In case you wondered, other projects have pushed my annual review of the year to the side for a couple of months. File this column under: better late than never.
Pluto Transforms Lives Across Six Continents
2011 saw the spread of Welcome Back, Pluto to six continents and twenty-one countries. The DVD continues to receive praise and gratitude from parents, counselors, attorneys, and judges. I hoped that the program would help children and teens overcome their alienation. What I did not anticipate was the impact Pluto has on college students who are estranged from a parent.
Dr. Linda Nielsen, Professor of Education at Wake Forest University, is an authority on father-daughter relationships. She writes books and teaches college-level courses in father-daughter relationships. Dr. Nielsen was kind enough to write to me to let me know that she has shown Pluto in eleven of her courses. She writes, “After viewing the film, students with married parents as well as those with divorced parents are able to recognize the damaging dynamics within many of their own families: parental alienation, enmeshment, and alignments that violate boundaries. Although the film is aimed at younger children, college students readily relate to it.” And here comes the really rewarding part for me. Dr. Nielsen adds, “Having been teaching for more than 35 years, I relish those times when I personally witness a transformation in a student’s life resulting from something that happened in my course. After watching ‘Pluto’, almost a dozen students have contacted their fathers, asking to renew and rebuild their relationships.”
Merely watching Pluto transformed lives and shattered walls between father and daughter that had built years earlier. What more could I ask for, and how glad I am to have undertaken the project. Members of Plutoverse should stay tuned for an important announcement about Welcome Back, Pluto that I expect to release within a few weeks.
Judges, Lawyers, and Parental Alienation Cases
The recognition of alienation processes among couples getting divorced or re-litigating custody has led to an increase in the amount of interest judges and lawyers show in the topic. In 2011 I had the privilege to address several groups of legal professionals. My remarks emphasized the power of the judge and lawyers to head off severe alienation. I will be continuing this education in 2012.
Presentations In the Community
Until 2011 all my speaking engagements on the topic of parental alienation have been for professional audiences. In 2011 I addressed three groups of parents in the communities of New Jersey, Canada, and Texas. I found the experiences rewarding and hope to continue these presentations as my schedule permits.
Parental Alienation Among College Students, co-authored with Aaron Hands, reports the results of a survey of college students. The results support the importance of addressing damaged parent-child relationships in the present rather than hoping that time will heal the wounds.
Two of my articles on the American Law Institute’s approximation rule proposal for determining physical custody were published in 2011. The first article presents the results of the first survey of lawyers and child custody evaluators regarding the approximation rule. The results support hypotheses I advanced in earlier articles on the subject. The second article, published in the University of Baltimore Law Review, is the most scholarly article I have written (81 pages and more than 400 footnotes) and will be useful to policy makers and decision makers considering alternatives to the best-interest-of-the-child standard. More >
The Finnish edition of Divorce Poison was prepared in 2011 and released just last month. The Japanese translation was delayed because of Japan’s earthquake. It is now scheduled for release this Spring.
One welcome development: the mean-spirited attacks on me and my work have evaporated. I can only surmise that the people who went apoplectic in response to my first Huffpost column have come to realize what most people have known all along: It is simply ridiculous to deny the existence of emotionally abused children whose love for a parent is poisoned by the other parent. And it is an affront to alienated mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and cousins, and formerly alienated daughters to deny the reality of parental alienation in the name of women’s rights advocacy.
Many (but not all) of the deniers claim to advocate on behalf of victims of domestic violence. Their one-note tune is that children only reject bad fathers. Parental alienation, they claim, is a tool used against protective mothers to explain away a child’s reasonable fear or hatred of an abusive parent. What has become increasingly obvious, though, is the fact that women hold no monopoly on dispensing divorce poison. Recent studies have confirmed what I wrote more than a decade ago in the first edition of Divorce Poison. This is not a gender issue. Girls and boys are harmed. Mothers and fathers are suffering. Grandmothers and grandfathers are deprived of the rewards of doting on adoring grandchildren.
Professionals continue to debate whether alienated children suffer from a psychiatric disorder or are better described as suffering impairments in their thoughts and feelings about, and behavior toward, their parents. But all except the most fringe elements agree that the phenomenon of alienated children is real, and that the potency of divorce poison is real and can account for a child’s unreasonable rejection of a parent.
Last year’s publication of three articles on Family Bridges: A Workshop for Troubled and Alienated Parent-Child Relationships brought this program to the awareness of custody evaluators, parenting coordinators, attorneys, and judges throughout the world. As a result we are deluged with requests for more information. We are training workshop leaders in an intensive model that highlights the importance of quality control.
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This coming year will see some exciting new developments on my website and elsewhere. If you have signed up for email announcements, you will be getting notifications. I have one book chapter in press that should be released this year. I have cut back on my speaking engagements in order to invest more time on a number of writing projects, but I expect to be lecturing internationally. For details, check the Events page on warshak.com.