Recently in a case I filed a Motion for Repatriation Counseling. This is a concept I've been familiar with for several years not by virtue of my own reading but by my associations with mental health counselors and therapists.
In my particular case I learned that the terminology I used was not necessarily "mainstream."
Though I have been referring to "repatriation counseling" for years it is not known by that name by many therapists, attorneys and judges.
Personally while I was puzzled and a bit disappointed that the court denied my client's motion simply because it looked up the word "repatriation" and found that in Webster's Dictionary the word means "returning or sending one back to one's own country." Since that definition of "repatriation" wasn't consistent with the more modern meaning as I've known it to be in therapeutic settings the motion fell flat before the court. I was, in actuality surprised that that court had not heard of "repatriation counseling" between a parent and child. However, I later discovered that several counselors I knew were not familiar with the concept while others were not.
Repatriation Counseling typically has been counseling for men and women who have returned to their own home country either after having been prisoners of war or having been detained in another country, etc.. but these individuals have needed counseling to be reassociated with their wives and children and vice versa.
However, in more recent years repatriation has been become associated in modern circles specifically with the reunification of a parent and child (and sometimes children) of younger years who have either become alienated or estranged from one another for one reason or another.
In Rhode Island DCYF Motions have Frequently contained the word Repatriation in their motions and yet the concept still remains outside the mainstream because of the older traditional definition of "repatriation."
So, for the time being though the term "Repatriation Counseling" continues to grow as an alternative term for parent-child reunification counseling, I would recommend that people filing motions to reunite a parent and a child (or children) use the word "reunification" instead of "repatriation." Trust me, it could save you some grief.
Some parents just don't get the message and don't have the proper concern they should have for their children.
New forms of parental alienation keep coming up just when I thought I'd seen it all.
Imagine a parent who pays their child support. Yet the parent after the divorce doesn't seem to grasp the idea that it costs more for two people to live separately than it does for them to live together. So what might a parent do. Some parents want to keep their child in the lifestyle the child was used to before the divorce existed.
So, that parent, let's assume it's the placement parent, not only wants what has been ordered by the court, but continues to send additional bills to the other parent that relate to the minor child that the non-placement spouse isn't required to pay.
Coincidentally, what does that placement spouse select as the things to send the non-placement parent. They are all the expenses having to do with the Minor Child's activities or "fun and enjoyable things."
Here's the kicker. The placement parent doesn't run these things by the non-placement parent before getting the Minor Child all hyped up about them, but rather gets the child excited about them and then either pays for them or gives no notice to the non-placement parent that 1/2 of the payment is expected from him or her and then springs it on the non-placement parent after it's too late.
So what do you get? The minor child is all excited about receiving the item or participating in the event and then the non-placement parent is hit with the bill.
Yet that's not the "end all" of the alienation... it's only the "set up." Then when the non-placement parent provides any resistance to paying the expense, the non-placement parent is first guilted into being told that he or she doesn't care about his child or her would pay the expense.
Here's where the parental alienation and the extreme lack of care for the minor child comes in. Then, if the guilt trip does doesn't work.... the placement parent actually tells the Minor Child that he or she can't have (or participate in) this or that because the non-placement parent doesn't care about them enough to pay part of it and the placement parent tells the child that he or she can't afford the cost on their own.
This is the newest form of parental alienation I have seen and another way to disgust any genuine and truly caring parent in situation between people who have a Minor Child together or have a Minor Child from a divorce.
Often I try to refrain from making judgments in my articles but here I will make several judgment calls in the form of questions.
1) How low does a parent have to be on any moral scale to be so desperate to extort money from the non-placement parent by hurting the relationship between the non-placement parent and the Minor Child, perhaps permanently?
2) Is the placement parent so bitter that they must harm their child simply for money or is the underlying reason that they want the child's relationship with the non-placement parent be damaged?
