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Archive for the ‘Parental Alienation Syndrome’ Category

Back when I was still seeing my girls, who were very little at the time, one of my aspirations as a father was to be an understanding one later

Vanity Fair, January 2014

Vanity Fair, January 2014

on, as they would grow up and become teens; by understanding, I mean understanding with boyfriends or else. I did not exactly see myself as their confidant, but as somebody they would trust in case of storms on the love front of their lives. My mom had been quite a patient ear to me on those matters, and my dad was exemplary, at least with my little sister, when she was a teen; the type that would pick up  her contraceptive devices at the pharmacy, no questions asked. It showed quite a remarkable ability to adjust to new mores and times, given the way he had been brought up.

Anyway, as much as I would love to, I have a sense I won’t hear about my girls’ love life anytime soon. There is at least one thing I can do: use this blog to warn them and others about a deadly contraceptive device, NuvaRing, sold by Merck and Co.  I just read  Marie Brenner’s article in the January 2014 issue of Vanity Fair, “Danger in the Ring,” and I was horrified.

Merck’s NuvaRing victims have been adding up like flies.  Brenner’s piece – a must-read- investigates why in the world this product is still on the market. Among the reasons:  Merck’s greed and the way the pharmaceutical industry does business, where deaths and the lawsuits of victims are part of the CDB (Cost of Doing Business); a faulty regulatory  system, where regulators move in and out of the industry they are supposed to regulate.  And let say that if the FDA were not so dramatically understaffed, NuvaRing might not still be killing women.

One thing is clear: Stay away from NuvaRing and third- and -fourth- generation hormonal contraceptives.

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Ms Tambor (Photo New York Times)

Ms Tambor (Photo New York Times)

Two weeks ago, I sent ex an email asking her to inform me where my oldest one was going to college. I was told that my “request” will be passed on to my daughter – who is now an adult- and who will reply “if she wishes.” I insisted:” Please give me her email address,” I wrote, I will ask her myself.  I did not receive any reply.

This last episode pulled me back some thirty years ago, when one of my best friends and myself were seeking news from a common friend who had been, little by little, pulled into a sect, and who had disappeared from our radar. We dragged ourselves to some pointless conferences organized by the sect to catch new followers in Paris, to no avail: We had to be introduced by a member of the sect to see our friend.

That’s what I have to go through with my daughters; even as they become adults, I have to be introduced to them. That’s what alienating parents do: Stand between you and your children and bare you from having a relationship with them.

And you may even die in the process: That’s exactly what happened to Deb Tamber, a Skver Hasidic jew from Rockland county (NY) who happened to leave her sect. After her divorce, Tamber was granted a once-a-month supervised visitation with her children whom she became always more estranged from, until she could not stand it any more and committed suicide.

I am, however, the type whose pain is clamoring; so I picked up the phone and called the Head of The Brearley Upper School, Evelyn Segal.  A day later, she called me back.  I asked her where my oldest one had gone to school. I was told that Brearley cannot give information about students who have left the school. Brearley abides by the privacy laws, blah, blah, blah,… that protect Brearley alums who, by the reason of the alienating parent, need to be protected from their fathers.

I have to be honest: I was not expecting much from Brearley anyway. I was however not expecting the line Mrs. Segal chose to end our cold but courteous phone conversation: “That’s the way things are done in this country,” which translates to: ” If you are not happy with the way things are done here, go back to your country.”   That’s the line of a foreman to illegal foreign workers.  More sectarian (and  inexcusable whatever the situation) it cannot be.

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An eighth September 10 has passed this year since I saw my  girls for the last time. I have already told the story of my last

Le grand phare, Ile de Sein.

Le grand phare, Ile de Sein.

supervised visitation on this blog. I have just this piece of news after eight years without seeing my girls: You don’t get used to it, ever. The pain grows with the moments that you don’t share with them.

At the time of this sad anniversary this year,  I was lucky to get distracted  by a story about what ex-partners or spouses can do to interfere with the custody of their ex. The story takes place in France, and it has a funny twist. No WMD (None of the tricks of parental alienation involved);  just creative “custodial interference.”

In this story told by Justine Salvestroni for Le Monde, the father threw a curveball. His ex wanted to relocate, with the three children, to Sein Island, off the coast of Brittany, far from Montpellier where the father lived. In family court, the father’s lawyer made a description of the Island as a secluded and backward place, inhospitable to kids. That worked: the family court judge denied the request of the mother to relocate to Sein Island.

