Changing the presumption: Is a child really better off interacting with both parents?

Just Like His Father? Is nearly four years old now and my own son is nearly eight. At the time the book was released, scientists were still engaged in the genetics versus environment debate regarding the development of antisocial behavior. That debate is now over and every authority accepts that antisocial behavior and antisocial personality traits develop due to a gene-environment interaction. I am working on revising the book because now some specific genes have been identified.

Thankfully, I have not had to cope with the toxic environment a sociopath/psychopath creates for their offspring. Just Like His Father? doesn’t really grapple with that issue other than to encourage people to consider that the child may be better off with only one parent. At time the book was written, my thinking was based on two false premises. The first falsehood, I was taught in residency, “antisocial individuals abandon their young” has turned out to be perhaps the biggest problem at-risk children face. Antisocial individuals do not necessarily abandon their young, but they do abuse them and use them as pawns to damage other people and they also use them in their cons.

Four years ago, I naively believed that the family courts would naturally dictate that sociopaths/ psychopaths should be kept from harming their children. This second premise has also turned out to be false and is the basis for the nightmare many people I now count as friends are living.

It follows that in addition to teaching the material in the book and workbook, to save at-risk children we also have to take on the system-hopefully by working together. The system is composed of mental health professionals who really do not understand antisocial personality disorder let alone the meaning of psychopathic personality traits to parenting. It is also composed of Judges who want to make the tough decisions easy by giving themselves judicial sound bites to go by. Here is the official mantra of the state of New York Family Court:

“Visitation by a noncustodial parent is presumed to be in the child’s best interest and should be denied only in exceptional situations, such as where substantial evidence reveals that visitation would be detrimental to the welfare of the child.”

The important words there are “substantial evidence.” Just what constitutes substantial evidence? I am working on researching the answer to that question and have access to an extensive online law library through the university where I teach.

I am preparing a generic document that people can use as a resource regarding the harmful effects of parenting by antisocial individuals and emotional and verbal abuse on children. Some recent research shows that the developmental damage done by emotional and verbal abuse is as severe as that due to physical and sexual abuse.

But we really have to change the legal mantra. Given what we know of genetic risk, we have to not only protect at-risk children from abuse, we have to provide them with an enriching, nurturing environment to prevent the intergenerational spread of disorder. The new mantra should be:

“In cases where one parent has antisocial personality disorder (psychopathy) the child deserves the best upbringing the least disordered parent can provide.”


“The least disordered parent has a right to live life free of the sociopath/psychopath they were conned by.”

Setting the least disordered parent free facilitates his/her mental health and contributes to the well-being of the child.

Here is what you can do to join this effort:

  1. If you went through a custody/visitation battle and your children are old enough for you to comment on how the battle and the sociopath affected them please write me. I am especially interested in talking with offspring over 18 about their perspectives.
  2. If you have an ongoing situation you are willing to share please write. Recently, people from Alabama and New York asked me for help so I compiled the case law for those states. The goal is to compile the case law for every state then make the info available on the web.
  3. If you want to volunteer to read the case law and help me organize it, I’ll put you to work right away.
  4. If you are an attorney or legal assistant who wants to help please let me know.
  5. If you have political connections, we need you.

I am looking to form a committee of workers committed to this cause.

Last but not least, I regret the title of my book because it suggests gender. The title merely reflects my own personal experience. This is NOT about gender or fatherhood versus motherhood. Normal men love and nurture their children and I do not dispute that children need that love and nurturing. This is about a psychiatric disorder for which there is no proven treatment, antisocial personality disorder/ psychopathy.

We are working to save the most vulnerable of all children from abuse, neglect and disorder. We are advocating for those children who carry genetic risk for antisocial personality disorder and who have a mother or father who is not capable of loving and nurturing them.

Contact Dr. Liane Leedom at [email protected]

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187 Comments on "Changing the presumption: Is a child really better off interacting with both parents?"

