There are three ways to use the new PKR:

  1. Browse and click on color-coded boxes that appear as if by magic as you scroll down.
  2. Click on a category for all the ParenTips under that particular category.
  3. Go to the Site Map (link) for an:
    • a) alphabetical list of all ParenTips.
    • b) A list of all 8 categories with every ParenTip in that category listed alphabetically.

Or mix and match! Have fun as you get the information you need!

close directions


After I wrote two columns on the effects of divorce on children I was inundated by an unprecedented number of emails. Parents, as well as grandparents and other relatives, all wanted to tell me their own divorce horror stories. If I added up the total number of children they told me about who were involved in a BDM (Big Divorce Mess) I would cry.

Many of the horror stories were about the Malicious Mother Syndrome. Some examples:

o “My husband’s helpless children have become victims of their mother’s selfishness and vindictiveness. She would rather have the kids go to a neighbor’s house to play than allow them to come visit here for my husband’s birthday.”

o “My husband told me, had he known what his ex-wife would put us through, he would have protected me by never marrying me.”

o “She constantly tells the children their father is a rat and the women he married (me) is a slut.”

o “She uses the kids as weapons to get back at their father (and stepmother). All parties, most especially the kids, end up getting hurt.”

o “My husband’s children got so tired of their mother’s ranting about how awful he is that they refused to go to their mother’s house. WE got hauled into court for violating the custody agreement.”

o “Despite my love for my husband, there have been numerous times when I have wondered if I would I do it again. I now understand why 70% of second marriages fail. I think you could help a lot of kids could be helped if, in addition to discussing MMS, you gave a warning to people who are considering marrying a divorced person with young kids. Most people at least give peripheral consideration of what an initial divorce will do to kids. I doubt if many people consider what second (or third) divorces do.”

My readers know I had personal experience with a malicious mother. Although her children (my stepchildren) and my husband suffered the most, I must admit there were times I wanted to run away from the whole mess.

The Malicious Mother is not the only villain. The DBDS (Dead Beat Dad Syndrome) also inflicts much pain on children. There are fathers who do not contribute to their children’s support, and even skip town to avoid doing so. And there are also those children whose fathers write the checks but do not take the time to visit them.

It is axiomatic that if a parent has no interest in supporting or seeing a child, the child will feel he or she has done something terribly wrong — “I’m so bad that even my own father doesn’t want me.” It is also axiomatic that children who have a malicious mother can be so ripped apart by the battles that they may never become whole again.

Is there anything I can say to Malicious Mothers or Dead-Beat Dads that will lead them to change their ways? I’ll try. Listen up you guys. You are doing what you do because you are angry at your ex-spouse and you have been badly hurt in your ex-marriage or by the divorce. When we are hurt, or afraid we will be hurt, we humans have a built-in physiological and psychological response that helps us to retaliate so we can win the battle. When we are attacked, or fear we will be attacked, this mechanism gears us up for retaliation.

But we humans also have a brain. We can look within to see if we are showing signs of MMS or DBDS. We can override our physiology and the lower centers in our brain by THINKING about the consequences of our actions. We can make a conscious decision to protect our children from the anger and hurt we feel. We can take steps to change our destructive behaviors.

Another email I received last week said it best: “You have to love the children more than you hate each other.”

A word to those contemplating marriage and children. Look within. If you see signs of a selfish, self-centered, vindictive person who always puts your wants and needs ahead of the wants and needs of others, don’t have children.

Children are not possessions, they are not pawns, they are not living dolls for you to play with, they are not on earth so you can fulfill your unrealistic fantasy of parenthood.

Children are people. They bleed when wounded. Divorce can cause deep wounds.