Divorce and parental alienation was the topic of discussion on Wellness for the Real World with Dr. Veronica Anderson. During this interview that aired live on blog talk radio on August 2nd, Dr. Karen Ruskin: parenting, marriage, and family relationship expert, along with a superb panel of guest experts each shared their insights. Dr. Veronica asked this psychotherapist, your very own Dr. Karen Ruskin, in addition to providing the wrap up, also if I would be a guest blogger sharing my insights on this topic. If you wish to read the original blog I created that offers 8 strategies lettered ‘a through h’ I have provided the document below.
Divorce and Parental Alienation – Words of Wisdom W/ Marriage and Parenting Expert
By Dr. Karen Ruskin, PsyD., LMFT
As a marriage and family therapist one key therapeutic goal is to help couples learn concrete skills that can fundamentally change the quality of their marriage. Good marriages require good relationship skills. As a psychotherapist specializing in the relationship dynamic between people, I offer goal-oriented treatment helping couples help themselves get to a better place. Although there are many who enter counseling for help with their marital relationship, there are also many who come into treatment having already decided their marriage is over. They enter counseling not “on the fence” as to whether or not they should stay together, and rather request counseling to help them with the process of divorce. It is those folks of whom it is not an uncommon report that they are experiencing alienation with regards to their relationship with their children. This painful part of the divorce journey for far too many leads mothers and fathers to the door step of a therapist’s office.
On August 2nd, 2011 Dr. Veronica offered her listeners information specifically addressing this very important topic: ‘Parental Alienation’. I had the opportunity to listen to a great panel of guests on Wellness for the REAL World. I processed the insights shared by men and women, those of whom are now adult children who experienced divorce, those having gone through divorce, as well as guest experts including lawyers and therapists. Dr. Veronica requested my wrap up expertise. It was in those final moments of the program where I was honored with the opportunity to evaluate what was not said. Then, I shared key points for parents to consider and utilize on their divorce journey.
The following are ‘real’ strategies to consider for the ‘real’ life challenge of navigating through the process of divorce with specific regards to the struggle of and prevention of parental alienation:
a) Communicate with your children through their various developmental stages to help them understand each person has a different reality of the divorce experience. Explain to your children young or old that each person’s reaction makes sense in context. Helping one’s child develop their ‘analytical muscle’ rather than their ‘defensive and disconnect muscle’ is of therapeutic value for their emotional growth, mental well being, and the parent-child relationship.
b) Share with your children “we will not be husband and wife we will always be mother and father”. Using these terms helps them with feelings of abandonment.
c) Be mindful, how parents cope affects children of all ages short and long term.
d) Be honest with your children in a therapeutic manner that is cognizant of their mental health and well being.
e) What you tell your children they will remember so, do not lie. Stating you wish to take time to process their question as they deserve to be answered in an honest thoughtful way, is a helpful communication technique.
f) Do not talk negatively about their parent. Rather, share with your children that each of us as humans have positive and negative qualities. Be supportive of their having a relationship with each parent and recognize and communicate with them the value of that. It is an important part of a child’s personal and interpersonal, relational mental health and well being for them to know each parent is supportive of their relationship.
g) Discuss with your children that you are all encountering struggles, you are there for them 24/7 to talk with, and divorce is a process. Share that you recognize they may be struggling with loyalties. Let them know you know they love both parents, and you are supportive of that.
h) The divorce journey and your communication with your children about where they are emotionally, does not end the moment you state you are divorcing, it has just begun. Be cognizant of this at different developmental stages of their life.
If you wish to learn more about divorce, parenting, marriage, and other mental health topics, I invite you to follow me on twitter for valuable information, and check out my website which provides helpful articles for you to read as well as radio and TV interviews on various hot topics.
Dr. Karen Ruskin: Marriage/family therapist provides counseling in private practice. The go-to mental health contributor for FOX News Boston. Guest Expert: The O’Reilly Factor, America Live, multiple radio stations, and quoted in print. Author: The 9 Key Techniques for Raising Respectful Children Who Make Responsible Choices. Soon to be Released: Dr. Karen’s Marriage Manual
If you wish to listen to the full program on parental alienation and hear the insights of all of the guests click here, view Dr. Karen’s blog on Dr. Veronica’s site click here, learn more about Dr. Veronica or listen to any of her other programs click here.