ERASED: THE ELIMINATION OF FATHERS BY DIVORCED WOMEN

As a divorce attorney, I often ponder the social implications of this horrible process. I have observed (and experienced myself) the marginalization of fathers from their children by mothers hell bent on revenge. Because of the powerful influence a mother (who today is still usually the custodial parent), has on the children, children often adopt their mother’s cause and cast off the father. The father, frustrated, tries harder to get back the relationship he used to have with his children. This only serves to further anger the children, who pull further and further away until they have no relationship at all with the father. The father is confused that the children who with whom he once had a close, loving relationship, now treat him poorly or with contempt. Eventually, the father gives up. He has been erased – he is no longer a factor in their lives.

Experts call it parental alienation. But parental alienation has not been generally accepted in the scientific community. For instance, it has not been adopted in the DSM, the diagnostic manual used by the mental health community. New York courts have rejected it, instead preferring to look at each case individually. The problem with this approach is that more often that not, the father is put under the microscope to determine why the children now revile him. Did he raise his voice at them during visitation? Say something inappropriate? Unless the father is like Jesus himself, there is usually something that a judge can call a reason. And unless the father is proactive and pushes the court to order visitation, nothing will happen. Although there is case law that holds that a mother should encourage visitation, there are a million ways a mother can show her children that she disapproves of the father.

The social implications are severe. The father has been ripped away, and the children suffer in a number of ways. Girls, in particular, are at risk. The literature is replete with studies showing that girls are at greater risk for teen pregnancies, drug abuse and other destructive behaviors. (See, e.g., http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2764264/). So why would women intentionally harm their children?

The answer is that some women hate their ex-spouse more than they love their children. And that is nothing less than child abuse.

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