To the Editor:
My hometown of Warwick should know that Mayor Scott Avedisian cares about families.
On Jan. 2, I wrote to Gov. Gina Raimondo and to the mayors and town council presidents of our state's 10 most populous cities and towns. I asked each of them to do what 17 U.S. governors have done since 2006: issue a proclamation recognizing April 25 as Parental Alienation Awareness Day.
Mayor Avedisian was the first to respond. I have his proclamation.
That's not because the mayor and I are golfing buddies. It's because Scott Avedisian recognizes the importance of this issue to Rhode Island families.
Parental alienation occurs in cases of divorce, separation, and child custody. An alienating parent converts a child to the unwarranted belief that the other parent is unreliable, unloving, and even dangerous. Badmouthing the other parent, interfering with visitation, telling the child details about the divorce-these are only a few alienating tactics in the war for children's hearts and minds.
Children who are victims of parental alienation are at risk: for depression, anxiety disorders, lower grades, and even substance abuse and self-harm. This is why parental alienation is a form of child abuse.
And that's why, in nearly every U.S. state, laws require divorcing parents to take an education module-usually a short class-on the effect of divorce on children, to help avoid parental alienation.
Rhode Island has no such laws or marketplace of educational offerings. Divorcing parents here don't have to take a class; they don't have to watch a video; they don't have to read a pamphlet.
And to the children of those parents, we in effect say, "Good luck, kid."
It doesn't have to be this way. Raising awareness about parental alienation-what Mayor Avedisian is doing, with his proclamation-brings Rhode Island closer to keeping up with the rest of the country.
Mayor Avedisian's leadership on this issue is something the mayors and town councils of Providence, Cranston, Coventry, Cumberland, Pawtucket, Woonsocket and South Kingstown – as well as our governor – should emulate.