News & Insights

My Ex-Husband Emotionally Abuses Our Children—What Should I Do?

Source: Newsweek

Dear Newsweek, My name is Alicia and I am the mother of five amazing minor children and two adult sons. I divorced my husband 3 years ago, and due to Covid, things took much longer and we actually separated long before our divorce was finalized.

Anyway, while married I was a stay-at-home mom and home-schooled my kiddos. My ex-husband worked full-time and was generally uninvolved in day-to-day life. 

However, as time went on, I realized my ex-husband was causing a lot of damage to our children and myself. I realized that he was financially, emotionally, and spiritually abusing us, so I left.

He then made it his mission to punish me for leaving. He went on a smear campaign and isolated me from all of my friends and family. “Making things as difficult as he could so I would come crawling back to him”—his exact words.

Part of his revenge was to seek 50/50 custody, which he was awarded because at the time I was still afraid of him and easily intimidated so I was not able to fully advocate for myself or my children. Since then, it has been a battle.

All of the abusive behaviors that were present when we were married are still present now, but because he doesn’t abuse our children physically the court has done absolutely nothing to protect our children.

Despite him having [court] involvement four separate times for throwing our youngest daughter down the stairs, dragging our oldest daughter down the stairs and through the house by her arms, break-checking our youngest daughter so hard she had a bruised and swollen face for two weeks, and leaving our children in a whole other state with a woman he just met and that they knew for a few days.

His abuse is to the extent that his new wife left him after only being married to him for two months because she feared for her children’s safety.

Even still, the judge in our small town will do nothing to protect our children, or even order him to attend real therapy or parenting classes.

One of the most troubling behaviors that he regularly engages in is bullying our LGBTQIA+ daughter. He tells her that being a homosexual is as bad as being a pedophile. He tells her that she is evil and against God—he has even worked with his pastor to arrange very hateful anti LGBTQIA+ sermons. He treats her like a maid and cook when she is with him and makes sure to let her know that she disgusts and disappoints him because she identifies as LGBTQIA+ and listens to the band Ghost. All of this continues to wear on my daughter’s mental health and yet still no one will do anything.

He is treated as if he is a model father and the family court continues to turn a blind eye to everything he does. He uses his religion as a reason to get away with his abuse, stating that he has not only a right, but an obligation, to tell our daughter the things he does because she has turned her back on the Lord.

No one seems to want to hold him accountable and help out our children. He has blocked me from putting them in therapy, receiving immunizations, attending doctor visits, and taking medication. All because it’s against his beliefs and western medicine is witchcraft.

I hired a Guardian Ad Litem who found he was abusive and that it was in the kids’ best interest to be with me full-time and limit his involvement until he completed therapy and parenting classes, but the court also ignored that. I have spent THOUSANDS on attorneys and have only landed in the same spot every single time.

So now, I am hopeful that if I make it public how badly the County Court is failing our children, maybe something might be done for them.

As a healthy parent, he would deserve 50/50 time with our kids, but until then I don’t think he should get it just because it’s his “right.” 

Alicia, Unknown

Newsweek‘s “What Should I Do?” offers expert advice to readers. If you have a personal dilemma, let us know via We can ask experts for advice on relationships, family, friends, money and work and your story could be featured on WSID at Newsweek.

‘Abusive Relationships Impact Self-Confidence…You Need To Protect Yourself and Children’

Lisa Pion-Berlin, Ph.D., is a licensed hypnotherapist and CEO of Parents Anonymous.

You are a very courageous woman to speak out about your family situation to expose the injustice and harm to your family. Do not minimize what that takes. Stop blaming yourself for not advocating harder because you felt so insecure.

Physically and psychologically abusive relationships impact our self-confidence and wear us down so we cannot fight back. Twenty-five years of research into “battered woman” or “battered person” syndrome shows this.

It is understandable that you and your children are in a very difficult and abusive situation. Your focus needs to be on going forward by continuously and relentlessly protecting yourself and your children.

First of all, insults, threats or bodily harm needs to be reported and documented with the police, schools and your own doctors. Clear and complete documentation cannot be overemphasized—print out and save every email, text and voicemail regarding any threats or evidence of abuse.

