable to anyone? I paid over $20,000 last year for my children and the mother takes the tax deductions??? Please, someone defend her actions.

Now, my question is, where does that money go? We all have to agree that spending $900 a month to raise kids is very excessive. So, where does that money go?

It is a documented fact that Linda lost all of the money from our settlement in 2002, 2 houses and 7 cars, having the last house and car foreclosed on and then she filed bankruptcy. This is when the Parental Alienation escalated. The result from that whole nightmare is that the boys have lost a father and have been alienated from their brother, friends and family members.

Again, I will document the events in my life for a reason. Parental Alienation is a national problem and one that needs addressed. We all have innocently engaged in it as some point, to some degree in our lives. But when the intent becomes vile to the point of damaging the other parents relationship with the children, it is EVIL.

There needs to be a national recognition of this problem.

It is the kids that suffer and that will have an impact on our society and nation. It will not be America anymore when our family structure has been destroyed.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

#4 Is alienation a mental illness or just evil?

Well, the argument is it’s both!

In the case of my ex wife Linda Clark, she in fact was put on medication for depression and anti anxiety. She referred to them as her happy pills. So it is documented that she suffered from a mental illness where she was unable to leave the house, and her mother would have to go with her to the grocery store that was only a mile away. So, again, in this case mental illness had to play a part.

Evil? Let me tell you what has happened in the past couple of weeks and you tell me what you think with your e-mails and comments.

As you all know I have cancer. I have kept this fact from my two alienated sons for a reason, I know their mother. I could not bear to think about what she would say to them when she learned the news. (how I got what I deserved in the end, how I’m probably making this whole thing up to get sympathy, or perhaps I’m saying this in an attempt to reduce child support payments.) I didn’t what to deal with that stress. But, sometimes it is unavoidable. My mother, who I dearly love, called and spoke with Dakota on or after his B day. In the conversation she asked him how I was doing and must have said something about my cancer. Well Dakota did not know anything and so I’m sure Mom told him what was going on. That was fine, that was ok.

But what happened next was EVIL. Linda made a call back to my mother and chewed her out for upsetting Dakota. This type of crazy behavior is what Linda has always done. You would think that a normal person would have some compassion for mother whose son has cancer. Not Linda, 1st thing she did was to call her sons Grandmother back and tell her how to never say anything to upset HER sons again. She went on to disturb my 75 year old mother very much during her phone rampage. Is this Evil? Is this a mental condition? I think it’s both. They go hand in hand when you have a person like Linda making a phone call like this. There can be no doubt but what she is alienating Dakota and Colton from anyone in my family. She wants them to have no contact with anyone but her. Linda is very insecure and feels a relationship the boys have with any other family members or friends of mine, is a direct threat to her position with the boys. She will do whatever it takes to protect those boys from the truth. That means to stop and cut off all contact with anyone that knows the truth about what has gone on. This is apparent and even documented. The boys would not enter the church services that we used to attend together because “of the people in there”. That was a comment they made to me because I had support from church members. No one there said one bad word about their mother in any statements. That was not asked for nor offered. Unlike Linda, descent people do not go around running down or making negative comments about other people. The boys, by court order, where not to see any documents, statements or have their parents ,making comments about the court issues. Well, Linda has never been very good at following sound advice. She “knows better” she doesn’t have to do anything she doesn’t want to and will not have someone telling HER what she can or cannot do, she will show them. This is the reason she fought so hard to keep the boys from seeing the Doctor.

Evil? After hearing that I have cancer, Linda called Colton’s Orthodontist.

I have paid for all my sons braces with no help from Linda. In her defense, I never asked. Yet though the documented lies she has told and the negative, brainwashing influence, Linda has stopped me from having contact with my sons. She has (with the help of a corrupt attorney) are extorting almost $1,900 a month from me in child support. Yet with that much income coming from me for those boys, she refuses to even finish paying for Colton’s braces, It would be only a small portion of the childsupport, $130 a month. Yet She called the dentist and told him to send me the bill that is now 90 days past due. I will pay the bill, because if Linda will not show any responsibility, then again, I have to pick up where she fails. What bothers me about this is what I can hear her telling the boys (your father is to cheap to pay for your braces. He wants me to pay for them. He only cares about himself and doesn’t give a rip about you boys, his own sons) Yes, I know she has made those kind of comments, she has a history of it and her behavior has be reinforced and emboldened by the court, she will not change.

