Single Mommy Sympathy or Hate Daddy Or Else?

By Megan Berketis (guest author)

I spent my childhood in the presence of a loving mother who happened to hate my father. When I was a school girl I would say “I don’t have a dad.” When I hear children say that today, I cringe at the very words that used to flow from my mouth so carelessly. Everyone has a father. One cannot come into existence without one; it’s simply science.
​I never really knew my dad as a child. By my first birthday he had moved out, and I don’t remember anything at all from that first year. He did try to maintain a relationship with me and my siblings for some time. But, around my sixth birthday he surrendered to the war that he never would have won anyway.As a teenager I blamed him. From my perspective he had given up; he could have kept fighting. He should have lost his wallet and his mind battling a flawed family court system, or that is what I used to think. Such expectations are unjust.
​My mother was relentless with her hatred towards my father. I cannot recall even one time that she referred to him by name; through my whole life my mother has referred to my father as “Sh*thead.” We lived in a small town, everyone we knew also knew my dad. They too started referring to him bythat awful nickname, as if it is just another name; as if name calling, among adults, is okay. My mom and dad were high school sweethearts who got married rather than go on their senior skiing trip. From what I have gathered they had a pretty good relationship, until they didn’t. I don’t know the reasons for my parents’ divorce, but they were married for ten years and had three children. My brother and sister were 9 and 10 when ourparents split up. They spent their first decade in the presence ofa father and then were expected, by their mother, to hate him because she decided that to be her course of action. Such expectations are unjust.
My poor brother, having been so close to Dad, spent his youth flip-flopping between custodial parents because he wanted to be with his siblings and his father. He would be living with us and say something either positive or comparative about Dad and Mom would drive him to my dad’s and leave him in the front yard. Any time a fight with my mom came to the point where she ran out of valid arguments she would say “go live with your father and see how you like it.” Throughout my entire youth she kept me veiled in this competition. I loved my dad and I wanted to know him. Any desire of that nature had to be kept holed up in the bellows of my soul for fear that I would crush my mother.I was not permitted to love my father. Such expectations are unjust.
My mom remarried. My stepfather swooped right in andbecame my father. He is a great man. He couldn’t replace my dad, but he could keep my mind off the fact that out there somewhere my dad was breathing the same air that I was. They were married for 20 years. When they decided to divorce I was married with two children of my own. Suddenly, after 20 years, I was no longer allowed to utter his name to my mother. She spoke the dirtiest, most vile, untruths of him, and I was supposed to nod my head; “yes, Mommy Dearest.” I didn’t know my father very well, but my stepfather- he was my softball coach, he was my homework help, he was…well, he was my dad. I don’t necessarily blame my mother for the way she acts regarding my stepfather; society has led her to believe that such behavior is acceptable. I, however, am an adult. I can make my own decisions based on logic and/or emotion. I do not talk about my relationship with my stepfather to my mother, but I do have one, and that will not end because their marriage did. Such expectations are unjust.
​As I see it, for fathers, it is becoming a challenge to fulfill a job that was endowed by nature, not society. A father, seen through the current court system, is guilty until he can show he has enough money and grit to prove otherwise. Society shows us continuously, through media and its ever-flawed institutions that mothers are not only the primary caregivers for children, but the only sex adept for the task. When a married parent dies leavingthe other to care for children society never doubts the living spouse’s ability to continue playing his or her natural role. Yet,when divorce is the driving force of spousal separation the “non-custodial” parent commonly gets his (or her) natural position revoked – this seems counterintuitive and illogical. The sentiment that children should be raised equally by both parents is not antifeminist or intended to disenfranchise women or motherhood. On the contrary, it portrays the importance of both parents as intended by nature. The creation of a society where children are raised solely by mothers, or even the acceptance of absent fathers, is an antifeminist trite. A society in which womenneed to struggle for equality in the workplace should not also expect women to take on child rearing single-handedly. Such expectations would be unjust.
My utmost concern is what the future implications of thecurrent path will be. The behavior that is supported by our court system is sending the wrong message to our boys! When our boys are raised under a skewed perception of child rearing theycould easily take on the notion that they should not put forth all of their efforts in raising their future children. Being raised under the shadow of a “single” mother, who gets both sympathy and praise, shows boys that their future natural parenting role is unnecessary. Parents of every son, undoubtedly, wish their son to someday become a great father. Such expectations do not reflect our practices.
Children need both parents. If a person does not get along with his coworker he takes the problem to his boss. Well, in this case, our “bosses” (the court system) are not taking care of the issue. While it would be phenomenal for change to happen overnight it is not going to. But each of us can still be a soldierfor the war. We can be vocal; talk to your friends and family. Delicately explain to your friend that, although she hates her ex, her children do not. Encourage your cousin to keep fighting his battle to maintain a positive relationship with his kids. And, please, let’s do away with the term “single mom;” my kids only have one mom, does that make me a single mom too? The connotation of the phrase “single mom” has become one of suffering, hardship, and assumed sympathy. For every “single mom” out there struggling there is also a lonely suffering single dad. Let’s help everyone out by removing the negative veil that consumes life after separation, and let’s replace it with positive reinforcements that ensure our children know that both parents are important. Such expectations are just.
~Megan Berketis


