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Episode 35. Michelle Littleton

  

Michelle Littleton’s three children, ages 6, 13, 14, were taken to Lebanon by their father on Jan. 4, 2017. The father, Mazen Fawzi Matar, has refused to return the children, despite a federal kidnapping charge and a demand to return order from the Orange Co. Superior Court. Michelle hired an attorney in Lebanon, and has won two court judgement’s in favor of the children’s concern. Notably, the December 26, 2017 ruling in Sharia law court also affirmed the mother’s full custody status and the children’s return to America will need to be won in the Lebanese Civil court proceedings coming up. Michelle has also been campaigning in the U.S. and has met with many politicians calling for law reform and assistance.

******UPDATE. Since recording this episode, just 2 days before it aired, Michelle was able to talk to her children on the phone for the first time*********

Also, should LBP’s just be grateful that they had kids and just ‘buck up and move on’? This was a comment that was made to me on my Facebook page during the week that I wanted to address.

Join the conversation on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/lbpstoriespodcast/

Sign Michelle’s petition https://www.change.org/p/florida-mother-gets-help-from-senators-to-bring-internationally-kidnapped-children-home-from-lebanon?recruiter=726258917&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=share_petition&utm_content=nafta_fb_canonical_share_3%3Acontrol

https://www.istandparentnetwork.com/parent-pages

Vote for LBP Stories in the Australian Podcast Awards https://australianpodcastawards.submittable.com/gallery/2829f195-1021-4d7c-853f-f0ce775f4fa4/9566337

40 Replies to “Episode 35. Michelle Littleton”

  1. “Every year, 600-800 more children are abducted by a parent from the United States. Every year, less than 20% come home. The Goldman Act requires the State Department to disclose the abduction records of countries that fail to return American children. The resulting report recognizes the suffering of American families, puts pressure on recalcitrant countries to cooperate, and prevents future abductions by warning family court judges which countries are unsafe. Accurate reporting is one of our best tools to prevent and resolve international parental child abduction – and yet the report leaves children behind, especially in Japan. This hearing will focus on ways that the State Department can more effectively use the annual Goldman Act Report to leave no child behind.”
    https://foreignaffairs.house.gov/hearing/subcommittee-hearing-no-abducted-child-left-behind-update-goldman-act/

  2. Most societies recognize crimes against children, however lines are blurred when a crime is committed by a parent or a family member, instead of a stranger.

    International parental child abduction (“IPCA”), is the illegal removal of children from their home by a “taking” parent to a foreign country. The “taking” parent is either violating existing custodial order or custodial rights of the other parent (children are taken without the other parent’s consent), and wrongfully retained in a foreign country.
    https://fight-ipca.com/

  3. May 16, 2018 – In a recent article, Florida Today profiled Michelle Littleton, a mother whose children were abducted to Lebanon by their father last year. The “Goldman Act,” authored by Rep. Chris Smith, “gives more teeth to requests for the return of abducted children,” reported Florida Today.

    “Congress in 2014 unanimously passed the Goldman Act, named after Sean Goldman, who was returned to his father in 2008 five years after his mother took him to Brazil. The law gives more teeth to requests for the return of abducted children, including withdrawing financial assistance to a country, but enforcement has been lax. The issue was subject of April hearings in the U.S. House and Senate where lawmakers pressed State Department officials for more action,” reported Florida Today.

    Nearly 11,000 children were unlawfully removed from their country of residence by one of their parents between 2008 and 2017, according to the office of New Jersey U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, who sponsored the Goldman Act. Only 16 percent of open child abduction cases in 2016 were resolved with the child being returned to the U.S., according to the State Department

    http://smithfornj.org/2018/05/florida-today-rep-smiths-goldman-act-helps-reunite-families/

  4. Hello and welcome to the page for Florida’s Left Behind Parents. If you or someone you know is a left behind parent, please share this page with them. It is estimated that there are 101 outgoing international abductions from Florida per year. It is time this crisis is acknowledged in Washington D.C. so we can save future generations from this traumatic life altering crime. It is crucial that we stand together to make sure our voices are heard.
    My children were abducted to Lebanon on January 4, 2017. I am fighting to bring them home. Until then, I remain a virtual prisoner of IPCA.
    I will update our page as new media stories of cases and data comes along.
    Thank you for taking your time to help fight against IPCA. Please feel free to contact with any questions or comments.
    Warm regards,
    Michelle Littleton
    https://www.facebook.com/FLORIDALEFTBEHINDPARENTS/photos/a.2062106790740224.1073741828.2061241910826712/2116656598618576/?type=3&fref=mentions

  5. Lawyers make money out of accusations, conflict and litigation. They advise / promote aggression. They sell a blackmarket product called “the windmill”. It is destructive, expensive and violent. It is common because it fools the courts and makes money. It costs you your child, family, friends, house, job, income (and worse). It is illegal. It breaches the Children’s Act. Your own lawyer will not tell you or stop it. S/he also makes money out of it.
    https://www.eventbrite.com/e/stop-the-windmilltm-divorce-without-lawyers-tickets-46798193657

  6. The fourth International Conference on Shared Parenting will be held in Strasbourg, France, on November 22d and 23th, 2018, at Palais de l’Europe. The theme of this conference is: Shared Parenting, Social Justice and Children´s Rights.

