We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today –Stacia Tauscher
What is parental alienation? According to Ben Williams writer for timetoputkidsfirst.org, a website that promotes the importance of co-parenting says, “it is the destruction of a parent-child relationship through psychological warfare.” Parental Alienation is primarily motivated by one parent ‘s desire to exclude the other parent from their child life. It is a destructive act that forces the child to choose one parent over the other.
I can attest firsthand to this vicious cycle, and the pain it causes. I’m a loving father dealing with this. I have gone through homelessness, during a time of the Covid-19 global pandemic. I have survived being dragged out of my car at gunpoint over accusations my ex knew to be false. It is my belief that she knew, if she portrayed me as violent and dangerous, she could drag out court proceedings, further alienating me from both my children.
It is common knowledge in the family court system that parents are encouraged to play the “victim card” to sabotage the rights of the other parent to their children; Phillip Stahl confirmed this impact of alienation on children in a 2003 report that states: ‘When the child is caught in the midst of this conflict and becomes alienated, the emotional response can be devastating for a child’s development. The degree of damage to the child’s psyche will vary depending on the intensity of the alienation and the age and vulnerability of the child.’
I am a father of a three-year-old girl and a seven-year-old boy who struggles with autism. I am very aware of the impact, confusion and pain that this is causing to my children. They went from seeing me daily to not at all. No goodbye, no communication. Just gone. My children were with me all the time, from our frequent trips to Disneyland to more adventurous trips to the mountains and to the apple orchards. My ex during one of our last communication stated, “You will never see the kids again.”
Jennifer Harman, associate professor of Applied Social and Health Psychology at Colorado State University, found that 13.4 percent of parents being alienated from one and more of their children. Of these parents, 48 percent reported this experience as being severe. There are no federal and state laws regulating parental alienation currently on the books in the United States. This encourages opportunists to continue with this vicious cycle.
It is my personal belief that my ex knew that her charade was not enough to keep the kids away from me long term. In the beginning of May she filed a report stating her car was stolen. I was subsequently stopped by a team of police officers at gun point, a common practice by police departments when conducting a felony stop on a suspected stolen vehicle. I believe she knew the response this would cause, and the dangers it would present but she happily proceeded. I will never know what she hoped to accomplish. Maybe she hoped I would go to jail, and she could use that to foster doubt in a judge’s mind about custody. Perhaps she hoped I would make the wrong move and be shot dead in the streets. Honestly, I don’t know, and I don’t think I ever will.
Luckily it did not end in tragedy, I was able to contact my attorney and he told the police the hostile environment I was in. He also told them that we were in the process of exchanging property, and this was a tactic used by her and her law team to discredit me. He also stated that even though the car was not in my name, she had stated in multiple court documents that she was in the process of changing the title of the vehicle. The cops released me and encouraged me to file a police report against her which I did. I’m so lucky to have survived these events. But it also shows how far some parents will go to gain the upper hand in a custody dispute. Even going as far as to do “Karen-esque” acts such as falsely reporting information and using the police as weapons.
Due to coronavirus, and the state of California’s stay at home order, my court hearing dates were delayed and rescheduled five times, making me helpless to defend myself against these outrageous allegations. I knew I had to somehow save enough money to get an apartment, so I could have a safe and clean place to bring my kids back to. I became homeless for about two months in a bid to save enough money to furnish a new apartment with bunkbeds and toys for the kids. I think the hardest part about the entire situation was not being homeless but being alone during a global pandemic and to not be able to feel the warmth of my kids who I have raised since birth. That thought brought my mind to some of the darkest places I have ever experienced in my life.
Parental alienation is a game played far to commonly in family courts. You must destroy the other parent not only mentally, but emotionally as well. You must take all hope away from the situation. You must strip them down to a state where they can no longer justify fighting an endless war. A war in which there is truly only one victim. The children. In playing this game you must also be willing to sacrifice your own children, as collateral damage. It is a price that must be paid, and there is never any negotiating. You are in the game now, and it’s terrifying.
I hope sharing this small part of my life serves as inspiration to any parents going though anything similar. The only thing you can do is be hopeful. Do not let the darkness overwhelm you. It is important, to focus on then light no matter how small it may be. The light will always be your children. Tomorrow is a new day, a fresh start, a chance for something new. Tomorrow always has the potential to bring change. Here’s hoping I see my kids again soon.
More information on parental alienation, and to show support