Knock, Knock! Child Protective Services Calling! Parental Alienation and Projections of a Psychopath

A while back I had started researching the (ab-)use of Child Protective Services in divorce proceedings by parents. weathering the stormI started talking to mental health professionals, parents who filed CPS reports and parents who had CPS reports filed against them. It is definitely a tricky subject and I was circling my thoughts on how to formulate my findings and opinions.

And then one evening last week there was the envelope on the front door from the ‘Child Protective Service Team Leader’.

Yes, a CPS complaint was filed against me.

I knew Ex was a diagnosed psychopath, didn’t realize how ill he really was. I never thought he would stoop this low in using the children against the mother. To sacrifice the integrity of the children to get his way in the divorce proceedings. Then again, his MMPI already showed that he has Anti-Social Personality Disorder and is a Parental Alienator, and his behavior patterns presented at trial underlined it.

CPS, Divorce and the truth

CPS investigators have the daunting task of finding the truth and protecting children against abusive parents. Innocent until proven guilty can be hard when they know that something is going on, yet can not formulate the evidence. These children are left hanging.

Talking with mental health professionals makes it clear that the timing of filing for divorce and making a report to CPS is significant for finding whether there is any truth to the allegations. Reports filed prior or at the start of the divorce proceeding hold more ground then the reports filed further down the road. Doesn’t mean necisarrily they are true, but they are more likely to be true. Likewise, reports filed to CPS later down the road are less likely to be true and more a tactic of a gruntled parent to get an advantage in the divorce proceedings.

CPS is inundated with cases where parents seek an advantage in the divorce proceedings. This clouds the issue and creates scrutiny when there are real issues of abuse. Divorcing parents who want to bring real abuse to light are vilified and children end up being awarded to their abusers at an alarming rate.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are parents who abuse the system.

Filing CPS reports as a Parental Alienating Tactic

Every time a CPS report gets filed against the target parent, the child gets interviewed about the target parent. While at first the child may not have a negative image of the target parent, after being questioned, even if it is about unfounded issues, the seed of doubt is created in the child’s mind.

This is a subtle, but very effective way of the alienating parent to remove the target parent from the child’s life. “See, it wasn’t me, CPS thought there was enough reason to investigate”. The alienating parent doesn’t tell the child the result of the investigation, which usually is ‘unfounded’ and the child perceives that persons of authority are questioning the ‘safety’ of the target parent. The security and love the child feels for the target parents slowly and subtly erodes.

True parental alienators have personality disorders, they will not stop until they have removed the other parent from the lives of the children. They will seek allies within friends and family, but also do not stop there, they will enlist law enforcement, the courts and CPS. Nothing new here.

Filing a CPS reports based on projections of the Phychopaths own behavior

Parents with personality disorders project their own behavior on the other parent. When I heard the allegations filed against me, I almost burst out laughing, the seriousness of the situation prevented me from doing so. One of the allegations was ‘unsanitary living arrangements with dog feces and garbage all over the house’. This comes from the man that has a rat problem in his house. Yes, you read that right, he has rats in the house. My attorney was present for the interview with CPS and he jokingly said: “Well, if he didn’t kill so many cats, he probably wouldn’t have a rat problem”. My house is clean, I showed the investigator the back of cupboards, which were organized and dust free. We live here, so yes, at the end of the day there are toys on the floor and dishes in the sink. But no rats.

The 2nd allegation was much more serious and gives much more food for thought, knowing that psychopaths project their behavior and deep inner thoughts on the other parent. “Mother takes pictures of the children in various stages of undress with the intent to distribute”.

Yes, basically child pornography.

Now why this worries me. The CPS investigator told me that the pictures he had seen had nothing of a sexual nature, but as it was reported in a phone call, he had to follow up. He agreed the pictures were from a parent taking snapshots of their child. Happy moments.

Ex’s family has a history of sexual child abuse. Within the family the grandfather has fondled the daughters, and brothers have coerced sisters to perform oral sex. Now, at this moment, I don’t believe Ex has had inappropriate relations with the children. However, the oldest is becoming of the age that sexual predators become interested in girls.

Is there anything I can do about this? No, nobody has been prosecuted for (unconscious) thoughts. We live in a free society. I have to let the CPS investigation run its course. I’m not going to muddy the water with more allegations that can never be proven.

It is absolutely vicious and evil how 1 parent tries to eliminate the other parent out of the lives of the children, over the backs of the children. When one makes such false allegations and uses the child as a weapon to disparage the other parent, you don’t really love your child.