    The conference is organized under the auspices of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Mr. Thorbjørn Jagland. It is also supported by the City of Strasbourg, the University of Strasbourg and the Jardin des Sciences.

    The conference intends to report how, within judicial systems and social work practices, both parents are recognized as vital in their children’s lives, even after separation and divorce. It will explore how shared parenting seems a means for keeping with the principles and articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Thus, a focus of the conference is to stress how shared parenting, viewed as in the best interests of children of separated parents, is a crucial issue for practitioners and policymakers around the globe, regarding the alignment of national law and practices with the articles of the UN CRC
    https://twohomes.org/en_home

  7. Truth Hurts and Honesty Kills
    My Battle Against Parent Alienation
    By: One Bad Mother

    I’m not an alcoholic; I hardly ever get the chance to drink. I don’t use drugs, I have a hard time even taking my meds on time like prescribed. So, it is clearly not the cause of me losing my daughter. I had work for a living even before my divorce. The divorce was finalized in June of 2004, after a relatively short marriage. What was the cause of my divorce? I was the only person in the marriage that could keep my body parts in my pants, and I did not allow lies to overwhelm my marriage. My other biggest mistake was believing lies, before the ugly side of my child’s father became known. Unfortunately, 1 year later the source of the lies came to light, and showed more than even she predicted. Everything I did was to conquer mother hood even before my marriage vows were taken. I was a single mother whom already had a guy walked away from me when I was just three weeks along with me first daughter. When my second daughter came, I was afraid of that nightmare happening yet again. What came of that nightmare was darker and more sinister than my nightmare could even began to imagine. At one point I wish I was the alcoholic I was being accused of being.
    As of me typing this, I have Joint Custody of my youngest daughter. Our last court date, I was ordered reunification sessions with a therapist. Which as to date, the therapist has refused to have any sessions with me. The therapist neglected to follow the state guidelines of Joint Custody over the years by seeing my youngest without the court order ever being on file, yet she claims in a text message it is all because I do not want to pay her and rejected our sessions against court orders. Even though she tried to have a paper trail to cover her own butt, it is not enough to cover her wrong doing. For years of my daughter’s schooling, I had to fight with office staff members to be apart of what is my parenting right of her IEP meetings of 3 years. I had to request and keep requesting my daughter’s doctor recorders to find out my daughter had developed a health condition which stress can trigger. Plus, hospital visits I was never told about, but learned about through records. I read them page by page and followed the trail of how my daughters step mother became “Mom” over the years; by simply not supplying the court records any longer. Many phone calls, text messages, emails, and encounters had been twisted to fit into a scenario that was made up by my daughter’s stepmother.
    Somehow the same woman, my child’s step mother had been there for every event of my daughter’s accusations. She claims she found my daughter crying sitting on the toilet confused about my relationship with my newest boyfriend (now husband), told my daughter to tell her father she was touched when my daughter was finally able to say a few sentences. At this point my daughter was already labeled with ADHD and was in special classes and had been since she was two. Yet, could I find a mediator, judge, police officer, or caseworker to listen to me? No, not even the so called therapist would help her. For 12 years now my daughter has been in the care of her abuser and I am made out to be the worst mother on earth. Why? I was the only one not to believe her lies anymore. The step mother had also on three different occasions hit on two different guys that I was dating at that time. Once she tried hitting on the same guy; she later accused of touching my daughter. The second time was my current husband .YES, this woman has gone so low to hit on both my ex-husband as well as my current husband. What she failed to realize is my husband has no want or use for this woman. With all the proof I have, I wish just once an investigator would see all I have and help. Help me to see if seeing my child is possible. Not to mention to get her away from her abusers. With being 16 going on 17 years old even if my daughter is to discover what the truth is; she still would say I was making stuff up. This is proof of the sick mind games that are being played on the weak. My ex-husband who is now estranged from her is continuing with the lies, yet can not see he is in deep too. Little did they know I would find out about the ex-wife’s new boyfriend and she is living in a completely different city and county. I saw how the step mother took my daughter with the new man out of state and her father wasn’t even there. Why is this woman who is not the mother of this innocent child still able to totally exit me out of my child’s life? I haven’t even mentioned how my ex mother in law was Supervisor to the Court Clerks in the Courthouse my case was filed and held in. Which gave my case an even sicker twist. Judges could belittle me without even hearing how the dog that bit is the same one owned by that very same Supervisor in that very same courthouse, or how I was not the step mother that coached a little girl that was only 5 years old to lie, and falsely accused an innocent man of wrong doing. I however will not hold back if you want to read all I have, see all I have and want to help fight for ending the COURT ORDERED CHILD ABUSE. Yes, I just said that the Courts are placing children in harms way is child abuse.
    I am one bad mother fighting for the rights of all the parents who has no one on their side just as me. I am fighting for all of the children that have one person or more abusing them and don’t know whom to trust anymore. I am that voice of my own freewill that was ripped away from my own child to end this and see that Time is Severed for False Accusations and for every Mind Game that was played on the INNOCENT. My fight is not only for my family, but for all the children that was forced to play the game that no one wins in. I know the heartache and its bad enough I have been through it, but parents to be there and the children. My heart and mind scream in agony knowing Parent Alienation is not an isolated event towards me, but way too many parents have had to endure this pain and more on the horizon.

