Nicole Nenninger brings up several very important issues around child custody battles. She gets right to the point and we get to the heart of these destructive practices. Yes, the current court system in family law is “a stupid, horrible idea, court system!” Nicole. The intended results of the current court system is to eliminate one parent or at least deprive them of their parental rights and award the other parent what they took from the parent they deprived. Abusers and control freaks operate very well in this system because they operate off of this very same “zero sum” process. Fortunately for us American’s, fundamental rights are designed to withstand being subjected to those who try to push their zero sum beliefs. They use these methods to keep the parents fighting each other rather than fighting their practices.
Nicole, says “I don’t know when people should draw the line as far as finances/court proceedings, etc.” I can answer where people should draw the line, the same place Rosa Parks drew it and Alice Paul, Cesar Chavez, Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Thatcher and many others. You draw the line where they try to step on your fundamental parental rights, your civil right to be free to continue to raise your child as you see fit. When they steal these rights they steal your child. You would not cower to a stranger attempting to steal your child from you, and just because they veil this process in one that holds power, you still should not cower or give in or bend to their threats of consequences or anything else. You just have to learn a more artful way to go about it. When they require that you sign away your rights to decide for your child, you refuse regardless of the threats that they place on this refusal. When women wanted the right to vote those in power stole some of their children and some of them even lost their freedom and were thrown in jail. And even in jail they protested. Their punishments over them did not stop them from their protests and because they stayed strong and true to their goal they prevailed. Continuing to punish these women was becoming a political embarrassment for the President and the politicians that were denying women this right. This is the same fight that parents have today. Those in power will begin to embarrass themselves and commit political suicide. As long as parents continue to give in and then silently suffer and cry alone the abuse of power will continue. They may make you cry and suffer and steal your child for the time, but they will be doing this at a cost if you continue to stand up to them. Giving in takes that cost away from them. Many parents have tried to make them pay a price after the fact, after they gave in and have failed. Because there is no law to you forfeiting your rights. They are fooling you into thinking that giving in is protecting your child, it is really protecting them and helping them save face and continue to push the blame onto you. They really don’t even need to push the blame on you after a while you buy into it and start blaming yourself. You start to buy into their twisted rendition of the King Solomon story stating that if you were truly a caring parent you would just let go and give in. When in reality the parent in Solomon’s story did not give up their rights to the child, they threw their body over the child and was willing to sacrifice themselves and die to protect the child from being sliced in half and killed. The mother didn’t give up her child, her child was being taken through abuse of power. When you give up your rights, you let them slice your child and you.
They are trying to intimidate you into taking away your child’s security of having two parents with authority. How harmful that is for the child and society.
Communities all over complain about latchkey children and children that have no guidance and no authoritative supervision. There are people talking crap about single parents all over and stating that the children are unruly and broken. They blame these parents because they don’t know the details surrounding what is really happening. The children have been left to fend for themselves, to make adult decisions, and have been stripped of parents who have any authority.
Second important issue, the length of time of the conflict: The length of time of the conflict is not up to you. It is your job to fight to protect your child from harm from the government and that means you have to fight to protect your parental rights. They want you to think that you should fight to protect your child from the other parent. That is the wrong fight if you cannot prove the other parent is unfit or a clear and present danger then you open yourself and your child up to a bias and personal preference battle that allows the judge and attorneys to order whatever they please in order to choose the parent they decide is a better parent. This is not how you protect your rights. You protect your rights by protecting yourself from allowing the battle to turn into that type of fight. It is your parental rights that give you authority over your child protecting your ability to continue to exercise those rights is what protects you from tyrannical government processes and improper use of power. Your parental rights include equal time with your child. Of course, everyone within the system and the other parent who wants to take your rights and time in order to be in control, are going to try to intimidate you, punish you, and even blame you for not giving in to them. That’s just a given and standard protocol for dictators, bullies, tyrants, and those that only know how to abuse power. Of course, if they can get you to feel guilty and accept the blame and accuse you of being the one that is hurting your child then it works even better and easier for them if you just give up your rights and give in to them. Then you really will only have yourself to blame and they can say you ultimately made the decision on your own and that they are not to blame and not to be held accountable. They will then try to say that you forfeited your rights and that you are allowed to forfeit your rights, and you are. The part that never gets the proper attention is that ultimately you were really forced into giving up your rights to your child, you were accused of being the one hurting them, you were accused of the reason the fight continues, you were accused of not putting the child first, etc. All false arguments and reasoning but when you are in panic mode and emotional about what is happening to your child regardless of whether you are the one causing it, it is happening and you care about your child and you want to make this stop happening to them so you give in. And then when you add the child pleading with you to just give them their way. You think that you are protecting your child by giving in. These are very powerful tactics.
