Girls' Friendship Q & AGirls in middle school and junior high, and even on into high school, are in those tricky-to-navigate friendship years that are usually replete with drama, hurt feelings and even bullying. Teen and parenting expert, Annie Fox, in her new book 50 Ways to Fix a Friendship without the Drama gives solid answers to some pretty tough questions we threw at her in this Q & A session. Read on….



By Annette T. Burns, Attorney at Law

It seems that every time a child rejects a parent, or is even somewhat reluctant to spend time with one parent, or makes it obvious that he prefers one parent over the other, parental alienation is alleged.

Being rejected by one’s child has to be devastating. I can imagine why a parent would find comfort in seeking an explanation for the rejection that has little to do with that parent or the child. Finding an explanation in an outside source is self-protection.

It’s not so simple. A child rejecting a parent, even if the child also favors the other parent, does not by itself equal parental alienation. To fall within most professional definitions of “parental alienation”, a child must irrationally reject a parent primarily as the result of negative influence of the other parent. Unfortunately too many people, including attorneys, forget those italicized words. To some, if a child rejects a parent, parental alienation is presumed, and the other parent MUST be to blame.

Professionals working with high conflict couples must remember that a child’s rejection of a parent is NOT prima facie evidence of parental alienation, and remember to look for all three of the elements of parental alienation before jumping to conclusions.

Richard Warshak notes that in the continuum of parental alienation, some (professionals, researchers, parents) will absolutely deny the possibility that a child could be irrationally alienated from a parent. If a child is alienated, then by definition there must be a rational reason. See Bringing Sense to Parental Alienation: A Look at the Disputes and the Evidence. [Family Law Quarterly, Vol. 37 No. 2, Summer 2003].

Others might acknowledge that irrational alienation might occur, but that this is a normal occurrence, and that irrational alienation can exist entirely separate and apart from the influence of the favored parent.

Yet others will argue that a child’s alignment with one parent over the other is a natural by-product of a divorce, or the result of the child’s developmental needs.

Let’s start with the basic requirements of parental alienation (according to Warshak):

  • A child is rejecting a parent
  • The rejection is irrational
  • The rejection is primarily or at least partially due to negative influence from the other parent.

If a situation has only one or two of these factors, it’s likely not parental alienation.

What is irrational? According to Warshak, it’s extreme animosity toward or fear or a parent that is not reasonable or consistent with the history of that relationship.

There are at least two ends to the alienation spectrum. As mentioned above, to some there is no such thing as irrational alienation, so if a child rejects a parent, there MUST be a good reason, and therefore all rejected parents deserve what they get. The other end is the extreme that if a child rejects a parent, it MUST be the fault of the favored parent’s negative campaign.

Do I believe that parental alienation exists? Of course. But when I review a situation where a child is rejecting a parent, I don’t automatically jump to either conclusion — I don’t automatically assume that rejected parent did something to deserve it, and I also don’t automatically assume that the favored parent caused it. I focus on the child; his age and developmental stage; his needs; his social, school and personal life. I am fortunate, as I’m not a mental health professional, that I don’t have to make diagnoses or assign labels. I just have to deal with what’s there. Unfortunately, the parents and attorneys are often so concerned with assigning blame and placing labels that they lose sight of the child and his needs.

When you think about it, only the first factor —- the existence of the alienation itself—is really important when it comes to the child. The child doesn’t care if his alienation is rational or not; he experiences it either way. Factors #2 and #3 are important only for treatment purposes. Therapy for the child will take different directions depending on whether the alienation is rational or not. If the rejection of a parent is based on rational reactions to experiences that the child has had with that parent, the child’ therapy will focus on strategies to deal with the parent’s shortcomings or issues (such as a parent’s personality disorder, different parenting styles, or lack of parenting skills). If the estrangement is based on irrational justification, the child’s therapy can focus on returning the child to a more realistic and accepting view of the estranged parent.

As pointed out by Johnston, the term “parental alienation” focuses on the parent (and fault) rather than on the child. A more helpful and appropriate term, according to Johnson, might be “alienated child”. Children of Divorce Who Reject a Parent and Refuse Visitation: Recent Research and Social Policy Implications for the Alienated Child [Family Law Quarterly, Vol 38, No. 4, Winter 2005] A change in terminology might allow the court system and professionals who are trying to help the family focus on the child rather than blame.


