Press Releases

Shared Parenting Offers Solution to ‘Horrific’ Parental Alienation Crisis

National Parents Organization | Press Release
December 4, 2017

State Legislative Committee, Psychologist Examine the Impact

HARRISBURG, PA – Following the Pennsylvania Bipartisan House Children and Youth Committee hearing on parental alienation’s devastating impact, National Parents Organization urges state lawmakers to back family court reform supportive of shared parenting after divorce or separation.

During the hearing, Dr. Craig Childress, a licensed psychologist from California specializing in children and families, educated the committee on parental alienation – when one parent essentially erases the other parent from the child’s life, he explained, by turning the child against that parent.

“It is a horrific, intense conflict that moves through the child and destroys the family,” Dr. Childress said, adding that it is tantamount to child abuse. “And no one is doing anything about it.”

In turn, National Parents Organization recommends action: pass legislation that encourages family court judges to order shared parenting – where each parent spends as close to equal time as possible with the child when parents are fit.

“It is difficult for anyone to turn a child against a fit and loving parent who plays an active role in a child’s life, which means shared parenting can prevent vindictive parents from succeeding in their attempts to alienate a child from the other parent,” said Stephen Meehan, Chair of National Parents Organization of Pennsylvania. “However, far too often, the courts order sole custody to one parent after a bitter, winner-take-all custody battle. Because the non-custodial parent often has so little time with the child, the winning parent is empowered to poison the child’s mind against the ‘absent’ parent, creating heartbreak for child and parent.”

If Pennsylvania considers shared parenting legislation, the state would join a trend. In response to overwhelming research showing shared parenting works in the best interest of children (see “Recent Research” section below), 25 states have considered legislation this year that encourages shared parenting so children spend as close to equal time as possible with each parent. A handful of states have supported shared parenting for years, and in recent years, states including Kentucky, Utah, South Dakota, Missouri and Minnesota have enacted the reform.

“We’ve long known that shared parenting gives children what they most want and need following separation or divorce – two loving parents actively involved in their lives. And now we also know that if a judge orders the more harmonious two-parent model, the pain of parental alienation can often be avoided,” Meehan said. “My hope is that we can make shared parenting the norm in Pennsylvania so that one day, we can erase parental alienation.”

National Parents Organization – Shared Parenting Research Highlights


Shared Parenting Data

  • The Journal of the American Psychological Association published a paper titled “Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children: A Consensus Report” in 2014, and the conclusions were endorsed by 110 eminent authorities around the world. Authored by Dr. Richard Warshak at the University of Texas, the paper concluded, “… shared parenting should be the norm for parenting plans for children of all ages, including very young children.”
  • In 2016, Dr. Warshak wrote, “Two years after its publication, the conclusions and recommendations of the Warshak consensus report remain supported by science.” He also wrote, “The paper has been translated into at least eighteen languages and has informed legislative deliberations throughout the U.S. and parliamentary deliberations in several countries including the United Kingdom, Canada, Israel, Finland, Romania, Croatia, and Sweden. Two years after its publication, the consensus report continues to be one of the most downloaded papers from the journal’s website.” He added, “The list of endorsers and their stature and accomplishments reflect the field’s general acceptance of the consensus report’s findings as rooted in settled science from more than four decades of research directly relevant to this topic, including seminal studies by many of the endorsers.”
  • The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) published the recommendations of 32 family law experts in 2014, and the group concluded, “Children’s best interests are furthered by parenting plans that provide for continuing and shared parenting relationships that are safe, secure, and developmentally responsive and that also avoid a template calling for a specific division of time imposed on all families.”

Single Parenting Data

According to federal statistics from sources including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Census Bureau, children raised by single parents account for:

    • 63% of teen suicides;
    • 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions;
    • 71% of high school drop-outs;
    • 75% of children in chemical abuse centers;
    • 85% of those in prison;
    • 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders; and
    • 90% of homeless and runaway children.

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