For most children this means losing a fit and loving parent. THIS IS THE TERRIBLE WORST ADVICE AND DECISION A PARENT COULD MAKE OR GIVE IN TO. Because so many parents have given in to this, the judges that dictate, the attorneys turned tyrants, and the other parent control freak, continue. They hold the threat of “emotionally” damaging your child more and more as long as you continue to refuse to give in to them. And even though you know it is them doing the damage you have no way to stop them but to give in. And then later you find that the damage doesn’t stop and then you regret giving in to them because your child now feels abandoned and misses their time with you and there is nothing you can do because you agreed.
Parents have to have strong support groups to keep them solid and strong and to continually remind them that they are not the one using their child as a weapon, it is those in the system, it is those that are trying to harm your child to take from your child and you and achieve their goal which is to create a winner and a loser. Parents need others to help them see through this web of deceit on an ongoing and steady basis. Those in power and dipping into your pockets don’t care that the child loses, they only care that they feed their bank account and feel good that they forced their own vision and decisions onto you and your child. They do not see your hurt is your child’s hurt. They see it as their job. It is your job to make sure that you understand what is really happening and that everyone around you continues to see what is really happening. Without you telling them and without you standing your ground your child and their children will also suffer this same fate if they too go through a failed relationship with the other parent of their own child and you did nothing to change this course.
It is true Nicole that “No one consciously wants to put their child in the middle and behave like this, but that’s what happens.” But the way to solve this is not by giving in to them. The only way to stop this cycle is by taking a stand at every meeting, negotiation, mediation, every hearing, every opportunity that protecting your rights is not what is damaging, but that it is them taking your rights making you unable to exercise your rights and taking this security and stability away from your child. Stay sitting at that counter even when they spit on you and kick you and stomp on you just like the Freedom Riders did. The parent being attacked never ever should give in to anyone trying to force them into counseling just to exercise their time with their child. The “weaning back” process that Nicole mentions in her comment should only be used on parents that are preventing the other parent from exercising their equal time and rights, not on a parent that is being told to give up their rights. When you give in to the parent trying to take from the other parent and force the parent being attacked into an impossibly expensive model like counseling appointments just to be allowed to continue to be a part of their child’s life, the system is allowing the controlling and invasive parent to create abnormal conditions within the other parent-child relationship, you reward the stress and chaos that the controlling parent created, and the system has empowered the bad behavior of the invasive parent violating the child’s right to freely associate with both parents equally. And many times the parent being attacked is further hated by the child for being forced into this counseling model and feels even more unnatural to be with that parent. There are all sorts of problems with this model as many of us well know.
If you force the State to respect your equal rights and time with your child, you will find that eventually this will become the norm and parents and children will be free to exercise their rights more quickly and re-stabilize after divorce. Only then can you live your life as you choose, and your child be more comfortable knowing that they won’t lose either parent and all of those artificial dynamics that the system created by stressing you and your child out will dissipate. And if the controlling parent is having difficulty with the fact that they don’t get to control how, when, where, and with whom you spend your time with your children [RBP1] then that parent can seek counseling for themselves so they can get over the fact that they have no right to force their ideas on the other parent. Again those are private and personal decisions for each fit parent individually and certainly not decisions for a judge or the attorneys or any other third party.
