Coparenting Sanity – Tips on Dealing with a Narcissist

There are, thankfully, a few things that you can do when co-parenting with a narcissist which will help to maintain your sanity. These are things that you can do to protect you and your children. You can’t change your ex, but you can change the way you react to and interact with them.

1. Disengage, disengage, disengage. The best thing you can do for yourself is to emotionally buffer yourself from your ex. Do what you can to ignore, pretend they don’t exist, focus on the good in your life which is unrelated to your ex.

2. Communicate as little as possible.Similar to item #1, communicate with the narcissistic parent only as you have to for the kids sake. Any communication should be business-style in nature and not react to anything that doesn’t require a reaction for your children’s sake. If an email comes in from him/her which has accusations and blaming, do not not address it. If in the middle of the email it says something about your needing to take little Joe to his soccer practice, then ignore all the rest of it and respond “I will take Joe to his soccer practice at 4pm this Saturday. Thanks.”

Do not worry about anything other than items which may be placing your children in danger. If they are stuffed with junkfood all weekend while they are at the other parent’s, then feed them healthy when they are with you and explain how important it is for their well being. In the grand scheme of things, this is a very minor issue.

3. Remember that a narcissist projects. “Projecting” is common with narcissist personality disorder. A narcissist is suffering from the fact that there is a lot about their personality and self which is ‘unlikeable’. They can’t see those pieces consciously, but they know it subconsciously. In order to cope, they will project these unacceptable portions of themselves onto you. I understand it can be hard to hear negative, bashing comments about you and not react. This is one way to help you do that – remember that they are projecting. When your ex says “All you ever do is stuff the kids with junk food. You’re fat and unattractive and no one will ever want to be with you.” Immediately change it so that what you hear is “I am stuffing our children with junk food. I’m terrified that I am fat, unattractive and no one will want me.” It is somuch easier to ignore this way, and an essential component of following rule #1.

4. Don’t take to heart any threats, accusations or blatant lies about you. Remember rule #3, they project. Also remember that a narcissist needs, needs connection with you – even if it is negative connection. So he will escalate what he says and change what he says / does over and over again to get a reaction from you. In my life, the only thing that would get a reaction from me was stuff about our children, particularly threats to try to get custody. He knows this, and I guarantee you that this is a paramount reason why he takes our children for visitation (note – he probably also takes them because they give him narcissistic supply, and he is taking identity from them by associating himself as a father. Otherwise, he would be alone and that would be horribly frightening.)

5. Do not deviate from the schedule. Narcissists have difficulty with change, since they have no core sense of self, they use their environment to regulate how they feel. When the environment changes, they feel frantic. I can remember hearing “why are you doing this to me??” when I asked to make one small change to the schedule because a family member was ill. It took a long time until that sentence made sense for me. This rule also helps with #2 – communicate as little as possible. If the schedule is always the schedule, then there isn’t any reason to communicate.

6. You don’t need to bear the brunt of the emotion for your children. Yes, your narcissistic ex is going to dress up your children and use them to portray an image about himself. NPD people see their children as ‘an extension of themselves’, so it’s necessary for them to make sure they match the identity that they are creating. I don’t even recognize my kids if he dresses them, and they don’t recognize themselves. They resent that he does this to them and won’t listen to their preferences. This is their journey in life, not yours. This is where you have to take a step back and remember that there’s something they need to learn in life – just like we all do, and that perhaps dealing with a narcissistic parent is the journey and lesson that they have on tap for them. They will be stronger individuals than we grew up to be, because they will be learning this all first hand as young children. Again – as long as they are not in danger, you can work with them to help minimize the emotional impact. I may not yet have all the answers on how to do this, but I certainly think that there are some things which can be done.

7. Boundaries. Do what you can to draw clear boundaries with your ex. Boundaries are the end of me and the beginning of you. They are things that you can basically take for granted with a normal person, but you can’t with a personality disordered individual. Time is a boundary – if I’m supposed to meet you at 2 p.m. but I’m consistently late, I’m being disrespectful about your schedule, which is your boundary. When you were married, your ex probably insisted that you spend a lot of time with him, or at least available when he needed you. My ex used to say to me that I needed to do everything that I wanted in life during my work hours, because all the time outside of work needed to be spent with him. (ha! I laughed… then I realized he meant it… and I ran). What you like, dislike, believe in, stand for, need to do, friends you want to be with, where you live, your stuff – these are all part of what makes you who you are. Personality disordered individuals have poor boundaries. They have a hard time relating to others, understanding what’s appropriate, respecting other’s stuff, space, time. You may have not realized you were prime for issues like this, because perhaps you never had someone consistently defy your boundaries. It may be difficult to set boundaries with your ex because you need to understand and learn them first. Additionally, your ex will not like the boundaries you set. It will feel uncomfortable to them to have you draw those lines. You are not responsible for how they feel when you set boundaries which define what’s acceptable to you. If they have a temper tantrum, it’s ok… let them.



What to Do When Co-Parenting Doesn’t Work

What to Do When Co-Parenting Doesn’t Work

In a good-enough divorce, exes work through feelings of anger, betrayal and loss and arrive at a place of acceptance. Frustrations over the other parent’s values and choices are contained and pushed aside, making space for the Holy Grail of post-divorce life: effective co-parenting.

Co-parenting is possible only when both exes support their children’s need to have a relationship with the other parent and respect that parent’s right to have a healthy relationship with the children.

But some people never get to acceptance. They become, essentially, addicted to anger. They convince themselves that the other parent is incompetent, mentally ill, or dangerous. They transmit this conviction directly or indirectly not only to the children, but also to school staff, mental health professionals and anyone who will listen.

High-conflict exes are on a mission to invalidate the other parent. No therapist, mediator, parenting class, or Gandhi-esque channeling will make an anger-addicted ex take off the gloves and agree to co-parent.

If this scenario feels familiar, and you are wondering how you’re going to survive raising kids with your high-conflict ex without losing every last one of your marbles, I offer you this counterintuitive suggestion: Stop trying to co-parent!

Try Parallel Parenting instead.

What is Parallel Parenting?

Parallel Parenting is radical acceptance. It means letting go of fighting reality. Divorce is terrible enough, but to have a divorce that is so hellish as to make co-parenting impossible is another kind of terrible altogether.

It’s helpful to conceptualize Parallel Parenting as an approach many Alcoholics Anonymous folks use when dealing with the addict in their lives: they stop going to the hardware store looking for milk. Why are you trying to have a reasonable conversation with someone who isn’t reasonable, at least with you? Stop expecting reciprocity or enlightenment. Stop needing the other person to see you as right. You are not ever going to get these things from your anger-addicted ex, and you can make yourself sick trying.

How to Practice Parallel Parenting

You tried to co-parent so your kids would see their parents get along, and to make them feel safe. That didn’t work. Now you need to limit contact with your ex to reduce the conflict in order to make your kids feel safe — and to keep yourself from going nuts. So how do you do this?

1. Communicate as little as possible
Stop talking on the phone. When speaking with a hostile ex, you will likely be drawn into an argument and nothing will get resolved. Limit communication to texting and e-mail. This way you can choose what to respond to and you will be able to delete knee-jerk retorts that you would make if you were on the phone.

2. Make Rules for Communication
Hostile exes tend to ignore boundaries. So you will have to be very clear about the terms for communication. E-mail or texting should be used only for logistics: travel plans, a proposed weekend swap, doctor appointments. If your ex tends uses e-mails to harass you, tell him you will not respond, and if the abuse continues, you will stop e-mailing altogether.

3. Do Not Respond to Threats of Lawsuits
Hostile exes frequently threaten to modify child support or custody arrangements. Do not respond! Tell your ex that any discussion of litigation must go through your attorney. This will require money on your ex’s part: phone calls between attorneys, disclosing financial statements, etc. It is quite possible that your ex does not really intend to put her money where her mouth is, so don’t take the bait.

4. Avoid being together at child-related functions
It’s great for your kids to see the two of you together — but only if they see you getting along. So attend events separately as much as possible. Schedule separate parent-teacher conferences. Trade off hosting birthday parties. Do curbside drop-offs so your child doesn’t have to feel the tension between you and your ex.