About Unhooked Books
Unhooked Books is the one place for people to find the best and most current information and resources available on personality disorders, high-conflict personalities, divorce, parenting, co-parenting, living healthy, eating healthy, and managing your life. Founder & CEO, Megan Hunter, established one place for people in any type of relationship to find tools to enhance relationships, prevent relationship disaster and handle relationship transition. Her firm belief is that with just a little education, most people can resolve most relationship issues.


Posted on August 9, 2013 by Bill Eddy

An excerpt from the book Don’t Alienate the Kids! Raising Resilient Children While Avoiding High Conflict Divorce

In this chapter, I explain a theory of child alienation that I have developed called “1000 Little Bricks.” It’s based on three Cultures of Blame and the little behaviors (bricks) that children absorb from them. When these three cultures reinforce each other, it is a “perfect storm” which can build alienation.

This is in contrast to what cultures are supposed to do by protecting children and building their resilience for the future. If any one of these stopped being a Culture of Blame, I believe there would be much less child alienation: 1. A family Culture of Blame, when a high-conflict parent is involved. 2. Today’s family court Culture of Blame, which pits parent against parent in an unnecessary contest over who is the “all-good” parent and who is the “all-bad” parent in a divorce, and which involves many family members and professionals who become emotionally “hooked” and feed the escalating conflict. 3. Our society’s increasing Culture of Blame, which turns complex problems into the simple blaming of individuals, with lots of all-or-nothing commentaries, unmanaged emotions and extreme behaviors repeated endlessly through the news media, entertainment and politics, which feed alienation on a larger scale and influence children’s personality development.

I will also introduce the brain science which explains more about how children learn and absorb these Cultures of Blame, without anyone intending it or even realizing it. It is similar to the way that children learn prejudice.

Cultures define desirable behavior, what is undesirable but tolerated, and what is unacceptable. Cultures define values, status, and punishments for their people. This is all learned, but without anyone specifically teaching it. Everyone absorbs their culture every day through thousands of comments, jokes, images, whispers, styles, gossip, accusations, praise for heroes, disparaging remarks for villains, and social punishments for those who violate the values or the power structure of the culture.

A Family Culture of Blame
A Culture of Blame from Day One: High-conflict parents (especially borderlines and narcissists, as described in Chapter One) naturally split people into “all-good” and “all-bad.” From birth, children of HCPs learn about this. For example, Aunt Mary has been the HCP’s favorite sister for many years. But then she goes on a trip and doesn’t invite the HCP. The HCP is offended and sees Aunt Mary now as “all-bad.” The children learn to take the HCP’s side against Aunt Mary, and this calms down the HCP parent.

Then, the HCP gets in a dispute with the neighbor. The children know what to do. It’s automatic. And the other parent, who may not be an HCP, has also learned that you don’t argue with an angry HCP when he or she is splitting people into all-good or all-bad. If you do argue with splitting, then YOU become a target and treated as all-bad too. So the children have learned the family Culture of Blame: The HCP parent is unpredictable and frightening. This parent’s intense anger and blame can flare up at any moment. The family solution with an HCP parent is usually to tolerate and adapt to this inappropriate behavior – until it becomes intolerable.

Most families don’t have this Culture of Blame within the family. But for HCPs, it’s all about family – the hated people are usually those they used to love, because of splitting. The people they are preoccupied with the most are usually close family members, such as the other parent, one of the children (often HCPs treat one child as “all-good” and another as “all-bad”), one of the grandparents, or other relatives. The children are used to disliking and criticizing one or more of their family members.

So it’s a natural progression to absorb the HCP’s emotions about the other parent in a divorce. The child doesn’t have to be given any instructions. The whole family culture has been doing this for years – including the HCP’s relatives. And the non-HCP parent has learned to tolerate it, so the children learn to tolerate it too. It’s contagious and mostly non-verbal.