So the result is, I pay over $2,000 a month for two sons that will not even call me when hearing that I have cancer.

Linda can’t seem to spend that money on her sons but again, she is back out on the town, drinking and gambling. But now, she has money to take her married boyfriend with her.

Evil? Yes, without a doubt. Sick, yes without a doubt.

As the Doctor told the court investigator, “it’s one of the worse cases I have ever seen. Over the top BAD”


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Blessed or forsaken, how do you view your life?

Dakota, Kaleb, Josh and Colton

I have worked very hard all my life for my family and I enjoyed it. But, within the last two years my ex wife has been successful in turning my sons against me with PA. I have lost more than anyone knows or can understand, I have even been forced to sale my home to pay attorney fees and child support. I have all but lost my youngest two sons, and the stress of this whole ordeal has caused me to developed cancer. It is very clear from the bible, bitterness will destroy your health. One may look at this type of situation as God turning away from you. I disagree!

I am blessed!

The support I have received from the church I attended at Highland has been great. The pastor, elders and members have prayed for me and my sons. Chuck has been great in helping me and Jimmy has always been a great friend that I could count on. I don’t know if I can ever repay their kindness and friendship. I am Blessed.

All 4 of my sons have their health and, I am blessed.

This nightmare has made me look at my life and what is important. It has made me seek God and to find an understanding. I have found what I was looking for. God has a plan…the pain and disappointment, I don’t need to understand it. I need to follow his direction and put the experiences he has giving me, and use them in a beneficial way. I am Blessed.

The new church I have been drawn to is a blessing. The 1st time I walked in the door I felt at home. The message was “The Bait of Satan” and was right on target as to what I needed to hear. It made clear that offences will come, it is how you deal with them that matters. That is why “Putting on the armor of God” is so important and I thank the HCC for introducing me to that lesson. My message this week was how suffering makes you stronger. How a tree puts down stronger roots in a drought. How an orange becomes sweeter after a freezing cold spell. I am Blessed.

As I sat down that 1st day I loved and understood the message and how God must have directed me here to this very small church. After the morning school lesson I started reading the bulletin. Linda Clark was the children’s teacher in this church, I laugh to myself and smiled at God for the humor of the situation. I know he loves me, I know that he will never give me more than I can handle and I know He has a great sense of humor, in His own way, ha ha. I am Blessed!

As I was loading up more junk the other day, 5 neighbors stopped to say hi and give words of support. They thanked me for the blog and gave me encouragement for my cancer treatment. 2 stopped, got out of their car and came over and gave me a hug. The genuine love was…well…I am Blessed!

The message of the day;

Hiding From Reality,

Sharpen your Sword!

“A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But, if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance!”

“The next time you are being unfairly treated, you can dance, do a jig, have a party, because God is setting you up to get blessed…IF YOU HANDLE IT CORRECTLY.”

Thank you to all my friends in the Highland community. You will never be forgotten.

May God Bless you and your families.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Can you try to co-parent with a crazy ex-wife?

Because of their mother, the boys no longer have contact with their relatives in Washington

Should you try to contact your ex-wife with concerns about your children’s behavior?

Should you try to be the best co-parent you can by discussing issues and making sure you don’t involve the kids?

Should you worry about such issues and differences?

On the date of the letter I sent below, Linda had the boys one week and I had them the next, every other week arrangement.

Each week when they came home they were a wreck and it took days for them to get rested and recover. Then they would start getting along and playing again with each other.

During the school parent – teacher conferences, Colton’s teacher would ask me about his sleeping habits. When I asked why, she pointed out that sometimes he comes to school with dark circles under his eyes. It seems this was happening every other week. I told her about the custody arrangement and then she comment that she understood.

I believe the answers to the questions above is YES.

But with an ex such as Linda, I honestly don’t know. No where have I found good advice on how to deal with someone like that.

Right or wrong, below was my effort at that time;

Thu 10/27/2005 8:36 AM



I’m very concerned with the boys, Josh seems ok but Kaleb is having a very hard time with authority, commitment fowl language he uses at times and discipline.

