Marriage Advice on How To Make Love Last

A good marriage isn’t something you find. You have to make it great, and then you have to keep making it that way. Most people stop working on their marriage right after the honeymoon is over. They get bogged down in work, kids, mortgages, and all the trials of life. If you don’t stay focused on then intimacy in marriage, you will lose it. Here are a few tips to help you keep the flame of love and happiness lit:

Show Them Respect

Every healthy relationship must include respect. Without it, you are doomed to fail. When your partner wants to speak with you, take the time to do so. Don’t mock their words or belittle them in any way. By showing your significant other that you value their thoughts, feelings, time and effort, you will let them know you respect them.

The opposite of respect is contempt or criticism. That is poison to the relationship and part of the “Four Horseman” of the final days of marriage. The other two destructive forces in marriage are stonewalling and defensiveness. These latter two “horseman” refer to emotionally shutting down and overly protecting oneself.

John Gottman, marriage researcher and author states: “Successful long-term relationships are created through small words, small gestures, and small acts.”

Give Them Priority

Your partner may not always be your number one priority, especially if you had children before you entered the relationship or have another situation that demands a lot of your time. If your partner is always last on your list, though, there will be trouble. Giving your partner at least some priority shows them that you value them.

Marriage needs balance to succeed. After work and kids are gone, couples end up with nothing. Put some time into one another, through date nights, talking after the kids go to bed, enjoying hobbies or activities together, reading, etc. What you do isn’t as important as the fact that you are doing things together.

Have Fun Together

Make time to laugh together. Plan fun activities and do new things together so that you can always remember the experience. Making memories builds bonds. This will give you and your partner good feelings when thinking about one another, because of the great times you have when you are with each other. Fun can involve the children too. Watch funny movies, tell jokes, ask about the highs and lows of the day so marriage and family intimacy deepens.

Have Fun and Show Appreciation to each other!

Learn with Them

Take a class together, or embark on learning a new hobby as a duo. When you stretch your brains in regards to the same subject, it gives you something to talk about. When a couple feels like they are challenging each other and helping each other to become their best, it brings strength to the relationship.

If you are struggling in some area of your relationship this is an excellent topic to read a book on or attend a course. There are thousands of YouTube videos and podcasts. Listen to one on the way to the store or off to visits grandparents. You might discover that one magic idea that causes your relationship to soar.

It has been said that the “capacity to learn is a gift, the ability to learn is a skill, the willingness to learn is a choice” (Brian Herbert).

Maintain Your Individuality

Although time as a unit is important, don’t do absolutely everything together. Give yourself the opportunity to grow your other friendships and hobbies. When you do this, it gives you a break so that you can appreciate each other when you are together, and it also gives you something to talk about.

Women are more likely to connect with friends than men. Developing relationship as a couple and then branching out or reaching out might be something men can work on. Getting involved in men’s groups or sports can be an excellent outlet for men as well.

Express Your Appreciation

Let your partner know that you are grateful for them and who they are. When they have made sacrifices to do something kind for you, write them a thank you card or cook them their favorite meal. Showing your thankfulness and appreciation never goes out of style. The opposite could also be true: Stop showing appreciation for others and they might stop doing the things we appreciate!

Be Creative in Showing Your Love

Say “I love you” to your partner, but don’t stop there. Get creative in the ways that you show your love. Demonstrate it by using your own personal talents through actions such as writing them a poem, making their favourite dessert or composing a song for them. Plan a relaxing vacation weekend or even a one-on-one movie night together at home. It doesn’t take a lot of money to demonstrate that you love your partner.

Gary Chapman wrote a popular book: “The 5 Love Languages”. It outlines how everyone feels most loved in unique ways. We tend to show love in the ways we like to feel loved versus loving them in their own way.

Learn each other’s love language!

The 5 Love Languages include: Words of appreciation, physical touch, gifts, acts of service, and quality time. It is possible to have more than one but learning your partners special way of feeling loved is an act of love in itself. Try taking the online quiz to learn with your spouse at https://www.5lovelanguages.com/quizzes/love-language

If you would like more help learning how to make love last, consider talking with Ron Huxley for online couples counseling today.