Right and Left Brains
The human brain is divided into a right hemisphere and a left hemisphere. Each of these “brains” process different information at the same time. The left hemisphere is active in processing language, words and details. When the left hemisphere is working on solving a problem, you may be conscious of thinking about it. The left brain is more active with problem-solving tasks and planning for the future.

The right hemisphere is more focused on the big picture, non-verbal behavior, and people’s moods. It is very attentive to other people’s tone of voice, facial expressions and hand gestures. If someone in your environment is especially angry or fearful, your right brain will pick up this anger and fear, and your body may tense up before you consciously know why.

For the first three years of life, children’s right brains are dominant and developing rapidly, in comparison to their left brains. This means that they are learning every- thing based primarily on their parents’ tone of voice, facial expressions, hand gestures and the emotional messages they are constantly sending out. They become highly familiar with their parent’s regulation of their own emotions and their general level of peacefulness or anxiety.

They learn what triggers anxiety in their parent and what calms them down. This is all learned before they really understand language. Their parent’s body language is really all they need to know. They learn the family’s Culture of Blame very quickly and thoroughly – and nonverbally and unconsciously.

With an HCP parent, blaming someone becomes natural. Children quickly learn who’s powerful and who’s not in their family culture. They learn whose moods dominate everyone else’s behavior. It’s natural to want to be on the winning side – for survival. Children are on the road to becoming alienated against several people in their lives well before their parents split up. They are also at high risk of becoming HCPs themselves.

The Family Court Culture of Blame
Family courts are not designed to understand the hidden dynamics of parent-child relationships. This makes sense when you consider that family courts have the same basic structure of all courts, which are focused on individuals. There is a plaintiff (someone who has been injured) and a defendant (the one who is accused of causing the injury). Since 1970, all states have adopted “no fault” divorce laws, which say that it is improper to even consider who is to blame for the divorce. It has become a hybrid structure – it’s designed for two sides to blame each other proving or defending against the finding of fault. However, you are not allowed to find fault for the reason for the divorce. Therefore, other issues become the focus of fault-finding.

When the issues of child support and spousal support first were getting decided in the no-fault system, the parties would argue over how each other spent money. But then states adopted a system of guidelines, which eliminated most of the blaming arguments about how each parent spent money. The same sort of guidelines were developed for property and asset division.

Parenting, on the other hand, is a wide-open potential battle ground over who is “all- good” and who is “all-bad.” With the court’s modern concern to prevent or reduce child abuse and domestic violence, allegations of abuse get a lot of attention and influence almost every aspect of the case. The result of all of this is that family courts still model, tolerate and often encourage high-conflict behavior. Family courts have a Culture of Blame, unless the professionals involved work hard to overcome it. This can include lawyers, counselors, mediators and judges. Ways to overcome this Culture of Blame for each of these professionals will be addressed in Part 2 of this book.

What is important to note here is that the blaming behavior of family law professionals is contagious when it comes to HCPs. Parents know very little about the realities of family court. Movies, TV shows and the news give a distorted view of how family court judges make decisions and the procedures that are involved. Therefore, parents follow the professionals’ lead in managing their cases. Even when many parents do not have lawyers, they still observe the behavior of all the professionals at court and absorb their behavior. They are role models of high-conflict or low-conflict behavior.

When HCP parents become involved in the family court process, they are extremely vulnerable to the thinking, emotions and behaviors around them. As HCP parents, they generally have difficulty managing their own emotions, especially under stress, often because they never had secure attachments from which to learn this. Further, their unmanaged emotions are easily hooked by other people’s anger, criticism, blame, sadness and anxiety. Their emotional controls and boundaries are weak. This means that when someone blames them for misbehavior, or gets angry at them or shares intense fear with them – they pass it directly on to their children.

This emotional contagion can also go directly from the child to parent to professional, as reports are made of inappropriate behavior with the child, large or small. If the professional cannot contain his or her own upset emotions, then he or she gets emotionally hooked and passes anger, fear, frustration, hatred, and so forth right back at the parent, who passes these emotions directly back to the children. It is right brain emotions transferring to right brain emotions, without either person realizing it. This emotional feedback loop easily drives blaming behavior and splitting.