    Winning this war will be done by the win of every little battle.
    #EARESED

  8. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    June 21, 2018

    “Anastasia and Gabriel Hunkovic, the children of one of my constituents, were abducted to Trinidad and Tobago against an American judge’s custody order. The Trinidadian government has refused to comply with the extradition request submitted by the United States government, but I am working diligently to secure the safe return of these children to the United States and to the care of their father. These children are American citizens, and belong with their father here in Maryland.

    Contact: Jacque Clark, 202-225-5311

    House Committee Approves Harris Language Addressing International Child Abductions

    WASHINGTON, DC: On June 20, the House Committee on Appropriations passed the FY19 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill. Congressman Andy Harris, M.D. (MD-01) authored, and the committee approved, language regarding international child abduction cases. The language urges the State Department to take all appropriate actions to secure the return of abducted American children, and requires the Secretary of State to submit an annual report of countries with pending cases that are more than 12 months old. Congressman Harris released the following statement in support of the bill’s passage:

    “Anastasia and Gabriel Hunkovic, the children of one of my constituents, were abducted to Trinidad and Tobago against an American judge’s custody order. The Trinidadian government has refused to comply with the extradition request submitted by the United States government, but I am working diligently to secure the safe return of these children to the United States and to the care of their father. These children are American citizens, and belong with their father here in Maryland. It is imperative that the State Department use every tool available to bring these children back.”

    Congressman Harris’ bill language and report language read as follows:

    Bill Language

    7034(g) (Bill Language) International Child Abductions. – The Secretary of State should withhold funds appropriated under title III of this Act for assistance for the central government of any country that is not taking appropriate steps to comply with the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abductions, done at the Hague on October 25, 1980: Provided, That the Secretary shall report to the Committees on Appropriations within 15 days of withholding funds under this subsection.

    Report Language

    Child abduction and access.- The Committee notes that when making use of the waiver in section 204 of the Goldman Act (P.L. 113-150), the Secretary of State is required to provide a detailed justification for such waiver involving a country with a pattern of non-compliance. The Committee expects the Secretary of State to comply with this requirement. Further, the Committee directs the Secretary to include in such justification the reason, if any, for why actions 4 through 8 under section 204(d) are not being taken. Additionally, the Secretary shall include in the annual report required by section 101 of such Act a list of countries with pending cases that are more than 12 months old and shall also provide such report to the Committees on Appropriations.

    The Committee is concerned about reports of the unlawful removal of United States minors to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Brazil and Trinidad and Tobago. The Committee directs the Secretary of State to aggressively advocate for such minors and to work with host governments to facilitate their return. The Secretary of State should also consider taking further actions, as appropriate, such as those described in section 7034(g) of this Act and those contained in section 201(b) of the Goldman Act, with a priority on cases that have been unresolved for more than a year.

    The full text of the bill and accompanying report can be found on the House Appropriations Committee’s website

  9. The International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA), signed into law on August 8, 2014, contains provisions that increase the Department’s annual reporting requirements. Each year, the Department will submit an Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction to Congress by April 30. Additionally, the Department will submit a subsequent report to Congress on the actions taken towards those countries determined to have been engaged in a pattern of noncompliance in the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction.
    https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/for-providers/legal-reports-and-data.html

  10. Data for ONE YEAR, here are the numbers of outgoing international parental childhood abductions out of Florida.

    Florida’s children are being stolen to the following countries:

    Argentina 1 Australia 1 Bahamas 3 Bangladesh 1 Belgium 1 Bermuda 1 Bolivia 1 Brazil 5 Bulgaria 1 Canada 3 Chile 3 Colombia 5 Cuba 1 Czech Republic 1 Dominican Rep. 5 Ecuador 5 Germany 2 Guatemala 2 Honduras 2 Hungary 2 India 1 Iraq 1 Israel 2 Italy 2 Jamaica 3 Japan 1 Jordan 3 Macedonia 1 Mexico 8 Moldova 1 Morocco 2 Netherlands 1 Nicaragua 2 Peru 3 Philippines 1 Poland 3 Portugal 1 Russia 3 Spain 3 St. Kitts and Nevis 1 Syria 1 Trinidad & Tobago 1 Turkey 1 UAE 2 United Kingdom 4 Uzbekistan 2 West Bank 1

  11. Hello! I simply want to give an enormous thumbs up with the great information you provide in this podcast. You are doing wonderful work to raise awareness of parental alienation

  12. It’s so good to see that you too clearly have a solid friendship and respect for each other through this all. It’s clear in the way you interact. As hard as it is to lose children, forming friendships with others who have been through similar situations is invaluable.

