Recently my ex-wife, Eugenia Middleton (aka "Nina"), informed me that our daughter, Kyra Toomre, has received her first college acceptance letter. Supposedly, the university to which Kyra was accepted has "a good environmental policy program and an excellent theater program." Nina was pleased for Kyra and assumed that I would be too.
This is indeed good news. I am sure that Kyra feels much better that at least some college wants her to be a part of their student body. It should be noted that this latter point is conjecture as Kyra for whatever reason(s) has repeatedly and adamantly refused to have any communication whatsoever with her father and the rest of the paternal side of her family since April 2005.
This college news also raises some concerns, which other parents might also share. First, this particular university has a reputation among some as a "party school" and for hard drinking and such. Perhaps the reality of this university is different than one of its popular caricatures which might be summarized as "a Southern party school for upper middle-class kids from the Northeast." One does not know yet whether that caricature is an accurate portrayal or not.
Further, the university is located near an area with an abnormally high crime rate, which naturally worries any parent about the safety of their child. Finally, what was most disconcerting about this news was there had been absolutely no prior communication that Kyra was even considering this college, let alone going to apply for an early decision. In short, there simply had been no need to become even somewhat educated about this college's relative strengths and weaknesses before her application.
The current situation with Kyra is hardly a surprise, though. As has been the case for nearly the last seven years, there has been extremely limited direct communication between Kyra's father and both Kyra and her mother. Very sadly, such circumstances are often the end result when one parent is thought to suffer from a condition commonly referred to as Parental Alienation Syndrome ("PAS").
For those less informed, Lars Toomre has previously written about PAS here, here and here. PAS can be characterized as a continuing condition where the selfish, vindictive and malicious actions (including systematic denigration) by one parent, most of frequently the mother, are intended to alienate the child against the child's other parent, typically the non-residential father. Such highly manipulative, malicious behavior is considered by many to be a form of child abuse. Sadly, it frequently manifests itself in cases of contested divorce, especially those where one parent subconsciously uses the child almost as a weapon in custody and child rearing disputes.