I think a lot has to do with your home atmosphere. Again, I’m told no bed times for the boys or at least not one that is enforced. I’m told that Kaleb spends time in his room alone with Sahara. I’m told they are found in bed, under the covers. This is really unacceptable behavior for a teenage boy and girl. I’m very afraid Kaleb will become a father before he gets out of school. This is happening at your house. This is your responsibility to over see and control. He is developing an attitude because he feels he has no rules or accountably. He can do what he wants, no bed time, doesn’t have to pick up after himself or keep his room no rules regarding his girl friend, and that he can just do as he pleases. He can lay in bed until he makes everyone almost late for school, play video games or computer games until he is tired and falls asleep. His attitude has to change very soon or we all will be sorry for our failure. Our house here has rules that are followed but it seems a huge change for them every week to adjust to being accountable. For the most part they do very well but it takes them 2-3 days to catch up on sleep and get use to having to do what they are told when they are told to do it. Parenting is not just having the kids like you because you don’t expect anything from them. It’s not a popularity contest. You seem to think that letting them away with stuff makes them like you more than me. I’m not out to have them like me more than you. I’m trying to make sure they are raised up so they have every opportunity in life.

Dakota will be right behind him, won’t eat stuff that you can’t put in a microwave, pouts if asked to clean up after himself. Again, in 2-3 days he is good but it happens every time they come home. Colton has to take a 1-2 nap before dinner and then in bed by 8:30. In 2-3 days the bags or gone from under his eyes and he doesn’t fight with the boys or act like a baby, after he gets rest. Dakota the same way, he has to get rest before his attitude changes.

I don’t care what you think about me, or that you want to take out some aggression, or extract some form of revenge against me. I do care how the boys are growing up. I’m begging you for he boys sake not to be the (push over, it’s ok) baby sitting mom. They need more. This lack of enforcing any type of rules and allowing them to do what they can’t do here, is not helping them, making them love you more than me,

The boys love you but have lost respect for you because of the inconstancy in the way they are treated. Any rules you have change from day to day and so they just disregard them and that is disrespectful to you. That attitude is easy to see. Kaleb didn’t get his home work done at you house last week. He had to do it here Sunday night before school. I was told that he and Sahara was watching movies all weekend. Just so you know, it seems Josh and Dakota really dislike her and resent that she is over there all week after school and all weekend long. Josh says he told her he is not giving her rides back and forth any more and I agree, it’s not his job. The way I understand it she picks back and forth with Dakota and Colton. Dakota doesn’t like her and Colton is back and forth, depending on how he is being treated. All of this is not fair to Kaleb who likes the girl. I would just think their time together should have limits.

This week Colton brought a new toy gun from your house. Please don’t allow this anymore. I don’t want the toys you buy to come up here. I have different rules and shooting each other in the house is not acceptable. Kaleb took it to a football dinner in town the other night and thought is was funny to shot kids from the truck. This is very dangerous, gang members are in town and mite see this in a very different way. I told him never to do that again.

You really need to start helping them and stop fighting what I’m trying to do all the time.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Just a little joke about the court system

It seems many people are reading this blog and I thank you. Thank you for your concern about my health and the future of my sons, it means a lot to me.

Today I just wanted to lighten up, so I hope you enjoy this quick joke. Problem is, it really is not a joke and it’s a reminder of my court experiences. Lies told there are not challenged and it seems this is the focus of a hearing. The judge wants to hear the worst story you can come up with and that is the one that wins. In my case, I didn’t attack my ex wife and I did not lie. I could not believe the lies that were told about me by Linda and her Attorney. Stay tuned and you will see the lies they got away with, all under the penalty of perjury

The judge warned the witness, “Do you understand that you have sworn to tell the truth?” “I do.”
Do you understand what will happen if you are not truthful?”
“Sure,” said the witness. “My side will win.”

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

#3 Is alienation a mental illness or just evil?

I feel very sad for the dads that don't get a call, letter or card from their sons/kids on their birthday.
How does something like that happen?

Below is a letter from October 2005. This is 4 years before Linda was able to completely steal the boys minds.

You will see how I fail in this whole thing and that is by trying to be a co-parent. By thinking that my ex and I were on the same page as how to parent the kids. I was a fool due to my lack of understanding about parental alienation. I did all the wrong things in the letter below, I tried to explain my actions, I tried to explain how her actions effect the children and both were a mistake on my part.

As you can see in Lindas reply, it only makes her angry, she become defensive and then starts on the attack. She attacks Jan, attacks me, threatens court and to even move the boys from their school and all the time she blames me. She goes away from discussing the kids and into a theme about Linda, it all turns to Linda and how well she is doing without me. This in turn leads her to escalating the PA and bad mouthing me in front of the kids.