  13. I saw Michelle on the local news in Florida, She conducts herself so well and articulately under the circumstances. Truly inspirational. Thank you such much for your work Michelle, we’re all praying for you.

  14. Michelle is becoming quite well known in Florida and is really making an impact. I’ve seen her on TV and printed media. She shares her story so well and is handling herself so well under such tragic circumstances. I don’t think I’d cope so well myself. Best of luck to you Michelle, I look forward to hearing about your being reunited with your kids soon.

  15. I’ve seen you on the news here in Florida Michelle and am just lost for words, what an amazing mom you are. So many people would give up under such circumstances but you continue to fight. Don’t give up. We’re all rooting for you.

  16. A child of divorce shares the emotional turmoil experienced during her parents divorce. One paragraph is especially revealing and is in bold type. This is an excellent expose on the impact that divorce has on a child. Not only during childhood but throughout their entire lives!

    .

    Growing up in suburban Philadelphia, the daughter of two yuppies, it seemed like I had everything. I was pretty sheltered, a shy child by nature and nurture. The later cause of my introverted nature was the fact that my parents avoided verbal communication with each other. The only time I remember them directly talking to each other was a rather loud fight.

    Instead of providing a good relationship model and any hint of social skills for me, my parents’ example made me evade meaningful social interactions with my peers. I found refuge in school, dance, and music. Unfortunately, my older sister discovered escape through drinking, drugs, and sex.

    Fast-forward to late 2003. I was in 8th grade, in the middle of the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad stage of puberty. My parents announce that they are getting a divorce. Although they had been practically divorced during my entire life, this announcement turned my world upside down. My life-long depression spun out of control. I started experiencing suicidal thoughts. The climax of my depression was when I held a knife to my wrist. I wanted to kill myself, but I was afraid of the physical pain I would feel. I ended up putting the knife down. The next day, I went to see my guidance counselor at school. I told her what happened, and long story short, I was sent to the mental hospital. After my hospital visit, I continued therapy and medication.

    While I no longer experienced suicidal thoughts, I still had much healing to accomplish. I learned that both my mother and my father had been in long-term relationships with other people (their current spouses). I also learned that my mother had been married before she met my dad. I was disgusted with the deceit and lies my parents had been feeding me. I was stronger than they thought, so why didn’t they tell me the truth? I was so irate that they would blatantly lie to me!

    In high school, I was still very shy and hesitant to develop real relationships. Subconsciously, I think that I was afraid of being hurt by others. My parents “relationship” consisted of mostly silent treatment, with occasional incidents of passive-aggressive behavior. In my mind, that was the pattern that all relationships followed. Throughout high school and the first year or two of college, I thought that in the rare chance that I became married, I would eventually get divorced.

    Both my mother and father remarried, the former in January 2009 and the later in December 2011. My sister was in a serious relationship with a great guy. In my own family, I constantly felt like a third wheel in my family. I only started dating in college, but was consistently disappointed by the lack of authentic men on campus. Fortunately, I became more involved in my church community and learned about self-less, sacrificing, true relationships through academic study and personal witness of couples committed to each other, through good and bad times.

    I will always carry some scars from my parents’ divorce. I share my story with you to show you that divorce is a horrible experience for children. If you come from a faith background, the following quote best sums up divorce:

    “Divorce is when parents cast of their cross and give it to their children.”

    My story is just a small example of how deeply wounded our culture is by our destruction of marriage. We must work diligently to restore the true meaning of marriage as a sacrificial, life and love-giving union that produces children and furthers the good of all society. Marriage is a beautiful, life-long commitment and must be carefully entered into and protected and nourished by every one of us.

    .

    Marriage-Ecosystem.

    Link to site: http://www.marriage-ecosystem.org/their-divorce-nearly-killed-me.html

  17. An adult child of divorce shares the turbulent upbringing filled with abandonment and loneliness. He recognizes how his mother lived a self-fulfilled life rather than a selfless life that a more attentive parent may choose. Thankfully, he discovered the blessings of a secure family unit in his fathers’ family and found the fortitude to create a loving family of his own. Imagine the heartache he could have been spared if his mother had provided a loving and secure environment. A parent who offers emotional security and unconditional love to their child is giving the best gift to their child!

  18. ‘I came from a divorced home and displayed all the behaviour of a young woman struggling to find an identity and seeking to fill the loneliness with anything I could.’

  19. I had a choppy childhood after my parents divorced when I was nine. When Mum told me that she and Dad were getting divorced, I cried and cried. I don’t blame them and I know it was the right thing, but it was so sad.’

  20. Shared parenting shouldn’t ever be entered into as a compromise for parents who both want full custody. Instead it should always be entered into as a choice made for the children who both deserve as much time as possible with both parents.

  21. One father shares the heartache in what appears to be an unexpected divorce. Seemingly, the reality of one parent moving out is revealed in his son’s school performance. The frustration of this father may be exacerbated because in the (previous year) Christmas letter for this family shared how their son received a full ride sports scholarship to college. Divorce changes things-and not necessarily for the better. Does the parent wanting the divorce realize the impact this may have on the child? Is there awareness of the damage parental conflict may cause?

  22. Parental alienation needs to be a recognised form of child abuse and a form of recognised psychiatric harm punishable within the criminal justice system. Both children and parents have a Right to Private and Family life, so why should one party be enabled to interfere with those rights?

    There is currently little regard towards the term ‘parental alienation’ due to the absence of a definition but has been characterised by CAFCASS to state that it includes behaviours such as:

    constantly badmouthing or belittling the other [parent]; limiting contact; forbidding discussion about them; and creating the impression that the other parent dislikes or does not love the child. At the extreme end, it can become irrational contact denial – trying to force the child to reject the parent to make the ex-partner an ex-parent as well.

    Children do not have the power to ascertain their rights through the court systems; their parents are ultimately their voice and their safe-haven. They believe their parents will do the best they can for them…

    So, what happens when the residing parent turns the child against the other parent? Or accusations are made merely to prevent or restrict contact? Or the process of the court proceedings are purposely delayed? False accusations are made towards the non-residing parent to delay things further?

    Affects to the child:

    Emotional abuse,
    Uncertainty, Confusion,
    Hostile environments,
    Lack of communication,
    Loss of concentration,
    The loss of other important relationship such as siblings, aunts, uncles, nans, grandads etc.
    …and many other negative effects in every aspect of a child’s life.

    Affects to the Non-residing parent:

    Loss of a relationship,
    Depression,
    Lack of support,
    Financial hardship after paying for mediation (and possibly refusal to mediate certificate dependant on residing parents co-operation)
    Court costs
    Cost for representation if needed.
    Costs of proving against false allegations (ie. Alcohol/Drug testing).

    Affects to the ‘Parent with care’:

    None? – Their ultimate aims were achieved, contact was prolonged, children are emotionally scarred and the parent with care gets away with no repercussions.
    Whilst I have closely witnessed many of the above factors during a Civil court case that was drawn out for over a year, domestic violence allegations in attempt to obtain legal aid, an alcohol misuse allegation delaying courts and costing close to £1,000 to prove otherwise and many, many other delaying tactics presented by the Mother to ensure that the Father was met with hurdles and barriers in reaching a Child Arrangements Order.

    I was originally appalled at the lack of regard for fathers and upholding their Human Right regarding their private and family life but had to take a step back and examine the Civil Court system objectively. I soon realised that the system works simultaneously alongside the help of CAFCASS and any other official whose involvement was needed in order to protect the child(ren) and if the judges were to provide more leniency to the ‘non-residing parent’ when faced with accusations, they could ultimately be subjecting children to dangerous situations in other cases and they are merely doing all the investigations they had to whilst putting child arrangements orders on hold. This system is wholly useful in investigating and tackling issues in ensuring the child’s safety.

    Unfortunately, the parent-with-care CAN and WILL utilise the fact false allegations mean investigations are needed and will sever any contact being established until innocence is proven. Falsified claims ultimately prolong the time to establish contact between the parent and the child, provides further costs for the accused parent to prove their innocence, provides additional stress and conflict in their private life, wastes time of Judges, provides longer waits for court dates, CAFCASS’ involvement is exploited but ultimately the biggest damage is directly to the children involved. There are currently no repercussions for preventing/limiting contact, causing the other parties distress, causing financial loss to see the child(ren) or for purposefully delaying proceedings; all of which is limiting contact between the child and their parent.

    What can be done to prevent false allegation cases?

    The best option is to prevent and deter any falsified claims as far as possible.

    Deterring the parent-with-care from delaying any Court proceedings will ensure the court procedure is dealt with quickly and efficiently. Dettering lies and falsified claims makes the situation for children less hostile. Making the bad-mouthing of the other parent ‘parental alienation’ prevents the emotional abuse children are suffering from or any evidenced discouragment of the relationship a criminal offence deters and prevents prolonged court cases and could potentially see more efficient co-operation from the parent-with-care.

    Contact should not be intentionally severed and evidence of such Act should be a Criminal Offence.

    I ask and seek your help to get this matter heard by Parliament.

    Children do not have the power to fight for their rights, help make sure ‘parents with care’ cannot restrict them!

    https://www.change.org/p/uk-parliament-make-parental-alienation-a-criminal-offence

  23. So parental alienation isn’t recognised in family court so how come the solicitors advertising say they are experienced in PA

  24. Memorable moments for parents include the details of the day their children were born. For those who divorce, there’s another day—equally vivid, that is much different—that etches into memory: the moment when they tell their children their mother and father are splitting up. This is the day I wish I could forget. The one day in my life when I wish I was not an adult and not have to face reality. The reality that I would not put my children to bed each night. The reality that my most favorite part of the day, bedtime, would now occur only 3-4 nights per week. All because my husband and I were divorcing.