Conflictual coparenting is under an illusion

conflictual divorce and coparenting

Conflictual coparenting acts like it is a form of competition but that is an illusion. High levels of conflict has no winners, only losers! Parents fight to one up each other or get revenge for past hurts and this includes the children.

Most mediators, myself included, want parents to put the “best interests of the child” first but this is difficult for parents to do when consumed by anger and resentments. The costs are high, and not just financially with on-going court costs. The emotional costs are high for everyone. Research is clear that children who go through long-term, conflictual divorce, are negatively impacted. There is the risk that children will have severe mental health issues into adulthood.

The legal definition of the “best interests of the child” is about who the child belongs to…the psychological definition of the “best interests of the child” is who belongs to the child. There is a big difference between these two definitions but they don’t have to be mutually exclusive of each other. Setting boundaries, using strength-based language, and keeping the needs of the child paramount will help a true cooperative parenting process.

The best way for parents to reduce conflict is to learn to manage themselves. Keeping the focus on personal healing and not on how the other parent should act or be. Managing ourselves is the only guarantee that we can have of making the coparenting relationship healthy.

Get more support and help with your coparenting conflict with a session with Ron Huxley today.

Parental Alienation in Modern-Day Divorce

Parental alienation is a controversial diagnosis but a common concern in modern-day divorce. Psychology and legal professions disagree on using the term Parental Alienation. Still, both fields recognize the harm that parents can do to one another and their children in a high-conflict divorce.

What is parental alienation, and why is it so controversial? According to Wikipedia, parental alienation “describes a process through which a child becomes estranged from a parent due to the psychological manipulation of another parent. The child’s estrangement may manifest itself as fear, disrespect, or hostility toward the distant parent and may extend to additional relatives or parties.”

The controversy involves whether this action is a form of child abuse, family violence, or a criminal act. It should not be used as a formal diagnosis and may not be allowable in a legal court battle. However, it is useful to know the behavioral characteristics of a parent or child to navigate this painful reality of modern-day divorce.

“The theory of parental alienation has been asserted within legal proceedings as a basis for awarding custody to a parent who alleges estrangement, or to modify custody in favor of that parent. Courts have generally rejected parental alienation as a valid scientific theory. Still, some courts have allowed the concept to be argued as relevant to determining the child’s best interest when making a custody determination. Legal professionals recognize that alienating behaviors are common in child custody cases, but are cautious about accepting the concept of parental alienation.” (Wikipedia)

Parental alienation places the child in a “loyalty bind” where they must choose between parents. To resolve this inner conflict, they will start to prefer one parent over the other. They may refuse to go with the non-preferred parents when it is their time for custody, and they may make false claims or accusations against the non-preferred parent.

One reason for alienation and loyalty binds is to view what is in the “best interest” from a legal vs. a psychological perspective. From a legal view, child custody is determined by “who the child belongs to” vs. a psychological view of “who belongs to the child.”

This is not merely semantics. Many people could belong to the child’s emotional security. The legal viewpoint is rigid and creates one winner and multiple losers in the custody situation.

In high-conflict divorce situations where alienation may occur, all family members can engage professional support and guidance. Family therapists and mediators can be essential to reduce estrangement and manipulation and set a straightforward course of behaviors to prevent harm to children and their parents.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parental_alienation#:~:text=Parental%20alienation%20describes%20a%20process,to%20additional%20relatives%20or%20parties.

The Summertime Parent

While most children were anxiously waiting for the school year to end, Jonathan was simply anxious. Although most boys loved traveling across the country during vacation, Jonathan dreaded the annual trek to see his father. It wasn’t that he didn’t love his father or enjoy being with him. It was the children from his father’s new marriage that he didn’t like. He felt like he was no longer his father’s son and that his dad loved them more than him. To top it off, he wouldn’t get to see his friends or his mother for almost ten weeks.