Also, make copies of all medical records and other entities for your file. Take photographs of the physical damage your children have endured. Make sure you take them to the doctor, as they take pictures and continue to make CPS reports.

It is brave you are making this public. So many parents are afraid when the courts and systems are not helping or protecting children. Make sure you have support for yourself. You cannot stay strong without seeking counseling and surrounding yourself with supportive friends and family.

Also, seek counseling for your children so they can deal with their underlying feelings related to these traumas. Therapists and counselors are mandated reporters. Prejudice and discrimination exist in all institutions sworn to help you protect your children from abuse and neglect.

Even though you have paid for lawyers, if you feel they haven’t helped, you can seek free legal counsel. You may also want to contact your newly elected congressperson or U.S. senators. Senator Stabenow has district staff to help constituents and she is a dedicated social worker and advocate herself.

Local politics are tough to deal with, but the safety, health and well-being of your entire family is at stake. Continue to reach out because asking for help is a sign of strength. You can also call the National Parent Helpline 855-427-2736, operated by Parents Anonymous® (

‘The Safety Of You and Your Children Is The Number One Priority’

Dr. Faisal Tai, MD, is a psychiatrist and the CEO of PsychPlus. 

I’m very sorry to hear about your serious dilemma with your ex-husband. As the mother of five minor children, I am sure that you have your hands more than full and that this conflict only makes taking care of your family—and yourself—10 times harder.

When I hear about all the legal steps you’ve taken to try and improve your situation through the courts and government agencies, it is disheartening that you have not been able to make more progress.

As a psychiatrist, I also would strongly encourage you to seek professional assistance to safeguard the emotional well-being of you and your children. It will be fundamental to your health and well-being, and your quality of life, in the years ahead.

I would recommend that you contact the Child Welfare Medical and Behavioral Health unit for your local county.

Amongst many other resources, they will have a comprehensive list of support services across the state that might be of great assistance.

I wish you the best of luck as you continue to advocate for yourself and your children.

Date: February 11, 2023

How To Educate Your Kids About Racism

Racism is a complex subject to discuss, especially with children. Parents and trusted educators must take the initiative to teach kids about race and racial issues in an age-appropriate way so they can understand and stand up against racism. Raising children in a world where racism still exists can be challenging for parents. How do you even begin to educate your kids on the effects of racism while fostering respect, empathy and keeping them safe simultaneously?

The first step is understanding that parents are the most significant influence and supporter of their children as they develop. Parents can actively teach their children about racism by leading by example and demonstrating the positive attitudes for the child to use.

Read more

Heartwarming Reason Mom Is Helping Her Daughter Shave Her Legs at 10

Awoman has shared the moment she guided her daughter through her first shave on TikTok.

Brandee Mulligan, 39, can be seen sitting on the edge of a bathtub with her daughter Marley, 10, opposite her. Both are lathering themselves up with shaving foam ahead of the hair removal.

Mulligan, from Wisconsin, told Newsweek: “There are bigger fish to fry when it comes to parenting pre-teens than letting her shave her legs, like trying to keep her off social media. That’s a big one.”

The parenting milestone footage has racked up 3.7 million views since it was posted on March, 31.

Read more

Mom Not Prepared for 8-year-old Daughter’s Hilariously ‘Innocent’ Question

An indoor security camera recently recorded a touching moment between a mother and her 8-year-old daughter highlighting the innocence of children.

In the footage, Storm Patterson’s daughter recounts a conversation she had with her friends. The third-grader mistakenly believed her mom to be 21 years old, and her friends attempted to calculate her age. This led them to believe that her mom had given birth at the age of 13.

The 32-year-old mom from Florida shared the adorable conversation that has racked up 1.4 million views in just two days.

Patterson, told Newsweek: “I’m glad she views me as younger.”

Read more

Widowed dad should not take girlfriend on annual father-daughter trip, Reddit users insist

“The dad has clearly stated the purpose of this trip with his daughter to his current girlfriend, which seems more than appropriate not to include her. Honoring the role of her mother, who has passed away, is very personal and healing for them both,” Lisa Pion-Berlin, ACSW, of California, told Fox News Digital. 

