Tag Archive for Accountability

Parental Alienation by Dr. Nicholas Browning

Other Voices: The damage of parental alienation not always obvious
By Nicholas Browning, MD
Over the past year, I have witnessed a process where a child’s previously loving relationship with a parent is irrevocably damaged by parental alienation. Parental alienation usually occurs in the setting of a divorce or separation, where children unjustifiably reject a parent.
The process is complex, and there is often a dynamic where one parent encourages the children to take sides against the other parent.
The message given is “it is no longer safe to love the other parent, and you must choose sides.” It is emotional abuse, and should be regarded as child abuse by society and the court.
There is a lot of unnecessary debate in the medical and legal fields about the terminology.
The real issues are the conduct of parents and the response from the child. Whether it is called estrangement, alignment, or alienation does not matter — the focus should properly be placed on the behavior. The degree of official response should be tailored to the degree of behavior.
Badmouthing that does not result in estrangement requires less official response than cases where children do start to reject a parent.
A terrible tragedy occurs when parents tell children that the other parent is bad, untrustworthy, or evil. These messages go directly to the child’s sense of self, as they are half of their mother and father.
Depriving a child of a previously loving relationship with a parent profoundly affects their sense of security. The alienating parent may “win” by getting the child to side with them, but the child loses one of the pillars of self-esteem.
In the adversarial court system, some parents lose focus on the welfare of their children in favor of “winning.”
Unfortunately, Family Court is ill-equipped to deal with such cases. Often, the official response is to allow the child to stay with the alienating parent with the hope that time will heal the relationship with the estranged parent.
Meaningful consequences are rarely applied.
Addressing this process requires urgency, as the longer it goes on, the more difficult it is to treat and the more the child is hurt. Left unchecked, some parents eventually have no option other than to disengage from their child to reduce the conflict.
The standard orders in court include language instructing parents not to denigrate the other parent, but enforcement is difficult and many parents realize the court will rarely do anything substantive about it.
There appears to be a tacit acceptance that parents will badmouth each other, although it is clearly child abuse. Physical abuse is addressed quickly, but emotional abuse goes unchecked until the situation becomes egregious.
Judges and other law professionals require more training and societal support to deal with this issue. The essential question to ask is “has the relationship changed between the parent and child?”
A previously loving relationship that turns into rejection from the child should be quickly investigated to determine the reason.
If alienation is determined to be taking place, swift action such as fines, jail time, or drastic alterations in visitation should be utilized. Simply telling parents to “not do that again” has little effect in the emotional time of a divorce where clear thinking is difficult for anyone.
Behavior is altered best with consequences, not lectures. Society should support courts when action is taken.
Family Court is reluctant to quickly address these complex cases, but it is necessary. The primary duty of Family Court should be to keep children safe. Emotional abuse is far more difficult to see than physical abuse, but the effects are long-lasting, just as real and the wounds may never heal.
Encouraging a child to think badly or reject either parent is child abuse — period. It destroys security and self-esteem. Healthy development can become impossible. Allowing it to take place in Family Court, results in a failure of that primary duty.
If you are a parent in a divorce, don’t say bad things about the other parent – it will hurt your child more than the other parent.
If you are grandparents in a divorce, be a positive influence on your children and help them to realize that taking sides with grandchildren damages them.
If you are a judge or other law professional, pay the same attention to parental alienation as you would physical abuse — and have the courage to take action when needed.
Please do not tolerate such behavior. Children need to feel safe loving both parents.
Nicholas Browning, MD, lives in Grass Valley.

Does your Wife or Ex-Wife Have a Golden Uterus Complex?

Does your Wife or Ex-Wife Have a Golden Uterus Complex? 15 Characteristics of the Golden Uterus

Are you frustrated with your wife or ex-wife’s attitude of “I AM THE MOTHER; YOU ARE IRRELEVANT” when it comes to raising your shared children? Does she have an over-inflated sense of self because she’s a mother? Does she believe the mere act of giving birth entitles her to special privileges and gives her absolute, unilateral power over you and the children? If so, your wife/ex-wife/mother of your children may be a golden uterus (GU) and suffer from golden uterus complex (GUC).

Golden uterus may seem like a snide term. It is. In some ways, the term is a backlash against a certain kind of woman/mother who believes she is the end-all-be-all just because she procreated, or rather, just because she procreated with you before anyone else had children with you.

You see, GUs only revere their own uteruses and motherhood. They’re dismissive of other mothers and their children; especially if they’re second or third wives. They take pride in the fact that they were the first wives; while ignoring the reality that they were such bad wives that their husbands divorced them.

Golden uteruses, despite the sense of superiority and entitlement they derive from the title “mother,” are typically lousy parents if not downright abusive parents. GUs are often the high-conflict, abusive personality-disordered parental alienators. They are the women who expect others, including their own children, to sacrifice everything at the altars they erect to themselves. Golden uteruses lay golden eggs (children) and milk their motherhood, the children and you for all you’re worth.

Here are some characteristics of the golden uterus mom:

1. GU and child are one and the same. The golden uterus child isn’t allowed to have his or her own feelings and opinions. If mommy is sad, then child must be sad. If mommy is mad, then child must be mad. If mommy hates daddy and his new wife; then child must hate daddy and his new wife. If mommy has been “wronged;” then child has been wronged.

The golden uterus believes that her best interests and the child’s best interests are synonymous. There is no “you” and “I.” The golden uterus and child are “we.” It’s a crippling symbiosis for the child in that the golden uterus feeds off of her own child to feel important, powerful and special.

2. GU and child are a two-fer. If you want to have your child in your life after you separate or divorce, the GU believes she’s a part of some twisted package deal. A golden uterus doesn’t understand (or refuses to acknowledge) that you can love  and have an independent relationship with the children without her in the middle of it. GUs will try to impose themselves into your individual relationships with the children and any new romantic relationships. However, if GU dates and remarries, it’s none of your damn business.

The GU is allowed to move on with her life. You’re expected to remain on ice, poised to mobilize whenever she demands something. When the GU child wants or needs something, you’re expected to drop everything to do the GU’s child’s bidding.

3. Disobedience is abuse to the golden uterus. If the children, father/husband/ex-husband doesn’t heed her demands, the GU perceives it as abuse. If you don’t parent the same way the GU parents (or mis-parents); you’re a bad parent. If you challenge the GU’s decisions, she’ll punish you by denying you access to the kids or taking you to court. “A GU believes that because she gave birth, she has exclusive rights to all decision-making related to said child, no matter what anyone else (including the courts or the father) say” (anonymous source).

This applies to the children, too. If they disobey mom or have the temerity to have their own feelings and opinions (you know, what childhood experts call healthy childhood development) that differ from the GU’s feelings and opinions, it’s an act of high treason. There are consequences for this. The children of GUs learn very early in life what side their bread is buttered. This is what makes PAS possible.

4. GU exceptionalism. Even though humans have been procreating since human history began, the GU believes her pregnancy and childbirth are the most special pregnancy and childbirth ever. Most women will tell you that their pregnancy and the birth of their child was one of the most special events in their lives. They don’t expect it to be the most special event in everyone else’s lives.

Furthermore, should you remarry and have children with your new wife, the GU believes that she and the child(ren) you share with her should take precedence over your current relationship and any new offspring. The GU believes she should always come first and, by association with her, the child you share.

For example, let’s say the child you share is an adult, but you’re still obligated to pay your ex, an adult, spousal support. You  remarry and have a child with a medical issue. The GU believes her spousal support should be your first priority instead of paying for the second child’s medical expenses. Twistedly enough, many family courts would support this pathological entitlement and adult dependency. As a retired judge-mediator recently told one of my clients during his divorce settlement: “You have two children. One is 16 and the other is 54 and you’re responsible for both of them because you choose to live in a patriarchal state.” This was a female judge, by the way.

5. Boundaries are for everyone else; boundaries don’t apply to the GU. No boundaries. Bupkis. You must respect the GU’s boundaries, but you’re not allowed to have any boundaries. If you have healthy boundaries, the GU will accuse you of being controlling, withholding, abusive, unresponsive and, naturally, a bad dad.

