Children Are Not Weapons

Family conflict is not solved by litigation.  Family conflict is solved through professional psychology.
Divorce ends the marriage; it does not end the family.  Where there are children, there will always be a family.
In divorce, the child’s best interests are that the family successfully transitions to a healthy and functional separated family structure, united by bonds of shared affection with both parents.  It is the responsibility of professional psychology to ensure that this occurs.
Because it is in the best interests of the child.  Our client.  The person we work for.
It is up to professional psychology to solve this.  For the child.  For the family.  For the client.  For the Court.  That’s our job.  Professional psychology.
Professional psychology can absolutely 100% solve this, through the application of the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology.
There are four domains of knowledge – four data-sets from the constructs and principles of professional psychology – that need to be applied to the problem of family conflict in order to solve it:
The attachment system;
Personality disorder pathology;
Family systems therapy;
Complex trauma.
With attachment-related family conflict surrounding divorce, we start by applying the data-set from family systems therapy.
Cross-generational coalition,
Inverted hierarchy,
Emotional cutoff.
Professional psychology can absolutely 100% solve the family issues surrounding divorce and the separated family structure through the application of the proper data sets from professional psychology.  It is the responsibility of professional psychology to solve this; that all families transition to a healthy separated family structure following divorce.

Family Therapy Surrounding Divorce

Principle 1:  Parents are not allowed to use the child as a weapon.  The child is not a weapon.
That is non-negotiable.  The child is not a weapon.
For all mental health professionals working with family conflict, if that is NOT currently your orientation to family therapy, it needs to immediately become your orientation to family therapy.  The child is not a weapon.
If the child is being “triangulated” into the spousal conflict through the formation of a “cross-generational coalition” with one parent against the other parent that is resulting in an “emotional cutoff” in the child’s relationship with the targeted parent (Bowen; Minuchin; Haley)… then the child is being used as a weapon.
The allied parent is using the child as a weapon.  That’s not okay in divorce.  You’re not allowed to weaponize the child.  That’s not healthy for the child.
And you know what,… Depending on the degree of child-weaponization, the parenting practices of turning the child into a weapon could rise to the level of psychological child abuse; creating severe psychopathology in order to weaponize the child in the spousal conflict is psychological child abuse.  Children are not weapons.  Ever.
Children have the right to love both parents, and children have the right to receive the love of both parents.
Children have the right to be loved by their grandparents and siblings, by their aunts and uncles and cousins.  Children have the right to be loved by friends, and teammates, and teachers, and coaches, and mentors.
Children have the right to be loved.  And it is up to professional psychology through family therapy to ensure that.  Because that’s in the best interest of the child, and the child is our client.
Professional psychology can solve this.  Professional psychology needs to solve this.  Because that’s in the best interests of the child, our client.
Professional psychology will need the support of the family court system based on the principle that children are not weapons.  The issue that AB-PA knowledgeable professionals, both legal and psychological, will be taking to the Court is that children are not weapons to be used in divorce.  Children are neutral; they’re off limits to the spousal conflict.
Children are not weapons.
For professional psychology, here are the professional constructs to apply:
Triangulation – cross-generational coalition – inverted hierarchy – emotional cutoff.
Source – cause – action – result.
The child is being used as a weapon in the post-divorce “spousal” conflict.
This is standard family systems therapy.
Bowen, Minuchin, Haley:  triangulation – cross-generational coalition – inverted hierarchy – emotional cutoff.
What is required is professional competence in the constructs and principles of family systems therapy when conducting family therapy.
Professional psychology can absolutely solve this.  We will need the support of the Court.  Children are not weapons.  With that support, professional psychology can absolutely solve this.
Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857

15 thoughts on “Children Are Not Weapons”

  1. Dr. Kirkpatrick,
    I have recordings of both a psychologist and my Child’s GP telling my child that I must be the problem because he seems to have good healthy relationship with the other parent.
    It was serendipitous how these came to be but i confronted one of the doctors with the outrageous remarks he made further harming my son and this horrible situation my son is in .
    The doctor was embarrassed and told me he will do what it takes to help but I’m so burdened with other legal aspects that I have not decided what to do about the recording proving professionally negligence and incompetence.
    The psychologist actually said that my son cradle doesn’t like me. I said , I know he loves me and our bond is still there , the doctor rebuked … He may love you but doesn’t like you .
    Then asked my son is his statement was true .
    My son replied he didn’t love OR like me and I told the doctor he was creating a hostile environment….. much more like this transpired . So immoral!

