Children of Warring Parents Descend Into Hellish Worlds
Guest Author, Anne Kass, - a retired District Judge of Albuquerque, New Mexico

In Dante's "The Divine Comedy," he created and described nine circles of hell.

I have identified four circles of hell--hell for the children of the warring parents.

In the first circle, we find two parents who are temporarily dysfunctional due to the stress, and trauma of the divorce. These parents need and respond to a little help and information about their destructiveness.

In the second circle, we find parents who suffer more severe dysfunctions. They need more intense therapy from mental health professionals.

If therapy is successful for these second-circle parents, they too can be successful as separate parents.

If the third circle, we find parents who are unwilling or unable to learn from therapy, and who do not stop the conflict. The only possibility for their children to survive the break-up is for them to learn coping skills through therapy.

Then there is the fourth circle of custody hell: parents who resist all the efforts of peacemakers. They refuse to participate in therapy themselves, and they subvert therapy for the children. They continue to harass one another in the courts, and they demean one another to the children. They are "hostility junkies," locked into anger.

Current research data reveal that in custody disputes between fourth-circle parents, the least destructive solution is often for the court to essentially eliminate one of the parents from the lives of the children.




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