Q&A with Brenda McIntyre
City of Residence: Centerville
Occupation: Coordinator, Middle Georgia Parental Alienation Awareness Organization
QUESTION: Youve begun a new Middle Georgia support and action group.
ANSWER: Yes. At the end of last year I found a parental alienation support group meeting in Loganville, Ga. Theyre part of the state and national Parental Alienation Awareness Organization, and I found I was in line with them on objectives to support people in the same situation Im in. As much as I enjoyed meeting with them, I knew we needed a local group to serve local needs, so I became volunteer coordinator to help set it up.
QUESTION: Can you elaborate on objectives?
ANSWER: It offers a regular support group setting for those experiencing parental alienation, but its also to create awareness and to work toward legislation regarding parental alienation.
QUESTION: Just what is parental alienation?
ANSWER: Its a dynamic of divorce and custody issues where one parent, usually the custodial parent, breaks communication with children and the other parent. It can be damaging to childrens mental and emotional well-being and include what amounts to brainwashing and a cult-like situation where the child comes to hate the other parent and sees everything they do as stupid and wrong. In a variety of ways, the initial parent can convince the child they dont want to visit the other parent or do things with them.
QUESTION: How might that work out?
ANSWER: Often, the child will say things they couldnt possibly know, or say things they wouldnt say unless there is coaching involved. They dont want to talk or come to visitation, and its clear theyre just parroting the parent who has control. A parent causing a child to become alienated from another parent amounts to child abuse in our view. Children end up in survival mode and come to act a certain way just to abide by that parents wishes.
QUESTION: And that relates to legislation the organization is seeking?
ANSWER: Right. Its a goal to see legislation enacted so parents who alienate their children from the other could be charged with child abuse, because thats what it is.
QUESTION: What kind of response have you gotten in starting the group?
ANSWER: A lot of people contacted me as the word spread. There are about half a dozen people that have contacted me and I expect will be at our first meeting tomorrow and about twice that whove expressed interest. Im glad well be able to start getting together but sad that there are so many with this problem. Several have told me they were amazed to find out others were going through the same thing they were.
QUESTION: So your first group meeting is tomorrow, Thursday? Where and when?
ANSWER: Were meeting at the Centerville library, 206 Gunn Road, at 6:30 p.m. After that, well probably start meeting on the first Thursday of each month, but that could change. I want to get input about what the best time and place will be for everyone.
QUESTION: Though tomorrow is the first meeting, youve already been active.
ANSWER: In February, I went with the Loganville group to meet with Gov. Nathan Deal, who made a statewide proclamation regarding parental alienation. Area governing officials have named Thursday Parental Alienation Awareness Day, and last Saturday we had Bubbles of Love events in Centerville and Perry.
QUESTION: Whats the idea behind Bubbles of Love?
ANSWER: People gather and blow soap bubbles. The premise is the bubbles signify never-ending love that goes higher and higher as we keep our children in our thoughts and fight to get them back into our lives.
QUESTION: Is there a clear scope of the problem?
ANSWER: Its indefinable right now, but its becoming more and more apparent. There are no exact figures at this time.
QUESTION: If someone is interested, how can they find out more?
ANSWER: Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 478-333-6100 or 478-284-1025.
Editors note: Answers may have been edited for clarity and length.