Full Moon and the Temper Tantrums of a Personality Disorder

A couple of days ago when letting the dogs out in the evening, I saw it was becoming a full moon.Full Moon A dread came over me. Almost like clock work, every month, at full moon, Ex has a temper tantrum. Sometimes a little one, sometimes a big one. Last night was a BIG one. I saw it coming, I was expecting something, a flurry of emails preceded last nights events. I made sure I had my ducks in a row.

It is very rare that you get a diagnosis of a personality disorder in a custody case. Ex shoots and kills cats for fun. Yes, that is right. The pictures of his collection of cat skulls was entered as evidence at trial.

Knowing that there is a Personality Disorder (PD) has helped me immensely to recover. It empowered me, but it was a steep learning curve. It did bring along the heavy responsibility of navigating the minefield of assuring the kids love Dad and safeguarding them.

I grew up in a Montessori environment, and I adhere to the philosophy in raising the kids. In the Montessori philosophy, people are not bad, it is focussed on choices and behaviors. So I teach the children about a moral compass, I teach them not to be judgemental about the person, but discuss if a certain choice or behavior would be something they would do. Choices can be good or choices can be bad. And nobody is immune to making bad choices, but choices can be rectified. I try to empower them by separating behaviors from the person who does it, so that even if Dad does things that are a ‘bad choice’ they are still free and capable to love him.

Personality Disordered persons can’t do this, they ‘split’. Another person is either ‘all good’ or ‘all bad’, considering this is a divorce, I think it is safe to say that I’m considered ‘all bad’ by Ex. And this is the breeding ground of Parental Alienation. A topic for another day, and many more posts.

This alienation is not only reserved for the children, PD’s need lots of allies, they need to gather as many people around them and against the ex-spouse as possible. The target spouse sees friends, family members, school teachers all turning against them. And lets not forget law enforcement and the justice system.

And so the Sheriffs showed up at my house again last night. This was a fresh batch of 2 very young men, not the regular, seasoned men that patrol this area. The divorce has been going on for over 2 years, so I have become very familiar with the regular ones. Each and every time Ex files something, they have to follow-up on it, so they have been here quite a few times.

I was surprised to actually see the Sheriffs. A while ago, Ex caught on that the sheriffs weren’t taking him serious any longer and nothing came of his ‘complaints’, so he moved on to the State Troopers and started all fresh. In my last interaction with the State Troopers it was clear they were on to Ex, so perhaps he has now moved back to the Sheriffs for that reason.

In the last few days the pressure had been building. I received a few entitled and bullying emails. I firmly, yet politely, stood my ground. That however is unacceptable with the PD. How dare you defy him/her and they spiral downward into a rage. Like a temper tantrum in a toddler, there is no sense in arguing, engaging or giving in. In toddlers the tantrum will eventually run its course. PDs however are stuck in the emotional developmental phase of toddler, but they can’t get out, they cycle through.

So last night Ex tried to use law enforcement to bully me into submission. Unsuccessfully. Will this be the end of it? Of course not. Are his antics going to preoccupy my life? No, I’m going to spend a lovely day with the kids. Peace.

Kids Say the Darnest Things; Parental Controls of Your Divorce

This morning I, with toddler & iPad in tow, went to the salon to have my nails done for the photo shoot this coming Friday. article-1262377-08EEBE03000005DC-546_468x544

Just your normal morning; updating and getting updated with all the local and personal gossip, living the small town USA life. While my nails are getting done the toddler is playing on the iPad and the ‘Girls’ and I are happily chatting. Until somebody mentions something innocuous about a video they saw.

Muppet looks up from the iPad and inserts into the conversation. “Dad has 2 videos on his laptop”. We all look adoringly at Muppet and smile, oh how adorable toddlers can be. “He hangs up his undies and then dances with Shelly” follows while making a thrusting movement.

Jaws drop. Dead silence.

My brain goes a million miles an hour. How to handle this? Don’t destroy innocence. Muppet has no clue what was seen. I’m speechless, yet I know I have to say something to ‘save the situation’. Say something smart, say something witty, SAY SOMETHING………..

“I enjoy dancing, dancing is fun!” Yup, a failed comeback, but the best I could come up with.