Jonathan’s parents had divorced, and his father had moved to another state. He only saw his father during Christmas and summer vacations. His father would send birthday cards and occasional letters, and with the invention of email, he could type off a quick note anytime he or his dad wanted. But that didn’t make the situation easier for him. In some ways, it only made a hard situation harder.

It was no summer picnic for Jonathan’s father either. Instead of feeling excitement about seeing his son, he felt anger and resentment that was often channeled toward his ex-wife whom he blamed for the custody arrangements. “I never realized how hard divorce could be,” exclaimed Jonathan’s father, “and getting remarried has only made it worse. Now I am stuck in the middle of two sets of frustrated families.”

Wounds of Divorce
Regardless of the reasons, divorce hurts! Any separation between two connected people will cause emotional wounds when pulled apart. Like any wound, the traumatized area must be cleaned and cared for if healing is going to be possible. The more dirt slung between divorced parents, through verbal and physical fights or nasty legal battles, the more infection in the relationship between parent and child will develop.


Jonathan’s father moved across the country because of a great job offer…or at least, that was what he told everyone. The job was great, but the real reason was that he couldn’t get along with Jonathan’s mother and just needed to leave and start over again. Unfortunately, that left Jonathan behind. “In retrospect, I would have stayed, regardless of the situation,” admits Jonathan’s father. “At the time, the hurt was too much to stand. I didn’t want the divorce, and his mother’s new boyfriend was just salt in the wound. Rather than continue to argue and waste money on lawyers, I decided to leave.”


Parents who have a long-distance relationship must address the wounds of divorce. Cleaning out a wound is painful but necessary. Similarly, letting go of old hurts and memories is important for healing and growth. Jonathan relates that his first summer with his dad in his new home was fun: “We went out to eat, the movies, miniature golf, and then my dad started pumping me for information on my mom and her boyfriend, when I just wanted to be with my dad.”

When parents do not deal with their own issues, children suffer all over again and their wounds are not allowed to heal. “Summer time parents” need to take care of themselves throughout the entire year so that they can enjoy the time with their children. Parents can care for themselves by consulting with a professional, developing a strong network of friends, exercising regularly and eating right.

Reassurances and Permissions
Major changes are frightening to young children. The loss of a parent creates fears of loss of food and shelter, being forgotten, attacked, punished, or unloved. While this might seem irrational to a parent, it is a real concern for the child. Children need reassurances that these things will continue to
be in their lives and, most importantly, that they are loved. Don’t make promises that things will go back to the way they were or be just as good. That is one promise parents can’t deliver, and it breaks down a child’s trust. Simply offer a verbal hug of hopefulness that the future will be secure and safe. In addition to reassurance, children often need permission to let go of the guilt that attaches itself to living with the “school-year” parent and visiting the summer parent. Both parents need to tell the child that it is okay that he/she are going. Be honest about missing the child but save the wailing and cloth-ripping for another time and place.

Permission giving helps to untangle the loyalty binds that children get caught in after divorce. Don’t ask a lot of questions about the other parent and his/her life back home. If the child wants to talk, fine, but don’t start an investigation and definitely keep your opinion of the other parents life to
yourself. Children feel they are disloyal to one parent by staying with and loving another parent. This problem is rooted in the concrete thinking styles of school-aged children. It is a developmental issue that can’t be removed and everyone must learn to adjust.

Creative Communication
The key to being a successful summer parent is to have regular communication during the other months of the year. Because it is difficult for the parent who moves away to watch the child grow up, predictable and consistent communication in the form of phone calls, letters, postcards, e-mails, photos, and tape recordings can help. There are many social media tools and apps that can also be used.

Too many parents spend their time on the phone or in letters mourning the time they are apart or how much they miss the child. This re-traumatizes the child and makes the parent look pathetic. If it has to be said, say it one time and move on. Focus the discourse on what is going on in your and your child’s life. Make plans for the upcoming visit and discuss emotional issues important to the child. Stay away from morbid meanderings.