6. All other child caregivers are irrelevant. Fathers are walking ATMs. A father’s role is to financially and emotionally support the mother (i.e., be her emotional punching bag/doormat and listen to her complain about how hard it is to be a mother). That’s it. Fathers get no real input into how the children are raised.

Step-mothers are less than non-entities. They are to act as servants to the children during visitation and are less than handmaidens to the golden uterus. Step-mothers/girlfriends are intruders and are treated as such. Extended paternal family members are to act as a subservient support system to the GU, that is, if she allows them to have any access to the kids. Extended paternal family members are also expected to side with the GU over their own flesh and blood and to dispense cash for the GU’s children’s “needs.”

7. Once you have sex with a GU, she owns you for life. The golden uterus believes that if she gave birth to your children, you are “connected for life.” She should always come first (even if you’ve both remarried) and YOU OWE HER until death you do part.

This also applies to the children. GUs wield guilt over their children with staggering virtuosity. “I am your mother. I carried you for 9 months. No one will ever love you like I do. No one will ever break our bond. No one will ever come between us. I CARRIED you in my WOMB for NINE months. YOU can NEVER do that for me.

When the children become adults, the GU still believes she should come first in her adult children’s lives and take precedence over their spouses and children. A GU’s children owe her because she is their mother. This is just so sick and twisted. Unlike an ex-husband who can break free of this death grip; many GU kids are indoctrinated into the GU’s warped belief system and it’s extremely difficult for them to break free. If they reject the GU’s distorted belief system and abuses, they’re treated like public enemy number one and may even be disowned by the GU, which wouldn’t necessarily be such a bad thing. Nevertheless, it’s terrifying for many children and adult children to contemplate.

This is a perversion of parenthood. These are often the women who get pregnant so that they’ll have “someone who’ll love [me] unconditionally.” They fail to understand that it’s the parentwho’s supposed to meet the child’s love and safety needs and not the other way around.

8. GUs like to take kissy duck face make-out photos with their children. Facebook addicted GUs like to post kissy-duck face-make-out photos with their child(ren). It’s rather like manic, digital age pietas. “Look at meeee and my child who loves meeee! See! We’re so close we’re more like best friennnnnds!” Boundaries, shmoundaries.

These photos are similar in nature to the photos drunken college girls take of themselves with their arms wrapped around each other and their faces pressed together. Whenever I see a photo of a mother with her child in a lip lock-bear hug with a Joker smile, I think: ENMESHED GU.

9. Golden uterus mothers are feeeeeeelers. The golden uterus believes that her emotions are reason enough for any action, no matter how despicable. In fact, the GU’s feelings often trump what’s really in the child’s best interests.

For example, “I’m angry with your father” means the children are denied access to their father. Cutting the other parent out of a child’s life is rarely in the child’s best interests. However, the GU is feeeeeeling angry, wronged, ignored, disrespected, challenged, etc., so that becomes her justification to attack and/or punish others—even if her actions violate a court order.

10. Once the GU gives birth, her “job” is done. “GUs believe that simply birthing a child is all they’re responsible for as a contribution to the parenting, raising and welfare of their child. From the moment the child emerges from her hallowed trough, it is solely on the father to provide all for both her and the child” (anonymous source).

Once a GU gives birth, she has her own little foot soldier to weaponize and use as a control device over the child’s father and family. This is when many of these women choose not to return to work. By giving birth, the GU essentially has her husband over a barrel. She knows it and she uses it.

11. Children are possessions; not their own persons. “The GU views the child as her possession. The GU will take all the kudos for birthing a child, but none of the responsibility. If someone tries to point out the discrepancies, the GU will will heave out emotional garbage to cover up their horrible parenting. The GU only views the child in context to herself.  Everything is about her” (anonymous source).

