The Men’s Room: Madonna’s Divorce Demands
Tips to Help Guy Ritchie — and Other Dads — Identify Parental Alienation Syndrome
Madonna and Guy Ritchie are entering the world of child custody battles, and it looks like Madonna is taking her cues on how to handle her ex from Kim Basinger, which sets up Mr. Ritchie to be the next Alec Baldwin. On the children’s first visit the Material Girl is setting the stage for a Parental Alienation showdown.
The topic of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is one that has been receiving renewed interest thanks to the efforts of Alec Baldwin, whose famous child custody battles with his ex-wife to stop interfering with his rights as a father has been the stuff of tabloid fodder for years. Perhaps Madonna is looking to use this latest turn of events in her life, as she has done with every other, as a way to increase her publicity. That would be a very bad idea, but it would seem that she is either getting very bad advice from her lawyers and friends, or she is getting none at all.
The press is reporting that Madonna has issued 12 commandments for Mr. Ritchie to adhere to, while the children are in his presence, they range from the mild, which books to read, to the absurd, all water they drink should be blessed by Kabbalah leaders.
This type of parental communication and attempts at control are over the top and most of the twelve demands that she has made would not be enforced by a court and it appears that she is laying the foundation for a war to be waged on why he is not a suitable parent and a bad father.
Some of her demands are just silly: the children are to watch no TV or DVD’s, and cannot read magazines or newspapers — the irony of the media megastar wanting to shield her children from the glare of the media is astounding and perhaps understandable given her ceaseless hunger for publicity, but in the end it is likely an unenforceable request as it is over the top. Had she said, nothing that mentions our divorce or me, that would be fair.
Madonna has the following over the top and unenforceable demands that the children eat a macrobiotic, vegetarian organic diet in New York! Controlling the water and food the children eat and drink, what clothes they wear — they have to be dressed in what was sent, and any new clothes have cannot contain man-made fibers, their hands need to be regularly disinfected if they are in public, no toys that are spiritually or ethically unsound (Whatever that means!) She demanded control of what he reads to the children at bedtime — her book, the one she wrote – this clearly is over the top as an interference with his time with the children. She also demanded that the paternal grandparents not spend too much time with the children, this is another aspect of Parental Alienation, where the extended family is also targeted for alienation.
Most of the demands that she has made on Mr. Ritchie are based on her lifestyle, however, some of them are fair requests. She demanded that he not introduce the children to his new friends, especially female friends. This is a common request and the timing of when to introduce new people is almost always up to the discretion of the parent because the courts assume that a parent is going to use good judgment in when to bring new people into the lives of children.
She demands daily phone contact and that he keep them out of the glare of the paparazzi – these are fair requests given the newness of the divorce. But she was over the top when she wanted to have three or four phone calls a day, this is unreasonable, as the point of the visit is for the father to have uninterrupted time with the children for bonding.
It looks like the Material Girl’s famous unstoppable desire for control is about to meet the immovable object of Mr. Ritchie’s rights as a father, and the explosion is sure to be bigger than that of the Baldwin vs. Basinger Battles. This has all the hallmarks of a Parental Alienation Syndrome case. When one parent tries to control, direct, and interfere with the custodial time of the other parent in micro-detail, it is the beginning of a PAS case. At first it looks like a concerned parent who just wants the best for their children, but once you scratch the surface you see PAS is really about control, revenge and keeping the other side off-balance.
PAS is about vilifying the other parent, alienating the child from that parent, and controlling what little contact the child has. It is about driving wedges between parent and child so that the targeted parent, in this case it will likely be Mr. Ritchie, are disenfranchised and kept from the child. It is so that the alienating parent, in this case it looks like it will be Madonna, is the one who is loved and adored by their child. Generally it is an insecure parent who is seeking the total love of a child, to the exclusion of the other parent’s rights. Parents who share custody have to communicate about the basics of childrearing, health information, schooling and emotional well-being are all fair game. But once the relationship breaks down, and the only thing in common is the children, and the parents need to find a way to work together on raising them, knowing that they each can have their own rules in their homes. Parents are given a great deal of freedom in how they raise their children, and one parent cannot control the other parent’s relationship with the children, especially once they are living separately.
A parent has a right to spend their custodial time with their children however they choose. The primary parent, in this case, it looks like that will be Madonna, at least for the moment, cannot control how the other parent spends their custodial time. The main exceptions are medical reasons such as asthma, celiac disease, or a food allergy, then it is appropriate for the primary to inform the other parent of the condition, but that is all.
The good news for Mr. Ritchie is that most of what Madonna him to do is over the top, unenforceable drivel, the bad news is that he is going to have to fight her tooth and nail on all of this, as she is not known as a pushover when she wants something.
THREE TIPS TO IDENTIFY PARENTAL ALIENATION SYNDROME
1. Your ex wants to micro-manage how you spend your custodial time with your children. Directions on what to eat, how to play, how to parent are overly detailed and designed to interfere with your relationship.
2. Your ex wants constant contact with the children, even when you have them. Comments like, “Call me as soon as you get to Daddy’s” and “You can always rely on me to keep you safe” are designed to create a sense of fear in the child of the other parent.
3. Irrational health fears are designed to create a need for the alienating parent to exert more control over the upbringing of the child, and to prove how negligent and irresponsible the targeted parent is.