The mayor of Sein ( also the  name of the only town of the Island) , Jean-Pierre Kerloc’h, happened to learn about the story, and he was pissed. He wrote a letter to  Montpellier family court’s president, asking if all the children had to be removed from all the islands of Brittany…

I have been to other islands in Brittany and never to Sein Island,  but I am sure the mayor of Sein is right. This Island must be on of these breathtaking places that evoke the Opposing Shore (Julien Gracq). And let’s bet that crime must be consistently zero. One could find worst for children.

Hat Tip: Véronique Rouquier

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Since 1994 when Congress passed it, the “Violence Against Women Act” has been the weapon against domestic violence.  The act was to be reauthorized in 2012 to include gays, undocumented immigrants, American Indians and students.  Republicans in the Senate joined Democrats to approve the reauthorization, Republicans in the House did not.  Then the Republicans took a beating in the 2012 Presidential elections, and the reauthorization of the bill is back on the floor of the senate in February, with Republicans now more accommodating to compromises, as they hope to lure women and latinos back  (or finally) into their ranks.

One may think that at least, this  hard-learned lesson in political realism is for the greater good – the end of domestic violence. Wrong: the tackling of this problem has been nothing but petty, parochial politics (PPP) and PPP it remains.

Why? We now know  that domestic violence is not only the deed of men against women, but also that of women Universalitéagainst men and children: physical violence along with a less apparent but as pernicious a form of violence, parental alienation, which is given a free ride in family courts, which are women-biased courts. The very fact that domestic violence is defined as domestic violence against women gives women leeway to overuse of the accusation of domestic violence, to get the divorce they want and expel their ex from the life of their children.

Want to solve domestic violence? Change course and instead of adding categories of victims, throw universality into the law already. Just pass a Domestic Violence Act, that will aim at protecting women, gays, immigrants, American Indians and… men, too.

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H. Collins and children

Do you know who is Holly Collins? Well, me neither, until recently. Holly Collins took her children with her to Holland because her ex-husband was given custody of the kids by Minnesota family courts, while they were allegedly abused. Collins became an international fugitive for fourteen years. I could not help but feel immediate sympathy for her.

A documentary ,”No Way Out but One,” was made about the Collins’ Case.  In a Huffington Post article, Nancy Doyle Palmer interviewed the director of this documentary, Garland Waller. That’s what spoiled my sympathy for Collin.  What is there in this interview? In a nutshell, that kind of non-sense: The justice system grants custody cases to abusers -fathers- like banks mortgages to people before the 2008 financial crisis. Why? Judges believe in the parental alienation syndrome against the whole profession of psychologists. It just takes fathers to accuse “ex” of being an alienating parent, and that’s it: custody wrapped. Hello, have you been to court lately?  Waller does not flesh out the reforms -as she does not give any data backing up her points- but there are not difficult to surmise: “lock’em all (divorced fathers) up.”

Ms Waller appears to be one of these crusaders of the consensus. She pretends 1/ that the consensus (courts favor women) is not the consensus 2/ her alleged consensus (courts favor men) is supposed to put women’s rights under imminent threat. Fortunately, the crusader is on the watch;  she will call for the reforms that will correct this sad state of affairs. Since there are plenty of folks that support the true consensus, they will applaud the crusader, who has set herself up for an easy victory.  If anything, courts are indeed likely to be even more biased for women, whether Holly Collin’s children were abused or not.

I then googled Holly Collins. I found this Glenn Sacks’ article about the case: unlike Palmer’s, there are plenty of facts showing little robustness in Collin’s accusation against her former husband.

I am not done researching the case. Yet, I am in no rush to see “No Way Out but One.” I don’t know yet if Holly Collin abducted her children for the right reasons. I know however that family justice in the US need not reforms grounded in cheap bashing of male abusers.

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“There are no big coincidences or small coincidences, there are just coincidences” says Rava to Elaine Benes in an episode of Seinfeld. True.  I just mailed today a letter to my oldest girl (a letter from the French Consulate sent to my address) wondering if it would ever be given to her, if she was not the one picking up the mail. And forget about any acknowledgement of reception. Coming back home, I saw a friend had sent me a link to a 2008 Daily Mail article about Einstein being an early fathers’ rights campaigner.