12. The GU uses motherhood as an excuse. “Becoming a ‘mother’ is the GU’s excuse for EVERYTHING. She can’t work because ‘mothers don’t work.’ My husband HAS to give her all of his money because she’s the mother of his ONLY child. She lost all identity as a woman and used becoming a mother as her free ride in life” (anonymous source).

Even after their children are in school full-time, GUs still use the kids and being a mother as an excuse not to work outside the home and often not to work inside the home. “You have no idea how stressful it is being a mom.” Um, the kids are in school all day. What do you do with your time? “You always minimize all the hard work I do. YOU HAVE NO IDEA.” Um, the breakfast dishes are still in the sink when I get home from work in the evening. The laundry is piled up and the kids haven’t done their homework. What did you do all day? “HOW DARE YOU DISRESPECT ME. I’m THE MOTHER OF YOUR CHILDREN!”

13. GUs are self-appointed parenting experts. Despite the fact that her parenting behaviors should be used as an example in  How NOT to Parent 101, “the golden uterus believes that having birthed a child makes them better and more knowledgeable than others; e.g., the “Well you don’t have kids so how would you know anything?” woman (anonymous source). If you should dare challenge the GU’s parenting skills and superior authority, see number 3 above.

14. Motherhood is a title and a power trip. “The golden uterus views mothering as a title rather than a relationship and a set of behaviors. Mothering requires selflessness at times. It requires sacrifice at times. It requires paying attention to the child and putting your time and energy into meeting their needs, which also requires seeing the child as a unique and separate individual from yourself, not a mirror of your own thoughts, feelings, and needs. A golden uterus mother fails at mothering and instead uses her title to extort things from others ‘in the name of the child.’ Essentially, they use their offspring as a way to get their own needs met” (anonymous source).

15. The GU is never wrong. “The golden uterus seems to expect that they get a total free pass on accountability for their own behavior. I have often told my husband that his ex lives on a one way street paved in double standards. Her own bad behavior is to be overlooked. Yet she will attempt to crucify him for any and all perceived weaknesses or ‘failures.’ She is judge and jury and quick to condemn my husband (and me, for that matter) yet she can do no wrong” (anonymous source).

What can you do if the mother of your children has a golden uterus complex?

There’s nothing you can do to change her. Nothing. She’s highly unlikely to see the light and morph into a reasonable human being and good mother. Your goal, as with all high-conflict abusive types, should be containment. You accomplish containment through establishing iron-clad boundaries. Learn to say no and then practice deafening your ears to the caterwauling.

Don’t let her use your children as an extortion mechanism. Don’t allow the children to view you as a human ATM machine. In other words, don’t reward your children’s bad behavior with money, gifts, trips and other goodies, otherwise, they will view you the same way that their mother does. I know many fathers are desperate for time with their children and use toys and expensive entertainment as bait. Trust me, this is not the relationship you want with your children. It’s a quick path to time with them, but it’s an unhealthy and impermanent one.

Decide exactly how much bad behavior you’re willing to to tolerate from your ex and what offenses you want to pursue in court. Forget about co-parenting with a GU; it’s next to impossible. You will be less frustrated if you try to parallel parent. A GU will undermine you at nearly every turn. Expect it and plan for it.

Don’t put your current wife/girlfriend in the middle and don’t tolerate your ex or your children disrespecting her. Demand respect for yourself and your loved ones. If your ex and the kids violate these boundaries, find appropriate consequences for their violations.

Finally, don’t drink the golden uterus’ kool-aid. The fact that you once had a relationship with her/share a child does not bind you together for life. Just because she wants this to be the truth doesn’t make it so. Just because your ex has chosen to define herself by a failed relationship and 36 hours in a delivery room doesn’t mean you have to do the same. GUs are legends in their own minds and their own worst enemies. Minimize contact and try to foster healthy boundaries, values and senses of self in your children during the time you have them and hope it sticks.

Shrink4Men Coaching and Consulting Services:

Dr Tara J. Palmatier provides confidential, fee-for-service, consultation/coaching services to help both men and women work through their relationship issues via telephone and/or Skype chat. Her practice combines practical advice, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Shrink4Men Services page for professional inquiries.

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