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2013 Shows

Sara says after her 23-year marriage fell apart, her three children turned on her -- and she blames her ex-husband, Mark, for brainwashing them against her. Mark says Sara is irrational and hostile and has harassed their kids with angry emails and phone calls, causing them to withdraw from her. Sara says she’s so determined to reclaim a place in her children’s lives, she started a campaign to fight Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), and even launched a website, using examples from her own life to make an impact. Mark claims the website is filled with lies and has become a personal attack against him -- and only fuels their children's anger. Hear why Mark and his new wife, Mikel, say they are afraid of Sara and each obtained a restraining order against her. After cutting off contact with Sara a year ago, Mark and Mikel temporarily lift their protective orders to face her on Dr. Phil’s stage. Can these exes put the past behind them and make peace? Plus, Sara and Mark’s 22-year-old daughter, Julie -- who hasn’t seen her mother in more than four years -- joins the discussion. Is she open to fixing their broken relationship?

Find out what happened on the show.
Replied By: looopy on Apr 15, 2014, 6:56PM - In reply to mommatoad
"Unless you have been there - which is so often the only means to validate - do not ever think you as the mother can leave without risking this cruel form of alienation."

I don't think I could leave my children without risking their hating me. Why would I expect no repercussions for abandoning my kids?

The only reason to leave that I can think of for leaving your children is death or mental illness. For those who have to flee an abusive spouse, go ahead, leave, but you'd better find a way to bring those kids with you. Leaving the kids with a monster like that, there's a special place in hell for you.  

This mother is blaming the father for the kids' reaction to her behavior, which was to push her away. I think that happens a lot, that the parent blames the other parent. It's much easier than self-examination and owning your responsibility in alienating your own children. 

Replied By: omarapeti on Mar 20, 2014, 3:51AM
I NEVER write on message boards or comment on anything like this but I was compelled to after watching todays show with Sara Hassman.

Unfortunately, the entire situation is almost identical to ours.  I met my husband just over 3 years ago.  He was recently sepearated from Sara's double.  In those three years we have spent thousands of dollars, hours & emotions trying to build a situation in which the two beautiful children they share, can remain untouched by any adult conflict.  Alternately she has spent all her time & energy doing the exact opposite.  I know what you're thinking ( I can even imagine the expression on your face) - new wife resents old wife.  I can hand on my heart say that I have tried EVRYTHING to build a relationship with this woman in the interests in creating an environment in which these two children would never witness any conflict between any adults involved in their care.

Sara is a nacissist.  Her crocodile tears and over the top displays of emotion were embarassung until you think about the mental state of a person that would behave in that manner; then they become alarming.  Her ability to identify personal boundaries was non-existant - after seeing and hearing her daughters thoughts regarding not being ready to see her mother to then accost her on stage in front of an audience of millions was cringe worthy.  Her daughters intentions were very clear - to get her mother the assistance to overcome her issues.

No, Dr Phil was not his 'straight from the hip' self - he clearly identified a person unable to rationalise or identify their mental instability and acted accordingly.

I hope that Sara is able to get the help she needs for her childrens sake - Julie is a tremendous woman because of her father and stepmother and INSPITE of her mother.
Replied By: shifmanalan on Mar 17, 2014, 10:08PM
I was Sara's attorney in her Family Law case.  I crossed examined her son on the stand.  Something was very unusual about his behavior.  I saw how the father talked to the son in the hallway.  It was very difficult to see how Sara was treated.  I hope she gets her wishes as any mother would want.  One day the kids will understand that this mother loves them.  Whether Sara needs to work on her skills may be up for debate, but not her love for her children.  Best wishes to her.
Replied By: saunca on Mar 14, 2014, 10:02PM - In reply to mischa55
In reply to Mischa55;

Actually, due to Sara's very public online battles (via Facebook, blog, guest appearances, court cases, etc) it is fairly easy to conclude that she was emotionally distraught prior to her kids refusing to see her. Sara references filing a "parental alienation" lawsuit against her parents. There are also records of her suing at least one of her previous employers. I think both happened before her divorce/new PA claims. 

I'm sure, however, that losing her children didn't help her emotional stability. Hopefully, she'll go to counseling even if her daughter won't go with her. 
Replied By: mischa55 on Mar 11, 2014, 5:57PM - In reply to rogueokie
Trying to get her kid's attention with the water hose and copious e-mails is what an emotionally distraught, desperate mom does.  She was emotionally distraught BECAUSE her children refused to see her or talk to her.  She doesn't strike me as always being this way.