Make the communications short and newsworthy. A one page letter talking about how the dog ate your favorite shoe or describing a beautiful sunset will make a better connection between parent and child than a long, boring letter that lists every detail of the week. E-mail is also a great way to communicate as the medium itself is geared toward brief, informal notes, and the instantaneous nature of the format makes frequent communication practical.

Try alternative mediums. If the parent or the child is not a “letter writer,” try using a tape recording. Buy a compact recorder or use your phone and walk around for a day recording various activities and thoughts. Capture
the sounds of the dog eating your shoe or describe the sunset as you look out the back window. Buy a Polaroid camera and take pictures of the new house and neighborhood and send those (by e-mail or snail mail) to the child. Alternative forms of communication can add a little more color and life to dry words on paper and bring the child and parent closer together emotionally.

If you like creative ideas, do a project or play a game across the time zones. Read a sport article or watch a favorite television program and then discuss it later on the phone or by e-mail. Keep separate journals that are exchanged during the visits. Create an online web page with both parent and child as co-webmasters. Play a game of checkers (with two sets) and give the moves to each other during your communications.

Make up a “sharing box” where you put mementos and little treasures for the other person to look at and discuss when together. Start a garden or acquire an aquarium and get advice on what to plant and how to care for the fish from the other person. Creative ideas, such as these, foster family solidarity despite time and place. It makes the relationship feel real and alive and that is important to parent and child.

School Connections
Summer parents feel out of touch when it comes to the child’s life at school. Request to be put on the school’s mailing list or give the child’s teacher an e-mail address to update the distant parent on activities and progress. Many schools and teachers have web sites set up so parents can view their child’s itinerary and grades. Knowing what is going on at the child’s school allows parents to ask intelligent questions about upcoming field trips and school projects. The child will also feel that the parent cares about him or her. Parents can make similar connections with doctors, therapists, and coaches.
Jonathan and his father still miss each other, but their relationship has blossomed despite the distance. They are routing for the same baseball team and are working on a go-cart that Jonathan and his new siblings will race during the summer at a track near the father’s house. “I started taking
pictures of the engine as I dismantled it and I scan and send them out each week by e-mail to Jonathan. He told me last night that he has started a scrapbook with all the pictures in them. When he gets here, the go-cart should be all put together, and we can paint it together,” explains his father.

Geography doesn’t have to separate parents and children emotionally. Summer-time parents can keep the relationship alive during the school year so that they look forward to being together and can pick up where they left off. “Jonathan has excitement in his voice when we talk about our time together.That is the biggest gift I could ever receive!”

Co-Parenting Isn’t Working? Try Parallel Parenting.

parallel-parenting-500-x-250

Many divorced parents are frustrated about their co-parenting arrangements. No matter what they try to do to work things with their ex, all of their efforts end up in conflict. Co-parenting feels more like game where there are no winners.

In these situations, the best advice is “no contact is no conflict”. If it wasn’t for the shared children they would have no contact and then there would be no problem but since that isn’t the case how do you co-parent with no contact? The answer is Parallel Parenting!

The situation reminds me of small children who are learning to share. Before they develop the skills to play cooperatively, they engage in parallel play. Both types of play look alike but when you watch more closely you realize that they are in the same room, with similar toys, playing next to one another but they are not really playing together. They are quite disengaged. Eventually, development will help create the skills needed for cooperative play. In the case of high-conflict divorce, parents may have to let go of the more mature cooperative parenting and shift to parallel parenting.

Parallel parenting purposefully disengages from the conflictual partner and concentrates on connection with the child. It may involve one parent focusing on dealing with the child’s school and the other on their soccer games. While both parents need to agree on major decisions, they will differ on daily logistics about bedtime routines, acceptable television watching, choice of baby sisters, and church attendance. When the daily heat can be turned down between parents, it makes the bigger decisions easier to navigate.

