Parental Conflict’s Worst Effect On Children
I know I am asking a lot. I know it is unreasonable to expect help, from Abbotsford, or Victoria, or even Ottawa with a problem as big as parental alienation. But I think they want to help.
First, to Ottawa. The Harper government has a huge majority it seems it could do anything. Mr. Harper has said that being a dad was the most important thing to him. He said he might not be the man he is, if he were not a father. I believe Mr. Harper would like to pass Bill C-422 to create equal parenting. This is a sensible and long overdue bill. But if the Prime Minister is unable to do so and we are going to continue to throw away so many divorced dads, then I imagine he will still try some other way to help Canadian children.
Next to Victoria. Ms. Clark is a mom. I believe she wants to reform British Columbia’s broken family law system. She says she is trying to reform family law, with Parent Coordinators. But like so many laws before, the new reforms just don’t seem to have any teeth. Further BC Law Reforms.
Finally to Abbotsford. There are only three cities in Canada that have city charters with advanced mass transit and specialized social services: Toronto, Winnipeg, and Vancouver. Maybe Abbotsford is not a world-class city yet? Still, I think our city wants to help families. In 2006 Abbotsford quietly created a Social Planning Committee. I bet Social Planner, Reuben Koole, has some great ideas for ways to support families.
What about other supporters of children? Teachers care about kids because kids matter. It would be good to see teachers stand up and declare their profession parental alienation aware. Judges and lawyers care about children and each year do thousands of dollars of pro bono work to help heal alienated families. The divorce industry in general has been bread and butter for the BC Law Society and it would be great to see them stand up and declare their society parental alienation aware. Politicians care about families and about reforming our family laws. Social programs are expensive and have been threatening to bankrupt our cities and governments. It has been wonderful to see so many politicians and cities declare themselves alienation aware. Family doctors, pediatricians, and psychologists care about kids, and it’s been fantastic to see their research progress and some successes achieved. I believe we will probably see some mention of parental alienation in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual version 5 in 2013.
The worst effects for children are observed when parental conflict in divorce is intense: they can be taken as hostages or witnesses, blamed for discord, or made confidants and accomplices of one of the parents. They may be required to replace a parent, or treat one who is depressed (“child-medication”). In total, they are caught in an inextricable conflict of loyalty that is directly responsible for any pathological changes. Kids are getting sick, some are getting really sick, and some are dying. We have to be aware of parental alienation, we have to heal alienated families, and we have to support family life.
In Canada, we have this unusual idea that teens are to be autonomous and only relate to other teens. We call this peer orientation. This gets in our way of seeing parental alienation. In Holland and across Europe, they have “gezelligheid” which refers to the pleasure people are expected to take in each other’s company, parents and children and also teens together with their peer group. There’s a lot of intergenerational gezelligheid. The Dutch celebrate every birthday, whether 8 or 80, and you are expected to show up and enjoy it. The Dutch also devised policies to maintain it. They made part-time work easy for mothers and fathers, so there are policies that support family life.
While divorce points out an unsuccessful relationship, it is not the end of the world. Many of the things that cause divorce are the end of the world, like family violence, substance abuse, or other forms of mental illness. Family court judges say that the usual cause of divorce is mental illness. We need to allow divorce to save people from the end of the world or we need to down grade mental illness from DEFCON 6 status or probably we should do both, allow divorce when needed and stop stigmatizing mental illness. I think this message is appropos during mental health week.