Judges, lawyers, and divorce industry professionals find parental alienation profitable and encourage it by their focus on adversarial litigation, custody evaluations, and grossly out of balance allocations of time to each child. These people disproportionately influence legislation through a combinations of means including running for office, lobbying, and campaign donations.
Some alienation is arguably caused almost entirely by the court system. This seems to be what happened with Joal Henke, alienator against Tonya Craft, who had little contact with his kids and a growing child support bill and saw the opportunity to screw over his ex-wife with some other parents who didn’t like her using false child sexual abuse allegations in an attempt to get a more fair outcome for himself, disregarding how much damage it would do to both the kids and his ex-wife. Nobody benefited from this except for the divorce industry and government that derived income and job security from it.
Parental alienation expert Bill Eddy in his new book Don’t Alienate the Kids! Raising Resilient Children While Avoiding High Conflict Divorce advocates refocusing the courts towards balanced time shares, minimizing conflict, and no longer picking “winning” and “losing” parents to help stop parental alienation. He cites how alienating parents were often raised in emotionally abusive households, learned to be emotionally abusive themselves, and may not even be aware of how damaging their behaviors are because they regard them as normal. Further, he believes that a “culture of blame” encouraged by society and the courts focuses on blaming and punishing one parent rather than identifying problems and putting into places solutions that help the overall family system to stop the problems and ensure that children have time with both of their parents.
He’s been blogging about the book since its release in April 2010. He’s particularly firm on the need to reform the family law courts to get away from the adversarial winner/loser system that helps encourage and perpetuate parental alienation:
(from My Alienation Blog)We need to stop the parent contest, and take a much more broad and supportive approach to parents dealing with a child who rejects one parent – who could be Mom or Dad; who could be the custodial parent or the non-custodial parent. It’s no longer a gender issue. I have dealt with the full range of these kinds of cases, and the full range of professional behavior – some are part of the problem, while many are trying hard to be part of the solution. My focus is on behavior in family court, not who to blame. We all need to take responsibility, including me! We all have made mistakes and need to learn.
The Family Court Culture of Blame, where parents and family law professionals fight over who to blame for one issue or another. Child alienation is one of the biggest fights these days, as some parents and professionals blame it all on “the alienator” – the favored parent who they believe has purposefully alienated the child against the rejected parent. Other parents and professionals blame it all on the rejected parent as “the abuser” who must have done something wrong, even though the worst behavior of that parent is usually so minor that it just doesn’t fit.
Of course children need protection from child abuse and child alienation, and that is what makes these cases so difficult. We need to address the real underlying mental health problems, rather than making it a contest with a winner parent and a loser parent – which doesn’t help either of them or the child. This parent contest is part of the problem, as it makes it harder to see abuse and alienation, and properly manage them. In many cases, there may be both alienation and abuse.
If the government and divorce industry were truly intent on helping kids, they would be paying attention to what experts like Bill Eddy, Dr. Amy Baker, and many others have to say about the problems of parental alienation and adversarial divorce. The focus of the courts would be on doing everything possible to ensure that children have significant and continuing contact with both parents, putting in support systems for children and parents, and monitoring and correcting (when necessary) the behaviors of the parents without repeated litigation. Options should exist for even parents who are still together to get assistance to nip parental alienation in the bud. Many, possibly even most, alienating parents are former child abuse victims themselves and have yet to heal from the damage they suffered. They need help, too, but their failure to understand their problems and get help is contributing to broken marriages and alienated children. Such a full family support system approach would be far more efficient than the current adversarial system typical of family law courts. It could head off much of the damage of parental alienation before the children start to align with alienating parents, too, and perhaps help the alienators heal enough that they can learn to alter their conduct substantially.
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