Parallel parenting protects the children. Research clearly demonstrates that high-conflict divorce results in higher rates of behavioral disturbances and mental illness later in life. More commonly, when a child tries to have a positive relationship with both parents who do not have a positive relationship with each other, they experience a “loyalty bind.” When the child is with parent A, he misses parent B. The child might even feel that he is being disloyal to parent B when he is with parent A and vice versa. This is easily intensified by parents who talk negatively about the other parent in front of the child. It can also occur when one parent acts like a victim causing the child to worry about them. Another way is leaning on your child for moral support and treating the child like the co-parent instead of a child.

It is a delicate balance to parallel parent and break down loyalty binds. A parents natural inclination is to protect their child and if they believe the other parent is harmful then…

The truth is that both parents are important to the child. To really protect them and find some sanity in the relationship, try using alternative methods to communication than face-to-face, like email or a notebook. Keep the wording factual about the child’s health, sleeping patterns, school events, weekend schedules, medical care, etc. Request separate school notices or records. Avoid showing up at the same events without prior knowledge. When you do end up at the same event, make a huge effort to demonstrate working together. You might actually find you can do it all the time!

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Keeping Love Alive Loving Through Difficult Times

By Ron Huxley, LMFT

How we love family members during the emotional distances and dark shadows of our relationships determine the long-term quality of those relationships. All relationships have ups and downs and our ability to ride out the extremes is challenging but a normal process of loving others. At the heart of the dark moments, we want to abandon the roller coaster ride for the firm safety of the ground. Our inner brains want us to fight or flee or if both of these options fail us, to freeze internal emotional reality. How do we overcome the turbulence and deep disconnect for the long haul?

One truth is to develop our identity and remind ourselves that relationship in not contained in the ups and downs but over the entire course of life. Look for the long tail of relationships and how to keep a spark alive even if it just nurture by you and not the other. The fight or flight mechanism of the brain wants us to rush our actions or re-actions when we really need to do in these crucibles is slow down and evaluate our choices. My best advice to families in the middle of chaos is to slow down but that is one of the hardest things to do. Many fail in the attempt.

A lot of my therapeutic work is with adoptive families. Many times the early life trauma results in an out-of-control teenager that ultimately forces the parent to consider residential care. They believe they have failed as parents and the relationship feels like it has ended. The truth is that relationship trumps residence. Your connection is stretchier than you thought. You may have to make a decision to create distance to ensure safety but you are not letting go of the relationship. You are protecting it and that is very different.

Because we like “up” moments filled with laughter and hugs and emotional closeness and hate the “down” moments with its harsh words, self-pity, victimization, and loneliness, we can start a rocking motion that swings faster and faster between the ups and downs. Pushing on one side and then the other increases chaos that throws everyone off the see-saw entirely.

When I work with bitter couples, hurt by infidelity and emotional rejection, I ask them to step off the see-saw, remember what attracted them to each other, the values they used to believe and to forgive one another. Too many nurture the wound and do not receive the healing. It is difficult to forgive but unforgiveness is like a poison that kills the heart of the relationship. It doesn’t say what was done was acceptable or that I will “forget and forgive”. You do not forget but you must forgive to allow life to start up again. From here we rebuild new creations that last.

Give up the illusion of control. You cannot control anyone else. You only have 100%, guaranteed results with yourself. You must manage you. Controlling your reactions is what allow the extreme ups and downs to settle and become smooth again. Take 5 to keep your relationship alive and pause to consider your best long-term actions. Take 10 and then reconsider again. If you need to make a hard, drastic decision, it is better to take the time to think it through completely vs. carrying a weight of regret.

Identity is the most important ingredient in loving through the distance.  Victim-minded people seek their identity through others instead of operation from a place of a sense of self. If I need you in order to be me and you are the source of my hurt and pain, then I cannot manage me that doesn’t exist. I cannot sustain a relationship that is one-sided. Start a journey of knowing yourself and your needs and your drives and your desires to deal with others in the distant relationships. Operating FROM a place of identity allows you to remain you even if others reject you. A simple starting place is journaling or talking to a therapist.

