Thursday, April 26, 2007

On Alec Baldwin

Click here to read one of the reports.

I hadn't actually listened to his rant, as it hit pretty close to home for me, just from the excerpts that I'd heard. I've been following the divorce and subsequent custody battle over the daughter from the very beginning, because it seemed awfully familiar.

This morning, as they were talking about it on Z100, joking about it, I had to sit down on my bed to listen, as the tide appeared to turn in Alec's favor. Afterwards, I was distressed enough to actually send an email to the show.

So I get to work, and thanks to the internet was able to find an audio file of what he said. I listened to it in it's entirety and had tears in my eyes. How could he say that to an 11 (or 12) year old child? How could *anybody* think that this is OK? If you haven't heard the unedited version, you really need to.

I realize he may be frustrated that his daughter doesn't want to talk to him, and he certainly has the right to feel that way. But on the other hand, no one, not one person has brought up *why* his daughter doesn't want to talk to him. Do they really think it's Kim's fault? When the kid has her own cell phone (obviously). Does Kim control the cell phone???? I highly doubt it--not with an 11 or 12 year old girl. And people are still defending him, despite the fact that a family court judge was alarmed enough to suspend his visits. Listening to his tirade, *I* was alarmed at his threats of "straightening" her out on Friday the 20th, "so be ready". She's ELEVEN YEARS OLD. Would this not frighten a child????

One of the reasons I write anonymously here, even though most people who read this know who I am, is that I can say what I'm really feeling without the *entire* rest of the world knowing exactly who I am. And not that anything I have to say is all that extreme, nor would I put anything "out" into cyberspace that I'm not comfortable defending face to face. But I hesitate to write about this, from my own perspective because I have a very similar issue, active right now in Family Court. And I deal with the issue of phone calls and missed phone calls and rants every day. Just as I have for the past 7 or 8 years. Before that, even. I'll tell you all this; I didn't have voice mail or an answering machine on the home phone until last night. (And I only set up voice mail because I switched to VoIP from a landline, and since The Rock is prone to power outages, that means there could be times when I'll be without a phone and so Voicemail is a good idea. Plus... it's been quite a while into my own case, and I'm willing to see if IFKALP can leave respectful and courteous messages for his son.) I set it up with some trepidation, because I have quite a few micro-cassettes sitting around my house with similar messages. I got tired of hearing them, of dreading what I'd find on my answering machine.

So I guess what I can do is lay out a hypothetical scenario about the Baldwins for those of you who *don't* know me, and may happen on this page.

Just suppose that while on the surface, Kim and Alec Baldwin had the perfect, good-looking Hollywood marriage, underneath there were other issues. When they separated, Kim cited "irreconcilable differences" and there were allegations floating around that he was abusive and controlling. But Kim has rarely come out and actively bashed Alec, despite the fact that Alec is usually ready to accuse her of doing exactly that, or publicly questioning her parenting skills or intimating a drinking/drug problem. Kim reportedly filed for physical custody but was OK with joint legal custody. There is a difference; physical custody is where the child will live full time, but legal custody is where both parents have decision-making authority. It means that the parent is fine with discussing life events with the other parent, and fine with accepting the absent parent's input. Perhaps Kim was concerned for her child's mental safety if she spent prolonged periods of time with Alec, but was OK with Alec's input into her life.

It was reported that Kim wanted to limit Alec's emailing and telephoning time. Perhaps, instead of trying to "alienate" the child from her father, Kim was merely trying to protect her daughter from *constant* emails and *constant* phone calls to a 6-7-8 year old kid, who is not really interested in emails and phone calls. Especially not to a parent. Kids this age are generally more interested in actually *being* with the parent. Phone conversations and email are sort of a distant concept. Perhaps Kim was also aware that while things would be fine as long as her ex was able to reach her kid, the minute he was unable to reach her, *for any reason*, the child would be grilled ad nauseam as to "where were you? why didn't you answer the phone?" and wouldn't accept any reasonable explanations without accusing the child of neglecting him.

Perhaps, from time to time, Alec was verbally abusive and accusatory to the kid over the phone, or during visits. Or used his phone time to question the child on the doings of Kim, or used that time to refer to Kim as an "asshole" or "a crybaby". Perhaps, this made the child extremely uncomfortable and so she would be reluctant to answer her father's phone calls whenever she detected he was in "a mood." Of course, this would make Alec upset, because he probably would be unaware that his "moods" or his habit of bashing the kid's mother would make his daughter uncomfortable. Perhaps, Alec berated her over the phone previous to this incident (because I get the feeling that this is NOT an isolated incident, and was released because it had been going on long enough for people to really want to stop it) about not telling him about her day, or about not volunteering information, or missing a "goodnight" phone call. Perhaps Alec expected her to remember every single detail of her day, not taking into account that 8 and 9 year old kids suddenly and completely lose their marbles as they approach puberty. Perhaps, when the kid *did* tell her father about her day, she would feel uncomfortable telling her father about what she and her mother did that day, because it's entirely possible she would get the comment "Oh, so it's all about mommy, huh?"

Since the case is ongoing and there is a minor child involved, it is highly possible that several things were brought to the attention of the judge(s) on the case over the years, but cannot be reported because records are sealed. Perhaps these things showed a pattern of behaviour that the court found alarming.

From experience, Family Court judges do not arbitrarily suspend a father's visits. As a matter of fact, because the current trend is for men to accuse their exes of "Parental Alienation Syndrome" and to insist on their rights as a father, Family Court judges in recent years have been making extra special efforts to make sure that the father's side is heard. And there are certainly cases where this is true--it takes a lot of strength as a mother to separate your bad feelings about your ex, yet recognize that he has the right to be a father to the child--and I have seen some mothers fail at this. You *can't* talk badly about the other parent to the child. You *shouldn't* tell the child the other parent is "stupid" or "a crybaby" or "wants their own way" or accuse the parent of "lying to the judge". But at the same time, families who are victims of domestic violence or abuse have a much harder time because a.) there *are* issues and incidents that must be addressed and b.) there may very well be fear and apprehension when dealing with the absent parent. And fear of retribution is always present.

However, men who are abusive and controlling have also learned to manipulate the court system, using PAS and "Father's rights" as an excuse to tie up the system *for years*. These men have learned to use the courts as a way to harass and intimidate the mothers. And if the mother isn't careful--sometimes extraordinarily careful, she can find herself losing her children altogether, or finds her authority and ability to protect and parent her children severely limited by an order from a judge.

Ron Gardner's article on PAS
Florida Bar Journal on PAS
A Wikipedia entry on PAS
Verbal Abuse
Narcissistic Abuse
A shorter, clearer view on what PAS is NOT

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