Pion-Berlin is CEO of Parents Anonymous, a self-help organization that aims to prevent child abuse. 

Read more

Newly proposed legislation could create national mental health hotline for parents, youths

Newly proposed legislation could lead to the creation of a toll-free national hotline for parents and young people to provide help with mental health, parenting, substance abuse and other challenges.

The legislation, introduced this week by U.S. Rep. Norma Torres, comes as questions loom over the High Desert regarding support for those dealing with mental health crises. Earlier this month, a 15-year-old Apple Valley boy with autism was fatally shot by San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputies.

The National Parents and Youth Helpline Act would direct the Department of Health and Human Services to create a 24-hour hotline for parents and children dealing with issues related to mental health, substance abuse, child welfare, parenting and more, according to a statement issued by Torres’ office.

Read more

Dr. Lisa and Congresswoman Torres discuss the importance of the National Parent & Youth Helpline

In this episode of Breaking The Stigma, Dr. Lisa is joined by Congresswoman Norma Torres (CA-35), a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, who is sponsoring the National Parent and Youth Helpline Act of 2024 (H.R. 7812) to expand resources for American families.

Congresswoman Torres and Dr. Lisa discuss how the Helpline is a vital resource for those that need someone to reach out to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Congresswoman Torres talks about the importance of advocacy, and the legacy of Parents Anonymous and the National Parent & Youth Helpline that is working in our communities and why she sponsored this bill. She believes “we shouldn’t be ashamed to ask for help or show our humanity. The more we talk about issues the better we are at addressing them.” Congresswoman Torres shares how she found support during difficult times in her life and how when something happens in our community, it is our responsibility as a community to support each other.

Meet Dr. Lisa Pion-Berlin | President & CEO at Parents Anonymous

We had the good fortune of connecting with Dr. Lisa Pion-Berlin and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Dr. Lisa, what is the most important factor behind your success?
The critical factor behind our success is that we are committed to keeping our promise to be there for parents and youth, no matter what. Through our 24/7 National Parent and Youth Helpline™ and through the Evidence-Based Weekly Parents Anonymous® groups and all our different programs offered, we are here to support. We make a promise not to blame or shame people, but instead offer to help in their personal empowerment journey.

Read more

Helpline makes strong debut during National Parent Leadership Month

During February, which is National Parent Leadership Month, the nonprofit Parents Anonymous is celebrating the successful launch of the new National Parent and Youth Helpline.

The Helpline has received more than 19,000 calls in its first few months. On Saturday, the group cut the ribbon on its new headquarters in Pasadena.

Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., spoke at the event, saying National Parent Leadership Month is the perfect time to reassure families they are not alone.

“It is a time for them to learn that there are resources available,” Chu noted. “You can change your life around and feel better yourself, but also help your children live better lives.”

Parents Anonymous created National Parent Leadership Month 30 years ago. The nation’s 174 million parents and young people who need emotional support can call or text 855-427-2736 or live-chat 24/7 on the website.

Read more

What Your Child Needs to Know by 5, 10 and 15, According to Experts

Tricky conversations with kids are par for the course when you become a parent. But while many know they have to introduce the idea of stranger danger or eventually explain the birds and the bees, plenty of other topics need to be understood by children by certain age milestones.

Children learn something new every day, and parents work hard to get them ready for adulthood. Sixty-three percent of parents who participated in the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health in 2019 said they are doing enough to prepare their teenagers for adulthood. While raising children is all about pointing them in the right direction, 52 percent of the 2,032 parents surveyed said it’s critical that teenagers have the opportunity to make mistakes.

Read more

Non-Profit Receives $10M Grant to Offer Free Mental Health Resources to Parents & Youth

Parents Anonymous, Inc., a national non-profit organization, announced news this week of a $10M grant they received from the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) of the United States (U.S.) Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to offer free mental health resources for both parents and youth. This 5-year grant will provide essential resources for the Helpline’s services to over 174 million parents and youth seeking life-changing support in the U.S.

Read more