A final truth is that love is unconditional. It doesn’t have to agree with the other person’s actions or allow it to continue damaging the family but it doesn’t have to turn off. It can continue from a safer distant to provide an opportunity to bring it into closer intimacy. We don’t turn off love when others don’t do what we want. That is false power. Real power says I can set a boundary and I can exist without you but I choose to continue to love you. If you do not choose the same than I will remain me and love myself and others too.

Parenting Through the Tough Times

By Ron Huxley, LMFT

No one likes to go through tough times. Everyone would prefer to avoid extreme challenges and painful relationship encounter but we all go through them. How we endure them reveals what we are a really made of…Difficult situations reveal our parenting character and attitudes quicker than anything else in life. 

Attachment researchers call this “rupture and repair”. A rupture can be anything from a minor disagreement to a child stealing or running away to a major incident like a death or divorce. All families have them but how do they discover how to repair? It is the ruptures that tear down old strategies that didn’t support healthy communication and connection. Ruptures quickly remove strongholds in our relationships that prevent us from having the family of our dreams. This can be considered a good thing. It doesn’t feel good but it provides an opportunity to redefine our relationships. 

One way that families repair is they break agreements with lies they have believed about themselves and their family. These are often dysfunctional beliefs learned early in life that served to protect us from painful rejections and taught us our to get needs met even if it was distorted and manipulative. Fortunately, if we learned dysfunctional and distorted ways to navigate safely in relationships, we can learn new ideas and adopt healthier beliefs about how to have intimacy and connection. Most parents never stop to reflect during rough times to discover these new truths. 

Take a moment to ask yourself what did I learn about myself and my relationship during this most recent crisis? What was identified that needs to change and what am I willing to do to change it? Are you going to keep doing what didn’t work so well in the past and lead to this recent moment of pain or are you going to find a new thought and a new truth? 

Imagine you are taking a helicopter ride straight up, about a mile high, and look back down at your situation. What do you notice that you didn’t see before being so close to the circumstance? What details stand out to your now and what new directions do you need to get yourself and your family unstuck? You don’t have to know all the steps just yet. What is the first step that you feel you need to take right now to get healthier. 

The other way that successful families met tough times is to not blame one another. Even if someone else created a mess, they look at themselves to determine what messes are on their side of the street that they need to clean up. They stand on the principle of “the problem is the problem. The person is not the problem.” It can take a lot of emotional strength to stand on that thought but the truth is that you cannot change anyone, even a small child. You have to clean up your messes and your can model/teach your child how to clean up their messes. Guiding children, not controlling children is the real goal of parenting. 

Learn more power parenting tools with Ron Huxley’s parenting book: 

Love and Limits: Achieving a Balance in Parenting

Parenting and the Serenity Prayer: Acceptance and the Peaceful Home

By Ron Huxley, LMFT

If parenting could be summed up in a prayer, that prayer might be the “Serenity Prayer”:

Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

This is part two of a 5 part series exploring the essential points of this prayer and how it can help parents find grace and peace in their family relationships.

Acceptance and the Peaceful Home:

Finding serenity in our lives is a matter of achieving balance. This balance can be precarious at times as parents deal with the many stressors of work and family life. Parents might look to outside sources for this place of peace. They might even hold others responsible for upsetting that peace, blaming them for the hurts and rejections they might have caused in themselves and their home. The cause of this imbalance might include drugs, alcohol, affairs, gambling and many other vices. It can also come from non-malicious sources that we don’t have control over, including job loss, divorce, death, illness, etc.

In order to create lasting peace in the home, we have to look inward to our values and beliefs. Parents can identify a “value system” that keeps them focused and motivated despite all the outside trials and tribulations. These beliefs will guide parents behaviors, help them make choices, and keep them intentional in their efforts to support one another.