5. Be proactive with school staff and mental health professionals
School staff and therapists may have heard things about you that aren’t true — for instance, that you are out of the picture or mentally ill. So be proactive. Fax your custody order to these individuals so they understand the custody arrangement. Even if you are a non-custodial parent, you are still entitled to information regarding your child’s academic performance or mental health treatment and the school and therapists want you to be involved. Talk to school staff and therapists as soon as possible. Do not be defensive, but explain the situation. When they see you, they will realize that you are a reasonable person who is trying to do the right thing for your child.

6. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Parallel Parenting requires letting go of what happens in the other parent’s home. Although it may drive you crazy that your ex lets 6-year-old Lucy stay up until midnight, there is really not much you can do about it. Nor can you control your ex’s selection of babysitters, children’s clothing or how much TV time is allowed.

Your child will learn to adapt to different rules and expectations at each house. If Sienna complains about something that goes on at Dad’s, instruct her to speak to him directly. Trying to solve a problem between your ex and your child will only inflame the conflict and teach her to pit the two of you against each other. You want to empower your child, not teach her that she needs to be rescued.

Parallel Parenting is a last resort, to be implemented when attempts at co-parenting have failed. But that doesn’t mean you have failed as a divorced parent. In fact, the opposite is true. By reducing conflict, Parallel Parenting will enhance the quality of your life and most importantly, take your child out of the middle.

And isn’t that what a good-enough divorce is all about?


Mediation Day!

Sherri Donovan, Esq.

Divorce and Family Lawyer

Celebrate Mediation Day: Top 10 Reasons To Mediate Your Divorce

Posted: 10/18/2012 12:20 pm

October 18, 2012 is Mediation Day. Mediation is a process for resolving conflict and coming to an agreement where decision-making remains with the parties. A neutral mediator assists parties in arriving at a mutually acceptable agreement. In contrast to an adversarial proceeding, mediation emphasizes cooperative problem solving and addressing the needs of all involved. Mediation can be used for all types of conflict, however it is particularly useful in the context of divorce and family disputes. Here are some reasons why:

It’s less costly. You and your spouse will typically pay one professional who is dedicated to helping you both reach a resolution. You will pay for meetings rather than waiting time at court. You will not pay for the costly drafting of motion papers back and forth and the accompanying court appearances. Lengthy divorce battles and trials have led to the financial ruin of many families. Divorcing families already have enough financial strain. Pay for your child’s college education, not your lawyer’s child.

You control the discussion and the outcome. You choose the topics that you want to discuss and settle. You, not the court, have final say over the terms of your agreement. Important decisions about you and your children are not left in the hands of strangers.

You get more personal attention. The mediation process allows you to speak and be heard. You work directly with your mediator, who will propose and get a consensus on the resolution process, elicit, explore and generate options, help you negotiate, refine decision-making and arrive at a final agreement. Most judges are overworked and understaffed with too many cases. Judges often do not have the time or opportunity to get to know each family and by necessity, must speak to the lawyers more than the people actually going through the divorce.

There is faster resolution. Parties set their own timeframe for resolving issues, without having to wait months for the next court date or for a time when two lawyers and a judge can coordinate their calendars. It is possible to resolve your issues in a few sessions. One of the worst parts of divorce is the anxiety brought about by living with unresolved, lingering issues for a prolonged period and by having to remain attached to someone after you have decided to separate.

There is greater confidentiality. Communications, documents and work notes made or used in mediation are privileged and confidential. Meetings are private and at your mediator’s office (or even held via Skype or conference call). At court, you will argue your case in a public courtroom in front of a judge, officers and court employees as well as other litigants and attorneys. It is dreadful to have your children and problems discussed in a room full of strangers, or in front of people in your community.

There is greater flexibility. Mediators often agree to meet in the evening, or even on weekends. Mediators are more able to work around your family’s busy schedule, as opposed to a court, with its rigid operating hours and overflowing dockets. Mediation can even work when parties desire to mediate their disputes but cannot do so while in the same room. Mediation can be achieved online via Skype or another online service, or via conference call or speaker phone.

