High-Conflict divorces are on the increase. With it, more cases of child alienation are appearing - when a child resists or refuses to spend time with one of his or her parents. For the past 25 years, families and family courts around the world have been fighting over who is the "all-bad parent" who caused this problem: Was one parent really abusive? Or did the other parent purposefully alienate the child against the "rejected" parent? (This problem is often referred to as Parental Alienation Syndrome.)
The battle rages over:
Who is the "all-bad" parent who caused this problem?
And who is the "all-good" parent?
In his new book, Don't Alienate the Kids!, Bill Eddy presents a new theory of child alienation in divorce. In his theory, there are no bad parents - just bad behaviors, many of them inadvertent by many people including family, friends, professionals and the family court adversarial process. All of these bad behaviors combine into "1000's of Little Bricks" that build a wall between a child and one of his or her parents. It's really a result of a Culture of Blame that builds up around the child - and the child joins in.
But parents, family, friends and divorce professionals have a choice. They can use these bricks to build a Foundation of Resilience instead - even during a divorce. Eddy says that the goal of the book is to explain all of the little behaviors (little bricks) that parents and professionals should avoid, and all of the little behaviors (little bricks) that they should use to build this Foundation.
Rather than fighting over "Who to Blame" or seeking extreme solutions, the key message of this book is for parents and professionals to repeatedly use:
FLEXIBLE THINKING MANAGED EMOTIONS MODERATE BEHAVIORS
And whenever they fail at this task, they should use repairing comments and positive statements about the others involved.
However, Eddy is no stranger to high-conflict behavior. He knows that there are many parents who have "high-conflict personalities" who are very unlikely to change at all. They will just keep blaming the other parent and negatively influencing the child. His goal is to get the reasonable parent and professionals to avoid getting "emotionally hooked" into the battle. Rather than fight over which parent to eliminate, his approach focuses on containing the conflict, protecting the children and including some involvement of both parents in the children's lives. He shows how parents and professionals can teach the children skills of resilience - to the best of their ability - rather than seeking extreme decisions in family courts.