    1. Dr. Childress,
      I wrote that when I was half asleep.
      I apologize for the it’s incoherent way it came across.
      My message is so important , so I am writing you again….
      I discovered on my son’s phone that he had recorded 2 doctors I had taken him to.
      1 st doctor was a court ordered psychiatrist given the responsibility to let the judge know if my son needed help or not.
      The recording was devastating to hear Bc I already lived through it and hearing this doctor again is traumatizing .
      This doctor told me in front of my son , that he met for the 1st time 30 minutes before we parents were invited in, “my son doesn’t like me. “
      I said , “doctor that just isn’t true he not only likes me but he loves me. “. He isn’t allowed to show it.
      My son in front of the doctor and the attack parent saiys … “I don’t like her and I don’t love her!”
      I looked at the doctor and said “ do you think this is normal?”
      You are have created a hostile environment instead of a safe and controlled environment… and worse this s only after 30 minutes with my son.
      He said I just don’t think your son is a BAD kid! Bad? Why would you say that , I think my son is a conflicted, hurting and an angry boy but not bad!
      He said well , he hadnt punched holes innthe walls ,no fighting in school and he isn’t
      Failing school.
      I said your wrong … I have 2 holes in my walls, he has charged at me. Got an out of school suspension for fighting and school just started he had poor grades last year.
      The doctor replied , that was last year.
      He wrote a report for Court that said the child doesn’t need help .

      It was devastating because i fought hard to get my son in the to this doctor and the ex has been able to obstruct the help I was advocating for Alex.
      He obstructed it again by having my son manipulate a doctor who just didn’t want to get involved but he certainly did , with his bogus report!
      There is another doctor that was recorded too who was telling my son privately that he had himself gone thru his parents terrible divorce and it seems one your dad is not able to do any thing right because your mother is the one who continues to show me your grades and your attendance as if she wants him in trouble . Actually, stupid doctor I was trying to show you just he truth of my son who is spiraling down. This was everything about my son and his welfare but this doctor spoke privately to my son disparaging me and picking sides!

      What can I do??!!!! These recordings were my sons and now I have them copied.
      The GP said he was embarrassed and can’t care for Alex if he broke their trust .
      I shoes him a text that my ex had sent to my son telling my son to record the doctor. The doctor was appalled and did he will help any way i need.
      A little late as far as I’m concerned but I left it at that .

  2. How can I share you posts on Facebook? I work in family court and can share this with many lawyers and judges. Susan Procaccini

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. I just read Pamela Roche’s book on Parental Alienation, “Broken Lives, Broken Minds” and I found her description of the so-called legal and mental health “professionals” so familiar though so bizarre. It was as if these people were utterly blinded to the truth before them in this family situation, despite Ms. Roche supplying every piece of documented evidence and advocating her heart out. She could not have done more, and yet she continually faced professionals who were either lying outright or obscuring the truth in any way possible. This was not only in the Family Courts, but in the examining rooms and subsequent reports of health professionals who were meant to be working on the case.

      What was that? What caused such extraordinary behavior, not just by one foolish and incompetent judge, but by the whole team, every time?

      I am an alienated parent. I have experienced the same thing. It is as if we not only wear a shield making us invisible to others, despite heroic efforts to the contrary, but the professionals in such cases suddenly become part of a world turned upside down. They will do anything possible to dispel the truth, and they hate you for persisting with it. What is going on here?