It protects children from conflict. Custody trials usually require your children to be interviewed and observed by several experts. Your children may even be required to appear at court. The animosity between parents can increase significantly while embroiled in an adversarial process, which can expose children to increased conflict, verbal attacks and tension, leading to stress, confusion and long-lasting damage. A mediator can help educate parties in a neutral manner and keep the focus on the children’s needs, while engaging parents in a more sensitive and less inflammatory process.

It’s a less adversarial process. A neutral mediator assists parties in arriving at a mutually acceptable agreement, but, in contrast to an adversarial proceeding, mediation emphasizes cooperative problem solving and addressing the needs of all involved. The mediator can help raise points that an attorney would not be free to raise for strategic reasons and he or she may help the parties view issues from a neutral standpoint with a focus on resolving the dispute, rather than validating one party’s position and seeking to “win”. A mediator can minimize side arguments and avoid the adversarial positioning between attorneys, while concentrating everyone’s efforts towards a mutually satisfactory conclusion. Resolve your issues by communicating rather than fighting, working as a team, rather than engaging in battle.

There are more opportunities for a creative, tailored family plan. Mediating parties do not have to work within the confines of the litigation system as far as process or result. Sticking points particular to you can be addressed more in-depth in your mediation session and in your final agreement, which can lead to more effective co-parenting post-divorce.

It allows for greater post-divorce stability. In contrast to the adversarial nature of the traditional litigation system, mediation seeks to improve parties’ understanding of each other and their ability to communicate. In the context of divorcing or separating parents who will need to co-parent for years to come, emerging from a divorce with the ability to communicate effectively and with respect is especially important. You may also return to your same mediator if conflicts arise in the future. Your mediator can help moderate, settle disputes and clarify or modify your agreement as time goes by. Your mediator already knows your agreement, is attuned to your families’ issues and dynamic and can be on standby, able to quickly step in when you need it.


Parental Alienation – Defined


Unhappy Parents with Child

Parental alienation syndrome is a term coined by the late forensic psychiatrist Richard Gardner to describe a phenomenon he witnessed where children were being turned against one parent, usually as the result of a divorce or bitter custody battle. He described parental alienation syndrome (PAS) as a “disorder that arises primarily in the context of child custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It is caused by a combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the targeted parent.”

What are the Symptoms of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)?

A syndrome is simply a cluster of symptoms with a common etiology. The eight symptoms of PAS are the specific symptoms found in a child who has been successfully alienated. The more symptoms one sees of the eight, as well as the intensity of them, determines the level of severity of the PAS disorder. The eight symptoms are:

  1. a campaign of denigration;
  2. weak, frivolous, and absurd rationalizations for the deprecation;
  3. lack of ambivalence in the child;
  4. the “independent thinker” phenomenon;
  5. reflexive support of the alienating parent in the parental conflict;
  6. absence of guilt over cruelty to and/or exploitation of the alienated parent;
  7. presence of borrowed scenarios;
  8. spread of animosity to the extended family of the alienated parent.

In mild PAS, the eight symptoms are mostly present with the exception of two symptoms (lack of ambivalence, and absence of guilt over cruelty to the alienated parent).

As a child moves from mild to moderate PAS, the remaining six symptoms increase in their severity, and the two symptoms noted above begin to appear. In severe PAS, all the symptoms have progressed to the severe level including the two noted above. In other words, with severe PAS, the child loses his or her ability to empathize and to feel guilt in a patterned and predictable way. This level of symptom organization is the very hallmark of the existence of a syndrome.

Is Parental Alienation Syndrome Real?

According to Baker (2006b),

PAS is not universally accepted by therapists, lawyers, judges, or custody evaluators, and the concept has not yet made its way into the mainstream consciousness. There may in fact be some underlying resistance to the notion that an otherwise “good” parent could be so vehemently rejected by his/her child. Perhaps such skeptics hold the belief that a parent must have done something to warrant their child’s rejection and/or the other parent’s animosity.