25 Ways to Intentionally Create Conflict in A Coparenting Relationship

By Casey Wilson

There is a presumption by many family law professionals that if there is moderate to high conflict it is impossible parents share parental duties including time sharing as well as decision making. This seems reasonable, but these professionals really need to look more closely at WHY these parents are not getting along. Custodial Parents as well as their attorneys often perpetuate conflict by using a certain set of behaviors which actually create conflict in the coparenting relationship and due to the presumption of conflict in the coparenting relationship, can keep the noncustodial parent from having more time and decision making.

Some have termed this Hostile Aggressive Parenting:

Many of these behaviors that intentionally create conflict are:

1) Refuse to promote the most effective communication between parents. Hostile parents will often not talk to their former spouse and try to find ways to thwart any means of communication. Such parents may refuse to get fax machines (even when they can afford it) or divulge their E mail address. Hostile parents generally do not want to have a paper trail which may show that they are being uncooperative with the other parent.

2)Always wait until the last minute to settle summer vacation or holiday periods. Hostile parents always are trying to find ways to frustrate the other parent. Often the only time that a hostile parent may cooperate is when they are threatened with imminent court
action or other third party intervention.

3) Not inform the other parent of upcoming school activities, events, or holidays when the child may be off from school.

4) Keep the other parent off the school emergency contact list or advise the school that the other parent should be the last one called, even though that parent may be the one most available to come to the school in the event of an emergency.

5) Choose daycare providers who are their own friends and know will side with them or bend the truth in their favor to help them make things difficult for the other parent.

6) Choose daycare workers who they know will not get “involved” to help resolve problems or to keep silent about irregularities involving the children. When a daycare provider does try to do what is right or to expose problem, then the hostile parent will switch to another babysitter without notice to the other parent.

7) Select daycare providers that only they have had the chance to talk to without any consultation or involvement with the other parent.

8) Not ask the other parent to care for the child when the child is sick but instead prefer to take the child to daycare providers outside of the children’s own family members.

9) Not giving the other parent the chance to provide care for the child when the other parent is more than willing and able.

10) Tell the other parent that the children are too sick to come for their regularly scheduled access visit or to be late because of illness.

11) Create difficulties for the children to see the other parent on special occasions such as birthdays, father’s or mother’s day, special family gatherings, etc.

12) Make the children feel guilty about seeing the other parent.

13) Insist that the non-custodial parent return the children precisely on time while the custodial parent enjoy flexibility and is able to set their own times.

14) Refuse to have a third party act as a mediator, coordinator, or have any other professional involved in helping the parents co-parent effectively.

15) Take the children to counselors or other professionals to get letters of support in a custody dispute but do not want those counselors to meet or to obtain any input from the other parent. (Referred to in the industry as recommendation letters for sale)

16) Refuse to participate in mediation or any kind of assessment program, which involves the participation of all the members of the family.

17) Unwilling to consider any kind of fair and equal parenting arrangement for the children when such an arrangement is desired by the other parent and were circumstances would permit such an arrangement.

18) Always exhibiting anger towards the other parent, months or years after the separation.

