Don’t make dad the enemy

It’s no secret, nor surprise, that many black men and women have relationship issues. Many women view the men as being irresponsible, cheating dogs, while the men pronounce the women to be angry, demanding and unreasonable.

These attitudes are reflected in some disturbing statistics and trends for women and men of color. The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies reports that by the age of 30, 81 percent of white women and 77 percent of Hispanics and Asians will marry, but that only 52 percent of black women will marry by that same age.

The rate of single-parent families is also very high. Black social scientists assert that many of the relationship issues between black men and women have been created by the multiple traumas of slavery, racism and poverty.

Because many of these black single parent homes are led by mothers, it is understandable that they often feel overwhelmed and alone in raising their children. Therefore it becomes very easy, either consciously or unconsciously for them to verbalize their anger and frustration into negative talk about the dads in front of the kids, leaving them looking like uncaring deadbeats. The result: kids who become ambivalent about or even worse, hate their fathers.

This is the essence of parental alienation, a character assassination of the non-custodial parent to the point that he now becomes the “enemy.” In turn, the parenting partnership further dissolves into chaos and the mental health of the kids deteriorate because of this very destructive and toxic family environment. In other words, it becomes bad news for everyone involved, but especially for the kids. That is why parental alienation must be prevented or if present, addressed and resolved.

The good news is that there are tried and true steps that mom and dad can take to avoid or end parental alienation:

1. Mothers must understand and acknowledge that parental alienation may be a sweet revenge or even innocent venting, but it will eventually hurt not just dad, but irreparably harm the psyche of the kids.

2. Mom and dad must come to an agreement or truce that if they do not get along they will not use the children as weapons or pawns against one another.

3. Parents must avoid children becoming their confidantes and allies in parental conflicts. This is strictly adult business.

4. A golden rule; mothers and fathers must refrain from any negative comments about one another, especially around the kids.

5. If mom is engaged in the practice of alienation, dad must not fight back dirty, but instead take the high road and consistently, professionally and politely address her statements and behaviors. This will eventually de-escalate the conflict with mom and also show the kids that, contrary to the propaganda, dad is not the evil, uncaring parent.

Finally, dads, “where there’s smoke there’s fire.” If mom is often angry with you, perhaps you should do some soul searching. Address her issues and see where you can step up and take more responsibility for your behavior.

Perhaps you do need to be a more involved parent and help lessen her load. At the very least practice more acts of kindness in helping mom with the tremendous responsibility of being the custodial parent. The old saying is true; you do catch more bees with honey!

Happy Fathers Day!