The longer a high-conflict case goes, the more people involved, the more frustration there is without resolution, the more likely it is that the professionals’ frustration and the HCP parent’s extreme stress, fear and anger will pass directly to the children. It’s as if the children were there in every room with their HCP parent during every conversation about the court case with every other professional. The child absorbs the judge’s angry statements, the lawyers’ angry statements, the other professionals’ angry statements, family and friends’ angry statements. The entire family court culture usually blames someone – and when it’s one of the child’s parents, it seems to become an irresistible force which almost no child has the ability to resist.

HCP parents often raise allegations of abuse or alienation at the beginning of a case. This parent often requests that the court restrict the other parent’s involvement with the children. This escalates as legal professionals attack one parent, then the other. Un- fortunately, the family court structure allows this “all-bad” parent and “all-good” parent contest, with lots of emotion and many extreme behaviors – all justified by what the other parent “has done.” This immediately escalates the case into high conflict, lots of anger and emphasis on determining which parent is to blame for the child’s abuse or alienation. Deciding which parent is to blame fits right in with the court Culture of Blame. But this adversarial process of deciding which parent to blame is not the solution – it’s the problem! It helps build a Wall of Alienation.

Our Society’s Culture of Blame
This “1000 Little Bricks” theory goes even further to include the increasingly negative and blaming culture of today’s news and entertainment industries, which bombard children with images of fear and blame every day. They promote the idea that children live in an incredibly dangerous world surrounded by “all-bad” people everywhere they go.

Developing an absolute fear of a parent fits easily into this Culture of Blame. After all, when something goes wrong, the headlines scream “Who do you blame for this sorry situation?” The constant message is that it’s all one person’s fault and we just need to eliminate that person from the planet. These industries teach children to be in a constant state of fear and over-reaction, and to seek extreme solutions to problems.

This Culture of Blame has filtered down to our court system, with numerous TV shows now about using the courts for blame and vindication. Many HCPs now come to court expecting a stage for parents, family, friends, and professionals to blame others. There’s all-or-nothing thinking, unmanaged emotions and extreme behaviors: “It’s ALL her fault! She’s an unfit mother!” or “It’s ALL his fault! He’s an abusive father.”

Rather than trying to change real behavior problems, the focus has become “Who do you blame?” and then trying to eliminate that bad parent from the children’s lives. That’s what high-conflict divorce is often about. It’s not about problem-solving – it’s mostly about attempts to eliminate parents and cling to children.

In today’s modern world, we have 24-hour news cycles which focus on extreme behavior and “who do you blame” for it. Extreme behavior sells. TV, movies and news media know that the more extreme the programming, the better it is at getting viewers’ attention. Our brains are wired to pay attention to extreme behavior. And viewer attention is important in order to sell the advertiser’s products.

With more competition among TV stations, cable and the internet, companies that aren’t extreme in their programming will go out of business. Therefore, what sells is all-or-nothing thinking, unmanaged emotions, and extreme behavior – the key ingredients for developing personality disorders.

This is all role-modeling for children who already live in a shaky world. This isn’t all it takes to build anxiety and alienation, but it appears to be a contributing factor when combined with a family Culture of Blame and a family court Culture of Blame.
Our society cannot survive with this type of unchecked conflict behavior by so many people. We must learn to restrain ourselves – to restrain our blaming instincts. Our brains appear to be wired for intense blaming and splitting to give us energy and group cohesion during wartime. But our families, family courts and larger daily lives shouldn’t be war zones. Today they are, in many cases.


Bill Eddy, LCSW, CFLS, is a San Diego lawyer, therapist and mediator. He developed the New Ways for Families method for potentially high conflict families in family court, which has workbooks and instructions for professionals in four formats, including a Decision Skills Class and Pre-Mediation Coaching. He is also the author of the book The Future of Family Court: Structure, Skills and Less Stress (2012). For more information see He is also the President of High Conflict Institute, which provides training and resources for dealing with high conflict personalities in a wide range of settings. For more information see

About Unhooked Books

Unhooked Books is the one place for people to find the best and most current information and resources available on personality disorders, high-conflict personalities, divorce, parenting, co-parenting, living healthy, eating healthy, and managing your life. Founder & CEO, Megan Hunter, established one place for people in any type of relationship to find tools to enhance relationships, prevent relationship disaster and handle relationship transition. Her firm belief is that with just a little education, most people can resolve most relationship issues.

