A LOOK AT ALEC BALDWIN'S POWERFUL AND INSTRUCTIVE BOOK -- A PROMISE TO OURSELVES: A JOURNEY THROUGH FATHERHOOD AND DIVORCE
While Baldwin’s talent, success, and social activism attracts the attention of the media and paparazzi and the sometimes intrusive glare of public scrutiny, he is a man who has his head on straight and both feet firmly planted on the ground. What matters most to Baldwin is being a Dad. His daughter – Ireland – is the center of his universe. She is his heart and soul.
In A Promise To Ourselves: A Journey Through Fatherhood And Divorce, Mr. Baldwin makes it clear that he believes that “the default position of every family court in this country should be fifty-fifty physical custody of the couple’s children”. The only exception he makes are in “commonly held objections that include spousal and/or child abuse, drug and/or alcohol abuse by a potential custodial parent, or a parent’s inability to provide a home for children for any number of economic or emotional reasons”. He warns that “providing ‘your financials’ becomes the first order of business in a divorce proceeding and advises the reader to try to “settle your case through wholly private mediation”.
BALDWIN devotes an entire chapter to “parental alienation syndrome” -- a term that was created in 1985 by Richard Gardner, M.D., a Clinical Professor of Child Psychiatry at Columbia *University. This chapter points out the psychological devastation which divorce causes not only for Divorced Fathers, but for their children as well. Dr. Gardner introduced the term “parental alienation syndrome” in an article entitled, “Recent Trends In Divorce And Custody Litigation”. So, what is parental alienation syndrome? It is identified as a “psychological disturbance in which children are obsessed with deprecation and criticism of a parent – denigration that is unjustified and/or exaggerated”. A Promise To Ourselves: A Journey Through Fatherhood And Divorce lays out the symptoms of parental alienation syndrome and how and why it adversely affects a child’s behavior and a child’s relationship with the estranged parent and the estranged parent’s family and friends. Baldwin provides the reader with a “straight-no-chaser-take-no-prisoners” look at America’s family law system, the plight of Divorced Fathers, how children become pawns in divorce actions, and the devastatingly long-lasting psychological effects that “knock-down-drag-out” child custody court battles have on children and the estranged parent. And in the same breath, Baldwin offers the following suggestions – all of which are based on his divorce and child custody proceedings -- regarding “divorce decision making”:
1. Get a prenuptial agreement.
2. Be the first to file a divorce complaint.
3. Do not hire your lawyer based on word of mouth
4. Have your attorney explain in detail what lies ahead.
5. Mediate only if your spouse is mediation material.
6. Construct a time line for your mediation.
7. Demand in mediation (or petition for in court) that you and your ex attend a minimum of twelve sessions of divorce co-parenting counseling if you believe that alienation is a factor in your case.
8. Do not hide assets.
9. Set up a few sessions with a therapist who works in family law.
10. Find a therapist that you can trust who will guide you through the changes and decisions that you will encounter.
11. Do not make your home a shrine to your child.
12. Put your and/or your ex’s drug and alcohol issues on the table.
13. Ask for Orders, in court or in mediation, that provide for some flexibility on schedule, particularly in terms of your work and career.
A Promise To Ourselves: A Journey Through Fatherhood And Divorce is a dynamic, powerful and instructive literary work which is recommended reading for business leaders, journalists, religious leaders, legal professionals, psychologists, family and marriage therapists, life coaches, social services professionals and providers, health care professionals and providers, educators, legislators, Fathers, Fatherhood Practitioners, and Fathers’ Rights Advocates.