Archive for May, 2014

How Narcissists Abuse Children During Divorce

Posted on May 30, 2014. Filed under: Parental Alienation Syndrome | Tags: , , , |

Narcissists often use children as pawns during and after divorce. Learn to identify this emotional abuse of children caught in the middle.
The emotional abuse by a narcissist is pervasive and insidious. It impacts not only the narcissist’s spouse but his or her children as well. Once divorce proceedings begin, the narcissist’s abuse will likely escalate. Narcissists will use any means possible to gain control of the situation or to make themselves look better. Children become perfect pawns for narcissistic parents to use against their spouses. Identifying how narcissistic parents abuse their children is the first step to devising strategies to minimize abuse and help children cope. 

Using Children as Pawns in Divorce

Narcissistic parents will often seek custody of children during a divorce even if previously they were not involved parents. It’s important to them to appear to be the better parent. Also, if they have custody of the children, it gives them another way to continue to control and abuse their spouse.

If narcissists don’t get custody of the children, after divorce, they may use visitation as a means of control and harassment. They may ask for many changes to visitation schedules to accommodate optional work, social and vacation events. Most often these requests will be to not to have the children when they are scheduled to. Narcissists may refuse to accommodate the spouse’s requests even when the requests are made for the benefit of the children.

Narcissists may also be late in picking up the children for visitation or not picking them up at all. They may make last minute changes and expect to be accommodated. When they are not, they will cite this as an example of how unreasonable their spouse is. Narcissists may also take advantage of third parties such as school, daycare or friends and family who don’t know the agreements made with the other parent. It’s important to note that all of these tactics by the narcissist have nothing to do with the best interest of the children. It’s simply a way for the narcissist to play games and have control.

Emotional Abuse by a Narcissistic Parent

Narcissists will use people in whatever way in necessary to get what they want. This world view also applies to their children. They will abuse their children regardless whether they stay married to the other parent or not. During and after divorce, a narcissist’s emotional abuse of his or her children may seem more direct or blatant. Quite often, this is simply another tactic employed by narcissists to further control their former spouse. Unfortunately, the children pay the price for the narcissist’s games.

Narcissists are masters of lying. They will lie to their children and distort reality the same as they do to everyone else. Often, narcissists will sacrifice their children’s well-being in an attempt to save face. This leaves the children feeling confused and unsure of their own reality and judgment. Narcissists will ask their children to lie for them, keep secrets and to spy on the other parent.

Narcissistic parents do not respect their children’s desires. They may make promises to the children in order to gain compliance from the child, then refuse to honor the promises. Children may miss out on birthday parties, sporting events or other activities important to them in order to accommodate the narcissistic parent’s wishes. The children soon learn that what they want is not important when with the narcissistic parent.

Coping with a Narcissistic Parent

It’s important to understand that it’s impossible to control a narcissist’s behavior. Neither the narcissist’s spouse nor children are responsible for his or her behavior. Narcissists are who they are. The best the other parent can do for their children and themselves is to separate themselves as much as possible from the narcissist.

First and foremost, former spouses of narcissists need to seek professional support for themselves and their children. It’s important that both children and spouses of narcissists have someone outside the situation to support and validate their feelings and reality while trying to cope with a crazy-making narcissist.

Spouses also need to hire a lawyer who understands narcissism and how to best deal with it in court. It’s often best for abused spouses to seek full custody of the children. They should, however, be prepared to offer reasonable visitation. In addition, spouses of narcissists will do well to put as many negotiation points about the children as they can think of in the divorce decree. These include visitation, pick-up times, phone calls, school activities and vacations. It may seem excessive or restraining but in the long run these written agreements will often be easier than constantly renegotiating with an unreliable and emotionally abusive former spouse.

Divorce is never easy on children. Coping with a narcissistic parent makes a stressful situation even more difficult. Learning to identify the games narcissists play can help parents to minimize the emotional abuse children suffer at the hands of a narcissistic parent.


Bancroft, Lundy. When Dad Hurts Mom: Helping Your Children Heal the Wounds of Witnessing Abuse. New York: Berkley Books, 2004.

Hotchkiss, Sandy. Why is is Always About You? The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism. New York: Free Press, 2002.

Skerritt, Richard. Surviving the Storm: Strategies and Realities for Divorcing a Narcissist. Kennett Square, PA: Dalkeith Press, 2009.

