“I”ll never forget the memory of both of them in their bare feet and pajamas as they grabbed my pant legs, crying and begging me to stay.”
Kudos to Los Angeles-area psychologist Patti Carmalt-Vener over her new Pasadena Weekly column Kids caught in the middle of separation need parents focusing on them, not undermining each other (4/2/09). After reading the excerpt below make sure to email her your compliments by clicking here.
Also, write a Letter to the Editor of the Pasadena Weekly by HTML clipboardclicking here.
Carmalt-Vener was responding to a heart-wrenching letter from a divorced dad named Brian. Brian writes:
After years of taking my wife”s abuse, I finally had enough the night she threw a cup of coffee at me. When she saw me pack and realized I was serious, she woke our children (ages 7 and 9) and told them I was leaving the family.
I”ll never forget the memory of both of them in their bare feet and pajamas as they grabbed my pant legs, crying and begging me to stay. Their mother was shouting she”d never abandon them — even if I did.
Although I told them I loved them and would be back soon, I regret I didn”t stay and put them back in bed. The look on their faces when I closed the front door still haunts me.
It”s been nine months since I moved out, but no matter how much I try, my kids don”t want much to do with me. Their visits with me are constantly interrupted by their mother”s numerous phone calls. This makes my daughter cry for her mother and it breaks my heart.
I believe my children and I could have gotten past that terrible night but their mother constantly bad-mouths me — it”s like they”re brainwashed. I”m seeing a therapist trained to work with dysfunctional families and my attorney is helping me fight for more time with my children. I want what”s best for Hannah and Jacob. They”ve already been through enough.
What you”re describing sounds like Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). This usually occurs during a divorce when the attitudes and actions of one parent direct the children into thinking the other parent is corrupt, inferior or even the enemy. Examples of PAS behavior are:
(1) denigrating the other parent in front of the children
(2) revealing negative details about the marriage or divorce that blames the spouse for breaking up the family
(3) discouraging or withholding visitations
(4) asking the children to choose one parent over the other and (5) reacting with hurt or sadness to their children”s affection for the other parent. Under these conditions, it”s not uncommon for children who were once affectionate and loving to become hostile or unreceptive….Parental Alienation is emotional abuse.
Read the rest of Carmalt-Vener’s response here.