      Author Paul Levy talks about the form of evil unleashed through the Cluster B Personality Disorders (he calls it by the Native American word Wetiko), and that it is a Psychosis which does not cause hallucinations — which one might think — but instead, causes a psychological/moral blindness in those it infects. Amen to that. Could these “professionals,” supposedly there to assist in PA cases, possibly be infected with a Shared Psychosis of this nature, transmitted through a very convincing alienating parent with a Cluster B Personality Disorder? That is my own conclusion. Otherwise, this kind of situation belies normal reality.

      I suspect that many of the jaw-dropping verdicts against the truth in cases of Attachment-based Parental Alienation heard in Family Courts have some element of this Shared Psychosis. Coming from a self-righteous personality-disordered individual, the contagion appears to be virulent in some situations The pathogen, indeed.

  3. Very well put. In my case this was the case too! I feel sometimes as if I’m losing my mind because it’s so obvious that the kids are being used as weapons and yet the GAL, the oppopsing parites Lawyer, and the judge “don’t see it.” Well, the judge didn’t see it because i didn’t have a lawyer but the GAL …I gave her all kinds of efidecne that she “didn’t see.” It is obvioius to me either she was disgruntled as she had been “investigated” herself. She let me know this more than twices. Or, she is pure evil.

    1. Cimi,

      I have since re-read Dr. Childress’s “The Pathogen is Afraid of Us” posting, several times. I think he explains the cause of this as well as anyone might. If you are after different analogies for it, read Paul Levy’s work. Both Dr. Childress and Paul Levy are talking about the same thing. Psychiatrist M. Scott Peck, in “People of the Lie” just called it plain old evil.

      Oddly, I mentioned, on a popular website for family of the personality-disordered, that my husband signals horror is about to begin by getting a sudden look on his face that I can only describe as evil. Several other members of the form then chimed in and agreed that was exactly right! Well, boy oh boy did that do it! I was booted off the website for not being progressive enough. Didn’t I know that “religious” themes were not allowed in discussing science-based personality disorders? Was I still in the dark ages? I was told that “we don’t use such ignorant analogies.” I never went back. The truth will set them free, but they are unlikely to find it.

      1. PDR — Stan Rogers was a bard. He was a Canadian folk singer, who tragically died in the 80s through an onboard airline fire. A real loss, not only to his family, but to those whose hearts were touched deeply by his music. I saw him in concert in my student years, and have listened to his recordings since. He understood the human condition. His “Mary Ellen Carter” is better than medication for a Depression or low days. Alienated parents have lots of those. Rise Again!

  4. Via Amazon, I have sent my adolescent children — who are parentally-alienated and living with their father — copies of Gavin de Becker’s book, “The Gift of Fear.” It may enable even a slight chink in their armour. The premise here is that listening to your gut — your intuition –can be a very healthy modus operandi in life. Might even someday save that life.

    When I was looking at reviews for this particular book, I noted that the author also co-wrote a book entitled, “Destruction of Innocence: The Friedman Case & How Coerced Testimony and Confessions Harm Children, Families and Communities for Decades After the Wrongful Convictions Occur.” I have not read this yet (available in Kindle format only, apparently), though I have read other material concerning the mass hysteria of “Satanic Panic” that swept several nations in the 80s/90s. It was not the first witch-hunt on earth, and it will not be the last.

    I do wonder whether de Becker’s book on the Friedman Case might shed further light on the coerced claims from the mouths of parentally-alienated children, against the target parent. I do understand that these children are in a shared delusion/Shared Psychosis with the alienating and personality-disordered parent. I suppose I am looking particularly for workable approaches from situations of other child-shared psychoses in which these children cannot be removed physically from the sphere of the perpetrator, as is the first condition for usual re-unification to work. Where I live, children can state themselves, by 16 yrs., which parent they wish to live with after a divorce. In fact, if even a 12 yr. old screams bloody murder about not wanting to live with the targeted parent, the courts are unlikely to intervene. So you have lost them. And they pay a heavy price.

  5. Dr. Childress has my support. His understanding of what lurks behind Attachment-based Parental Alienation is invaluable; I had come to the same conclusion before I even knew that a term such as “Parental Alienation” existed. It was first and foremost about my children being caught in a Psychosis with their personality-disordered father.

