Interparental conflict is detrimental to the development of children. Only few methods for quantifying the degree of interparental conflict exist and this produces controversies about what is detrimental to child well-being and what is not. This is particularly critical in cases where there is a form of child abuse or maltreatment that cannot be diagnosed because of the lack of standards or criteria. The present study describes a method for quantifying the degree of interparental conflict on the basis of a generalizable measure which is scalable, robust, and reproducible. The method is developed on the data basis of a survey study, in which 1146 parents reported 46,720 items on the topic of hostile-aggressive parenting. The algorithm can estimate the degree of child abuse and child maltreatment which is particularly relevant for assessments of non-sexual forms of child maltreatment or abuse. The present methodology differs from classical psychometric approaches and available instruments in that its application yields the practically interpretable measure of a ‘loss of child well-being’ and that this measure can be dynamically adapted to child welfare standards changing in a society over the years. The approach identifies criteria which family courts or child welfare agencies should use for assessing interparental conflicts in a standardized and reproducible manner.
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A Family’s Heartbreak should be in the hands of every judge, therapist, and custody evaluator. His book is definitely is an eye-opener to the reality of Parental Alienation. Regardless of the reason a couple divorces, it is vital that they co-parent and keep the kids out of the middle. However, amicable co-parenting is not always the case. Regardless of Jeffries efforts to work with his ex-wife, harmonious shared parenting was not his reality. Jeffries points out, “In parental alienation cases the players do not share the same goal” (p.164). His story demonstrates that a child can align him or herself with one parent and persistently reject a previously, once loved parent.
Professionals would serve clients’ well to read his book in order to get a good grip of the current reality. Jeffries gut wrenching actuality is that he became alienated without justification, just one example of criteria for Parental Alienation Disorder. Jeffries in a dialogue with Dr. Davies poses a tough question, “If judges don’t recognize emotional abuse how they can recognize parental alienation? (p.174). Dr. Davies response reflects the current state of the therapeutic realm, “Within the mental health community many psychologists don’t recognize parental alienation is a syndrome because it isn’t in our DSM…” (p.174). In my opinion, while the book is listed as, A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation, Jeffries story clearly sorts out the vast difference of an Alienated Child (Kelly & Johnston, 2001) from one that has been brainwashed. I propose that A Family’s Heartbreak would serve as an introduction to the professional that cannot decipher a child’s temporary reaction to a vitriolic divorce from irrational alienation.
For parents that have had a child turn against them without just cause, this book will provide a name to the nightmare–Parental Alienation. Jeffries shares his story in an easy to read manner from a parent’s perspective. Jeffries documents the horrific treatment by his ex-spouse and the disrespectful treatment from a son who once adored him. His story sheds light on the fact that parental alienation meets criteria for a disorder that needs recognition and proper intervention.
References: Kelly, J.B., & Johnston, J.R. (2001). The alienated child: A reformulation of parental alienation syndrome. Family Court Review, 39(3), 249-265.