19) Practice parental alienation techniques designed to keep the children and step children from seeing the other parent.

20) Afraid to permit the non custodial parent to take the child to any kind of counseling or other third party professional in case the child may reveal something that they do not want the non custodial parent to find out about.

21) Refuse to disclose important and relevant information from the non custodial parent which may be relevant to effective parenting of the child, such as refusing to disclose place of employment, phone numbers, contact numbers, health card information, etc., when there is no valid reason to keep this information secret.

22) Make it difficult for the non-custodial parent to communicate with such as having the answering machine always on or having others pick up and screen calls, etc., etc.

23) Encourage the children to lie and to hide about what is happening in their home.

24) change an agreement without the other parents knowledge

25) refuse to answer phone calls from the other parent

The answer to these problems is to remove the leverage position one parent is in regards to the other parent. The children are harmed in this scenario. Shared and equal parenting should be implemented immediately if any of these behaviors are exhibited. There should be tools established within the order to decrease conflict. These may include but are not limited to:

1) mandatory email contact only
2) web based parenting program such as Our Family Wizard for scheduling
3) the use of EFFECTIVE parenting coordinators and sometimes mediation in any case with moderate to high conflict
4) the use of Parallel Parenting Plans
5) minimize parental contact and exchanges
6) reduce leverage by putting both parents on equal ground at the onset of divorce and separation thus reducing leverage

Both parents and children have a right to be equally involved in each other’s lives. One parent creating conflict because he or she abuses their position should not be a reason to minimize the other parent. But that is the current arrangement

Sources are quoted as well as Family Assistance And Parenting Program

Australia’s Shared Parenting Experiment

Interesting research from Australia

Equal parenting in Europe

An overview of marriage, divorce and the new custody laws in Australia

By Robert Whiston FRSA, Sept 13th 2009

Every English speaking country around the globe has been trying for years to reach the point now achieved by Australia, namely the enacting of ‘shared parenting’. The goal is to make matters a little more equitable for divorced fathers and the judicial “orphaning” effect on children less severe.

In Britain, Canada, and New Zealand, for example, all attempts at a more egalitarian division of children’s time after divorce have been stonewalled using the same rehearsed argument once voiced in Australia.

Mindless chanting is fine for domestic audiences but why, if it is so impossible to arrange, can the French, Dutch, Swedes and Belgians have the wit that Anglophones lack ? Why not tell the public the truth – explain how and why it is we ‘Anglos’ can’t manage it


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Lessons From Half Of Me: My Life As An Alienated Child, Parent and Step Parent

In being advocates for keeping good parents involved in their children’s lives to the maximum degree, we meet awesome people, many with stories of their own. This biography is from M.O. She chooses to remain anonymous due to her husbands case as well as respect for her ex husband.

Here is M.O.:

“In hopes this will help the fight and our cause of parental alienation.

I was five years old living in Divide, CO in 1975 and as I ran up the hill in the cold air to our house after getting off the school bus I walked into the living room to find my mom sitting on the couch and the spindle of the record player torn off along with a picture of my parents broken in the fireplace, with glass shattered. I retain that image to this day and it is still painful.
This was the last time I saw my father until 1989. I left high school late in my Senior year knowing I was close to my 18th birthday and no one could stop me from finding, loving and being reunited with him.
This is not an article to bash the mother who was not receiving support unless she begged, who was home with us every evening and making sure we were fed, bathed, clothed and safe. It’s a story of two sides a parental alienation that scarred four children into adulthood.

As a child growing up without my father caused a constant void in my life. I missed him. I loved him. I was half of him.

I only contribute that to the fond memories I had of sitting on his lap driving his big white Ford truck as he laughed that deep laugh and teased not to get to close to the ditch and I remember times of camping and Trout fishing at the 11 mile Reservior. Climbing into bed in the middle of the night with he and my mom because I was scared, and him welcoming me.
Many times I would ask to see my dad, only to be asked why and given this long sorted version of why my parents were divorced and how could I want to see him after what he’s done. That he didn’t support me or didn’t care if I had clothes or even shoes for school. I tried writing him letters only to have those letters opened and me being told what to take out and what I should actually say that might not sound the way “mom” thought he would interpret it.


I remember my mother having a long relationship with a man who I adored, he filled a lot of the void I felt for my own father who would never find me now because “mom” had changed our last names to her fiancé’s last name and put us in a new school to protect us from “dad” in the event he was even looking for us.

Both my parents are gone now. My resentment is evident, I feel the pain of my childhood and don’t often visit the graves of either of my parents. I think of them often and wish things could have been different. I love them both.

I got married I feel later in life to my daughter’s father, she was 8 at the time and I was 29. We have two daughters together both of which have a very open relationship with their dad. I do have primary custody of them. But, quite honestly, I don’t watch the Holidays or the schedule that closely. ( I look in my daughters eyes and they miss their father and his family, just like I did and I know from my own experience that I am probably half the woman I could be if I at least could have known my Dad, Aunt’s, Uncle’s and cousin’s where I came from on the other side.) So depending on what they want, we make plans according to which side of the family they want to spend their Holiday with. It is very hard at times but I chose divorce, not them.

My girls are not a possession and trying to hurt their father or make him feel less of a man or empty inside because of my own animosity towards him is cruel, not only to him but to the children I’m helping raise and example I am setting for them. I am not a perfect mother, I have made many mistakes. I can’t expect perfection from their father either.

My own divorced stemmed from Operation Iraqi Freedom and my ex husband returning to me and the kids with PTSD. Very emotionless towards his life with me, yet angry he wasn’t able to do more while deployed, and at times suicidal. This is where it got hard because in order to protect the girls I had to remove them from this, in hopes it would snap him out of what he was going through and sadly it didn’t. We tried counseling, we tried medications, we tried what we thought would save the marriage but when it came down to instinctiveness, my instincts were telling me to remove the kids.

He still saw them, he went without paying child support for ten months. He still saw them. He called and didn’t have gas money to get to where I had moved to see them, he still saw them, I left money on the kitchen table for him. When he was short on groceries, I packed them for the weekend so the kids could still go, still see “dad” and I grew, I grew big time. I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do and finally after two years of being divorced and doing the right thing I was able to look at this from the stand point of the kids and not the angry ex-spouse.

Eventually he and I were able to talk and of course that is almost always about the kids. In fairness to my husband, it will remain that way. I don’t go into the past with him and I try to have very little contact with him at all unless it is something I don’t feel is appropriate for the kids to relay. I have talked to him about moving closer to share more time, it’s something he’s considering. But in the meantime, when the youngest now 12 misses dad, I say well why don’t you call dad and see if you can get an extra day in this weekend, or you don’t have school Friday, why don’t you have dad pick you up Thursday night. Her eye’s lite up like I have given her a gift. And I have. A gift of peace, trust and love.

In 2011 I married again to a really energetic man, who took to my girls like they were already part of the family and he had his own children as well. Four small children. A four year old, and three, three year olds. We dated for fourteen months before getting married and he spent 12- 14 days with his kids a month even though their own agreement stated every other weekend.

At first their was a lot of contact from his ex and I gave it about six months until the 4 phone calls a day some to his place of employment for meaningless things and the 6-10 texts a day became a bit too much for me to think was normal contact about the kids. The comments about me in the driveway each time she picked up the kids or dropped them off. Many other things I won’t go into detail about that are more personal. Until, I politely asked her “when we don’t have the kids, to please respect our time together.”

Our intent as husband and wife was to have them as much as we could because we love them to pieces, live in the same school district and because we live so close to the other parent.

What we ended up with after all was said and done is this: a split schedule with their mother. Us having them 12 over-nights a month and Monday through Monday all summer long. We are paying full child support, providing Insurance and paying for all expenses when they are with us. We love the idea of shared parenting and are 3 days away from that. My husband is a playful, fair and honest man. He’s hardworking, he loves his children beyond measure and has always provided financial and emotional support for his them. It’s not what’s fair, it’s what he and his children deserve.

I read all of these posts from men and woman who are so threatened by a new meddle-some “step-parent” or by the actual “other parent”. I can’t in my wildest dreams imagine that if everyone looked into your child’s eyes and asked them what they wanted or remembered the look on the other parents face when they held that child for the first time any of this would be going on. I stand up for my husband and his rights for his children not out of spite for his ex-wife but because of his many years not being able to have children he helped bring these four beautiful little people into this world and deserves to be as much a part of them as he can be.

As a step parent I adore my step kids, I love them with all my heart and my door and home is always open to them. I also have a step daughter who is older and a half sister to my two girls and on her own now. We still have an unbreakable bond and love for each other. God puts us in each others paths for a reason and I can’t imagine my life without that sweet girl.

Your children love their Mother. Your children love their Father. Your children even Love their STEP Mother and their STEP father. They love Grandpa, Grandma and they look upto their Aunts and Uncles with love and warm thoughts of play times with their cousins and memories they deserve to have with both sides of their family.

We are raising a generation of broken children, when divorce is at it’s peak and children are being torn to love one or the other parent more out of spite or jealousy. We cannot continue to run the other parent and family into the ground making claims of mental disorders, being falsely accused of abuse and making our children believe they too have to ‘hate’ or “ignore” or “disguise their love” for their own mother or father or step-parents.”


The Parental Alienation Syndrome:An Analysis of Sixteen Selected Cases, Dunne & Hedrick

Parental Alienation Support

JOURNAL OF DIVORCE & REMARRIAGE, Vol. 21, p 21-38 1994

The Parental Alienation Syndrome:
An Analysis of Sixteen Selected Cases

John Dunne
Marsha Hedrick

ABSTRACT. This study analyzed sixteen cases which appeared to meet Dr. Richard Gardner’s criteria for parental alienation syndrome as set forth in his 1987 book. These cases showed a wide diversity of characteristics but Gardner’s criteria were useful in differentiating these cases from other post-divorce difficulties. Traditional interventions were ineffective in altering the alienation.

Gardner (1985) has described cases of intense rejection of a parent by children after divorce which he referred to as “parental alienation syndrome” (PAS). He defined this syndrome as a disturbance occurring in children who are preoccupied with depreciation and criticism of a parent and denigration that is unjustified and/or exaggerated (Gardner, 1987). He describes these children as “obsessed with hatred of a parent.”

The “parental alienation syndrome” has…

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The Unconventional Road to Fatherhood

I don’t know how most men start out their story of fatherhood.  I know that mine was not typical in the traditional sense and yet, I know that it was not that different from many.  I wish that I could say that I was super excited in the way that you see in movies when a married couple hears that they are expecting, but the truth was that I was terrified.

I could have told you then that the relationship with my son’s mother was doomed.  We weren’t right for each other.  I wish my friends or somebody would have told me.  Maybe somebody did and I didn’t listen.  The point is we were in no position to start raising a child together as a couple.  And so now, we are raising a child apart.

I don’t think most people envision parenting this way.  I envisioned having Thanksgivings and Christmases with my children all of the time.  I didn’t know that the option would only be some of the time.  Not even half of the time.  I was unfamiliar with how the state viewed fathers.  A graduate student, and a never been in trouble before kind of guy, I didn’t know that I would have to prove that I was a good man to be a father.  I just naively thought that our world treated people equally.  This was America after all.

I knew when I held my son that he was mine.  I knew that I wanted to be invested.  I was scared and didn’t know the first thing about babies.  I can say in the years that have passed that I have always tried.  And, if I think that there is a secret ingredient to parenting then I would say that making a sincere effort is it.


Almost eight years since the birth of my first, I am now the proud father of five children.  My wife and I both brought a couple of kids to our relationship.  I had two and she had two and we have one together.  We’re definitely a sight when you see us.  Yet, if I had it all over to do again, I wouldn’t change a single thing.  My road to fatherhood with two children from previous relationships was not a typical one but our kids are happy and well cared for.  They’ve got bonus “moms” and “dads.”  They’ve got a lot of extra grandparents and cousins.

If someone were to ask, has it been difficult for you or them?  I would say, “yes.”  It would not be the reason that most people would think though. The challenge has not been in “bouncing” from home to home.  Children are like adults, they adapt just fine to different environments and caregivers (after a few years, not newborns).  You ever see a child who couldn’t tell the difference between rules at school and rules at home?  Nope.  Me neither.  The challenge has been with exes.

My situation with my son’s mother has been the most difficult.  I had a long term relationship with her.  It is because of the emotional fallout of that relationship that I believe things have been so difficult.  My daughter was the product of my short stint in the theater and her mother and I get along better because we were never really emotionally involved.  As the stepfather to two wonderful young girls, I also have a perspective from my wife of five years and how she has parented with her ex.  It is because of these situations that I might be uniquely qualified to speak on the subject of parenting apart.

I want to be clear.  I don’t think my children’s mothers are bad people.  My speaking negatively about them would only reflect negatively on me and could potentially harm my children.  I don’t believe that our differences in parenting or our genders create a hierarchy of who is better parent.  My exes are just products of a system which automatically assumes that “mother knows best:” an idea not supported by any social research.  Indeed, mother and father know best; both parents have something to give to their children.

Mothers do have a way about them.  I appreciate my wife every time our youngest runs up to her with any sort of scrape or scratch.  I think that there is something magical about the way that a woman loves their children.  For my children’s sake, I would never take any of that away from them.

I just don’t understand why the role of dad is dismissed so easily.  I think that our culture sometimes dismisses fathers simply because they care for their children differently.  I’m not the one that my kids typically come to for a scraped knee (although, if I am the only one present, I am the mom).  I am the one that shows my daughters how a man should treat his wife.  I am the one that shows my son how to pick himself up.  I am the one that shows my children how to laugh at themselves and how to also work hard.  I know that a woman can do those things too.  It’s just that we do those things better together.  But, parenting together doesn’t require living together.  It requires loving your children together.

Men (or non-custodial parents) shouldn’t be just a paycheck to our exes.  Indeed, the only way to bring equality to the sexes is to make sure that we both hold each accountable in the areas of care and finances.  There are lots of mothers (and some fathers) out there who don’t think that they need to work or they utilize a system not based on actual child costs but one based on who can take the most from the system.  It’s a dis-empowering system that creates and perpetuates dependence.

People will say that feuding parents should not parent together because of the impact on the child.  My question is this: why give all of the power to the person who doesn’t want to work together?  I’ve witnessed this outcome countless times.  Because a parent doesn’t fight, they are punished.  The manipulative and wanting-to-punish parent gets the role of the primary caregiver.  Shouldn’t the motives of one who does not want to share responsibility be questioned?  Feuding can always be kept to a minimum by keeping the number of direct contact points between feuding parents to a minimum.

The parenting culture in South Dakota has been broken for some time.  There is too much fighting and not enough time spent deciding how to split responsibilities.  It’s a how much can I get out of this culture and not a how much can I give culture.  Take away the power.  Put both parents on equal footing.  Our laws shouldn’t create a bat (child) to use as a weapon.  It is for the best interests of the children to get them out of the middle of the fighting and let them have access to both parents.

I hope that I don’t let my children down.  I hope that they know that their dad tried hard to the best that he could for them.  I’ve always tried to show them that I am a fallible but strong man who makes mistakes and tries to learn from them.  This wasn’t what I envisioned when I thought about the family that I would have.  I couldn’t have imagined children so great and a wife and life so amazing.  I could have spent years not doing anything to see more of my children.  Fortunately I fought, and I fight with others, to make sure not only fathers but all parents have the right to be with their children.  Our children deserve nothing less than getting the best (and most time) from two parents loving them apart.

Parental Alienation: Why Kids Usually Side with the Custodial Parent Especially If They’re Emotionally Abusive


brainwashed child Do your children refuse to see you since you and your ex separated? When you actually get to see your kid(s), do they lash out at you? Do they know things about your break-up or divorce that they shouldn’t know? Do they “diagnose” or berate you by using adult terms and expressions that are beyond their years?

If so, you’re probably experiencing the effects of parental alienation and hostile aggressive parenting. It’s normal to have hard feelings at the end of a significant relationship, however, you have a choice about how you handle it.

Most cases of parental alienation occur in dissolved marriages/relationships, break-ups, and divorces in which there’s a high degree of conflict, emotional abuseand/or mental illness or personality disorders.

If you were emotionally abused by your ex while you were still together, then your kid(s) learned some powerful lessons about relationships, especially if you…

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