PADTop 3 Misused Parenting Plan Provisions

by Annette Burns on May 13, 2013

Which provisions of a parenting plan are most likely to be used as a weapon in a high conflict case? Here are my nominees.

Number 3. You need my permission to take the children out of state or out of the country. Many, many parenting plans still include a provision that one parent can’t travel out of the country, or even out of the state, without the other parent’s permission. Now I can understand the provision applying to out of country travel, at least as it relates to long trips abroad, and especially to countries that may be iffy as far as security. (Don’t get me started on trips to Mexico . . . that requires a post all to itself.) But the requirement that the other parent’s permission is needed to take the children on an out of state trip has me flummoxed. Why? Is there an allegation that North Dakota is contrary to the children’s best interests? Now, if that prohibition applied only to trips to Florida, I could almost understand it.

Even when this provision applies only to out of country trips, it is often misused by a parent forbidding a Caribbean or Disney cruise or a trip to a Mexican resort. I recommend that this provision be drawn narrowly, to provide that permission is necessary for travel out of the United States, except for trips of less than eight days involving a commercial cruise. That exception would take get rid of probably 80% of the time and money expended on fights about travel.

Note that my comments above apply only to “permission” required of the non-traveling parent. NOTICE of the trip, including all aspects of the travel itinerary and where the child will be sleeping at night, should always be given to the non-traveling parent.

Number 2. Telephone contact with the noncustodial parent. “The parent who does not have the children is entitled to reasonable telephone contact during normal waking hours.” That’s great, except what is reasonable? And if normal waking hours are considered to be 7am to 8pm every school day, does that mean the noncustodial parent can routinely telephone the children before school? While driving to school? Immediately when school is dismissed? During dinner hour? If the parents are truly reasonable, then this clause is fine (and, one might note, they don’t need the clause at all). If the parents have different ideas about what’s reasonable, then a clause that states something more specific is in order. The parents need to discuss whether the children (not the parents) truly need to speak with the other parent every single evening. Clauses providing for telephone contact every other day, or every third day, might be much more practical. And, a clause providing that “the children will be made available on the custodial parent’s land line number every other evening between 7-8pm to receive a telephone call from the noncustodial parent for approximately 10-15 minutes’ duration” might be best of all.

And the Number 1 Misused Provision: No surprise here: the first right of caretaking clause, in all its various forms, continues to be the biggest point of contention between parents who want to fight. Whether it’s leaving the kids with a stepparent, a grandparent, your next door neighbor, or letting the little ones attend an overnight at a friend’s house, Parent A is likely to claim that if Parent B “isn’t there to exercise his/ her parenting time”, then “I get them before anyone else does.” Disclaimer: I’ve been ranting on this provision since I wrote Second Thoughts on First Right of Refusal in 2008 (and I wrote an article in a Family Law Section newsletter even before that, I think).

If two parents agree to this first right of caretaking clause after a thorough discussion and having a chance to examine how it will really work, that’s great, and in those cases, the provision should be enforced. Too often, that provision is included as “boilerplate” in a parenting plan, and one or both parents sign off on it without thinking through the ramifications. That’s where the post-Parenting Plan trouble starts.

About Unhooked Books
Unhooked Books is the one place for people to find the best and most current information and resources available on personality disorders, high-conflict personalities, divorce, parenting, co-parenting, living healthy, eating healthy, and managing your life. Founder & CEO, Megan Hunter, established one place for people in any type of relationship to find tools to enhance relationships, prevent relationship disaster and handle relationship transition. Her firm belief is that with just a little education, most people can resolve most relationship issues.

Talking Back to Facebook

Talking Back to Facebook

Talking Back to Facebook: The Common Sense Guide to Raising Kids in the Digital Age is new and on sale on our site this month. After hearing author, Jim Streyer, founder of Common Sense Media, give the keynote speech at the Association of Family & Conciliation Courts in Los Angeles last week, I knew we needed to offer it on in our store.