I'll bet marbles to chalk that one or both of those parents have DECADES of photos, film and DVDs showing MOM making x-mas, birthdays . . . ALL holidays really special for the kids.

Ask yourself WHY her kids refused to see her just days or weeks after she left the family home (their visits apparently tapering down to nothing . . . very typical of PAS).

WHY wasn't the dad put on the hotseat on the show as to on WHY he didn't produce the kids for their visit with mom and tell them they had to stay with their mom until the visit was over and she brought them back?  HE WAS ONE OF TWO PARENTS who initially agreed to or was ordered a particular child custody schedule, NO?  I'd like to hear his sorry a** excuse of, "Oh, they were AFRAID of her.  I couldn't make them go.  They begged me not to make them see them their mom.  My hands were tied."  Blah, blah ...

Replied By: mischa55 on Mar 11, 2014, 5:30PM
With a capital "N."  I'm not a mental-health professional but have seen and witnessed this stuff first, second and third-hand.  This is a classic instance of successful PAS at the hands of the father.  He came on the show to try to brush off his cuffs again AFTER the severe emotional and psychological damage was already done to his children and their mother. 

The father comes across as continually "whisking the flies away from his starched cuffs" as all well-groomed passive-agressive closet narcissists predictably do.

Just calling a spade a spade here.

I'm not saying here that the mother didn't make mistakes during and after the divorce proceedings.  Sending 1500 e-mails to her kids when they wouldn't return her calls and e-mailing the father's new spouse out of the blue was not wise but the done in the vein of desperately trying to get her children's attention when their father was playing games with restraining orders.

THOSE KIDS WERE APPARENTLY IN A LOVING RELATIONSHIP WITH THEIR MOTHER UNTIL SHE LEFT THE FAMILY HOME IN A DIVORCE ACTION, PERIOD.  She was likely a codependent and very, very likely the SOLE CARETAKER of her children all the way up to the time she got her own place during the pending divorce and they stopped seeing her. The mother, although obviously well-educated, was a SAHM, most likely at the behest of her high-earning spouse.  PAS indoctrination of the children by the potential PAYOR of child support is very, very common, people.  High-earning parents of both sexes are heavily counseled by their attorneys to move in court for as much a percentage of custody timeshare of their children as possible.  They begin by suing for 100% custody timeshare and simultaneously indoctrinating their children against the other parent.  More often than not, they have possession of the larger home in the better area (and likely better schools) because they can afford it and the lower-earning or non-earning spouse cannot.  This is especially true in expensive coastal housing markets in the US.

Unfortunately, whoever has the most money (and most well-connected attorneys) in a divorce "wins."  I have seen MANY perfectly decent, non-addicted, non-incarcerated moms of all walks of life lose contact with their children when the dad remained in the family home, refinanced it and paid out to her her share of the equity, as is what probably happened here.  Some of these moms are STILL ALIENATED from their children of 35+ years of age as the scars of alienation and very slow to heal, if ever.  I think that in this case, after the mother left the home, she had the arduous task of healing her soul from the damage the narcissist inflicted on it (an often lengthy process) in her long dance with him as a codependent, thus all the therapy she mentions she had.  Judging from her apparent physical fitness, good grooming and all the stuff that everyone agrees she taught her kids, I have a feeling the mom ran a tight ship with her kids and had control over all aspects of their lives while the father took no part in their raising up until he filed for divorce because he was primarily away making money.

After the dad filed for divorce, his attorney told him that he now needs to be "father of the year," or he faced a HUGE exposure to child support, because there were three children and the mother was a SAHM who hadn't worked in decades.  So he quickly remarried to get help raising them.  This scenario is very, very typical.

It appeared the mom may have been on an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication on the show.  I felt bad for her because her supposedly "adult" 23-yo daughter came on the show acting like she was 10 years old again, bringing up "You called me fat [when I was a kid]," infractions and other BS that happened a long time ago.  Sorry, but if your child is becoming obese, it IS time to mention it to them and limit their intake of high-calorie snacks.  They will thank you for it when they hit their teens, especially a girl.  This still-chubby daughter didn't seem that "well-adjusted" or mature for her age, having been under on the "dad's watch"/and or influence for the last five years.  I find it very telling that her sons wouldn't have anything to do with their mom with no explanation.  That is indicative of being severely alienated form her.