The problem PAS faces is the problem all new proposed mental disorders face — providing sufficient, objective empirical research that builds upon a solid theoretical foundation. Without such research, professionals can propose all the new diagnoses they’d like, but they will never appear in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the mental health bible of diagnoses).

One contributing factor to the debate is the lack of sufficient empirical data regarding construct validity. The current literature is only about 20 years old and, thus, still in its relative infancy. Moreover, the majority of books and articles on the topic of parental alienation syndrome and parental alienation are theoretical, descriptive, or proscriptive.

As you can see, something that is only 20 years old in psychological and family research tends to be seen as something “new” or “untested.” Some clinicians and researchers see PAS more as a family dynamic rather than a formal diagnosis, and therefore are resistant to slapping another label on a family or child already going through a stressful family dynamic (Baker, 2007). There have yet to be any psychometrically valid diagnostic tools used to assess PAS, and even amongst professionals, what constitutes parental alienation syndrome is in disagreement (are all eight symptoms necessary or prevalent?).

There are also some misconceptions about PAS, despite its relative newness. Baker (2006a) found that alcoholism, maltreatment, and personality disorders co-occurred in most of the alienating families, suggesting possible areas of targeted intervention for PAS families. Parental alienation could occur in intact families as well as even non-litigious divorced families. In other words, the power games parents play with their children aren’t necessarily because of litigation or legal issues.

In late 2005, the American Psychological Association released a brief statement saying it didn’t have a formal stand on parental alienation syndrome, but noted the lack of empirical research supporting this syndrome.

Despite this syndrome not being too well known outside of custody, legal and family therapy circles, there appears to be a growing body of research to support its use.


Baker, A.J.L. (2007). Knowledge and Attitudes About the Parental Alienation Syndrome: A Survey of Custody Evaluators. American Journal of Family Therapy, 35(1), 1-19.

Baker, A.J.L. (2006a). Patterns of Parental Alienation Syndrome: A Qualitative Study of Adults Who were Alienated from a Parent as a Child. American Journal of Family Therapy, 34(1), 63-78.

Baker, A.J.L. (2006b). The power of stories/stories about power: Why therapists and clients should read stories about the parental alienation syndrome. American Journal of Family Therapy, 34(3), 191-203.

Gardner, R. (1998) Parental alienation: A guide for mental health and legal professionals. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics Inc.



Parental Alienation

Parental Alienation Not A Mental Disorder, American Psychiatric Association Says

By DAVID CRARY 09/21/12 01:50 PM ET EDT AP

NEW YORK — Rebuffing an intensive lobbying campaign, a task force of the American Psychiatric Association has decided not to list the disputed concept of parental alienation in the updated edition of its catalog of mental disorders.

The term conveys how a child’s relationship with one estranged parent can be poisoned by the other parent, and there’s broad agreement that it sometimes occurs in the context of divorces and child-custody disputes.

However, an acrimonious debate has raged for years over whether the phenomenon should be formally classified as a mental health disorder by the psychiatric association as it updates its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders for the first time since 1994.

The new manual, known as DSM-5, won’t be completed until next year, but the decision against classifying parental alienation as a disorder or syndrome has been made.

“The bottom line – it is not a disorder within one individual,” said Dr. Darrel Regier, vice chair of the task force drafting the manual. “It’s a relationship problem – parent-child or parent-parent. Relationship problems per se are not mental disorders.”

Regier and his APA colleagues have come under intense pressure from individuals and groups who believe parental alienation is a serious mental condition that should be formally recognized in the DSM-5. They say this step would lead to fairer outcomes in family courts and enable more children of divorce to get treatment so they could reconcile with an estranged parent.

Among those on the other side of the debate, which has flared since the 1980s, are feminists and advocates for battered women who consider “parental alienation syndrome” to be an unproven and potentially dangerous concept useful to men trying to deflect attention from their abusive behavior.

Some critics of the concept say it’s being promoted by psychologists, consultants and others who could profit if parental alienation had a more formal status in family court disputes.

“At its worst, it lines the pockets of both attorneys and expert witnesses by increasing the number of billable hours in a given case,” wrote Dr. Timothy Houchin, a University of Kentucky psychiatrist, and three colleagues in an article earlier this year in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law.