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UGH! You see the reality….and your viewing the whole issue from an ‘outside’ viewpoint.
It’s sad….very sad!
I don’t think your off base with your concerns one bit. I share them.
Bringing another child into the world when your struggling to care for the ones you have ALONG with yourself is not wise or fair to the children…..or anyone else.

Relying on you to be the nanny at $2.00 an hour is also not good.
It’s keeping you financially drained….AND tired.
Your not able to go out and find a job which will get YOU financially free.
This pregnancy will be an easy thought for them……because they are not worrying about what others worry about… childcare……you enable this ease…….

I’d think twice about your offer to babysit. The repurcussions on you and what your giving up.
Holy chit……twins……you think your busy NOW…….?????

Maybe it’s time to allow them to ‘fend’ for themselves and figure this all out.
Give them until summer break, when mammas off from school and has the summer to figure out HOW she’s going to make this work for her family.

You KNOW you can’t save others.

The answer WILL come to you….it just may not be easy.


Dear Kim

“A burden shared is halved, a joy shared is doubled.”

Of course you feel better! You are getting healthy and you can SEE the dysfunction.

NO one should in my opinion be “happy” when a child is to be born to someone who is not responsible, and that’s just the facts.

The “social” niceties of Being “happy” when someone is preggers I think is so FALSE because how can anyone be HAPPY when a child of 14 is preg? or an alcoholic woman who has 4 kids already and “not enough” money for them when she’s preggers with twins? How about the “octa mom” with her 8 babies in a litter when she had 6 at home already she couldn’t support? I can’t blame you, I wouldn’t be HAPPY about your daughter’s pregnancy either. The whole pregnancy thing sounds to me like a “get out of jail free” card attempt to get everyone off her back for her issues….now that she’s preggers they can’t “attack” her for her bad behavior any more. Sounds really “gamey” to me.

That’s the problem with other people’s problems, we love them, we love their kids and in order to be around their kids we have to put up with their bull chit…which is why I am so glad I don’t have any grandkids….can you imagine just how much pain I’d have if I had grandkids with the bio-kids I have? UGH!!!! It would rip me a new one. I definitely understand how Mama Gem feels, wishing she could have a relationship with her grandkids but because of her kids she can’t.

I guess the best part of being out of the relationshits with the bio-sons is that at a distance from me, it is pretty hard for them to disappoint me, or emotionally hurt me or surprise me. I don’t trust them so there’s no way they can break my trust that ain’t there. I literally don’t have anything to lose where they are concerned. That’s worth something I guess. No positive thing, but no negative thing either.

kim frederick,

I KNOW that you are a terrific grandmother, taking great care of the children who are in your care. The child care providers in my area charge about $150.00 (or more) per week to provide day care for children. Since your daughter is probably in a two income household (husband is employed, I’m assuming), I question why she doesn’t pay you more? You deserve to earn more money than $2.00 per hour. Tell me to butt out if you want to, but your time (and the work that you do) is valuable.

Well, the nannying was a semi-solution for both of us.
A lot of you who know my story know that I have a background, and in this economy it has been impossible for me to find a job. I haven’t tried since May, now, but before that was rejected repeatedly…and that is no fun!!!
I suppose that soon I will have to try again, because this doesn’t seem to be working very well anymore.
She got affordable child-care, and I had a little money.
I also got to spend time with my GK’s.
It has not gone well since her DUI in November. I had the flu for two weeks and continued to get out of bed at 5:30 AM and come to her house everyday. She had no one else. She couldn’t afford for me to be sick…well, actually, I couldn’t afford it either….I was afraid the toddlers would get it, but thankfully they never did. At this time she continued to run errands, after work, usually without telling me, and getting home late. Yeah, I am a little resentfull about the self-centeredness. Sigh.
I hate to feel this way. I usually end up feeling guilty and apologize. whew.


kimmie, ‘Yeah, I am a little resentfull about the self-centeredness. Sigh.’ Use your resentment to motivate yourself to care for yourself. I am learning this right now, in my very stressful job situation.

