Sunday, March 22, 2009

Parental Alienation - Pulled from both sides


Pulled from both sides

Chethan Kumar

Studies show that kids who suffer through their parents' divorce have more conduct problems, lower academic achievement and social difficulties than their peers

o be hit hard by an adult orgy of emotions — ranging anywhere between love and care to anger and ego or blame games is a trauma unrivalled. It is, thus, probably normal if a kid goes harum-scarum trying to balance relationships with separated parents, and worse when he or she is experiencing parental alienation.

Of course, there is no common ground for such parents, but, is ‘parental alienation’ the only solution for the children? Is it right to impose one’s choice on the child? Questions are aplenty, answers, biased and few...
Parents are surprisingly naive when it comes to such situations. In an attempt to win over each other, they compromise on their children and create environments that are not suitable for their upbringing.

While parents assume their jolly-rides on ego-trips, children feel shallow and hapless, searching for those ‘magical hands’. Ironically, seldom is there a fairy tale — and often they are left to fend for themselves. In fact, studies show that children who go through their parents’ divorce have more conduct problems, symptoms of psychological maladjustment, lower academic achievement, social difficulties and problematic relationships with both parents. Therefore the onus must always be on childcare and other things must come after that. Though this may not apply to all children, it is definitely a reason big enough for parents to recognise and act against it.
The argument here, is not at all about whether parents have the right to get a divorce or not. It is just about how a child must be treated during such situations.

For example, reported statistics reveal that children who have single parents are about 5 times more likely to commit suicide, 32 times more likely to run away from home, 20 times more likely to have behavioural disorders, 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances (become drug addicts), and 9 times more likely to drop out of high school.

Psychological damage

On the one hand, parental arguments, separation and discomfort caused by these incidents taunt children. And on the other hand, ‘excessive individualism’ and competitiveness among separated parents leading to parental alienation are also causes of disquiet.

Parental alienation, in most cases, occurs, when one parent disallows the other parent from communicating with their children for personal vendetta. Pursuit of personal goals by adults (parents) in the family, thus, causes damage to the children. To make matters worse, many parents often influence their children to choose one parent over the other and this is often traumatic for the child and has to be stemmed. So, what are the solutions to these problems that the children face? One, of course, is that no parents are ever separated – but, for lack of utopian land that would probably be run by flawless creatures, we will forego it. And for other light-minded ideas, we could have a ‘civil birth ceremony where parents are publicly given rights and responsibilities over the child’, or ‘a game of poker to settle divorce issues’.

However, there are not too many serious answers but the question itself. The solution, therefore, is in shared parenting, where parents understand the problem, and address it.

“There must be mutual co-operation among parents to understand what the child is going through and they must do everything they can to ensure that the welfare of the child is not compromised,” Children’s Rights Initiative For Shared Parenting (CRISP), President Kumar V Jahgirdar told Deccan Herald.

Being one of its kind, CRISP provides counselling for parents contemplating divorce or separation and tries finding solutions for the children. It also focuses on furthering the rights of a child to remain connected with both parents as it deals with issues related to unquestionable right of children to be cared for by both biological parents.

Among other solutions, parents wanting divorce should be given mandatory counselling on “shared parenting” and the benefits there of, by a panel of experts supervised by the family court.

As ensuring meaningful and balanced participation of both parents in the lives of children in case of separation is essential for the welfare of the child. And this will also eliminate child-custody battles and stress on both the parents and the child.

(With statistical inputs from CRISP)

No comments: