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                Family Law Consulting, PLLC

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Keeping kids out of the middle

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                Consultants LLC
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About Dr. Garber
Keeping Kids Out Of The Middle
 Keeping families
                        out of court
How do you take care of yourself?

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                page just for kids

KKOOM is short for "keeping kids out of the middle." It's a handy mnemonic or reminder or secret code to help everyone involved in family law to keep their eyes on the child's needs.

Family Law Consulting, PLLC, and Dr. Ben Garber bring decades of experience consulting to lawyers, courts, guardians, evaluators and parents and providing mental health support directly to children all in the interest of KKOOM.

When family transition in and out of court genuinely keeps kids out of the middle, everyone is healthier and happier. The need to return to court later, the need for psychotherapy and parenting coordination, and the conflict in general are all greatly diminished.

Family Law Consulting, PLLC, and Dr. Garber will work with you to assure that  proposed or ongoing mediation, collaborative law process or litigation, evaluation or investigation, are focused on KKOOM.

When we fail to KKOOM, we risk depriving our children of their childhoods, teaching them that love is conditional, and distorting their lifelong ability to enjoy healthy relationships.

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When parents and courts fail to KKOOM, the child can be harmed in many distinct ways.
Family Law Consulting and Dr. Ben Garber bring cutting edge, empirical data
and decades of experience to bear on avoiding and, as necessary,
recognizing and remedying these unhealthy dynamics.

The alienated child

When a child is needlessly exposed to Parent A's unwarranted negatives about Parent B, the child's relationship with Parent B can be compromised. This is parental alienation.
  • Parental alienation is NOT a syndrome. It cannot be diagnosed in a child. It is a characteristic of a family system. It is a relationship dynamic.
  • To alienate a child from a parent is a selfish, angry and immature act tantamount to abuse.
  • Parental alienation can cause a child to resist or refuse contact with the targeted parent. Family Law Consulting PLLC will advise counsel and the courts how best to respond to these extreme and destructive dynamics.
  • Alienation seldom occurs alone. It is often accompanied by enmeshment to some degree and in some form with the favored parent. This includes adultification, parentification and infantilization.

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The adultified child

The adultified child has been prematurely promoted to serve as the favored parent's ally, best friend, confidante or co-parent. many children enjoy being treated as "special" but accept this role at tremendous developmental cost. This and similarly disturbed roles fuel anxiety and anger and can corrupt relationships for a lifetime to come.

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The parentified child

The parentified child  has been prematurely promoted to serve as the favored parent's caregiver. This child gives up childhood because there's no one else there to make sure that mom or dad takes their medicine, stays away from drugs and alcohol, or doesn't simply kill him- or herself.

The infantilized child

The infantilized child lives with a caregiver who needs to feel needed. This parent can't let go; can't allow the child to move toward independence as every child person must. The infantilized child remains developmentally primitive NOT because of a genetic or genuine developmental difference, but in order to serve a parent's pathological needs.
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The child as messenger

KKOOM means allowing children to remain children as long as possible. It means insulating them from the adult conflict, reassuring them that they are okay and that its okay to love both parents even though the parents no longer love one another Read more here

When parents enlist a child as a messenger, the child is being put in the middle. It doesn't matter if you plainly tell your child what to say (or not to say) to the other parent or more simply put a sealed envelope in the child's backpack. The effect can be the same.
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The chameleon child

A parent's attention and affection are the fuel that keeps a child going. Kids will do almost anything to earn that precious fuel.

Caught in the midst of an adult war, migrating between very different homes, many children say what they believe their immediate listener wants to hear. They change their "colors" like a chameleon in order to fit in.

The problem with this very successful short-term adaptation is its long term effects: Parents who can't communicate believe what they hear and take the child's words as validation for their continuing war. The child, meantime, has missed the opportunity to discover self and may always thereafter struggle to feel loved and belonging.

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The child as spy

Worse even than enlisting a child as a messenger is enlisting the child as a spy. The message here is simple and clear: "It's you and me against your other parent. Snoop in the drawers. Search the computer. Read the text messages and tell me what you find." This child learns to earn one parent's love and praise and gratitude by disrespecting the other.

The child's voice
Family law matters -particularly custody and relocation litigation- are more and more invested in letting the child be heard. Done correctly, the child's involvement in the process can serve his or her needs. Children who feel "heard" are much more likely to accept and comply with the court's orders.

Any circumstance that invites the child's voice, however, can be manipulated by a selfish and angry parent who puts the child in the middle. Family Law Consulting PLLC can help to avoid and, as necessary, to detect the effects of coaching and scripting, threats and bribes when they corrupt the child's voice Read
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Caveat lector