That’s quite interesting, indeed.  One learns that in a 1914 letter to his soon-to-be ex-wife, Mileva Maric,  Albert Einstein was reproaching her not to pass on his greetings to his children, Lieserl, Hans Albert and Eduard. If she had, he would have received an acknowledgement from them.  In other words, Einstein had to deal with the alienation of his children by his ex-wife, well before the concept of parental alienation was even coined.

I confess, there are days when it’s almost a consolation to know that what I am going through is not reserved to regular Joes like me. Folks like Einstein have experienced it too. Lucky Einstein however had only to handle Mileva Maric, not a New-York- State-type family court.

Hat tip: Diego Olivé

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A few days ago, Charles, a reader of this blog, posted a comment where he asked me if I

(Clipartof.com)

knew of any support group for fathers in New York.

I don’t know any and I think it is a super idea. We need to be helped in dealing with issues of parental alienation and ruthless  family court justice. If you know of any support group for fathers in New York, please let this blog know.

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Photo: Fathers- 4- Justice

That’s happening in the UK;  The government is to attempt to change the law so that both parents – mothers and fathers- will have the right to see their children. Family Courts will have the responsibility to give to fathers time with their children. This is not joint custody, but a step in the right direction.

Matt O’ Connor, the President of Fathers 4 Justice (UK) , is not happy about it. From what I understand of the debate in the UK, the law is not going to prevent women to invoke child abuse to deny fathers access to their children.  Point taken.  Yet, from New York State  (and most of the States), where family courts have one motto – bleed the turnip  (the non-custodial father who does not see his children)-, a law like this would be significant progress.

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Each year in March, I receive a grade report, at least of one of my girls. Both are now in

Hasta el viento tiene miedo (Carlos Enrique Taboada)

Brearley Upper School, but for some reason, I have never received two grade reports of this School, one for each of my daughter, the same year. I don’t ask why.

This year, in March 2012, along with my oldest one’s grades, was a generic letter signed Evelyn Sigal, Head of the Upper School, with the words:”If you have not already had the chance to discuss with your daughter her performance on her exams, I urge you to use this report as a catalyst for doing so.” 

The Brearley School must either have a special sense of humor I don’t get or a very short memory. In 2009, the Brearley School barred me from attending parents-teachers conference, although I had a Family Court order granting me the right to the contrary. And as I was blogging about it,  I received a cease or desist threat from the Brearley School councel. It was about refraining from comments -supposedly inflammatory-  about the Brearley School on my blog.

I learned then the Brearley School had read my blog.  Hence the Brearley School must have figured out I am incommunicado with my daughters, for almost seven years now. The Brearley School wants me “to use this report as a catalyst to discuss with my daughter on her exams?” I wished the Brearley School had not been another catalyst of my eviction from the lives of my girls. I could perhaps talk about their exams with them now.

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The word parenting makes me cringe. It must be because ex wanted to inflict parenting

L'argent de poche (Truffaut)

classes on me when she put me on trial for child abuse; or perhaps because I had too many visits with my girls supervised by Comprehensive Family Slaughtering, which was in the business of putting me back on the right parenting track.

Since I have not seen my girls for so many years, parenting is a painful topic to me and I tend to avoid parenting articles in the press. This one – Why French Parents Are Superior (Pamela Druckerman) caught my attention. I told myself that there was perhaps something there to learn about “Frenchness” in parenting that the folks from Manhattan Family Court missed.

First, don’t let the title of the article freak you out. Druckerman wrote for the Wall Street Journal and this is a politically correct article in the Murdoch world, meaning solidly anti-French; Not the New York Post’s way (“a good French is a dead one”), but the Wall Street Journal’s way. Druckerman feels she has to tell the reader she is not sure to be willing to live in France (one wonders why such a thought would even occur to her);  She surely does not want her kids to grow like “sniffy Parisians.” Oof! One never knows.

Besides well-known facts – French parents have a life as adults while Americans parents don’t- there are interesting points in Druckerman’s article, like her discussion of disciplining a child in the American and French parenting traditions. There is one thing missing in her piece though (I can’t help being a sniffy Parisian, even if I have been living much longer in New York than in Paris): the word “parenting” does not exist in French. It just ain’t. The French raise their children (“élèvent leurs enfants”). So what? Perhaps parenting in France is more geared towards kids and not so much towards being a “good parent,” meaning giving the kids what parents did not have and think they should have: a good neighborhood, a good school, a good career…

I wonder how France and the US fare on the parental alienation’s front.

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