When Missy and Sam’s breakup began, Sam’s first conversation with his attorney focused on how he could safeguard his relationship with his son. Sam’s lawyer advised him to stay in the house so Missy couldn’t claim abandonment (she did anyway). During this time of traumatic coexistence in their house, Missy screamed at Sam when baby Zack called for his Daddy, “I’m going to blindfold him so he can’t see you.” This threat has been methodically executed for ten years.
After almost a month of contact denial at “his choice,” approved by his mom, Zack agreed to go golfing on June 21 with his dad, Sam, only if Sam agreed to take Zack to his mom’s house immediately after. Sam informed both 12 year old Zack and Missy that he intended to follow the parenting schedule which has Zack with Sam for the entire week of June 19-23. Sam said if Zack wanted to leave his dad’s house against the schedule, Missy would have to pick him up. Zack countered he would not golf with his dad if Sam would not agree to take him to Missy’s. Missy said she WOULD come get Zack, but she thought Sam would “use it against her.”
As with Mother’s Day, Father’s Day is a parent-specific holiday, so if schedules allow, children should spend the day with the fathers in their life (Dads, Grandpas, Uncles, etc). If Dad’s parenting time already falls on Father’s Day, there won’t be much to coordinate in terms of custody; if custody time does not fall conveniently on this day, try to make it happen, if possible. Be specific when communicating about tentative plans, and do not muddle the discussion among other issues or requests. Father’s Day is more than just Dad’s holiday, as kids value having special time with Dad.
After weeks of contact denial, Zack agreed to be with Sam for Father’s Day. Missy continues to empower 12 year old Zack to do all the communicating and decision-making. Plans include seeing Grandpa Baker for lunch (Sam’s dad) and having dinner with Grandma Baker to celebrate the day for Sam. When Sam asked Zack about coming back to his dad’s house for a movie after dinner, Zack said he needed to return to his mom’s to celebrate with his stepfather. On the Missy-created summer custody schedule, Sam’s parenting time includes Friday, June 16 (Father’s Day weekend) through Thursday, June 22. Zack returning to her house is a violation of the schedule and a shameful shot at Sam. Zack has always spent Father’s Day with Sam, just as he has always spent Mother’s Day with Missy. Based on her pattern of behavior, Missy would never allow Zack to spend time with his stepmom or his paternal grandmother on HER day.
…[A] parent’s nonverbal communications can play a significant role in soothing a young child. Parents should be aware that hostile or tense physical communications and facial expressions used during transitions can heighten anxiousness in a young child.
Zack has always been anxious during transitions. Based on divorced-parents guidebooks and advice from other families, Sam prepared Zack for a switch calmly and matter-of-factly. Sam said yes when Zack asked if he could take a toy or other item to his mom’s, even though she historically did not allow it when she saw Zack carrying something toward her house. Sam and Missy had numerous conversations about Zack’s behavior during house-switches. Missy consistently reported that Zack would sob and say he didn’t want to go when he knew it was time to go to Sam’s. Sam told Missy that Zack was always fine as soon as they left her house. Often before they even turned off her street, Zack would be singing or laughing or asking if they were going to go to a park or going to see Grandma. Missy did not believe Sam and told him it was clear by Zack’s behavior that he did not want to go to his dad’s house. Sam explained to Missy his approach to Zack’s transitions, stressing that he tried to get Zack to understand that he has two equally important and loving homes. Missy told Sam, “I know you like to think that.”
Although there may be times that your child would rather not visit the other parent, if this visitation is ordered by the court, it is not optional. A shared parenting plan is a legal agreement and must be complied with.
If you are the custodial parent, you are responsible for seeing that your child visits the other parent. If you don’t, you may have to answer the court. Courts tend not to look favorably on parents who limit their child’s time with the other parent, even if it is something that the child themselves has requested.
12 year old Zack, with Missy’s approval, continues to choose not to be with Sam. Sam will continue to show up on the dates he is scheduled to be with Zack.
Symptom of PAS #3. Refusing to acknowledge that children have property and may want to transport their possessions between residences.
Zack was not allowed to bring his favorite blankets or other clothes and toys to Sam’s house. If Zack brought a toy from Sam’s house to Missy’s, she told Zack to leave it in the car. When Zack was very young, 3 or 4, he would change into new clothes from his dresser at his dad’s as soon as he got to the apartment.
Around this same time, Missy forbade Sam to wash Zack’s clothes. She wanted them sent back to her house in a bag with Zack when he switched houses. Zack was ordered by Missy just last month to return specific clothes to her house from Sam’s.
“Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned/Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.”
From the poem “The Mourning Bride” by William Congreve
Studies show that women bully differently. Research also indicates that one tactic in ugly custody battles is falsely alleging abuse.
Zack was with his dad, Sam, at Sam’s parents’ house. Missy and her parents, the Smiths, came to pick up Zack. Sam and his mom watched them leave from an upstairs window. As soon as Zack was inside the car, Missy and the Smiths stripped him and examined his little body, presumably to look for bruises. There weren’t any. But if they would have found some? Would they have been GLAD? Glad to be able to shout that accusation at Sam? But wait, that would mean Zack had been HURT. But they would be happy because they would “win?”
The pattern begins.