Parental Alienation and Accountability

DISORDERED PARENTING AND PARENTAL ALIENATION

 

Disordered parenting and parental alienation affects hundreds of thousands of children every year in the UK alone.  And yet cases are often misrepresented and misinterpreted leading children to being left in the care of abusive parents, all  under the supervision of agencies whose sole responsibility is to protect vulnerable children.

 

Child protection issue

 

Parental alienation and disordered parenting is child abuse.  It is emotional, physical, psychological and sometimes sexual abuse.  The main categories are:

 

  • Rejecting (spurning) 
  • Terrorizing 
  • Corrupting  
  • Denying essential stimulation, emotional responsiveness, or availability  
  • Unreliable and inconsistent parenting  
  • Mental health, medical, or educational neglect  
  • Degrading/devaluing (spurning)  
  • Isolating  
  • Exploiting

 

Adapted from Joan T. Kloth-Zanard, 2012, FOR THOSE THAT REFUSE TO USE THE WORD PARENTAL ALIENATION 9 CRITERIA FOR CLASSIFYING AGGRESSIVE PARENTING BEHAVIORS AS PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

 

Legal issue

 

  • Family courts are often adversarial, unaffordable, slow, and even intimidating – characteristics which are profoundly incompatible with “the best interests” of children; 
  • Family courts and lawyers are neither qualified to assess children, nor to assess the competence of other professionals, and insufficient professionals have the highly specialized skills necessary for assessing children and families involved in separation, dispute or litigation, where the incidence of family violence & abusive parental behaviour, including extreme psychological manipulation of children, is very high; 
  • By exposing children to unqualified “professionals”, by taking years to make decisions, and by greatly exacerbating parental conflict & stress, our courts contribute directly to the occurrence of psychological child abuse and family violence; 
  • Our courts restrict public scrutiny and fail to obtain feedback on the outcomes of the thousands of life-changing decisions they make each year; theirs is not the open, evidence-based approach our children need and deserve; 
  • Through the actions of our family courts, which typically result in a dramatic reduction, or loss, of loving, important relationships between children and parents (or a failure to restore such relationships), the UK is failing in its obligations as a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child & the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: we are denying some of the most fundamental rights, and needs, to tens of thousands of children and to their families; 
  • The annual cost of our family court system in government funding, consequent welfare dependency and lost income: billions of pounds. The cost in human loss and suffering: incalculable.

 

Adapted from Family Law Reform Coalition (AUS), 2015, Children in Crisis Executive Summary Urgent actions required to protect children in divided families 

 

Health issue

 

Parental mental health impacts the child’s outcomes.  Therefore a disordered parent is going to have a huge impact on a child’s health and well-being.  

 

Children of disordered parents and those who experience parental alienation often experience the following in adulthood:

 

  • Depression
  • Low self esteem
  • Substance misuse
  • Reduced ability to self direct
  • Reduced willingness to co-operate
    • (Amy J. L. Baker & Maria Christina Verrocchio 2013)
  • Anger and aggression
  • Self harm and suicide
  • Splitting
  • Long term mental health issues such as narcissism

Education issue

Hostile or neglectful parenting can result in anxiety and stress related disordered in children.  This can make school a very difficult environment for children.  They will be hypersensitive to sensory input and struggle with peer relationships.  This can lead them to be disruptive, withdrawn and eventually non-attenders (through expulsion or truancy).

Social Issue

When a child has chaos, neglect, threat, violence and other adversity, their potential is stunted, distorted and fragmented and when development is delayed, disrupted or impaired, the risk for more self-absorbed, impulsive, aggressive, violent and anti-social behaviour increases.  

Adapted from Bruce D Perry, 1996, Reflections on Childhood, Trauma and Society

Isn’t it time we worked together to address this problem?

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