Jim Streyer is an inspiring speaker and gives parents a big wake-up call about what is going on with kids in the digital age. It’s not all about Facebook; rather, it is about kids living in a digital world with which the parents are mostly unfamiliar. Digital has changed kid’s communication patterns and given completely strangers access to your child. This is an issuee that all parents need to manage carefully. I plan to recommend this book to family and friends with growing families. The Common Sense Media site provides reviews and top picks of various digital books, games, etc. This is the list of their 10 beliefs:

1.We believe in media sanity, not censorship.

2.We believe that media has truly become “the other parent” in our kids’ lives, powerfully affecting their mental, physical, and social development.

3.We believe in teaching our kids to be savvy, respectful and responsible media interpreters, creators, and communicators. We can’t cover their eyes but we can teach them to see.

4.We believe parents should have a choice and a voice about the media our kids consume and create. Every family is different but all need information.

5.We believe that the price for free and open media is a bit of extra homework for families. Parents need to know about the media their kids use and need to teach responsible, ethical behavior as well as manage overall media use.

6.We believe that through informed decision making, we can improve the media landscape one decision at a time.

7.We believe appropriate regulations about right time, right place, and right manner exist. They need to be upheld by our elected and appointed leaders.

8.We believe in age-appropriate media and that the media industry needs to act responsibly as it creates and markets content for each audience.

9.We believe ratings systems should be independent and transparent for all media.

10.We believe in diversity of programming and media ownership.

About the Book

Now, more than ever, parents need help in navigating their kids’ online, media-saturated lives. Jim Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media, the nation’s leading kidsand- media organization, and the father of four children, knows that many parents and teachers—unlike their technology-savvy kids—may be tourists in the online world.

In this essential book, Steyer—a frequent commentator on national TV and radio— offers an engaging blend of straightforward advice and anecdotes that address what he calls RAP, the major pitfalls relating to kids’ use of media and technology: relationship issues, attention/addiction problems, and the lack of privacy. Instead of shielding children completely from online images and messages, Steyer’s practical approach gives parents essential tools to help filter content, preserve good relationships with their children, and make common sense, value-driven judgments for kids of all ages.

Not just about Facebook, this comprehensive, no-nonsense guide to the online world, media, and mobile devices belongs in the hands of all parents and educators raising kids in today’s digital age.

Read more about it here

About Unhooked Books

Unhooked Books is more than an online bookstore. I opened Unhooked Books after seeing a need for one place for people to find the best and most current information available on mental health, divorce done differently, co-parenting, parenting living and eating healthy, and managing your life and relationships.

Screen shot 2013-02-18 at 7.38.12 AMAn Umbrella for Alex is a book for children about coping with the abrupt and sometimes scary mood swings of a parent. The author, Rachel Rashkin-Shoot graciously agreed to share her thoughts about the book in the interview below.

First, a bit about the book. It is the wonderful story of little Alex and his family. His parents are at times in a stormy or cloudy mood, yet they love Alex deeply. Despite the challenges he faces, Alex values himself, continues to develop in healthy ways, and learns great skills that help him achieve his full potential, including using his imaginary umbrella during stormy times.

The book was published as a second edition by the Personality Disorder Awareness Network (PDAN) in October 2012 and 100% of net sales of this title through go directly to PDAN. It’s a terrific resource for anyone who works with children as a therapist, counselor, and especially for parents. This book is suitable for both boys and girls, and specifically for children whose mother or father has been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Bipolar Disorder or other mental illness and suffers from mood swings.

Enjoy the interview!

Megan:  Can you tell us a bit about your background and how it led you to write An Umbrella for Alex?

Rachel:  Prior to receiving my doctorate in Clinical Psychology, I studied Infant and Child Development at The Erikson Institute in Chicago, Illinois. During my training, I had the privilege of interning for an organization that aimed to foster healthy connections between very young children and their (very young) parents. Witnessing firsthand how the parent-child attachment relationship can be severely disrupted in children whose parents struggle with various psychological challenges, was not only heart-wrenching, but a huge eye opener. I began to wonder how I might contribute to the psychological community at-large to help those children feel less alone as they continued their development, and that’s how the idea for a book emerged.