    We read the divorce books on how to tell your children. Somehow, I knew that no matter what words we used, our 6 year-old son and 5 year-old daughter would never fully understand. How could they. I am in my 30’s, an accomplished attorney and my soon to be ex-husband is a highly successful stock broker and we did not understand. Yet, we were trying to explain to our innocent children how we would all be better off. That everyone would be happier if mommy and daddy lived in two homes. I remember sitting down to tell them and thinking this is something that other parents do. This is not what I wanted for my life. Not what I wanted for my marriage. THIS IS NOT WHAT I WANTED FOR MY CHILDREN! Yet, we still sat down. As a family. As we began our well rehearsed speech I knew this would be a memorable moment in their life. Not memorable in a good way like the fun family days we experienced in their short lives…but a day that will be described as “I remember when mommy and daddy told us they were getting a divorce” day. A day that would forever change their life, their innocence and probably their security. We said all the right things. “Mommy and daddy love you very much.” “This is NOT YOUR fault.” “Sometimes mommy and daddy need to be apart to be happy.” All of our words sounded so empty. So very cliche. So not what I wanted for my life. Definitely not what I wanted for my children!

    We used a calendar to show how they would stay with both of us. That each of them could have friends over when ever they wanted. I recall saying the words “it will be just like it is now.” The look on my son’s face was one of confusion. My daughter cried. I wanted to say ‘this will not be what we have now’. Because now, we have one home. Now, we see each other at night before we go to sleep. Now, we wake up to each other and have breakfast together. On weekends by husband makes pancakes. We go to the park together. We visit grandma and grandpa on Sunday. Together. As a family. Now, things are going to be totally different.

    Now, one parent will not be there at night. Now, we will have different weekends. Now, they will have pancakes every other weekend. Now, we will visit one set of grandparents on Sunday with one parent. The other set of grandparents with the other parent the next weekend. Now, things are very different.

    Now, is something that we are still trying to adjust to. Now is a time that includes the memorable moments of before. Before the divorce. Before the talk. Before, now includes the moment that I wish we could all forget. The unmemorable moment when we told our children we were divorcing.

  25. After living in HELL for 7 months due to the divorce and custody hearings- I am convinced; Family Court is the devil himself! The devil uses the family court to destroy a family-especially the child! The judge and the attorneys are the messengers.

  26. Here is the experience shared from an adult child of PAS:
    The first time I was punished for not showing enough affection for my mother, or showing too much for my father, happened when I was 6. My 4 year old brother and I had left my mom’s house for Saturday visitation with my dad at the usual time of 9:00. Our parents had divorced a year earlier, so the routine of custody exchange had become familiar to us, and except for a handful of times they overtly shouted at one another, we were too young and oblivious to notice a palpable current of hostility between them. On our way out the door, my mom called after us, telling us to have a nice day, or something. I said over my shoulder, “Yeah, bye!”

    We got into his car and traveled the 15 minutes to his “new house,” purchased nearby to facilitate the semblance of a shadow of a presence in our lives that the Family Court grudgingly deigned to allow. We had an unremarkable day of watching cartoons, riding bikes, and engaging in the subdued rituals of weekend play in an environment that never quite lost its alien character to us. Our time there took on a forced, artificial property like a visit to an in-law, or a party at your boss’ house with coworkers you’re kind of familiar with on a passing basis. When we came home that evening, it started immediately. Our mother wouldn’t speak to or acknowledge us. When she looked down at us, it was to convey an expression of contempt and disgust before turning away. Coming from someone who routinely proclaimed that she loved us more than anything in the world, and that she was all we had, this experience was terrifying.

    “Mommy, what’s wrong? Why won’t you talk to me?” After what seemed an eternity of unbearable silence punctuated only by body language that broadcast hostility so clearly that even a small child could understand it, she finally responded, “Don’t talk to me, talk to your father,” and left the room. In tears, we pursued her, “We’re sorry, mommy! Please don’t be mad!” We tried to hug her and she pushed us away, then said, “You know, maybe you should just live with your father instead of me. I did my best to be a good mother, but you seem to like that better. Let’s pack your stuff and you can move away with him.” She intoned each word with a mixture of feigned resignation and practiced anger. Our entire world seemed to collapse before our eyes. We wailed, we pleaded, we apologized.

    Eventually she explained the impetus for the situation. We hadn’t been affectionate enough with her on our way out the door. Her feelings were hurt because we didn’t respond to whatever it was she said as we left. I, in particular, was too cavalier in responding “Yeah, bye!” without telling her that I loved her. She added to the implicit message in her display of vindictiveness an explicit warning that we were not to do that again.

    What came later built on that foundation of manipulative extortion, and shattered my relationship with my own father for the next 15 years. The process started in earnest another evening, probably a few months later, when my brother and I came home from another visitation. She told us in a somber, foreboding tone that she had something important to tell us.

    She sat on the sofa while we sat on the floor in front of her. She told my brother and I, children of 6 and 4, that our father was going to take away our home. She said he had tricked the court handling the divorce into giving him too much money, and she couldn’t afford to pay him. But our father was a bad guy, and wanted to hurt her, and us. So he got an order from the court that she would have to either pay him the money, or sell our house. She didn’t know where we would go, or what would happen to us.