This letter started out from a issue at my oldest sons football game. Linda had the boys this week and so my wife Jan and I were sitting in the stands. The JH Principal brought Colton up to me and he was very upset. He asked me if I was Colton father and I said yes I was. He informed me to watch my kids and not let them run wild at the game. That he had told Colton to stay off the playing field behind the stands twice. Now I needed to control him. I said ok and thank you. I told Colton (then 8 years old) to sit down and he informed me that is was not my week and that he didn’t have to do anything I said! So…I pulled him up, grabbed him by the nap of his neck and marched him down to his mother and told her what happened. Linda then attacked me and said I was abusive and again that it was not my week. (All this while my other son Dakota watched and he even said that I had nothing to say, it was not my week.) She even called to local police man over because of this. I told him what happened and he said it’s your kid, you can spank him if you want. At this point I just walked away and return to my seat, embarrassed for what had just taking place.

In Lindas reply in this letter look carefully on how she makes me out the bad guy while claiming to be the victim. Explianing how she is going so well and yet filed bankrupcey because she spent all the money I gave her on houses, gambling and fast cars.You ask yourself, was she, is she mentally stable?


From: []

Sent: Saturday, October 08, 2005 8:26 AM


Subject: Re: Boys

Great E-mail!!!. I do tell the boys to respect their father and adults. [Bruce Clark] that is untrue. Colton just told the principle and me last night that he doesn’t have to. I think the boys are rebelling because of your household being a military camp, with camera's etc. [Bruce Clark] You are the one that brings that up and it was very eye opening when they felt they were being watched even if I was not in the house. It seems if I’m not in front of them they have no accountability. I was at the game about 7:05 7:10 at the latest.[Bruce Clark] well that is still late when you are suppose to have the boys and according to them I have no say in what they do when it’s your week. [Bruce Clark] If that is true then you better be responsible enough to get to the game on time. Perhaps this is why the boys are late getting to school I left the game when it was over.[Bruce Clark] Did you see Josh and Kaleb after the game? I was there, didn’t see you I told Dakota to tell you before the game was over that they were going home with me.[Bruce Clark] he had told me that before when I took him to the game. He came up to say he was leaving and to say good bye. Today I'm picking up corsages and shirts. [Bruce Clark] that is part of being a parent Kaleb is afraid of you to ask for help.[Bruce Clark] why would he ask me? He is with you this week. If it were my week I’d make sure arrangements were made. (before I finished this he called and asked me to take his girlfriend home after the dance) It thought it would be easier. I told him to talk to you about his plans for homecoming. [Bruce Clark] I told you what he told me As far as my plans I asked a week in advance about this weekend.[Bruce Clark] and I told you we had plans to move stuff from OR. You made your plans before I even knew or tried to change ours Last year I had them for homecoming and took care of everything. [Bruce Clark] that is what I would have done also You agreed to take the boys until you found out that it was home coming and you didn't have their help to help you and Jan.[Bruce Clark] wrong again, but you always seem to get a dig in about how hard the boys work around me. I said that would work until I found out about the dance that was Saturday night and not Friday after the game. We would have taken them all to the ranch and yes they would have had to help load stuff but we also planned to do some hunting and fishing there. That all changed because you bought tickets and told me you made plans and would be gone Saturday night. So I had to change my plans again. I'm sorry it screwed up your plans. [Bruce Clark] Why do you say that if you thought is was ok with me?I have taken the boys in the past for plans that you have had and you know it. [Bruce Clark] My plans are work, I have meetings that I can’t control. I have never put my personal life ahead of the boys. When they are here, we make plans around them and for them I have driven them to school and picked them up in the past also and you know it.[Bruce Clark] you don’t understand, you think once in awhile is a huge deal for you. You have Josh doing all the running around and driving for you. Don't blame this all on me,[Bruce Clark] Your attitude towards me and Jan and disciplining the kids is your fault it's very hard for the boys to deal with a new stepmom and all your rules.[Bruce Clark] See? All those rules. Your attitude is against rules in our house. You use that and try to make the boys believe that it’s extreme to have rules and be expected to follow them I don't condone their behavior, I try.[Bruce Clark] your actions do. You say one thing and then do another. They never know where you stand so when you say something it goes in one ear and out the other If it's such a burden on you I will make sure they get to school and catch the bus but I guess It'll have to be in my school dist.[Bruce Clark] It not a burden so don’t put words into my mouth. You need to make sure the are up in time to get to school I do get the boys up and make sure they have breakfast, homework and papers filled out that they need. [Bruce Clark] That is not correct, Colton had breakfast here this last week As far as bed time with all the sports practices by the time they get to my house to eat and do homework, etc., sometimes it is late when they go to bed. [Bruce Clark] Colton has his homework done here before he leaves. They all should be down to your house by 6:30 and half an hour gets the work done. I do try I know you don't believe that.