Being prevented from seeing or communicating with your child is a special kind of hell – but a parent’s love never dies. Continue reading “Alienated parents share unanswered texts to their kids and it’s crushing”
Members of a Donegal-born support group for divorced, separated, and unmarried fathers have written to the Government calling for the recognition of Parental Alienation as a criminal offence in new Domestic Abuse Legislation.
Forever Fathers have said the issue of Parental Alienation has been ignored by the government, politicians, health boards, tusla and the judiciary, despite being recognised by the World Health Organisation as an offence and mental disorder. Continue reading “Calls for Parental Alienation to be recognised as criminal offence”
Alas, beyond parental alienation and terrorist regimes, any individual or country that engages in lies and projection has dangerous agendas. If you are dealing in your life with anyone who uses these mental distortions, beware! You are likely to feel anxious, angry and depressed, and rightfully so. There’s trouble ahead. Continue reading “Parental Alienation and Iran: Similar Pathology?”
Unlike divorce, and to a lesser extent, separation, there is often no record of an “intact” family being dysfunctional. As a result, friends, relatives, and teachers of such children may be completely unaware of the situation. In addition, a child may be unfairly blamed for the family’s dysfunction, and placed under even greater stress than those whose parents separate.
The six basic roles
- The Golden Child (also known as the Hero or Superkid): a child who becomes a high achiever or overachiever outside the family (e.g., in academics or athletics) as a means of escaping the dysfunctional family environment, defining themselves independently of their role in the dysfunctional family, currying favor with parents, or shielding themselves from criticism by family members.
- The Problem Child, Rebel, or Truth Teller  (also known as the Scapegoat when unjustifiedly assigned this role by others within the family): the child who a) causes most problems related to the family’s dysfunction or b) “acts out” in response to preexisting family dysfunction, in the latter case often in an attempt to divert attention paid to another member who exhibits a pattern of similar misbehavior.
- A variant of the “problem child” role is the Scapegoat, who is unjustifiably assigned the “problem child” role by others within the family or even wrongfully blamed by other family members for those members’ own individual or collective dysfunction, often despite being the only emotionally stable member of the family.
- The Caretaker: the one who takes responsibility for the emotional well-being of the family, often assuming a parental role; the intra-familial counterpart of the “Good Child”/”Superkid.”
- The Lost Child or Passive Kid: the inconspicuous, introverted, quiet one, whose needs are usually ignored or hidden.
- The Mascot or Family Clown: uses comedy to divert attention away from the increasingly dysfunctional family system.
- The Mastermind: the opportunist who capitalizes on the other family members’ faults to get whatever they want; often the object of appeasement by grown-ups.
List of other dysfunctional styles
- “Using” (destructively narcissistic parents who rule by fear and conditional love.)
- Abusing (parents who use physical violence, or emotionally, or sexually abuse their children.)
- Perfectionist (fixating on order, prestige, power, or perfect appearances, while preventing their child from failing at anything.)
- Dogmatic or cult-like (harsh and inflexible discipline, with children not allowed, within reason, to dissent, question authority, or develop their own value system.)
- Inequitable parenting (going to extremes for one child while continually ignoring the needs of another.)
- Deprivation (control or neglect by withholding love, support, necessities, sympathy, praise, attention, encouragement, supervision, or otherwise putting their children’s well-being at risk.)
- Abuse among siblings (parents fail to intervene when a sibling physically or sexually abuses another sibling.)
- Abandonment (a parent who willfully separates from their children, not wishing any further contact, and in some cases without locating alternative, long-term parenting arrangements, leaving them as orphans.)
- Appeasement (parents who reward bad behavior—even by their own standards—and inevitability punish another child’s good behavior in order to maintain the peace and avoid temper tantrums. “Peace at any price.”)
- Loyalty manipulation (giving unearned rewards and lavish attention trying to ensure a favored, yet rebellious child will be the one most loyal and well-behaved, while subtly ignoring the wants and needs of their most loyal child currently.)