3) Does the placement parent realize that even up to the age of 15 through 20 that our children really don't know what they want in life and they still want to believe their parents are good people? Do they grasp the concept that by treating this "child" as an "adult" that they are damaging their own child's psyche? Does the placement parent even care?
4) What parent needs to hurt their child in this manner simply to extort money from the non-placement parent by placing adult burdens upon their own child? What does that say about that parent?
Parental alienation may be difficult to prove but it is real and it is not impossible to prove. It doesn't need to be called a "syndrome" nor does their need to be a psychological definition placed upon it to go before the courts.
Yet there needs to be some punishment meted out to the parent that causes it. Parents who burden childen with adult matters purely to make themselves look better or to "explain why a child can't do this or that" are just fooling themselves.
Ultimately these (and yes I will say it) "parents with poor parentings skills" such that it would be fair and appropriate to call them "bad parents" have a lack of respect for their own child that they deprive that child of a beneficial relationship with the other parent.
Parents who take these actions with respect to a child, whether they are placement parents or not, need some serious counseling and need to shift their priorities so that they see what they are doing to the child.
Parents who take actions such as these (and other actions which similarly create alienation of another parent) need to stop burdening the child with adult matters that a child should not have to be privy to, nor does a child have to know about finances contributed or not contributed by the other parent. These are "adult matters."
Children need to be allowed to grow up and enjoy things that children do. Adult pressures will reach them fast enough. For a parent to place these things upon a child earlier than they need to is to cause potential social and psychological trauma to the child that is needless, careless and thoughtless.
The world can be cruel enough without your parents who are the normal structural foundations of stability for a child reaking havoc on their day to day life because they have their own relationship and emotional problems.
To parents who are behaving in this manner which causes their child to suffer the consequences, for the sake of your child or children, please get some counseling.
Today will be a hard day for many parents. I know because it is a hard day for me. Holidays are always the hardest for an absentee parent.
What is an absentee parent? I have personally defined an absentee parent who wants to be part of his children's lives but for reasons ranging from alienation of your children by the attitude of an angry spouse to no longer wanting to see you for reasons unknown to you.
This is a concept that I have not heard used but it is one I have unfortunately come to know all too well.
For year after year my days were flooded with memories of my children running through my head.
If you are a parent sitting home today without seeing your children or knowing that in any way your children, love you, think of you, or appreciate the sacrifices you made for them and you miss them terribly, then know that I know your pain.
I became an absentee parent before I learned the hard lessons and before seeing all the things I have seen as a Rhode Island lawyer focusing my practice in divorce.
Divorce whether contested or uncontested is only one of the reasons behind becoming an absentee parent. Yet it is neither a productive nor a happy thought of any parent sitting in a chair miserable as holiday's pass and you miss them.
We, as parents, can only do what we can do. We cannot control those things that are out of our control. You cannot control the mind and decisions of your children. We can only do what we can do and control our own actions.
Sometimes we are forced to let go for the sake of our sanity and our health, otherwise we damn ourselves to countless horrible holidays with mindless, senseless mental torture to things due to things outside our control.
We cannot turn back the clock and change the past. We cannot convince a person of the truth of they will not listen. We can rarely undo a poisoned mind or the mind of a child raised with bitterness toward us for reasons unknown to us.
I wish everyone a Happy Easter, including absentee parents! I hope you find this article and realize that sometimes we do and say everything in our power as parents to love and support our children.
Sometimes you can do nothing to prevent your own alienation.
Today is a day of renewal and rebirth. Renew in yourself the idea that you are a good person.
All you can expect of yourself is to do all that you can do! The truth is that bad and painful things happen to good people.
There is nothing wrong in accepting the truth of that. Yet simply because you have pushed yourself to your limit and still remain an absentee parent does not mean that you have failed or are a failure.
We all deserve to live and be happy.
Happy Easter! Live, Love and Be Happy!
All my Best to You on this Easter 2012,
From Attorney Christopher A. Pearsall, "The Rhode Island Divorce Coach"