torrij

How Parental Alienation Impacts Fatherlessness

In Uncategorized on April 16, 2019 at 11:07 pm

The Fatherless Generation Foundation Inc. (TFGF) has an 87% reunification success rate and a 92% retention rate.  What this says is not every reunification goes a planned or has the happy ending we work so hard to achieve. In this conversation, I want to share one of the reunifications that did not turn out so well due to parental alienation.

Meet Edward Sessom. He tells his story very well.  However, I want to fill in some of the gaps.

(Watch Mr. Sessoms Full Testimony at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CECKiyGIO-c&t=15s)

Mr. Sessom and his ex-wife were married for 10 years prior to divorce.  He was reunited with his children live on the air of one of our segments on the Rickey Smiley Morning Show.  After their reunification, Mr. Sessom and his children were able to share some amazing times together after years of alienation.  But as children get older some things can take precedence over time with dad, like time with friends and extra-curricular activities.  At a certain point, sports seasons started impacting his parenting time with all 3 of his children who are all gifted in multiple sports.  Now, this is not an assault on extra-curricular activities or children in sports.  However, it is a window into how subtle parental alienation can be.

With all of his children in multiple sports, Mr. Sessom made it a point to be at every game possible. Which was not easy.  You see, he had been laid off from his job in Atlanta as a Certified HVAC Technician but found work 5 hrs away in North Carolina.  This meant his weekdays were lived in North Carolina while his weekends were in Atlanta where he could see and spend time with his children.  However, limited days in Atlanta meant limited time with the children.  I remember speaking with Mr. Sessom often about what he could do to maximize his time with his children.  As an organization, we decided to get the children’s perspective on the situation.  So I took them Rock Climbing.

As we, more like they, scaled the walls and released down backwards without hesitation, we all had a great time laughing at my fear of letting go.  Then, we sat down and talked about what they wanted from the relationship with their father.  There was no doubt these children wanted time to build a real and meaningful relationship with their father.  However, they knew things, or so they thought, about their father children of their age just should not know.  And they had no idea the interference their mother was running.  The worst part was, mom told the children dad didn’t pay child support and that is why they had to go without certain things.  This information given to underaged children creates animosity, anger, and resentment towards their father.  And, this was a blatant lie.  I myself had been to the child support office with him. He took the job in North Carolina to ensure he could continue to support them and not fall any further behind in his financial obligation to his children.  His child support had 4 digits in front of the decimal point so he was paying a substantial amount.

#1 Parental Alienation Syndrome can be created by:

  • One parent is blaming the other for financial issues or the child not being able to do a certain activity. You would hear something like, “Well, you can’t be taking swimming lessons any longer. Since your father left us, we have no money to spare.”

This is not an attack on child support either.  But, your children should not be told this kind of information especially if it is not true.  This creates little girls who look for men to be providers only putting themselves in harm’s way to repeat the cycle. Or little girls who find themselves dealing with the Superwoman Syndrome where they are so independent they believe they do not need a man for anything in life!  For little boys, it creates extreme anger towards their fathers and causes them to feel like they have to grow up too fast and too soon in retrospect becoming their mother’s mock boyfriend.  I did my best trying to work with mom, but she would be sober one day and go back to the dysfunctional approach she had been taught in her fatherless household days later.

So let’s get back to the extra-curricular activities i.e. sports and how it can be used in a subtle way to create alienation.  Even, intact families struggle with managing the many obligations tugging at children’s schedules from home, school, sports and houses of faith.  So imagine the challenges co-parents have with this.  We must be aware of any intentional interruption to the non-custodial parent’s scheduled time in order to alienate them from their time with their children and curtail it while adding makeup time in the best interest of the children.  I truly believe there is a fine line as to how the custodial parent maneuvers when adding purposeful extra-curricular activities and intentional interference with parenting time making children fatherless.

Mr. Sessom experienced these types of challenges even while in attendance at his children’s games.  He would not be welcomed on the field when it was parents night. Somehow, his name was left off of the list.  The list his ex-wife was the committee chair.

#2 Parental Alienation Syndrome can be created by:

  • Subtlely using extra-curricular activities as a way to alienate and isolate a parent from their court-ordered parenting time.  

How do you eliminate Parental Alienation Syndrome:

  • Do not share negative details about the other parent with the children. If you find yourself starting to, stop, apologize and let the children know you were being inappropriate.
  • Include non-custodial parent in the process of deciding what extra-curricular activities the children will participate and keep them in the loop concerning all extra-curricular schedules.
  • Do not be rigid when it comes to extra-curricular activities that interfere with parenting time and allow the non-custodial parent the freedom to be the parent responsible for the children’s schedule during their scheduled parenting time. DO NOT CONTROL THE SITUATION!
  • Take the time to heal your wounds from the divorce and /or break-up.  It will benefit everyone involved in the long run.

Currently, Mr. Sessom is rebuilding his relationship with his oldest daughter who is 21 years old but has not spent any time with his 19-year-old son in a few years due to his son’s anger towards him.  His youngest daughter is still working through her feelings as she is underage.  We are still gently guiding him through this process.  It is just a matter of time before they are a reunified family again!  Even in all that has happened, we love the fact Mr. Sessom is a champion for TFGF and always will be.
Edward Sessom Hug.JPG
The Fatherless Generation Foundation Inc. (TFGF) is a 501c4 headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia and our mission is to reunite fatherless children with their biological fathers all while providing the resources and services that strengthen, support, and elevate the growth of family values and relationships. TFGF has successfully reunited 3106 fatherless children with their fathers!  

