Parentectomy: A narrative ethnography of 30 cases of parental alienation and what to do about it
by Christine Giancarlo
When parents separate and divorce, kids come last in family law. Should children's welfare be measured in "billable hours"? Christine Giancarlo thinks kids come first and need both parents. Parentectomy moves us toward that goal... for the sake of the children.
Based on Dr. Giancarlo's peer-reviewed research study, Kids Come Last: The Effect of Family Law Involvement in Parental Alienation, this book tells, in their own voices, the stories of thirty loving, capable and dependable parents who, nonetheless, were removed from their children's lives. It is also the author's own journey through the devastation caused by parental alienation.
This book sheds light on an urgent social crisis, enabled by a broken family law system. An equitable and just model for eliminating this form of child abuse is proposed with an urgent plea for its implementation.
I have two children: a daughter, now 20 and a son who’s 16. My wife and I separated in 2003 after many unhappy years trying to make our marriage work. We were able to sort our finances rather quickly, but I can’t say it was ever amicable. We also made a verbal shared-parenting agreement. The kids would spend one week with their mom and the next with me and so on. I bought a house only a block away from my ex-wife in order to make the logistics easier on our kids. For the first three or four months, the kids did go back and forth as we had agreed. But “mom” made it clear to the kids and me that she was the primary caregiver and could change the terms of parenting as she “thought necessary”. She proceeded to make co-parenting as difficult as possible.
Sometimes she would deny my daughter her thyroid medication by “forgetting” to put the pills in our daughter’s suitcase. When I would call mom to ask about them, she would say it was up to me to come get the pills. In a couple of instances mom was out of town and had not sent along my daughter’s meds. I had to go to the drugstore and beg the pharmacist for a couple of pills to get her through the weekend. Mom told the kids that clothes and toys at her house stayed at her house, so they were not allowed to bring things to my house. She would insist that my daughter go back to her (mom’s) place in the morning and dress there for school. So the things that were important to my children she made difficult; it was unreal. My daughter was then eleven and my son eight. After these early months, I got a letter saying that I was being taken to court to resolve the custody issue.
Legal involvement started with my receiving notice that I was to attend a DRO (Dispute Resolution Office) meeting, which was apparently a pilot project. I was told my ex and I had been selected to attend to see if we could resolve our issues there. I agreed, thinking we certainly needed some help to smooth the co-parenting situation. We had not even been involved with lawyers yet, so it was unclear to me how we were chosen to participate in the DRO. The officer was “snarky” and no help at all. She suggested we hire (we each paid half the cost) a mediator named Larry Fung and were told he was one of the best. He supposedly also travels all over to train mediators.
Well it was a bad idea.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Christine Giancarlo is an applied anthropologist at Mount Royal University since 1992. She holds a Ph.D. in Human Services from Capella University, Minnesota, and an M.A. in Primatology from the University of Calgary, Alberta. Growing up with two loving parents, four brothers and being blessed with her own children, Devon and Carmen, inform her holistic perspective on the family. Christine resides in Calgary with her partner, Bert, and their dog, Gavin.
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