Family Law Needing Reformation Due To Parental Alienation? Gender Inequality, Parenting Stereotypes Contribute To This Social Justice Issue

By Charlize Walters, Parent Herald January 04, 04:04 am
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Despite the increasing reports on parental alienation, there is still no exact statistics that shows how many people experience this behavior. However, many legal experts and psychologists believe that parental alienation has existed for decades.
(Photo : Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Despite the increasing reports on parental alienation, there is still no exact statistics that shows how many people experience this behavior. However, many legal experts and psychologists believe that parental alienation has existed for decades.

In the United States, the American Psychological Association (APA) reports that 90 percent of Americans marry before the age of 50. Unfortunately, 40 to 50 percent of those marriages end in divorce.

Due to the rising divorce rates, family law has found its niche. The sad truth, however, is the fact that this multi-billion-dollar industry often leads to hostile courtroom environment and the incidences of parental alienation, which is defined by a Colorado State University article as the time "when one parent's relationship with his or her child is harmed by the other parent."

It is already a known fact that parental alienation can have devastating consequences. It is also considered a domestic abuse and social justice issue.

"Parental alienation involves a set of behaviors that one parent does to damage, destroy, or sever the relationship between their children and the other parent," Colorado State University's Psychology associate professor and researching social psychologist Jennifer Harman explained, Huffington Post quoted. "Parental alienation is a form of indirect aggression. The true target of this aggression is the other parent, and children are their weapons. Therefore parental alienation is a form of domestic violence."

Parental alienation, however, is not the only reason why some experts are urging a family law reform. According to Post-Crescent, the increasing rate of divorce highlighted the persistence of psychological effects on children, citing more emotional and behavioral problems.

In a letter to the editors of the publication, author Greg Reynolds pointed out how the family law in the nation supports and encourages the tragic reality of parental alienation, as well as the negative effects of divorce among children. Hence, Reynolds stressed that changes in family law proceedings are necessary.

"Changes such as court-ordered mediation and co-parenting counseling are essential in lieu of a capitalistic industry that feeds off the misfortune of others," Reynolds wrote. "We can and should do better. I urge you and others to investigate this topic and support Family Law Reform."

Even though the public has a hard time comprehending and accepting the truth on parental alienation, Harman revealed that some 22 million parents in the United States and millions more worldwide are affected by the said phenomenon. Harman also highlighted how gender inequality, parenting stereotypes and social institutions including family courts all contribute to the issue.

With that said, Harman and fellow co-author Zeynep Biringen call for new approaches, as well as social and institutional reforms to address the controversial problem of parental alienation, which affects the family and the entire community. For a more detailed report on how institutions promote alienation of children, read the book, "Parents Acting Badly."

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