How Can This Be Happening?

New research finally answers the one question that plagues targeted parents;

“How can this be happening?”

When researchers Harman and Biringen from the University of Colorado, decided to look into the phenomenon of parental alienation they interviewed a group of randomly selected targeted parents.  The authors found that targeted parents are well versed in all the research findings and are also active in legal reform movements.  More importantly, they noted that regardless of the fact that targeted parents exhibit signs of severe trauma as a result of ongoing intimate partner abuse, complex grief from the unresolved loss of their children and being continually re-victimized by family court, these parents remain steadfast and persistent in trying to protect the health and well being of their children.  The authors also found that in the face of torturous adversity, targeted parents stay true to their family values and do not engage in retaliation or discourage their children from having a relationship with the other parent, as long as it is safe.

None of this data is surprising or new to targeted parents.  In fact, the mission of the National Alliance for Targeted Parents states that we attempt to save our children despite being the target of the abusers’ relentless, retaliatory abuse and the staggering lack of support from law enforcement, mental health and legal professionals.

In their first publication on this topic, Parents Acting Badly, Harman and Biringen validate the living hell that targeted parents must endure, the destructive and insidious personality disorder pathology, and the horrendous impact psychological abuse has on families and children.  However, they bring new information to the table of parental alienation that changes the entire landscape for targeted parents.

First, parental alienation has reached epidemic proportions in the United States affecting 22 million intact, divorced and separated families in the United States.  This in itself answers a lot of questions regarding the safety of children, the reality of child abuse and the downward spiral of mental health in America.  Second, the authors finally answer the one question that has plagued targeted parents more than any other, “How can this be happening?”

Parents Acting Badly explains that targeted parents are not just fighting the destructive and intergenerational intrusion of personality disorders in American families, but the larger and more powerful perpetrator of sociocultural issues that sanction and even promote such malignant parenting.  Gender inequality, stereotypes about parenting roles, the rise in narcissism and the subversion of institutions built to protect children and families have allowed child abuse to flourish because targeted parents are the scapegoats for these fundamental social injustices. 

This shifts the focus of parental alienation from our individual child abuse cases, where we were the only ones fighting for our children’s futures, to a public health problem where everyone is responsible for the outcome.