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Redefining Father-Less

In Fatherless, Single Parenting, Uncategorized on January 17, 2019 at 6:47 pm

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I feel it is vitally important to redefine or simplify the meaning of Fatherless.  I know that may sound arrogant and over-reaching, but it is for a special purpose.  Throughout my day-to-day, I have learned there are too many fatherless people who do not identify as fatherless although they are.  It is one thing to have a definition in your mind and another as to how you use it in a sentence pertaining to your own life.

Webster’s dictionary defines Fatherless as having no father because he is dead or absent from the home.  The National Fatherhood Initiative has gone a bit further.

National Fatherhood Initiative Definitions of Fatherless:

  1. You are fatherless if you have never met your father.
  2. You are fatherless if your father does not live in the home with you and you have limited to no time with him.
  3. You are fatherless if your father has died.
  4. You are fatherless if your father lives in the home with you but is not emotionally engaged.

I know what you are thinking.  It should be easy to identify with one of the definitions.  True, but there are a few things at work.  Many people only have these definitions in their minds.  For most of you, this is the first time you are seeing the definitions written down.   For some reason, the leap from our heads to our hearts is not as easy of terrain to cross as we believe it should be. Using our lives in a sentence about fatherlessness is not ideal for most.  This is the moment where feelings begin to bubble up to the surface causing us to acknowledge or suppress long lost pain. And in truth, a couple of the definitions seem unfair if our dad was present in some capacity.

Fatherless children & Fatherless adults are saying, “I am not fatherless because I know who my father is.” Regardless of the fact as to whether they have a relationship with their father or not.  They do not even take into account how much time they desire to spend versus how time they actually spend with their fathers.  Fathers say, “My children are not fatherless. I am here fighting for them.  But, their mother won’t let me see them!” This is just one of the many conversations.

So for the sake of the conversation and even for the sake of healing someone today, let’s redefine or better yet simply the definition of fatherless. By simply breaking the word into the 2 words that make it up; Father and Less. Father-Less becomes an easier landscape.  Father-Less is simply having less time or not as much time as we desired or needed with our fathers for our psychological, emotional, and spiritual development.

Now when we look at this definition, how many of you could say, I might be Father-Less?  an example, maybe your father was a workaholic and his focus was providing for the family. No blame to dad.  However, not having the time wanted and needed tends to leave a scar on our hearts causing that scar to become the navigation of our lives in negative ways we very seldom recognize until it’s too late. Once again, no blame to our fathers who worked hard to give us great lives.  We just need to acknowledge we wanted and needed more time and now we have some hurt surrounding not having that time we must now heal.

This is your season for the healing you did not even know you needed.  The season for you to allow yourself to feel something you have not felt in a long time in order to obtain the healing for your life allowing you to go to the next level.

Take the time to journal or call a friend to talk through what you read and how you are feeling about it.

Dr. Torri J. Evans-Barton

A Lesson We Can Learn From “Surviving R Kelly”

In Fatherless, Lifestyle, Uncategorized on January 17, 2019 at 6:29 pm

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With the latest documentary release about R Kelly, we believe it is imperative to discuss a topic many may find uncomfortable but we must have.  Sexual Abuse is a true consequence of growing up in a fatherless home.  And a lesson we can learn is, boys are just as susceptible as girls to it.

In order to have a fair conversation lets clarify a few facts.  Far too often we associate Sexual Abuse with girls versus boys.  However, according to childtrauma.org 1 out of 3 females and 1 out of 5 males have been victims of sexual abuse.  American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress (AAETS) says, 30% of all male children are molested in some way, compared to 40% of females. Numbers do not lie and these numbers insinuate boys and girls are BOTH at risk of sexual assault especially when they are from fatherless homes.

Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse: 

  • Withdrawal and mistrust of adults
  • Suicidality
  • Difficulty relating to others except in sexual or seductive ways
  • Unusual interest in or avoidance of all things sexual or physical
  • Sleep problems, nightmares, fears of going to bed
  • Frequent accidents or self-injurious behaviors
  • Refusal to go to school, or to the doctor, or home
  • Secretiveness or unusual aggressiveness
  • Sexual components to drawings and games
  • Neurotic reactions (obsessions, compulsiveness, phobias)
  • Habit disorders (biting, rocking)
  • Unusual sexual knowledge or behavior
  • Prostitution
  • Forcing sexual acts on other children
  • Extreme fear of being touched
  • Unwillingness to submit to a physical examination

Contrary to girls, boys may not even recognize their sexual victimization. They may assert that they weren’t abused, weren’t hurt, or were in charge of what happened.  For them, acknowledging victimization means admitting they’re weak or “not male.”

A Step to Help & Healing
To ensure the children around you are able to share any abuse that may have taken place, it is necessary to create an atmosphere of openness.  If you are a parent, always have age-appropriate discussions on sexual abuse, leaving an open door policy.  Also, make sure you do not ignore conversations about “someone touched me” while paying attention to any of the signs mentioned above.

If you suspect Sexual Abuse or have been abused, please report to the Police.  After reporting the abuse to the Police, find a Licensed Therapist to initiate the healing from the Sexual Abuse in order to reduce the potential of the abused from becoming the abuser.

80% of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes –14 times the average. – Justice & Behavior, Vol 14.

Happy to help.

For a Licensed Therapist go to www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists or if you have any questions feel free to email TFGF Admin at info@tfgf.org