    However, I know at least as well as any alienated parent how slowly the gut-wrenching days drag by, as you are missing your children and their childhoods, which is time and experience you can never re-gain. There is the horrible grief of betrayal by those whom you love.
    Not only that, but the thought that your children are being damaged by all of this can drive you to woebegone places in your own soul. I so empathize with all of that.

    And though none of us wants to have to consider it in this way, where oh where is all the money going to come from for these interminable court and mental health battles? Even with a reasonable middle-class salary, after today’s living expenses, with children included, there is just not that much left in the pot for such expensive battles. And you play right into the hands of the Narcissist, who badly wants to break you yet again through bankruptcy. In fact, one of his/her ploys is to saddle you with never-ending legal bills.

    I have just read a book that was published only last week. It is “12 Rules for Life” by Jordan B. Peterson. Consider reading it. Magnificent book. It will help keep you going in all of this.

    My other back-up is reading the insightful internet articles by Australian Melanie T. Evans about Narcissistic Abuse, and how to move out of the victim role to vastly improve your life. I have never been keen on “New Age” materials, and I thought for a long while this was another such New Age approach, so I avoided it. I lost time, unfortunately. Basically, Ms. Evans is talking about (and practicing) the healing of trauma in the body, the idea of which was published in Eugene Gendlin’s “Focusing” many years ago, and is also the basis of work by the likes of Bessel van der Kolk and Peter Levine today. So you could do far worse than giving Melanie T. Evans’ website a look over, as spousal/parental targets of Narcissistic Abuse.

    The further idea of in-depth autobiographical structured writing came out 30 or more years ago through the work of Psychologist James Pennebaker. Dr. Childress is putting this to good use in his suggestion that we write and send our (structured) stories. Prof. Jordan Peterson also has a version of this in his Self-authoring Program (Google it). And then there is the online Narrative Program from “Mindsight” author Dr. Daniel Siegel. Try any of these, or try all. The expense is low, but your time and effort are required. Good returns.

    While you are girding yourselves to fight this battle, these methods might strengthen you, the targeted parent. I am in the same low place so many of you are. I have several alienated children, and a truly vicious former spouse of many years. I had never before been through such a truly shocking and soul-destroying experience as this; my Narcissistic siblings had earlier chosen the shunning/silent treatment rather than the overt harm tactics of my husband. In fact, He would rub his hands in glee that he got to me this badly. But I am not going to lay down and roll over (though there are days it seems that way, even to myself).

    My best wishes to all, and my thanks to Dr. Childress.

  6. Hello again,

    I would no longer recommend Melanie T. Evans’ website, as above.

    I posted there recently, in the “Share Your Resources” section, briefly describing the basis of Attachment-based Parental Alienation and the work of Dr. Childress. I also added the title of Eugene Gendlin’s classic book on healing trauma, “Focusing”; it is amazingly similar to the program she promotes (h-m-m-m). Ms. Evan’s clientele are all, by their own admission, victims of Narcissistic Abuse, so I thought it very appropriate. I stayed firmly within their posting guidelines. Imagine my surprise when I received a private e-mail from one of their “moderators” (read: Tin-pot God) with some major finger-wagging aimed at me. The gist of it was, I must not be doing alright in my soul if I had to think about or mention something such as Parental Alienation. They recommended for my own sake, and the sake of others, that I re-format my focus. All in my own best interest. of course. My goodness, they took a totalitarian leaf out of the Party Manual of any good authoritarian society, pretending they are chastising you for your own good. It was creepy. I realized that Melanie T. Evans is simply a marketer, selling a product. She became touchy when I mentioned other work she sees as her competition. I notice that she even removed my postings mentioning the Roche or Richardson books, or Juliet Butler’s “The Less You Know the Sounder You Sleep.” So I am back to getting the same methods for healing trauma from Eugene Gendlin’s classic 1978 book, “Focusing.” His ideas were formulated back in 1953, and his organization does not employ online goons to stave off the competition.