This has been a consistent problem during the divorce, the children are consistently exposed to way too much. The oldest knows about motions and affidavits. I get questions using language that even I don’t know (“Sorry hun, let me look up that word before I answer you”. English is my 2nd language), let alone what is appropriate for a 7-year-old. It is simply not fair to a child to do so, it is putting adult issues onto innocence and demanding them to grow up too fast.

It is a lack of boundaries.

A child is not your ‘brother in arms’. To protect the child you need to take actions to protect them from being exposed to conflict.

Password Protect All Things Electronic

Computers, tablets, smartphones are part of society. Kids at some point will pick up your phone, will want to play on your tablet. You may be busy cooking dinner, or finally taking that shower. Murphy’s Law, you’re not looking, or it is a really inconvenient moment.

Don’t take the risk. It is so easy to set up a password.

Set Up Separate User Accounts with Parental Controls

In this day and age, you can’t deny access to computers and internet. They need it for school, homework, and social networks. All operating systems have the possibility to set up different users, which have access to different things on the computer and internet.

You really don’t have an excuse to allow children to see inappropriate adult content or things related to the divorce. Curious minds will read. Seeing the desktop files with ‘dadsucks’ ‘momisbad’ is inexcusable.

Don’t Keep Paperwork Laying Around

While we all may at times leave paperwork and bills out on the kitchen counter, when dealing with divorce related paperwork one should be really conscientious. Seeing a bill is a totally different for a child than seeing documentation that talks about your mom and dad breaking up. It rips a wound that should be healing over time, right back open.

Hold Divorce Related Phone Calls Out of Earshot

I’ve always had all my conversations outside, out of earshot, but with the children in my line of view. A couple of month ago the oldest wanted to talk to GAL. Walked right outside, right to where I always make my phone calls. I smiled.

Just remember “Little teacups have ears”.

Don’t Use the Kids as Messengers

This should be so obvious, yet time and time again I hear it in our household, and stories from others. Put on your big girl panties or be a man, if you have to say something to your ex, do it in person, or via a phone call, text or email.

As a parent it is your duty to protect the children from harm. Being exposed to conflict, being exposed to the divorce going ons is harmful. Cherish the young years your children have, they will thank you for it later. Be that safe haven, their rock, when all around them is changing.

Child Custody Battles; a Lesson from My Child at Dave’s & Busters

“Sometimes the most poignant revelations in life can come from observing the innocence of children.” — Unknown

Custody Battle

Last night we went for dinner at Dave’s and Buster, the kids were all excited and they were going to ‘win BIG and get lots of money’. I smiled and told them to just enjoy the games and if they won prices, that was a bonus and a gift, but not to have expectations. They ran off in excitement discussing which game to play first. Upon returning they were beaming; the oldest with lots of tickets, the younger with just a few, which were actually given by the oldest. We ate our dinner and they went to get their ‘prizes’, having high expectations. They returned with each a ‘nerd stick’. I hugged both of them and told the oldest how proud I am. The biggest winner assured that both came out equally.

Depending on whose research you read, about 80-95% of custody situations get resolved at least reasonably amicable. These parents are excellent candidates for joint or shared custody and their children have great long-term outcomes.

So in about 5-20% of the cases there is high conflict. Conflict is a huge detrimental factor in the wellbeing of the child. Researchers state that parental conflict is the biggest predictor of poor outcome for children. The most powerful determinant is the level and intensity of the conflict. Joint custody is just then harmful for the child. Continued exposure to conflict as a child, whether in a marriage or during/after divorce, leads to depression, low self-esteem, self-blame, acting out, poor social skills and poor relationships as adults.

Advances in neuropsychology have shown that when exposed to conflict, our brains release stress hormones that over time can actually change brain functioning.

That’s scary.

That is what you are doing to your child.

Bill Eddy of High Conflict Institute and many other researchers along with him, have repeatedly stated that in high conflict divorces there is at least 1, more likely 2 parents with a personality disorder. When there are 2 ‘normal’ parents, the issue, while maybe heated at first, will resolve, not maintain or intensify, like with personality disordered individuals. Thank heavens my personality testing came back normal.

A parent with a personality disorder will not stop. Even if they have full/sole custody, they want more, they want omnipotent control. Having physical possession of the child is not enough. They also need the psychological possession, so they will interfere with the relationship with the other parent. The DSM V now calls that psychological child abuse.

Just Googling ‘parenting capacity’ and ‘personality disorder’ will give you a host of links with the long-term detrimental effect of a parent with a PD on children. It is well-recognized that a PD parent is too self-centered to raise children.