- “Helicopter parenting” (parents who micro-manage their children’s lives or relationships among siblings—especially minor conflicts.)
- “The deceivers” (well-regarded parents in the community, likely to be involved in some charitable/non-profit works, who abuse or mistreat one or more of their children.)
- “Public image manager” (sometimes related to above, children warned to not disclose what fights, abuse, or damage happens at home, or face severe punishment “Don’t tell anyone what goes on in this family”.)
- “The paranoid parent” (a parent having persistent and irrational fear accompanied by anger and false accusations that their child is up to no good or others are plotting harm.)
- “No friends allowed” (parents discourage, prohibit, or interfere with their child from making friends of the same age and gender.)
- Role reversal (parents who expect their minor children to take care of them instead.)
- “Not your business” (children continuously told that a particular brother or sister who is often causing problems is none of their concern.)
- Ultra-egalitarianism (either a much younger child is permitted to do whatever an older child may, or an older child must wait years until a younger child is mature enough.)
- “The guard dog” (a parent who blindly attacks family members perceived as causing the slightest upset to their esteemed spouse, partner, or child.)
- “My baby forever” (a parent who will not allow one or more of their young children to grow up and begin taking care of themselves.)
- “The cheerleader” (one parent “cheers on” the other parent who is simultaneously abusing their child.)
- “Along for the ride” (a reluctant de facto, step, foster, or adoptive parent who does not truly care about their non-biological child, but must co-exist in the same home for the sake of their spouse or partner) See also: Cinderella effect.
- “The politician” (a parent who repeatedly makes or agrees to children’s promises while having little to no intention of keeping them.)
- “It’s taboo” (parents rebuff any questions children may have about sexuality, pregnancy, romance, puberty, certain areas of human anatomy, nudity, etc.)
- Identified patient (one child, usually selected by the mother, who is forced into going to therapy while the family’s overall dysfunction is kept hidden.)
- Münchausen syndrome by proxy (a much more extreme situation than above, where the child is intentionally made ill by a parent seeking attention from physicians and other professionals.)
Codependency is a controversial concept for a dysfunctional helping relationship where one person supports or enables another person’s addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement. Among the core characteristics of codependency, the most common theme is an excessive reliance on other people for approval and a sense of identity. Given its grassroots origin, the precise definition of codependency varies based on the source but can be generally characterized as a subclinical and situational or episodic behavior similar to that of dependent personality disorder, but the term is less diagnosis and more of a description of a relationship dynamic. In its broadest definition, a codependent is someone who cannot function from their innate self and whose thinking and behavior is instead organized around another person, or even a process, or substance. In this context, people who are addicted to a substance, like drugs, or a process, like gambling or sex, can also be considered codependent. In its most narrow definition, it requires one person to be physically or psychologically addicted, such as to heroin, and the second person to be psychologically dependent on that behavior. Some users of the codependency concept use the word as an alternative to using the concept of dysfunctional families, without statements that classify it as a disease.
I hadn’t really given much thought to the beautiful divorce my parents continue to have until just a few months ago when my mom’s father died.
There I was, 38 years old, sitting in the church for Grandpa’s funeral. In walked my dad, stepmom, stepbrother, my dad’s mother, and two of dad’s sisters. I was so touched to see them all there, supporting my brother and me, but also showing us that divorce didn’t sever the relationships within our extended families. I listened as my mom told them all to “sit up front with the family.”
My parents have been divorced for almost 30 years and yet they still strive to do their divorce right. I can look back and sincerely thank them for sticking to their word and doing what is best for their kids and now their grandkids. I know it couldn’t have always been easy. I feel so abundantly loved through all that they do to maintain a relationship for our sake. Doing divorce right, working hard to create a beautiful divorce despite the mess and hurt, is something children like me will thank their parents for. Especially in 30 years.