Forcing a parent being attacked into counseling before they can have their equal time with their child protected should be fought as a privacy decision and not one the state has authority to make or force on a fit and loving parent. By making either parent’s equal rights and equal time dependent on the decisions of a third party and putting them into the hands of third-parties’ opinions and evaluation, the state is violating your right to make private family decisions– your right to make the decisions that are right for you and your child. These decisions should not be subject to or dependent on the attorneys, the judge, or any third party. So while some may see this as a feel good option or try to justify that this makes others more comfortable with making final decisions, it is not truly an option for them and is a violation of your privacy and your child’s privacy. Each parent has a right to raise their child how they see fit regardless of whether others feel their ideas and decisions are better than the actual parents, and unless the state can prove you to be unfit or the decisions you are making are directly a clear and present danger to your child, they don’t get to force these decisions on you. Making statutes that give them this right still does not make it right either.
Nicole they put you and your husband into this pressure cooker because the only semi legitimate way, or the only way they could try to make it look legitimate is to get you to buy into the idea that they were allowed to force this on you and then get you to sign off on their suggestions so that they could say that you agreed. So you are right to feel the way that you do and I love your suggestion that the parent that you think caused all of this chaos be forced into therapy with a weaning in process and that is proper if they interfered with your ability to exercise your rights equally. Anytime a parent interferes with your ability and your child’s to be with you equally the state has a duty to prevent that interference and if that means that their time then gets put on probation in order to stop their interference then that is justified because they have violated your rights just as if they stole your property or assaulted you physically. That is the way they should look at this not at blaming the parent that is being attacked. Be careful though that they don’t turn which parent is to blame here. And it’s simple to stay out of that trap too by not trying to restrict the other parent and keep to the principle that both parents whether they make decisions you like or not have their equal rights and time.
I thank Nicole Nenninger for her well-articulated account of what has happened to her and her children/stepchildren. I hope that this helps her family and others to succeed in changing the way judges and attorneys treat parents and children who are having their rights to their children attacked and then further being bullied by those attacking them and blamed. We can stop this by taking that seat in the front of the bus like Rosa Parks and refusing to move to the back. When more parents start doing that and the State’s threats are no longer successful you will find that the process will finally change. But it’s not going to change until the parents force it to change.
Lastly, those attacking you in the system have continued to succeed because they have gotten the parents to focus on fighting each other. When you stop letting them get you to focus on the other parent and instead focus on what the system is and isn’t allowed to do, your rights will be stronger and more successful. And yes many parents and children will still suffer, as they will still punish you and them. But you and your children are suffering regardless and the punishment doesn’t stop even when you give in to them and the harm to your child losing you in their life doesn’t stop even when you give in to them. The only thing that changes when you give in is that you stop fighting for your child. How will that ever be good for anyone?
You can save yourself lots of added stress and money by making sure every step of the way that you are applying your energy and your money towards the right fight. Don’t let them trick you or intimidate you. And most certainly do not let them take over your pocketbook anymore. They will run you financially dry so that you cannot afford to fight and you cannot afford the tools that help you fight the right fight!
Thank you for your passion Nicole and for making your life about service to other parents and their children. You can read Nicole Nenninger’s comment here and you can get in touch with Nicole, Life and Divorce Coach, family therapist, and author at http://nicolenenninger.com/:
Nicole Nenninger says:
In our case, both children had “aged out” so the court listens to the pre-teen/teenager’s preference. So they have to go to school, the doctors, etc, can’t vote, but the child can decide which parent to live with? Wow! What power they have! What a stupid, horrible idea, court system! Then, we were advised to put on one court document that our child could determine when they want to visit. BAD ADVICE! We basically signed our rights away as parents. I don’t know when people should draw the line as far as finances/court proceedings, etc. The longer the conflict drags on, the more it seems to make it worse. But, I would think a child, underneath it all, needs to know you’d fight to the ends of the earth for them. When does sanity end and insanity begin? I think it starts with the professionals–the courts, lawyers, judges saying “Enough!” The counselors saying we’ve got a serious issue here and if you parents don’t straighten out, your child will be emotionally damaged for the rest of their lives–this does serious damage to them (I view PA as emotional abuse). No one consciously wants to put their child in the middle and behave like this, but that’s what happens. Their child is a weapon. I think a natural consequence of PA is to have the child spend more time with the targeted parent, gradually weaning back in the other parent (who undergoes simultaneous therapy so they won’t sabotage the relationship anymore). I’m writing an essay, I know, but it’s what I’m passionate about!