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You can love your kids or hate your spouse- but you can’t do both

You can love your kids or hate your spouse- but you can’t do both *

Headlines this week: “Woman arrested for parental alienation in New York.”

Mom, who had primary custody of her two daughters, was accused of programing her children to hate their father. Mom made the father come to her driveway for Hanukkah celebrations in the middle of winter outside; she uttered the words, “I wish you got cancer,” in the presence of her darling children; and, she trashed gifts from dad and his relatives.

These actions were not only condemned by the court, but a Long Island, New York judge sentenced a woman to six weekends in jail for repeatedly undermining her ex-husband’s relationship with their two daughters.

Apparently, even celebrities are afflicted with this problem: Dennis Hopper‘s (of the film Easy Rider) daughter was forbidden to attend her own father’s funeral because Mr. Hopper insisted that his ex-wife be banned from the ceremony and his daughter lived with mom.

Dr. Richard A. Warshak of UT Southwestern Medical Center has termed this form of parental alienation as “Divorce Poison.”

Dr. Richard A. Gardner of the Department of Child Psychiatry at Columbia University has defined Parental Alienation Syndrome (“PAS”) as:

“A childhood disorder that arises almost exclusively in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the target parent. When true parental abuse and/or neglect is present, the child’s animosity may be justified and so the parental alienation syndrome explanation for the child’s hostility is not applicable.”

See, The Parental Alienation Syndrome (Second Edition), by Dr. Richard A. Gardner, 1998. (The only reported Texas case in which Dr.Gardner’s opinions are sited is Ochs vs. Martinez, 789 S.W. 2d 949, San Antonio, May 16,1990. In the Ochs v. Martinez case the San Antonio Court of Appeals struggled with whether a psychologist could express an opinion regarding an alleged victim of child abuse veracity or truthfulness.)

So…moral of the story: You can love your kids or hate your spouse, but you can’t do both. In fact, if you do hate your spouse enough to negatively impact your children, you may find yourself spending weekends behind bars.

* (Image licensed via Creative Commons)