“It creates an entire new level of debate, in which only qualified experts can engage, adding to the already murky waters of divorce testimony,” they wrote, arguing that courts could deal with parent/child estrangement without labeling the child as mentally ill.

Advocates of the concept of parental alienation had been braced for a decision by the APA not to classify it as a syndrome or disorder, but held out hope that it would be specifically cited in an appendix as an example of a parent-child relational problem.

Regier, in an e-mail Friday, said this is “very unlikely,” even though the final draft of the DSM-5 remains incomplete.

Dr. William Bernet, a professor emeritus of psychiatry at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, is editor of a 2010 book making the case that parental alienation should be recognized in the DSM-5. He contends that about 200,000 children in the U.S. are affected by the condition.

Bernet’s proposal to the DSM-5 task force defines parental alienation disorder as “a mental condition in which a child, usually one whose parents are engaged in a high conflict divorce, allies himself or herself strongly with one parent, and rejects a relationship with the other parent, without legitimate justification.”

In a telephone interview, Bernet contended that the task force had made up its mind based on factors beyond the scientific evidence.

“I think they’re being motivated not by the science, but being driven by friendships, by political forces,” he said.

Parental alienation surfaced on the pop-culture scene several years ago as a consequence of the bitter divorce and child custody battle involving actors Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger. Baldwin was assailed by some feminist groups for citing parental alienation syndrome as a source of his estrangement from his daughter.

“The truth is that parental alienation really is a dangerous and cleverly marketed legal strategy that has caused much harm to victims of abuse,” said the National Organization for Women amid the controversy.

Bernet, in his proposal to the DSM-5 task force, said he agreed that “in some instances the concept of parental alienation has been misused by abusive parents to hide their behavior.”

“However, we strongly disagree with throwing out the baby with the bathwater,” he wrote, arguing that such abuse would be curtailed if diagnostic criteria for parental alienation were established.



Email snooping

Ex-Spouse Hit With 20K in Damages for Email Eavesdropping – Klumb v. Goan

[Post by Venkat Balasubramani]

Klumb v. Goan, 09-cv-115 (E.D. Tenn.; July 19, 2012)

Klumb, described by the court as “a wealthy man,” met and married Crystal Goan, a law student who later became a lawyer. As the court describes it, the relationship was “fraught with concerns of fidelity from the very beginning.” Before the two were married, Goan purchased Spectorsoft’s eBlaster product. She surreptitiously installed copies of eBlaster on officer computers that Klumb regularly used. As the court notes, eBlaster is a software program “that can perform various spyware functions.”

Goan used eBlaster to keep track of Klumb’s emails. She also intercepted three emails sent to Klumb and altered the emails to make it look like “[the sender] and [Klumb] were having an affair.” Apparently a finding of infidelity altered the split of property between the parties under the prenuptial agreement in place between the parties and under an agreed order entered in the divorce case that was initiated when the marriage soured. (As a sidenote, the court finds that after Klumb and Goan signed the agreed order, “defendant substituted one or more pages of the agreed order with new pages which included paragraph 5 [the part of the agreement that altered the property split upon a finding of infidelity].” While the installation of eBlaster and email snooping was bad enough, the court’s discussion about the various versions of the agreed order and the prenuptial agreement does not paint Goan in a very positive light.)

The court takes into account the overall context of the dispute, and after noting that focusing a “wide lens” on the dispute will result in the “regrettable and unavoidable airing of dirty laundry,” recounts the factual background and testimony in painful detail.

As far as the legal issues, the court does not have any trouble finding that Goan’s interception of Klumb’s email violates the federal Wiretap Act and its Tennessee counterpart. Goan argued that the software did not intercept Klumb’s emails while they were in transit, but citing to US v. Szymuszkiewicz the court says that interception contemporaneous with receipt is interception just the same. The court rejects Goan’s defenses based on consent and based on the divorce settlement between the parties.

