‘Kristallnacht‘ or ‘Crystal Night‘, it sounds so beautiful, yet it was so disastrous.
— Synagogue in Berlin the morning after the Kristallnacht
The night in which the German SturmAbteilung, or paramilitary, in a series of organized attacks destroyed synagogues, buildings, homes and stores belonging to jews. It was the beginning of the persecution of Jews in Nazi-Germany.
My grandfather was in Germany at the time, as a Dutch Officer. He left, he quit the military, he knew what was coming, he wanted no part of it. He moved home and fought in the resistance, like many other brave men and women, regardless of race, religion or political beliefs. Their courage should be an example for protective parents. Some fights just have to be fought.
1. Chose your venue wisely.
My grandfather didn’t quit the fight, no, he changed venues. The military was aligning with Hitler and his chances of preserving civil liberties in the position he was in was minimal. He went home, and started an underground resistance group.
Going full-blown into the court circus can be very challenging. And financially very costly, not to speak of the emotional cost. You see people age right in front of you. Other venues are available to you; mediation, arbitration and if you’re remotely lucky you’ll actually be able to come to an agreement with your ex yourself. If not, then……
2. Fight smart, fight strategically.
The story of an attorney representing a protective mother versus a psychopath father will always stick with me. The attorney advised the mother to give the father lots of time, she was hesitant but eventually agreed. The father was too self-centered to actually parent and sure enough, not too long after the father was fed up with the responsibilities of caring for children and the mother ended up with sole custody.
Custody arrangements very often change over time. Depending on the nature of the situation your children are in, this may not be the best solution, but it helps to think outside of the box. Build the relationship with your children first, give that a good foundation.
WWII resistance fighters did not go on (many) suicide missions. They stayed hidden and low profile, but struck when necessary, they fought the necessary battle at the right time and the right place. It wasn’t till the end of the war that the Germans realized the extend my grandfather was involved and how he had systematically resisted them.
3. Realize you’re in it for the long haul.
In 1938 nobody knew how long this was going to take, or even realized the extend of all the atrocities to happen. Likewise, custody battles with personality disordered other parents will escalate over time. Most custody situations are not over till the child reaches maturity and when you are dealing with PAS, it may be a life time.
If you have some sort of access to your children, use it as quality time. Built strong bonds with your children without letting the battle interfere with how you interact with your children. The strongest bonds between child and parent are formed with quality time, even if it is very little.
4. Never give up.
I know I have been at the breaking point. Wondering whether it would all be worth it. I have observed divorces in ex’s family; they don’t stop till they have full custody and the ex-wife is destitute. I wrote that email to dr Warshak that I thought it would be better to walk away. His immediate and stern response was ‘don’t you dare, would you give up if there was physical or sexual abuse?’.
My grandfather knew he was the underdog, but that did not deter him, nor any of his fellow resistance fighters. Thanks to them, thanks to the men and women who fought for our freedom, whether allied forces or resistance fighters, the world was saved from Evil.
When your child is in an abusive situation, whether physical, sexual, or psychological, you have to fight the fight. The road is long, the road is hard, yet when the kids are adults you want to say that you did all you could. There is nothing more devastating to a child growing up believing that a parent abandoned them, whether it is true abandonment, or perceived abandonment due to manipulations of the other parent.