Parenting by the Clock: Is It Time to Replace the Best-Interest-of-the-Child Standard? With What?

At the end of a child custody trial, courts base decisions on the best interest of the child. Critics of this standard regard it as too subjective and have proposed various alternatives such as the primary parent presumption and a shared custody presumption. One proposal that may exert enormous influence is known as the “approximation rule.” The rule divides the child’s time with each parent according to the proportion of time that each parent participated in caretaking prior to the separation. Continue reading

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Six Tips to Give Children Better Holidays

Holidays can be times of great joy when families build shared positive memories. Holidays can also be times of great stress, blues, and depression. When parents live apart from each other, they need to make a special effort to work together to ensure that their children enjoy good holiday memories. These tips should help you avoid the pitfalls that detract from the pleasures of the holiday season. I know some of you face the unfortunate situation of dealing with a former spouse who will not cooperate. This makes it more difficult and maybe impossible to implement these tips. If this is true for you, consider using the Share/Save link at the end of the column to bring this material to the attention of your ex to help educate him or her about how to help the children. Continue reading

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Shaking the Holiday Blues Away

The winter holidays are fast approaching. Everyone seems happy and excited except you. Intense sadness or loneliness cloud any hope of enjoyment. To make matters worse, you reproach yourself for being unable to share the holiday spirit. If you see yourself in this description, you may be suffering from the holiday blues.

Holiday blues unsettle us more than other times of sadness because they contrast with the spirit of benevolence and joy that we associate with the holidays. These blues last from a few days to a few weeks around the holidays, but usually diminish when the season is over and we resume normal routines. When we understand where the blues come from and what they look like, we are in a stronger position to manage these difficult feelings rather than let them overwhelm us. Read the entire article on Huffpost including causes, warning signs, and top tips for managing the holiday blues.

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Steve Jobs

1955-2011

Steve Jobs: Think Different (unaired commercial)

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

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Divorce Poison (2nd ed) Now in iTunes and Kindle

The wait is over. Through some gap between my publisher and the Kindle folks, the downloadable edition of the revised edition of Divorce Poison never saw the light of digital day in 2010. Last April, when a reader expressed her disappointment in ordering the Kindle edition but receiving the older edition, I brought this to my editor’s attention. She kicked into gear. But that was the last I heard about it.

Well, while wandering around Amazon yesterday, I discovered that the Kindle edition of DP2 was released two months ago. I am pleased to make this belated announcement of the arrival of digital Divorce Poison, revised and updated edition. It’s also available through iTunes.

Nothing beats a digital book for instantly locating or bookmarking a particular passage. Don’t yet have your iPad? What are you waiting for?

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Posted in Overcoming parental alienation, alienated parents/rejected parents, parental alienation/parental alienation syndrome, understanding parental alienation | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

College Helps Renew Parent-Child Ties

Some time during my first semester in the men’s dormitory at Cornell (in those days co-ed dorms were mere fantasies), the guys on the floor began talking about their parents. The more we talked, the more we came to value all that our parents had done for us. Mix this new awareness with some homesickness and the result often was a letter or call home. (We had no phones in our rooms and cell phones were science fiction; we stood in line to use the one public telephone in the hall. The wait was not too long because long-distance charges were steep back in the day of regulated telecommunications.) In my case it was a letter. My parents saved the letter I wrote, re-reading it at times when my appreciation was not so evident.

Going off to college clearly stirred renewed affection and appreciation for parents. I have never seen or heard this phenomenon discussed in print or at professional conferences. But it was very real to those of us in Founders Hall, Ithaca, back in 1966.

I was reminded of this by a father who told me recently that his estranged son initiated more contact with him in the first two weeks of college than he had in the prior two years. The boy clearly seeks to reclaim his identity as a child with two parents.

Parents with estranged relationships with their children should take heart in this phenomenon. If your children attend college away from home, this may give you an opportunity to renew ties with them. Read the article on Huffpost.

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Posted in Overcoming parental alienation, alienated parents/rejected parents, parental alienation/parental alienation syndrome | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Steve Jobs Inspired By Atlas Shrugged

In April, when the film version of Atlas Shrugged: Part One was released, I posted a blog about Ayn Rand’s novel on The Huffington Post. I mentioned that many celebrities are Rand fans. (Click here for a list of celebrities.) Add Steve Jobs to the list of high achievers who found inspiration in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak had this to say in a Bloomberg interview about Jobs: “I think Atlas Shrugged was one of his guides in life.” Learn more.

Update: A Facebook thread reports that Steve Jobs attended the busy opening night of the Atlas Shrugged film. This seems to confirm that he is a fan.

Kindle Edition
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Divorce Court: Mopping Up the Mess

Most people never have their day in court. They have no need. They commit no crimes. They avoid lawsuits. And they never testify at a trial. Most of us never even serve on a jury, despite being summoned every few years.

The closest most people come to a courtroom is watching “Law & Order,” unless they get divorced or have ringside seats to the breakup of the marriage of a relative or friend. Then they sink into the quagmire known as our family law system. Nearly everyone who enters this system gives it low marks. The so-called “winners” and the “losers.” Everyone agrees. The polite way to say it: the system is deeply flawed. Privately, attorneys, judges, and litigants bemoan: the system sucks. Read the article on Huffpost.

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Posted in alienated parents/rejected parents, child abuse, child custody litigation, parental alienation/parental alienation syndrome | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Father’s Day Message to Rejected Fathers

I set out to write this message for rejected fathers and quickly realized that I wanted to tell them the same things I told rejected mothers on Mother’s Day. So here is the prior blogpost, intact, except that Father replaces Mother.

Father’s Day is not a happy occasion for fathers whose children reject them. On this day your children should be honoring you and celebrating your contributions to their lives. Instead, their love for you has been disowned under the influence of an insecure or vindictive parent.

If you have come to terms with your children’s rejection, and moved on with your life, dwelling on the significance of this day may merely open old wounds. Some fathers, though, may want to consider the following suggestion. Continue reading

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Alienated Children As Cat’s Paws

In The Monkey and the Cat, an Aesop fable put into verse by 17th century poet Jean de La Fontaine, Betrand the monkey induces Raton the cat to pull roasting chestnuts from the fire, by promising him a share. The cat scoops them from the burning embers one by one, burning his paw in the process, as the monkey gobbles them up. A maid entering the room ends the activity and the cat gets nothing for its pains.

The fable provides the French idiom, “Tirer les marrons du feu” (literally: pulling chestnuts out of fire), meaning to act as someone’s dupe. The English idiom, “a cat’s paw,” is defined as one used unwittingly by another as a tool to accomplish the other’s purposes.

The U.S. Supreme Court, in March 2011, upheld the validity of the cat’s paw concept in the discrimination case, Staub v. Proctor Hospital (131 S.Ct. 1186) in March 2011. The Court ruled that “if a supervisor performs an act motivated by . . . animus that is intended by the supervisor to cause an adverse employment action, and if that act is a proximate cause of the ultimate employment action, then the employer is liable.” Continue reading

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Posted in alienated parents/rejected parents, child custody litigation, parental alienation/parental alienation syndrome | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments