On this Like a Mother episode I interview film maker Ginger Gentile, whose latest project is called Erasing Family, a documentary about parental alienation, focused on the now-adult children who grew up without knowing a parent, siblings, or extended family thanks to the wishes of another parent, and a court system historically designed to promote conflict between separated families.
Parental alienation affects millions of families, with one third of children whose parents divorce or separate losing all contact with one parent. But parental alienation goes beyond missing out on a relationship with one parent. Parental alienation means lost relationships with siblings, extended family and friends. The reasons for this human rights travesty are complex, and unfair court systems, unstable, angry parents can be blamed.
But to stem parental alienation requires a drastic paradigm shift in this country, one that stops celebrating mothers as the default better parent, a stopping of upholding stay-at-home mothers as superior to working mothers, and gets away from outdated and sexist assumptions that in times of separation, it is best for kids to have one primary home (with the mom), and occasional visit the other parent (the dad, who pays the mom). On all fronts, science has time and again obliterated these notions:
Non-custodial parents, who are relegated to “visits” with their children by courts, in 40 percent of cases lose contact with their kids.
Whether you like it or not, shared parenting, which receives a 70 percent public popularity rating, split equally among men and women, conservatives and progressives, democrats and republics, is quickly being adopted by courts.
Since 2012, South Dakota, Arizona, Utah, Missouri and Kentucky have passed shared-parenting laws, that start custody negotiations with the presumption of equal time, and this year, 25 are considering bills that would do the same.
In other words: The world is changing, and if you’re not on board with shared parenting, and recognizing the systematic atrocity that is parental alienation, time to get over it. Because faced with it in your own life, you are likely to lose in the face of a court, and if not, but judging society.
Ginger Gentile produced and directed Erasing Dad, a similar project in Argentina, and herself is the victim of parental alienation at the hands of her parents’ divorce.
You can learn more about Erasing Family here, and support this important projecT
I connected with Ginger through our mutual colleague Terry Brennan, the advocate from Leading Women for Shared Parenting, for whom you can thank for all that incredible legislation taking place around the country.
If you are in New York City, on Wednesday, June 7, I am speaking at Erasing Family’s fundraiser event, where you can learn more about the issue and meet Ginger (and me!):
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