: Why is important for kids to understand moods, and what is the most important thing for kids to understand about their parent’s unpredictable moods, anger, yelling, etc.?

Rachel: Children, particularly very young children, live in the moment; they don’t have a sophisticated understanding of their own mood states, or even what a mood is, until later on in childhood. Having said that, young children absolutely do have a sense of feeling states, and it’s important to help them label their feelings early on, and to validate those feelings. Young children living with a parent whose mood states shift unexpectedly, must be reminded frequently that they are absolutely not responsible for their parents’ moods; they did not cause the mood, and are not expected to fix the mood.

Megan: What is the most important thing a parent or other caring adult can do to help a child whose parent has unpredictable moods?

Rachel: Young children, especially, will almost immediately wonder what they did “wrong” to make a parent upset. Therefore, one of the most important things parents, and other caregivers can do to support a child is to remind the child that he/she is not bad, did not do anything wrong, and is not at all to blame for the parent’s negative mood. This is absolutely critical for children to hear as many times as necessary since most children tend to assume their behavior is what somehow caused the parent’s mood.

Megan: As mentioned in the book’s foreword, a significant portion of the U.S. population suffers with personality disorders, which is associated with unpredictable mood swings. Naturally, children are impacted. Can children ‘pick up’ or inherit moodiness from their parent(s)? If so, can this book help prevent or mitigate that?

Rachel: Children can, indeed, inherit a parent’s proclivity towards moodiness but the type of instability manifested in personality disorders is typically (though not always) the result of early relational trauma in the parent’s life. There are multiple contributing factors that determine whether or not a child will develop a personality disorder, but many protective factors, as well. For example, even if a child’s disposition is one that leans towards the type of mood instability found in personality disorders, if he or she is generally in an emotionally validating environment, feels loved and cared for and his or her development is on-track, the chances of developing a personality disorder down the road are significantly reduced.

Megan:  You’re getting ready to release another children’s book, ”In My Corner of the Moon”. Can you tell us a bit about it?

Rachel: “In My Corner on the Moon” is a book that tackles the sensitive issue of children’s traumatic experiences. This story introduces the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder but never actually uses the term. Similarly, the story is careful not to suggest that all children who experienced trauma will develop disruptive symptoms. Rather, it simply touches upon (and normalizes) the various manifestations of PTSD, including irritability, emotional dysregulation, hypersensitivity, withdrawing/clingy behaviors, nightmares, somaticizing, flashbacks, risky behaviors, and “going away”  internally (dissociation) in order to escape the very real and painful memories associated with the trauma.  Narrated by 12-year-old, Abigail, the book is straightforward but gentle and has a strong psychoeducational component. Abigail defines trauma in simple terms that kids can understand, without delving into the details of her own trauma, or sugar-coating the healing process. The story’s primary aim is to normalize the response that many children have when they experience overwhelming events in their lives. Therefore, in order to accommodate the widest audience, the story deemphasizes specific traumas and instead focuses on responses to trauma and the healing process that follows. To maintain sensitivity, more emotionally-charged terms are excluded from the text. Interactive questions at the end of each page are included to facilitate therapeutic discussion among children and the important adults in their lives, namely: parents, teachers, mentors, mental health/medical professionals, and spiritual guides.

Megan: Rachel, thank you for sharing your creation with us. It is a pleasure to offer this book to children around the world so they can better understand their world, experience healing and develop resiliency. You’ve provided us with a valuable treasure for the future of our children.

 Rachel: You’re welcome and thank you for the opportunity to share.

meganMegan Hunter is founder and CEO of Unhooked Books and Life Unhooked, a speaking, training and consulting company that provides a fresh perspective and approach to help companies and individuals identify and overcome the damaging behaviors of HCD’s – whether they are employees, customers, vendors, board members, or anyone in your life. Most importantly we help you ‘unhook’ from these peoples’ behaviors so that you can make the right, next decisions – cleanly and clearly. She is also the co-founder of the High Conflict Institute launched in 2007 with Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq., an internationally renowned expert in High Conflict Personalities. She has been the recipient of several awards including the President’s Award by the Arizona Family Support Council (2005), the Friend of Psychology Award by the Arizona Psychology Association (2006) and the Outstanding Contribution Award by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (2010). She is a volunteer in several organizations including a member of Tanzania Project and Vice President of Personality Disorder Awareness Network (PDAN). She holds a BA degree in business from Chadron State College and an MBA from the University of Phoenix. To contact Megan about speaking engagements or to gather more information, email

It’s “All About Better Parenting Month” at Unhooked Books, where we strongly advocate for prevention. Better parenting lands right smack in prevention-land!