The court awards statutory damages in the amount of $10,000. Klumb asked for a greater statutory amount–a separate damage award for each instance in which Goan installed eBlaster on Klumb’s computers–but the court says that a plaintiff can only get more than the $10,000 statutory amount if “violations . . . occurred on more than one hundred separate days.” The court also tacks on $10,000 in punitive damages based on Goan’s “egregious conduct,” and awards Klumb fees and costs.


There’s not a whole lot to say about this dispute. Spouses (and girlfriends/boyfriends) resist the temptation to eavesdrop on email. Just don’t do it! It goes without saying that if you’re a lawyer you should pay particular attention to this admonition. Also, the scenarios in which use of software such as eBlaster is legally in the clear are probably much narrower than you think. It’s worth consulting with a lawyer before deploying this software (although in this situation it probably would not have helped, given that Goan was herself a lawyer).

A final note is that we’ve seen a few cases of email eavesdropping where liability was established but the damage awards ended up being less than blockbuster (Pure Power Boot Camp v. Warrior Fitness Boot CampVan Alstyne v. Electronic Scriptorium; see also Hillstone Restaurant Group v. Pietrylo).

Related posts:

Keylogger Software Company Not Liable for Eavesdropping by Ex-spouse — Hayes v. SpectorSoft
Ex-Employees Awarded $4,000 for Email Snooping by Employer — Pure Power Boot Camp v. Warrior Fitness Boot Camp
Court: Husband’s Access of Wife’s Email to Obtain Information for Divorce Proceeding is not Outrageous
Minnesota Appeals Court Says Tracking Statute Excludes Use of GPS to Track Jointly Owned Vehicle — State v. Hormann
NJ Appeals Court: No Privacy Violation When Spouse Uses GPS to Track Vehicle — Villanova v. Innovative Investigations, Inc.

Stress help for children

Helping your children manage distress in the aftermath of a shooting

As a parent, you may be struggling with how to talk with your children about a shooting rampage. It is important to remember that children look to their parents to make them feel safe. This is true no matter what age your children are, be they toddlers, adolescents, or even young adults.

Consider the following tips for helping your children manage their distress.

Talk with your child. Talking to your children about their worries and concerns is the first step to help them feel safe and begin to cope with the events occurring around them. What you talk about and how you say it does depend on their age, but all children need to be able to know you are there listening to them.

  • Find times when they are most likely to talk: such as when riding in the car, before dinner, or at bedtime.
  • Start the conversation; let them know you are interested in them and how they are coping with the information they are getting.
  • Listen to their thoughts and point of view; don’t interrupt–allow them to express their ideas and understanding before you respond.
  • Express your own opinions and ideas without putting down theirs; acknowledge that it is okay to disagree.
  • Remind them you are there for them to provide safety, comfort and support. Give them a hug.

Keep home a safe place. Children, regardless of age, often find home to be a safe haven when the world around them becomes overwhelming. During times of crisis, it is important to remember that your children may come home seeking the safe feeling they have being there. Help make it a place where your children find the solitude or comfort they need. Plan a night where everyone participates in a favorite family activity.

Watch for signs of stress, fear or anxiety. After a traumatic event, it is typical for children (and adults) to experience a wide range of emotions, including fearfulness, shock, anger, grief and anxiety. Your children’s behaviors may change because of their response to the event. They may experience trouble sleeping, difficulty with concentrating on school work, or changes in appetite. This is normal for everyone and should begin to disappear in a few months. Encourage your children to put their feelings into words by talking about them or journaling. Some children may find it helpful to express their feelings through art.

Take “news breaks”. Your children may want to keep informed by gathering information about the event from the internet, television, or newspapers. It is important to limit the amount of time spent watching the news because constant exposure may actually heighten their anxiety and fears. Also, scheduling some breaks for yourself is important; allow yourself time to engage in activities you enjoy.

Take care of yourself. Take care of yourself so you can take care of your children. Be a model for your children on how to manage traumatic events. Keep regular schedules for activities such as family meals and exercise to help restore a sense of security and normalcy.