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Should Targeted Parents Send Alienated Children Books

Posted on May 28, 2014. Filed under: Parental Alienation Syndrome | Tags: , , , |

The case for not sending materials about alienation to alienated children
Psychology Today

Frequently I will get an e-mail or call from a targeted parent asking me which of my books and writings do I think they should share with their alienated child, as a means of enlightening that child about the cause of the breach in their relationship. My simple answer is one word: none. I know of no situation in which a currently alienated child positively received such an item. The wish is that the alienated child (regardless of the age of the “child”) would read the item and have an epiphany and say something like, “Wow. I have a whole new understanding of what has happened in my childhood. I only thought you were the bad guy. Now I realize that you really loved me and I was tricked into believing that wasn’t true.” It is completely understandable why a targeted parent would harbor such a wish. It is almost like having a magic wand. However, as far as I know, there is no magic wand for undoing the spell of alienation. When I coach targeted parents I try to help them see what has happened from their child’s point of view. No alienated child believes that they were brainwashed. If they had that insight they wouldn’t be alienated any more. Currently alienated children (again, I am referring to the person as a child because of their role as the child of the targeted parent not because of their age) have an understanding of why they have no relationship with the targeted parent and that understanding is based on their felt experience with that parent. They are not aware that they have been manipulated. Usually, there is a grain of truth to their complaints about the targeted parent. Because all parents are imperfect there is always something to point to as “the reason” for the breach. In my experience, the only way to reconnect with an alienated child is to see the relationship from their point of view. That means, trying to understand what is upsetting them, even if from the targeted parent’s point of view most of their upset is based on exaggerations and mis-information. There are ways of doing this that do not involve (A) apologizing for things that didn’t happen or (B) arguing with the child about their false beliefs. This is a delicate dance but one that can be done and, based on my coaching, one well worth doing. Once there is a reconnection, usually the targeted parent lets go of the idea of having the formerly alienated child fully understand what happened. Ironically, what often helps targeted parents come to this understanding is reading one of my books. I often encourage targeted parents to go back and read “Adult children of parental alienation syndrome: Breaking the ties that bind” as a way of helping the targeted parent experience the alienated child as a victim. When that empathy for the child is rekindled, the targeted parent is usually ready to try to engage the alienated child in a more delicate fashion, one that does not involve sending them materials about how they have been manipulated.

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Dr. Amy Baker critiquing Caplan’s article on Parental Alienation in Psychology Today