[Bruce Clark] I know that is false. You may believe you work at it but when the boys are watching TV until late at night, that has nothing to do with sports, homework or dinner. It has everything to do with you having no guidelines or control over them What is your solution to this??[Bruce Clark] For you to become a parent that has their best interest in mind and not one of appeasement. True love sets goals, standards, rules and it takes love to stick to them I think Jan is having a hard time dealing with four boys. [Bruce Clark] Jan is not your concern, I do think you have a hard time with Jan Your Mom told me last yr that Jan had mentioned that she has raised her kids and doesn't want to raise anymore,[Bruce Clark] Do I need to call mom and ask her about this? but she didn't plan on falling in love with a man with four kids.[Bruce Clark] That may be very true, but she did and she does love the boys or she would have a (I don’t care attitude towards them) and not one of caring about how they eat and how the respect each other Show a little love for them. [Bruce Clark] Love is not letting them stay up late. It has everything to do with caring about them and giving them guidelines that will help them develop into the great young men they can become I gave them cell phones so they could get in touch with someone if needed esp with the sports schedule that they all have. They are not to be used to gab on......I would gladly trade that the boys are in my school dist and around my area [Bruce Clark] you chose to move further away from their school not closer, that was your choice and see how things would go if they had to commute from your house to here. Think about it.[Bruce Clark] I have. The thought that you would disrupt their school arrangements so as to make it easier on you, shows that you don’t care about what is best for the boys but what is easiest for Linda. The boys have grown up in this school district and have their friends here. They have done well in school for the most part. For you to threaten to move them to a city school is very alarming to me. You could have moved closer to the boys school to make it easier on them but to didn’t, that wasn’t a priority when looking at location. I have a job that I have to be at daily, I don't work out of the house and not have a set time schedule like you or Jan.[Bruce Clark] have no idea what you are leading to with that. I think the boys are starting to stand up to all this,[Bruce Clark] standing up to what? They are just confused about how to conduct themselves because the week they go to your house they have no one to answer to they hate this arrangement. [Bruce Clark] what are you saying? Let the children decide what is best for them? What kind of parent is that? Ask the boys what they would like to do to resolve this.[Bruce Clark] are you asking me if the boys would rather have rules and be accountable for their behavior or to run free with no rules? Ask them if they would rather eat vegetables with their meals or just have pizza. Ask them if they want chores to do or if they would rather watch TV? They are children I’m sure they would rather stay up all night and watch TV instead of having a set bed time that doesn’t allow them to stay up and watch late night programs Sorry it's not a perfect world. I have never told the boys that they didn't have to answer to you during my week.[Bruce Clark] then why would Colton and Dakota tell me other wise? That's false they are told to respect us, but on the other hand you proved to the whole community last night the true person that you are. [Bruce Clark] That I care about their behavior? You lost control and you don't like that.[Bruce Clark] How in the world did I lose control. I scolded Colton and then took him to his mother so we could discuss what happened. I was the one that told him he could not use us against each other that way even if I didn’t believe it. I provide a united front for the boys and you again under minded it Several people saw you loose your temper so don't blame this on me. [Bruce Clark] No one saw me lose my temper. Anyone could see me disciplining my son for a very disrespectful act that you seem to keep avoiding. Such an action should be dealt with immediately and that is what I did. You were not there. Other people had no idea what may have happened but it was clear Colton was in trouble for something. Yes Colton was very disrespectful [Bruce Clark] Colton would not have said something like that without hearing from you and no I didn't hug him and condone his behavior. [Bruce Clark] You did give him a hug, I saw it I did talk with him and Dakota about this incident. [Bruce Clark] And what did you say? What kind of discipline did they receive for doing things they knew they were not suppose to be doing and what did you do about the disrespect Colton showed toward the principle? What action or punishment did they receive? So No don't make me to be the bad guy. [Bruce Clark] No you are not the bad guy, you do nothing and that is just very very wrong I told you I would talk with you later, because in the past I'm not getting in a fight with you in public. [Bruce Clark] Why would you fight with me there? What did I do that was wrong? Remember you asked me awhile back not to do that.[Bruce Clark] Yes because of they way you act when I tell the boys to sit down. I did that last year at a football game when mom was here and you told me they were with you and I didn’t need to tell them anything