These tips and strategies can help you guide your children through the current crisis. If you are feeling stuck or overwhelmed, you may want to consider talking to someone who could help. A licensed mental health professional such as a psychologist can assist you in developing an appropriate strategy for moving forward. It is important to get professional help if you feel like you are unable to function or perform basic activities of daily living.

Thanks to psychologists Ronald S. Palomares, PhD, and Lynn F. Bufka, PhD. who assisted us with this article.

Updated April 2011

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Have $235,000? That’s What It Costs To Raise A Kid Today-Before College

 Take your pick. Would you rather buy a 2012 Ferrari or would you rather–have a baby? The choice is yours but the cost for each is about the same.
An infantThis little guy will set you back $234,900 before he even heads to college. Good luck.

A report out today from USDA reveals that a middle-income family with a child born in 2011 can expect to spend about $234,900 ($295,560 if projected inflation costs are factored in).

That’s a 3.5% increase from 2010 and a 23% hike from 1960 (that’s when the USDA first issued this report) when the cost of raising a child was equivalent to $191,723.

The $234,900 represents costs for food, shelter and other necessities to raise a child for 17 years. The annual cost of raising a child today in a middle class family:$12,290 to $14,320, depending on the age of the child, according to the report.

Why the 3.5% jump from 2010? The report says the cost of transportation, child care, education, and food saw the largest percentage increases related to child rearing from 2010. Health care, clothing and housing costs also increased but to a lesser extent.

Of course, the cost jumps for higher income families; those earning more than $102,870 can expect to spend $389,670. A family earning less than $59,410 per year can expect to spend a total of $169,080 (in 2011 dollars) on a child from birth through high school.

Note that the $234, 900 figure does not include college costs since it covers the cost of raising a child for 17 years. With college costs soaring here’s hoping your little ones are smart enough to get a free ride–or least a call from Peter Thiel.

source: USDA

American Flag at 1444 South Carson

This is the actual flag at our office.  Feels great to see it waving every morning!  Thanks to all those who make that happen! Happy and Safe Memorial Day everyone!


The 5 Worst Kids of the Year

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on May 9, 2012 5:55 AM | No TrackBacks

As Mother’s Day looms closer, you may feel the need to take stock of just how well you’ve raised your kids. Have they always been perfect? Probably not. But they’re probably decent enough to buy a card or make a short phone call on Sunday, right?

If not, just remember that it could be worse. Not only could your children have made your life infinitely more difficult up until this point, they could have made this list. So take pride in the fact that your little ones don’t even come close to being one of the worst kids of the year.

1. Juice box stabber. This unnamed 5-year-old is accused of stabbing three family members over a juice box. His mom disputes the motive, but admits that he took a knife to two cousins and an aunt. She also told local reporters that he’s always been prone to outbursts.

If your kids never threatened you with a knife, you win.

2. Kathryn & Steven Miner. These two siblings are the epitome of ungrateful. In 2008,they sued their mom, accusing her of ruining their posh Chicago childhood. They spent 2011 defending the suit in an appeals court. They say their mom set curfews! She made them wear seat belts! And (gasp), she enforced a party dress budget!

If your kids haven’t yet sued you for setting boundaries, you win.

3. Jessica Rodriguez. This 22-year-old concocted a fake international kidnapping scheme so she could visit her fugitive boyfriend in Mexico. She even called her mom with the news. The entire ruse was an immature attempt to avoid mom’s side-eye — she doesn’t approve of the man in her daughter’s life.

If your kids keep their secret liaisons in the country, you get a point. If they’ve never dated a fugitive, go ahead and give yourself another.

4. Disrespected teen. This 15-year-old called 911 to report her mom’s loud sex. According to the police report, she “stated that there was no form of abuse or neglect in the house but she only felt disrespected.”

If your kids haven’t reported your nighttime activities, give yourself a point. You’ve taught them discretion — and the beauty of placing a pillow over one’s head.

5. Scott Bennett. Some people never grow up, including this 45-year-old man. Hepublished a fake obituary for his living mother in order to get paid time off. The worst part? He actually thought no one would notice that his mom wasn’t actually dead. They did.

If your kids haven’t yet faked your death, pat yourself on the back. You’re really not as embarrassing as they make you out to be.