The deepest beliefs come from our identity about what it means to be a good or bad parent. It is hard to create peace if we feel like a bad parent. We will try to avoid doing what we feel a “bad parent” would do and work to do what we belief a “good parent” should be doing. Of course, this isn’t always as easy as it sounds. This often occurs because parents belief that being good is the same as perfect. They hold themselves and their family members to a standard that is impossible to maintain. When they fail and fail they will, they think they are now a bad parent.

The reality is that there is no such things as a perfect parent or a perfect child. It is important to have the courage to be an imperfect parent who raise imperfect children and can still love one another through our mistakes. This road of unconditional love and imperfect relationships will require a constant review of our values and a lot of forgiveness, of ourselves and our family members.

Divorce and Parental Alienation

Parental alienation syndrome (abbreviated as PAS) is a term coined by Richard A. Gardner in the early 1980s to refer to what he describes as a disorder in which a child, on an ongoing basis, belittles and insults one parent without justification, due to a combination of factors, including indoctrination by the other parent (almost exclusively as part of a child custody dispute) and the child’s own attempts to denigrate the target parent.[1] Gardner introduced the term in a 1985 paper, describing a cluster of symptoms he had observed during the early 1980s.[1]

Parental alienation syndrome is not recognized as a disorder by the medical or legal communities and Gardner’s theory and related research have been extensively criticized by legal and mental health scholars for lacking scientific validity and reliability.[2][3][4][5][6] However, the separate but related concept of parental alienation, the estrangement of a child from a parent, is recognized as a dynamic in some divorcing families.[2][7][8] Psychologists differentiate between parental alienation and parental alienation syndrome by linking parental alienation with behaviors or symptoms of the parents, while parental alienation syndrome is linked to hatred and vilification of a targeted parent by the child.[9]

The admissibility of PAS has been rejected by an expert review panel and the Court of Appeal of England and Wales in the United Kingdom and Canada’s Department of Justice recommends against its use. PAS has appeared in some family court disputes in the United States.[10][11] Gardner portrayed PAS as well accepted by the judiciary and having set a variety of precedents, but legal analysis of the actual cases indicates this claim was incorrect.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parental_alienation_syndrome

In Defense of “Broken Families”

By Ron Huxley, LMFT

I have been noticing this term “broken families” pop up a lot recently in various professional writings and parent blogs. Each time I read it, I shudder. The underlying connotation is that a family that has undergone a divorce, death, adoption, abuse, etc. is somehow broken and unrepairable. It is a fatal diagnosis that leaves families without hope. I know, I know, it’s just language but words do have power. They percolate in the brain and become belief systems and self identifying references. The more we hear the word, the more we start to belive them and then we start to give up.

When someone witnesses a teenager with substance abuse issues, for example, people will comment: “You know they come from a broken family”. Everyone who goes through foster care, adoption, or experiences a divorce is going to have mental issues, right? Wrong. Many families deal with teenage substance abuse, not just nontraditional families. While it is possible that children of divorce may act out in antisocial ways, this doesn’t mean that all children of divorce will have issues in life that impair them. The same is true for adopted children or someone in a foster home or raised by a grandparent.

I am not denying that families do suffer from going through experiences like divorce or death or adoption. Loss is central to each of these things but that should not be a life-sentence resulting in mental and relational problems. Life is full of suffering. The focus here needs to be on how to help others cope. How can we learn from those who survive and thrive and teach it to everyone. I take affront at these comments and attitudes because they assume a dark, gloomy fate just because they have undergone a loss. That is just one path.

A recent national study on foster care and adoption in the child welfare system listed that 48% of children, in the system, have significant behavior problems. At first glance, that feels devastating but what about the other 52% that don’t? Who studies them? What makes them more of a survivor, better able to cope, more reselient? Let’s see those studies. Perhaps we could learn some useful tools to help us build strong families.

My challenge is too guard our language. This means we have to closely guard the thoughts that produce them too. We have to start looking at loss for what it is, a painful experience and not as destiny. To counter these negative connotations, try identifying the strengths of families and individuals in them. What have they done well that we can build upon? What new words can we use to describe them and assume their inevitable success in life?