As far as a distrain for school for me. I graduated and have made a good life for myself so don't give me that crap.[Bruce Clark] what you have done with your life has nothing to do with how you think about authority or how you expect the boys to act. Many people have seen how you react, it’s never the child’s fault Your not perfect, [Bruce Clark] never said I was and what makes you better then me.[Bruce Clark] Nothing unless you are talking about parenting You can't stand it that I've done so well.[Bruce Clark] were does that come from, why would you think that and what bearing does it have here or with the boys? I have a nice house good job and a new car and you don't like that I've done this myself.[Bruce Clark] why would you think that or bring up such nonsense? In all the years you never gave me credit for anything[Bruce Clark] you seem to be having a difficult time and it reflects on how you are parenting the boys............. I don't leave my kids unattended.[Bruce Clark] I don’t think that is what we have talked about here but if you bring it up, yes you have, saying you don’t or haven’t doesn’t change that. That is not what we are trying to talk about here . I don't coach the kids to be disrespectful they are just tired of the way they are treated,[Bruce Clark] they are tired of rules, is what you are trying to say. You do coach them with your actions and talk against me and Jan Wake up to the reality of the boys growing up. I know all those years you feared your dad. [Bruce Clark] what are you talking about. You were never even around when I grew up and what you say here is not true at all but I have heard that you tell the boys the same thing Oh by the way don't blame us moving on me that was your decision to get out of the family business. [Bruce Clark] You are just rambling now and it has nothing to do with the situation last night. I have not heard one word about what Colton’s disciplinary actions were. Personally I think since you were carbon monoxide poisoned your not the same person you used to be. [Bruce Clark] again, this is why I don’t want to speak with you about anything but issues that involve the boys. I wish the best for you and Jan but someday she won't fit into your perfect mold either.[Bruce Clark] I feel sorry fro you, how you dwell on the past Bruce may you and Jan pray for me, and I will pray for you.[Bruce Clark] Linda, this is not a joke. You know we take the boys to church, you know we say grace at the table. We do include you in the table prayer. For you to say that is very wrong. I know you don’t go to church or say grace. Please don’t patronize me for the sake of an e-mail.

As far as good meals the boys are provided with PORK [Bruce Clark] I see you have a problem with Jan’s diet roasts, steaks, mashed potatoes, etc., so don't give me that crap that they are not provided for. I bake apple pies and make brownies. [Bruce Clark] You can’t expect that to fly. You know you eat more fast food in your house then sit down good meals, don’t even attempt to do other wise. I’m not a fool; please don’t treat me as such. As far as speeding them to school I will drive them take away Josh;s rig and then move them to my area if that's the way you want it to be.[Bruce Clark] I never said any such thing. I do know if they leave your house late, pressure to get there on time becomes greater. Your way addressing issues is what concerns me so. Could you not see to it they get out of the house 10 minutes earlier. Do you think that taking away Josh’s car and driving them yourself is easier? And to threaten again to move them from their school as a solution to getting them to school on time a ridicules. There still would be no guarantee they would make it on time if they were in your school district. That’s because you won’t take responsibility for you own actions and control things in your house. If your threatening me to change my parenting habits bring it on, I'll be more then happy to let the judicial system decide the parenting arrangements because after your actions last night all of Highland knows how you really are. [Bruce Clark] That is fine if they understand I will not allow my child to be disrespectful without him being held accountable Don't threaten me because you know what...... I'm not afraid of you anymore......... [Bruce Clark] Your attitude here and in that statement is what’s being translated to the kids. You don’t have to respect your father, don’t be afraid of him. I’m here for you, I won’t let him be mean to you, I’ll tell him his rules are crap and that you guys are just little kids.

Thank you for taking the boys 1 day early. I will be more then happy to have the boys more if that's what you want. [Bruce Clark] That is not what you have said before “no more flex time for me”. You say one thing one day and turn around and say something different the next. That is the same thing you do with the boys and why they never know where you stand. It’s because to don’t stay consistent with them, so they lose respect for you and that leads them to losing respect for everyone. Someday you and Jan will want to do something and ask me in return. I will be more then happy to do so.. and you know it.[Bruce Clark] Again that is not what you have said before and I believe you do so now only to make it look like you are trying your hardest to get along. Again, please don’t make me out a fool, it’s your actions Linda. I have in the past...........