A parent with a personality disorder keeps all the tickets and ‘buys the biggest price’ for themselves. It is about possession. The healthy parent may have more tickets, but realizes that a child is not a possession, their love is to be shared equally. The healthy parent must fight, as not fighting will result in loss or deterioration of the relationship with the child. At the same time the healthy parent realizes that ‘winning’ custody does not mean the other parent is out of the child’s life. Contrary, the healthy parent will share, the healthy parent will assure with actions that the other parent continues to receive the love of the child.

I’m still dumbfounded the judge in our situation faulted me for my willingness to share. She called me hypocritical for providing evidence that substantiated sole custody and at the same time being willing to share. Yes, while having a parent with a PD has long-lasting effects on a child, the child still loves that parent.   Having all the tickets, or being awarded sole custody, doesn’t mean I buy the biggest price. I can still share the love of the children.

So the kids bought 2 nerd sticks for $20, just like the expense of a custody battle does not affect the love of a child for their parents. The irony was not lost on me.

The Child’s Voice in Divorce; Trending Topics on Twitter

Yesterday I read that Topsy now has a database with analytics about all the Tweet in cyberspace since 2006. I casually browsed to the site and entered some random #s. As you know from my previous posts, I’m “slightly” annoyed with the lack of rights children have in a divorce, so I also entered #fathersrights, #mothersrights and #childrensrights.

Trending Topics on Twitter 8/15 - 9/15/2013The results were slightly disturbing, so this morning, coffee in hand, I decided to look a little more in-depth into these statistics. What are people really tweeting about? What is the relevance to family court, or custody disputes?

#childrensrights (316 tweets)

At first I was relieved that there were actual, and relatively many, tweets about Children’s Rights, until I started to dissect the tweets and their actual topics. There is a lot of injustice done to children all over the world. The child’s right to education, child brides, failed circumcision, rape, the underground child adoption exchange (this one leaves me speechless, but telling of our society), poverty, cannabis therapy.

None about the children’s rights in divorce…………

None…….

Read that again: None……..

They don’t have a voice.

#mothersrights (30 tweets)

29 Tweets are from attorneys tweeting their answer to a legal question on Avvo. These are questions from mothers seeking a solution or information when just starting the divorce or with regards to a father who, according to the mother, has abandoned the child(ren). 1 Question is from a mother who lost custody and wants to seek visitation. Usually the answer is to hire a lawyer. Shocker.

1 Tweet is about mothers dealing with a stillborn child.

#fathersrights (175 tweets)

And so the bitching starts, excuse my words, and it is not pretty either. My heart rate increases, and I’m not sure it is from my morning coffee. The hairs on my arms are raised with the tone of aggression, is that REALLY in the best interest of the child? It sounds more like bullying; the use of force or coercion to abuseintimidate, or to aggressively impose a certain type of domination over others.

The positive part of this is that most of the aggression is done by attorneys advertising their business. MONEY MONEY MONEY, father’s rights are big business and these attorneys show their teeth in their tweets. Who cares about the child?

Other tweets are about ‘winning’, dads-can-win. So that is the essence of the fight? The winning? Again, that shows aggression and has absolutely nothing to do with the best interest of the child. It is showing their true colors.

There are only a handful of tweets by fathers themselves.

Thankfully there are quite a few tweets about Baby Veronica. While I only know what was presented in the media, I emotionally side completely with the father. There is a great injustice done to the child that there even has to be a battle about this. The biological parent*, who by all means appears to be ‘fit’, who initiated proceedings in a timely manner (not 10 years after the fact), is the parent. Adoption is a wonderful thing for so many children, no question about that, but in this case it is clearly inappropriate.

I’m disappointed by the imbalance of coverage of the different interests. I’m appalled by the aggressive tone of advocates of Father’s Rights, which seems to be about winning and money, not the child. I make no judgement about parents tweeting about the loss of custody. There may be good reason they lost custody, there may be a great injustice done to the children by what happened.

* I specifically and respectfully, say ‘parent’, as I resent this gender war in custody battles. Where joint or shared custody is not in the best interest of the children, the most suitable parent should have sole custody to safeguard the long-term wellbeing of the child.

Time’s Up!: The Broken Custody Court System: Is there Reason for Hope?

I encourage you to read the blog by Barry Goldstein. It is long, but worth the read. The only way to reform the justice system is by using our voice.

“Time’s Up!”: The Broken Custody Court System: Is there Reason for Hope?