Posted on May 25, 2014. Filed under: Child Custody and Visitation | Tags: , , |

Psychology Today has finally wised up. Not long ago the magazine ran a truly scurrilous article by Paula Caplan that was supposedly about Parental Alienation Syndrome, but simply recycled a few old and utterly meritless claims. Those claims are routinely made by anti-father advocates who fear that PAS may deprive mothers of custody. Of course that’s correct; any parent – mother or father who engages in parental alienation deserves to lose custody. Put simply, parental alienation is child abuse. The Caplan article in Psychology Today frankly described PAS as a theory that fathers use to take children from mothers. The fact that that is simply untrue (PAS supporters have said for years that alienators can be male or female) detered Caplan not in the least. Nor did the fact that the science she cited is long outdated and at least one of the authors has since disavowed the work Caplan relied on. Now comes Dr. Amy Baker here to give readers facts on parental alienation and give Psychology Today at least a figleaf of respectability on the subject of PAS (Psychology Today, 6/28/11).
Parental alienation is a set of strategies that parents use to undermine and interfere with a child’s relationship with his or her other parent. This often but not always happens when parents are engaged in a contested custody battle. There is no one definitive set of behaviors that constitute parental alienation but research with both parents and children has revealed a core set of alienation strategies, including bad-mouthing the other parent, limiting contact with that parent, erasing the other parent from the life and mind of the child (forbidding discussion and pictures of the other parent), forcing the child to reject the other parent, creating the impression that the other parent is dangerous, forcing the child to choose, and belittling and limiting contact with the extended family of the targeted parent.
Notice that Baker nowhere uses a masculine or feminine pronoun. For Caplan’s information, that’s because both sexes engage in the behavior Baker describes. Baker describes parental alienation of children as child abuse.
Parents who try to alienate their child from his or her other parent convey a three-part message to the child: (1) I am the only parent who loves you and you need me to feel good about yourself, (2) the other parent is dangerous and unavailable, and (3) pursuing a relationship with that parent jeopardizes your relationship with me. In essence the child receives the message that s/he is worthless and unloved and only of value for meeting the needs of others. This is the core experience of psychological maltreatment (emotional abuse) as defined by the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC).
Most importantly, children who succumb to alienation by a parent are often scarred for life because of it. When a parent exerts pressure on a child to reject the other parent, sometimes the child may do so in order to maintain a relationship with the alienating parent. In effect, the child turns away from the target parent to please the alienator. The results often extend far into adulthood.
Research with “adult children” of parental alienation syndrome (that is, adults who believe that when they were children one parent turned them against the other parent) confirms that being exposed to parental alienation represents a form of emotional abuse. Furthermore, these adults reported that when they succumbed to the pressure and rejected one parent to please the other, the experience was associated with several negative long-term effects including depression, drug abuse, divorce, low self-esteem, problems with trusting, and alienation from their own children when they became parents themselves. In this way the cycle of parental alienation was carried forward through the generations. Thus, parental alienation is a form of emotional abuse that damages the child’s self esteem in the short run and is associated with life-long damage.
Finally, Baker makes clear that in court, parental alienation can look like nothing more than the child’s passionate preference for one parent. That of course is the whole point of the exercise. When child custody is involved, what better strategy could there be than to convince the child that his/her well-being depends on remaining with the alienator and rejecting the target parent? That drama plays well in court and custody evaluators need to be trained and aware of the distinction between a child’s rejection of a bad parent and his/her rejection of an alienated one.
As is often true with other forms of abuse, the child victims of parental alienation are not aware that they are being mistreated and often cling vehemently to the favored parent, even when that parent’s behavior is harmful to them. This is why, mental health and legal professionals involved in cases of parental alienation need to look closely at the family dynamics and determine what the cause of the child’s preferences for one parent and rejection of the other parent are. If the favored parent is found to be instigating the alignment and the rejected parent is found to be a potential positive and non abusive influence, then the child’s preferences should not be strictly heeded. The truth is, despite strongly held positions of alignment, inside many alienated children want nothing more than to be given permission and freedom to love and be loved by both parents.
Child custody law is riddled with falsities and misconceptions. Parental alienation and PAS are prime examples of those very things. It is beyond astonishing that publications and social scientists would, for the sole sake of attacking fathers and their relationships with their children, engage in the type of blatant intellectual dishonesty that we see routinely regarding parental alienation. As Dr. Baker says, it’s child abuse. Why are they defending abusers? Whatever the answer to that question is, Amy Baker has been and will continue to be a staunch advocate of sound science. When it comes to PAS (I couldn’t resist the pun) that means we’ll continue to learn more and more about alienation and its effects on kids. And courts will continue to listen over the din of the anti-dad crowd that more and more reveals itself to be anti-science as well.

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Body of newborn baby girl found on Shizuoka shore; 20-yr-old mother arrested

Posted on May 23, 2014. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death | Tags: , , |

SHIZUOKA — May 20, 2014

Police have arrested a 20-year-old woman after the body of her newborn baby girl was found on the shore at Numazu, Shizuoka Prefecture, on Monday morning.

According to police, a man discovered the infant’s body about 100 meters from the water’s edge at around 7:20 a.m. TBS reported that the infant’s body was naked and wrapped in a blanket.

Police said it appeared the infant had been dead for less than two days and added that an autopsy will be carried out to ascertain the cause of death.

The infant’s mother, Yukino Osabe, works as a shop clerk in Numazu. Police said she has admitted to dumping the body late Sunday night.

Osabe was quoted by police as saying, “The child was born at my house, but I couldn’t possibly let my parents or my friends find out that I had had a child, so I threw her away.”

Japan Today

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Woman, ex-boyfriend blame each other over death of 6-year-old daughter

Posted on May 23, 2014. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death | Tags: , , |

YOKOHAMA — May 21, 2014

A 29-year-old woman and her 31-year-old ex-boyfriend blamed each other over the death of the woman’s 6-year-old daughter in their trial at the Yokohama District Court on Tuesday.

In 2013, police arrested Yukie Yamaguchi and her ex-boyfriend, Ryuichi Yatsui, for allegedly burying the body of the woman’s daughter, Airi, in a forest in Yokohama, in 2012.

The court heard that Airi was registered to attend an elementary school, but when she didn’t show up on the first day of school in February 2013 year, the school asked to see her, but Yamaguchi refused. The school then contacted the child consultation center who reported the incident to police, TBS reported.

The remains of Airi’s body were discovered in April, 2013, based on Yamaguchi’s confession.

The court heard that Yamaguchi and Yatsui buried Airi’s body, TBS reported. Yatsui testified that Airi died after Yamaguchi hit and kicked her to discipline her, but Yamaguchi said that Yatsui also used to hit Airi.
Yamaguchi cried as Yatsui testified that he saw her hitting Airi at the dinner table, TBS reported.

Yatsui said they both decided to bury Airi’s body in the forest.

Japan Today

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