    In reality, my mother and father had bought and paid the mortgage on the house together. When they divorced and my dad moved out, my mom demanded that the Family Court transfer the house to her free and clear of any obligation to my dad – essentially strip him of his equity in the house. He refused to turn over tens of thousands of dollars to her for no reason, and the court ended up giving him an equitable lien on the house in the amount of his contributions to it. The court decided it would be psychologically damaging to my brother and I to lose the house we lived in, so it held off on ordering a partition and sale of the house until we were both 18. But my mom was all too happy to turn that into a story about my dad villainously trying to make us homeless. She was sure to add that the judge had ordered that my brother and I not be told of this, because we were too young to handle it. But she knew how smart and grownup we were, so we could handle the truth. However, it was very, very, very important that we not let on that she had told us, or she could get in trouble. From then on, it was our secret.

    After that day, I hated my dad as intensely any child could hate another human being. I refused to visit with him. When I did go, I refused to interact with him. Then my mom started to encourage my brother and I to misbehave while we were there. We would bring back stories of breaking a storm window on his house with a rock, closing the car door on his leg, and yelling and misbehaving.

    These stories were received with as much approval and enthusiasm as the earlier failure to be affectionate with her garnered rage and contempt. She would smile from ear to ear, hug us, tell us how brave we were, and how proud of us she was in “standing up” to him. “Standing up” to a man who barely ever spoke a cross word and never once raised a hand to either of us, even as we devised more and better ways of acting up, antagonizing him, and making the time we spent with him as miserable as possible.

    That went on for the next five years. Everything we said about whatever went on during our visits was met with some explanation of why whatever he said or did was wrong, or abusive, or stupid. We were told dozens upon dozens of new stories about him and why our mom had to divorce him to keep him away from us. He was a compulsive gambler. He was violent with her. He was a power-crazed maniac out to control all of our lives. He was a pathological liar. He tried to steal from our maternal grandmother. Don’t believe anything he says. Don’t accept anything he does. He’s trying to keep you away from your real family who love you and miss you very much when you’re gone. Never let him forget you don’t want to be there. To my mom, my brother, and I, he gradually became the living embodiment of all that was evil in our world.

    What chance did he ever have when we were submersed in that propaganda campaign 6 days a week? I’ve often thought back and wondered to myself if there was any combination of words or actions that would have reached us then, and honestly the answer is no. No matter what he said, we’d hear for the next week that it was a trick or a lie. No matter what he did, we knew better than to respond favorably, or god forbid – let our mom know we held anything other than unadulterated hatred for the man. She proudly told us, “When he left us, you were babies, but now you’re my soldiers.”

    When I was 11, things came to a head. I don’t even remember how or why. I do recall it was nothing extraordinary. Another argument about how we hated it at his place, didn’t want to see him, and if he really cared about us, he’d leave us alone to live at our real house where we liked it. All lines fed to us and rehearsed with mom. How could he expect us to love him if he forced us to be with him? It was an unsolvable dilemma for him that we had talked over countless times before. Previously, he would ask, “Well, what can I do to make your time here better? What is it about spending time with me that you don’t like?” There really was no answer to that question, other than the real truth of what was going on that I’m sure he heard behind the angry denouncements of his children. “It just sucks here! Why do we have to explain anything to you? Can’t you just listen to us and leave us alone?!” And, that last time, he did just that.

    He must have known that he was fighting an unwinnable battle for our hearts and minds. Anything he said would be drowned out with more accusations. Anything he did would be lost in a din of insults and demeaning mistreatment, egged on by the only parent we knew for 85% of our lives. All that was left was to do what we asked – to leave us alone. So, one spring day, he finally did.

    We returned home like conquering heroes. Our mom squealed with joy and pride like I never heard from her again, even the day I got my college admissions notices. But the torrent of attacks didn’t stop even then. When someone was behaving selfishly, or inconsiderately, they were “acting like him.” When conflicts reached their fever pitch, the old threat still came out, “Maybe I’ll just send you away to live with your father.”

    He and I wouldn’t see or speak to one another until I was 22. My paternal grandfather died and I saw him at the funeral. I still believed him to be the monster my mother described, and said little to him then. But in the ensuing years, we saw more of each other, and with the benefit of adult reasoning, I looked back and saw how transparently manipulative it had all been. Given the chance to meaningfully speak in his own defense, my dad explained the issue with the house, and told me about his experiences through the divorce, and the tempest of bitter conflict that followed. We’re doing our best to fill the 20-year hole in our lives left there by the weaponization of children in divorces, and I’m much closer to him now than I am to her.

    So. That’s my story. I had meant to post this on Father’s Day, but time got away from me and whatnot. Still, I see threads in this subreddit from divorced fathers expressing grief and frustration over the damage to their relationships with their children caused by vengeful spouses. I hope that the opportunity to look at this from the perspective of a child in these situations might help, and the happy ending to my story might offer hope to you noncustodial dads out there.

