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.
The text serves as an excellent introduction to the reader who is unfamiliar with the PAS construct. Supporters of PAS will be emboldened by the gravitas of family experiences and their emotional impact on the reader, whereas critics of PAS are unlikely to be swayed by Gottlieb’s lines of argument. Regardless of one’s beliefs about PAS, however, Gottlieb makes a compelling argument for the “‘condition’ of a child being lost to 1 parent due to malicious programming by the other parent.” Professionals who have ever worked with children and families undergoing custody disputes will find this a thought-provoking text that invites self-contemplation and further exploration of the PAS concept.