You are sobbing because YOU are NOT in denial. She is in a very bad way. She is going to fall apart. Now or ? But she is. She needs treatment, and will ONLY get there when she bottoms out.

I would set up some time to babysit (at $2 hour???), but go looking for a job. You cannot be the sole childcare when this hits the fan.

No guilt/ no apologie sweetie – take care of yourself. Better that you don’t hold up the bottom!

kim frederick,

I think you are a wonderful person, being someone that I respect (because you open yourself up, telling how it really is). When you are up to it (going at your own pace), conduct a job search or become self-employed. There are house cleaners where I live who will charge $20.00 and up to clean residential homes. My friend has an 80 year old cleaning lady (she’s had her for 10+ years, having responded to an add in her church’s bulletin – the lady has gone up in price over the years, now charging $20.00 per hour)) who comes to her house every other week and cleans, doing a great job of it. Oh, and my friend tells me that this petite little lady is booked, not being able to take on more customers, working two jobs per day! My friend had breast cancer years ago and has some health issues related to her treatment, so she loves when her cleaning lady comes to her house. I know that having a record makes it more difficult to search for a job, but not impossible. I always wish you well.

Dear Kimmie,

Sugar, look at the feelings that go along with all this:

“I am beginning to RESENT…”

Okay, you are ENABLING her to care for her children—you are doing for her (for peanuts) what she should be doing for herself. (providing day care for her kids) My guess is that while you are at her house you cook and clean as well. (come on admit it!) LOL

So you are being an ENABLER and what happens when we enable others? They don’t take care of their own responsibilities and we BEGIN TO RESENT IT….and we start seeing how they are NOT LIVING THEIR LIVES IN A REASONABLE MANNER (AND I agree she isn’t!—drinking, driving and drinking, and getting preg (with twins yet!) when she can’t afford the 4 she has!) and you are “not being supportive” (WELL, yea!!!! who would be!) so she is starting to RESENT your interferance.

RING AROUND THE ROSEY—and everyone is playing the dysfunctional game! You are her “victim” by providing cut rate child care, she is the persecutor by not paying you enough.

You are the persecutor because you don’t approve of her preg with twins (or her drinking and purging etc) and she is the poor pregnant victim of her mean old mommie who calls her sissie to bitch about mommie not being supportive (read: enabling) enough! She may have to move nearer hubby’s family to get them to take care of her and her 6 kids. DUH!!!

Kim–your eyes are open, I know you know about enabling and co-dependency and sugar this is coming from the QUEEN OF ENABLING, ME!!!!! So now it is time for you to step up and quit enabling her pretty quickly here. I’m not saying give her 2 weeks notice, but at the same time, she needs to make ALTERNATIVE plans for the times you get sick. What happens if you had a broken leg or died? She WOULD have found some way to cope (or not) so YOU are a BAAAAAD girl (BOINK!) for not taking care of YOUR health because of HER POOR PLANING OR LACK OF PLANNING.

I suggest you give her a set time that you will be no longer taking care of her house and kids because you need to job hunt on a full time basis.

Kim, I know, I know, I knowwwwww! I’ve boinked myself a thousand times as well…..I have had to have some serious talks with Oxy about taking care of ME FIRST and putting my needs first. I know you love those kiddies and it isn’t only for your daughter that you are doing it but to be with the kiddies, too…but maybe you can put her on notice that you will be RETIRING from child care at the end of this school year.

I realize the economy is the pits, but at the same time, there ought to be something that you can do to make $2 an hour or 24$ per day–sheet, Kim, you could pan-handle that much! A friend of mine in Texas (not the ex-best friend) lost her job and she went to the food pantry for food. They asked her if she would volunteer there and she said “Yes, I’d love to but I don’t have gas money to get over here” so they hired her at $9 an hour and all her groceries, so she ended up with a job and her eats as well!

I know you have a degree in Lit so put an ad on Craig’s list or around as a tutor for high school kids or whatever. Reach out there, Kimmie! I know you can do it! (((hugs)))

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