  7. I seem to be the only one engaging in the conversation here, but oh well. Have been doing a great deal of thinking and reading about all of this. I have lost several children to Attachment-based Parental Alienation, and lost my siblings to Narcissistic shunning and triangulation. One has had a hand in alienating my children against me with my ex-spouse. I wonder what monster is around the next corner. Yes, this heinous situation becomes intergenerational. How do you cope with losing two families? Some don’t.

    What I was noticing recently, in reading Bessel van der Kolk’s “The Body Keeps Score,” are conflicting views. I know that Dr. Childress cites van der Kolk’s work, much of it having to do with healing trauma through body work of various types. O.K. — that I can understand and agree with. Van der Kolk is not the only one to support these ideas.

    However, I just realized that van der Kolk also supports, without hesitation, the idea of “repressed memories” and their validity. Well….where does that leave us, the targeted parents of Attachment-based Parental Alienation? Our children and our Narcissistic spouses are accusing us of all manner of horrible and supposed “abuses.” None of it even remotely true. Flows from psychotic delusions. Same thing happened in the Satanic Panic of the 80s/90s. Kids were made to come up with “repressed memories” of things so outlandish, the whole mass hysteria eventually fell apart. Shared Psychoses everywhere have major elements of false “repressed memories” driving them. Individuals with Narcissistic and Borderline Personality Disorders are infamous for false allegations against those they wish to devalue, for reasons of their own mental disturbances. Unfortunately, it goes with the territory.

    Therefore, on the one hand, I want to be able to believe in the validity of van der Kolk’s work on healing trauma, but on the other hand, he seems to be one of the pushers of the repressed memory/false allegations movement. Has he never realized that the target parents in Attachment-based Parental Alienation are likely to be victims of trauma, and victims of false allegations, both? It appears that there are internal inconsistencies in his work.

    I don’t want to throw out the baby with the bathwater, but how can van der Kolk’s theories help targeted parents, or their children, if he has also set himself up as our incriminator? He is strengthening the power of the false allegations. So what do we do about van der Kolk’s apparent double standard? Any ideas? Does this inconsistency in his work strike other people too? He seems to think that there are two distinct categories — the abusers, and the victims; what happens when the victims later become falsely portrayed as abusers? Lines become blurred. Yes, I understand that abused children can and sometimes do grow up to re-enact the abuse on others as adults. But that is not the case in Attachment-based Parental Alienation. If anything, the target parents were once abused children who grew up to become abused all over again. THAT was their re-enactment. Van der Kolk does not seem to take this possibility into consideration, which of course makes the situation worse for target parents and parentally-alienated children.

    Any other thoughts out there on this conundrum?

  8. Here I am again, though I would welcome other voices here. I have read Dan Josefsson’s masterfully written account, “The Strange Case of Thomas Quick.” It was a true case in Sweden, from the 1990s onward. A psychotherapist named Margit Norell was the kingpin in this tale. From the author’s description, I believe she had Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). She is since deceased. The surrounding events had to do with the now dis-credited notion of repressed memories of childhood abuse causing all manner of later behavior. Thomas Quick was a poor dupe. He became the supposed embodiment of repressed memories. Many unfathomable events followed.

    My point here is that I see a pattern. The Thomas Quick account — with a pathological Narcissist leading the way — involved a large cast of Psychologists/Psychiatrists/Psychotherapists and legal professionals + politicians being utterly and absolutely blinded to unending and obvious lies. Neither could they see the truth when it presented itself. This was extremely reminiscent of the same situations in the Pamela Roche account and in the Pamela Richardson story as well. In other words, is this the way a
    kingpin pathologic Narcissist is going to affect psychological/legal situations, in every case? Is this what the Pathogen does? These three stories have too many odd similarities to be coincidental, and they each involve someone with NPD as the main character.

    Is this the manner in which the Pathogen presents itself in this context? Is this the cause of unbelievable Family Court situations involving parentally-alienated children and a parent with NPD?

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