Family courts in large metropolitan areas are SWAMPED and don't have the resources to figure out what is going on in the cases where child custody is in dispute.  One judge often hears up to 60 cases per day.  The child advocates, therapists, minor's counsel, and special masters appointed by the courts  (who have up to 75 cases at a time and are severely underpaid for each one), basically do nothing but "milk the case by dragging it out" trying to get recalcitrant parties to stipulate to any minor custody/visitation change without actually taking it into court, even a one-time weekend or holiday adjustment.  It often takes YEARS for them to come up with a "report of their findings" to the court.  Their typical M.O. is to bill the court (or parties' counsel) monthly for do-nothing phone calls and letters.  Divorce and child custody is a HUGE MULTIMILLION DOLLAR racket for these folks and the only "winners" are the attorneys and multiple "professional" players in this game.  The "best interest of the children" doctrine is an inside joke.  There is no such thing.

The mom appears to now be over 55 years of age and I have to say I really feel for her.  I can imagine that it is very hard being alone and estranged from her children just because she divorced their dad and is still working on salvaging her mental health since she successfully escaped from the narcissist (sans her kids).  Most codependents never make it that far.

My advice to all lower-earning or non-earning spouses with children in a bad marriage is:  If you do not fear for your or your children's safety and your mental health is not deteriorating, STAY in the marriage, live parallel lives with your spouse, move into a spare room if necessary and soldier on in your kid(s) day-to-day lives.  Even if you discover your spouse is having an affair, etc, do NOT leave the family home or file for divorce UNTIL a minute and a half after your last kid moves their HS grad tassel to the other side of their head.  Then quietly file, serve and walk away knowing you have done all you possibly could by your kids.

I realize this mom had no choice as she wasn't the one who filed for divorce.  This is unusual as 90% of divorces are filed by women.  I am hopeful that the intervention put in place by Dr Phil is successful in reunification of mother and daughter in this case.

Replied By: jackeen77 on Mar 7, 2014, 9:24PM - In reply to helenmurphy33
I totally Agree! Its very clear to me that this woman has a mental issue which really needs to be seen to. I found it extremely uncomfortable to watch and couldnt believe that her kids, X husband nor Dr Phil picked up on this.People laughing at her in the audience and every one pointing the finger at her. She is a very sick woman and shouldnt be  mocked like that. She doesnt under stand what she is doing as she is sick! She needs medical attention and im sure any doctor be it physictrist or physican that watched the show would see she has some sort of mental illness and that is why she is acting in the way she does. Its not her fault, she cant help it as everything she says or does, she doesnt see the problem, but how could she when nobody is helping her to get better. If that was my mother, i would see that there is something seriously wrong and get her help and assessed.Her reality is distorted and you can tell this by the way she talks about issues etc..... 

Concerned Fan
Replied By: osbdrphilfan on Feb 26, 2014, 12:42PM
Like "Read" and "Respond" ??  Pretty please!

I hate to be critical when potentially staring a gift horse or wise man in the eye, but I have written several letters and offered lengthy carefully thought-out Comments on the topic of parental alienation and searched for unbiased resources in an attempt to find self-help on the topic of an 'amputated father' or parent... without any acknowledgment or response.  I realize you appear on TV to make money and that you were not placed on this earth to solve everybody's challenges overnight or for free... I am just frustrated as my pain subsides for a brief period, then comes raging back.  I cannot find any resource that deals with what appears to be my 'narrower' issues (based on absence of resources readily available)... I am getting desperate for help and/or guidance.  

I realize this topic may not appear to have the sensational factor that makes TV news, but I have to suspect far far many more divorced parents are seriously afflicted by being shut-ou of their children's lives by the divorced custodial parent than most people realize.  Dr. Phil, you are my greatest hope and likely my only hope.  I hope you & your producers revisit this issue (without a delusional woman like Sara) to genuinely help hurting people in a similar position.

Best wishes!
Replied By: uniquelyjewels on Feb 14, 2014, 5:59AM
This woman had mental issues while they were still married. That was brought out very clearly in the show. She did NOT help herself by coming on this show.  Wow.....this woman....."whackadoodle!" 
Replied By: rogueokie on Feb 11, 2014, 1:37PM
Anyone who has ever lost a child in this way knows this...well of course she has a mental health problem.

Did she get sick before, or because her kids were taken?  In a manipulative way?  By people she loved and trusted?  With the help of a sytem she had been taught was there to help her? 

You know how they say time heals?

When you lose a child like this, it never heals.  It just becomes a part of you. 

This happened to me.  Back then I was productive, educated, active and happy.  Also broke and tired sure.  Who isnt?

After....30 years, later...I am now on disability due to severe mental and physical health issues, including PTSD...

I would be interested in any research on this. PAS (seems?) to be getting more attention these days. What long term impact, if any, does PAS have on children? 

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