    So. Ask me (almost) anything. I won’t say anything that might identify me, for reasons that should be pretty clear. But if you want to know what it feels like for a child to be constantly inundated with false accusations, insults, and conditioning to hate and fear the other parent, and what it was like to finally emerge from that cave to see daylight, I’ll add anything that might be useful or hopeful.
    I was a child affected by Parental Alienation Syndrome, AMA • /r/MensRights
    http://www.reddit.com

  27. Regardless of the details of my story I am here to tell you that there are no winners in estrangement. As justified as you may believe that you are in estranging from your parents, it is not healthy. It is not normal. It is not an act of love. If anything it is an act of intolerance.

    The saddest thing for you is that if you have children, no matter their ages and or how close you may be at this time, by virtue of the fact that you have chosen this, you have now modeled behavior for your own children. They are very likely to dismiss you from their lives the same way they have witnessed you do it to your mother and/or father. Believe it. Case studies support this.

    What you are in essence modeling for your own children is that 1) parents aren’t important and can be easily erased from your life 2) disrespect 3) silent treatment 4) judgment 5) lack of tolerance and lack of forgiveness. What you are losing is your roots, your family history and heritage. If you are a biological child you miss out on your family health history. Your children are missing out on knowing their family and their grandparents. Lost years can never be made up.

    I believe that most all parents love their children. Maybe it isn’t perfect but they aren’t perfect and neither are you. No one is perfect.

    Like many of you I have other relationships that I created through the years, I have “other mothers” and “other children” that I have loved and have loved me too. They have helped me to heal and to fill many of the voids. But the reality is that no one can take the place of our birth parents. That history cannot be re-written. And our children come from us. They are a part of our being and our souls and our hearts are forever connected.

    Do you need to be “right?” or do you need “peace?” Loving ourselves allows us to love others, loving our parents is an extension of self-love because whether you like it or not, that is where you come from.

    No one said that you have to see them every day, no one said you have to speak with them every day but having peace with your parents is what you do for yourself. Remember one day your child will grow up and they too will judge you. Could you measure up to the same yardstick you have chosen to use to measure mom or dad? Would you want your grown adult child treating you the same way that you have chosen to treat your parents?

    It’s not over until we take our last breathe. Making peace with your parents is making peace with yourself. Forgiveness is the gift that you give to yourself!

    Make 2015 the year of love and of forgiveness and watch how much better your life becomes when you aren’t holding onto anger or ill will toward others. Bernadette Moyers

    Story shared by Faun Witten on FaceBook, 2-16-15

    FB https://www.facebook.com/lsfaun.witt?fref=ts

  28. One mother shares the heartache of experiencing PAS with her husband’s co-parent and how she found peace in her heart and her story of learning to forgive.

    The next two years became an uphill battle for us. Having to watch everything we did because every couple of months she would get upset about something and cut all contact off for a month at a time. Eventually increasing to two months, and finally two full years.

    After these family meetings we would soak up every minute with our daughter. Even if we had to deal with random drop ins after her boyfriend got home from work. He missed the baby all day. He wants to spend an hour with her. Then we’d get a phone call that typically came at the end of that hour explaining how she fell asleep or wasn’t feeling good. Our visit was over. We learned to treasure each moment with her.

    We caught one last glimpse of what we had left on our visit home for Christmas. Eleven solid months in, of us finally getting along. The first and last “family” Christmas we had together. After the New Year she pulled away from us. Her boyfriend erasing us from their life. Erasing the memory of us from our daughter. Pulling both of them into a life of drugs and solitude. Changing phone numbers and moving to keep us away. Hiding our little girl’s face anytime they’d run into our friends and family. Keeping to themselves.

    Despite seeing the hurt all over his face when we finally reunite with our little girl and we hear her say “I already have a daddy.”

    My heart sees beyond the anger, betrayal, and alienation it has faced. To the heart of someone who was led astray.

    Read full story at:

    http://findthebeauty.blogspot.com/2015/02/what-my-daughter-biological-mother.html?m=1

  29. “I cannot even say the words. A huge emptiness would well in my stomach, a deep loathing for those who would deign to tell me they would ALLOW me ACCESS to my children – those I loved above all, those I created, those who gave meaning to everything I did, those who were the very best of us two and the absolute physical manifestation of our once blinding love. Who the hell are they that they should ALLOW anything? REASONABLE CONTACT!!! Is the law mad? Am I a criminal? An ABSENT parent. A RESIDENT/NON-RESIDENT parent. This Lawspeak which you all speak so fluently, so unthinkingly, so hurtfully, must go.

  30. PAS is now quite common. Numerous support forums have been established because of PAS. PAS is real! There are thousands of heart-wrenching calls and letters from parents whose children have been taught to fear or hate them. Both mothers and fathers can be perpetrators of Parental Alienation, but the true victims are always the children. Please don’t make your child a victim of PAS. Parent your child. Share Parenting with your ex. Think to put the child first. PAS means you are putting the hatred you have for your ex BEFORE the Love you have for your child!. Love your child MORE than you hate your ex.

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