Parenting and Mental Health Connection  Loads and loads of research, not to mention common sense, tells us that parenting is key to better long-term mental health and other improved outcomes as children grow into adulthood. This translates into reduced violence, reduced drug/alcohol and other addictions, higher achievements in education, better relationships, reduced dependence on medical, mental, and financial assistance, all leading to a more productive and healthier society. And it all starts with parenting.

In those early years, attachment and bonding with both parents is so important. Modeling empathy, flexible thinking, moderate behaviors and managed emotions has more impact on children, through mirror neurons, than ever before known. Sometimes even the best parents have difficulty with emotionally intense kids and need a little extra help. The books we offer at Unhooked Books are carefully selected after intensive research to ensure they offer help that has been proven to work. We want to help every parent become a better parent through education and skills-building!

A full listing of books included in “All About Better Parenting Month” is below. These books help with topics ranging from the most basic parenting to dealing with kids who might prove a bit more challenging and those who have to deal with unique challenges. We have books on partnership parenting, co-parenting after divorce or separation, helping kids with parents in conflict, child alienation, dealing with trauma, with bullying, addiction, autism, Asperger’s, emotional dysregulation, addiction and other issues. We know more about parenting now that at any other time in history and we have loads of research to tell us what works and what doesn’t work so let’s not waste the opportunity to put it to work for us!

“Reality” TV and Parenting  You may think this silly, but after watching nearly every episode of shows like Intervention, Hoarders, Rehab, Couples Therapy, Obsessed, and others, I’ve observed that nearly 100% of the people featured have one thing in common from their childhoods – absent, abusive or neglectful parents. Some were intentional and others were not, but the effect was still the same. Wouldn’t it be great if we could put these shows out of business in the next generation by helping young parents be better parents now?

February is  “All About Better Parenting” Month  Throughout February we will have author interviews of our top parenting book picks, and the best news……all parenting books are on sale all month!

This is a complete listing of the parenting books on sale this month. And, let us know if you have a great parenting book you’d recommend. We just might add it to our offering!

7 Things Your Teenager Won’t Tell You

A Smart Girl’s Guide to Her Parents’ Divorce

An Umbrella for Alex

Becoming A Better Parent: Ten Things We Need to Know About Parenting

Between Fathers & Daughters: Enriching and Rebuilding Your Adult Relationship

Borderline Personality Disorder in Adolescents: A Complete Guide to Understanding and Coping When Your Adolescent has BPD

Don’t Alienate the Kids! Raising Resilient Children While Avoiding High Conflict Divorce

Helping Your Troubled Teen: Learn to Recognize, Understand, and Address the Destructive Behavior of Today’s Teens

Kids First : What Kids Want Grown-Ups to Know About Separation & Divorce

Mom’s House, Dad’s House: Making Two Homes For Your Child

Parenting a Child Who Has Intense Emotions: Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills to Help Your Child Regulate Emotional Outbursts and Aggressive Behaviors

Parenting After Divorce : Resolving Conflict and Meeting Your Children’s Needs

Parenting from the Inside Out: How a Deeper Self-Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive

Parenting Your Child with Autism: Practical Solutions, Strategies, and Advice for Helping Your Family

Parents Are Forever

Partnership Parenting: How Men and Women Parent Differently–Why It Helps Your Kids and Can Strengthen Your Marriage

Putting Children First: Proven Parenting Strategies for Helping Children Thrive Through Divorce

Roots of Empathy: Changing the World Child by Child

The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind

Through the Eyes of Children

Thanks for being a Better Parent!

Megan Hunter
Unhooked Books