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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Parental Alienation Victim in Court: “I Lied About Abuse.”

When a child’s affection for a parent has been effectively poisoned, the result can range from sad and emotionally devastating to severe tragedy. Some cases of divorce poison leave a parent bereaved at the total loss of a relationship with a child. Less frequently, divorce poison leads to the ugly cases that make the evening news: suicides and homicides. Continue reading

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Shriver & Schwarzenegger: What About the Kids?

People are wondering how the Shriver-Schwarzenegger split and his infidelity will affect their children. Coping with their parents’ separation is difficult enough for children. In this matter it is complicated by the father’s infidelity, the revelation of a half-sibling, and the public nature of their family’s troubles. Each family is different, but we can make educated guesses about what is in store for children in such circumstances. How well they do with the challenges depends, in part, on how their parents respond to the children’s needs. Read the article on Huffpost.

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Time.com on Schwarzenegger Kids

Time.com interviewed me for an article on how children of celebrities cope with parental betrayal. Read the article.

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Divorce Poison Makes LA Times Top 10 Books for Arnold and Maria

The LA Times has listed the top ten books for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver. Divorce Poison is on the list. Read more.

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Existence of Parental Alienation Is Now Beyond Debate

Survey results just released show near unanimous agreement among professionals that children can be manipulated by one parent to turn against the other parent. Continue reading

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Why Kids Shouldn’t “Visit” Parents This Summer

Summertime, for school-age children, should be when the living is easy. It is a time for exploration, new experiences, and an extended break from the grind of studies. Family vacations create life-long memories.

For children whose parents live apart, these memories can be ripe with joy or rife with stress. Divorced parents need to make special efforts to ensure that their children enjoy a summer that enriches their lives rather than burdens their souls. Use the following tips as guides to avoid the most common pitfalls that poison children’s summertime pleasures. To read the entire article on The Huffington Post, learn the explanation for the title of this post, “Like” it, share it on Facebook and Twitter, and leave comments, click here.

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Mother’s Day Message to Rejected Mothers

Mother’s Day is not a happy occasion for mothers 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 mothers, though, may want to consider the following suggestion.

If your children fail to contact you today, or treat you with disdain, and you have a thick skin, consider calling them to let them know (via voice mail if they do not take your calls) that on this day you celebrate your role as their mother, you accept that they can not, and you look forward to the day when they will be able to recover their identity as children of two parents.

For all rejected mothers, please do not allow the smears about you to affect your view of reality. It does not matter how forcefully or repeatedly your ex and your children put you down. This does not change the reality of who you are and how much your children have benefitted from your love and care.

My final Mother’s Day message is one of hope. As alienated children grow up, some (we don’t know what percent) begin thinking for themselves and reach out to a parent they have rejected. I do not believe in giving false hope to people. In the case of estranged parent-child relationships, though, there is reason for hope. To keep you going while you wait for your children to rediscover their bond to you, you may find it helpful to read about successfully restored relationships.

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Milestone: 100 Five-Star Reviews of Divorce Poison on Amazon!

As I mention in the Introduction to the revised edition of Divorce Poison, it has been so gratifying to hear from readers who find my work helpful in navigating a difficult passage in their life. I am grateful, too, that so many readers have taken the time to post reviews on Amazon.com. I am proud that Divorce Poison has the highest average rating of all the books on Amazon’s best-seller list in the category of Divorce.

On May 1, 2011, the one hundredth five-star review was left by an alienated mother. Such a milestone, which far outpaces any other book in Amazon’s Divorce category, helps raise awareness of this problem.

I have been keeping track of the reviews; I notice that, when it is clear that the review has been written by a mother or father,  mothers outnumber  fathers. Along with the many grandmothers, aunts, cousins, stepmothers, half-sisters, and stepsisters whose well-being has been derailed by the disruption of loving relationships, the number of women who have been moved enough to leave a positive comment about my book on Amazon supports my claim that the problem of parental alienation cuts across gender lines.

I hope that those who advocate for women’s interests will recognize the importance of drawing attention to the harmful impact of alienating behavior, regardless of what label they attach to the problem. The legitimate concern about parental alienation claims being used to discount the reality of other forms of child abuse need not blind us to the reality that many parents engage in behaviors that poison children’s love and respect for their other parent and needlessly deprive children of loving relationships.

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NY Higher Court Decision on Parental Alienation

MATTER OF BOND v. MacLEOD 2011 NY Slip Op 03153 509360.Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, Third Department. Decided April 21, 2011.

Based upon the expressed preferences of 13-year-old and 11-year-old children, and the mother ceasing her contacts with the children in the face of their protests, the attorney for the children sought to end the mother’s parenting time. The Appellate Court upheld as credible the Family Court’s finding that the mother stopped the contacts out of frustration in response to the children’s repeated refusals to see her. The attorney for the children cited other reasons for the children’s rejection of their mother, including a one-time argument between the daughter and the maternal grandmother in which the mother chose not to intervene, the mother’s failure to attend the children’s extracurricular activities, and the children’s dislike of the mother’s boyfriend. The Appellate Court did not find these reasons compelling. Continue reading

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