This is an actual Parenting Evaluation Report. For the sake of confidentiality, names have been changed and geographic references and other identifying data have been deleted.
NOTE: Minor typographical corrections have been made for reasons of clarity. The content of the report has not been altered.
Nature of the CaseThis case is a dissolution of marriage. It was referred to this department for evaluation by an agreed order filed on 9 October, 1996. The objective of this evaluation is to make recommendations regarding the permanent parenting plan.
Evaluation proceduresIn order to make recommendations in this matter, the following interviews and observation sessions were conducted:
12/17/96 MR. SMITH interview 1.5 hours 12/23/96 MS. SMITH interview 1.5 hours 1/19/97 MS. SMITH parent/child observation 1 hours 1/20/97 MR. SMITH parent/child observation 1 hours 2/19/97 MR. SMITH interview 1 hours 2/19/97 MS. SMITH interview 1 hours Both adults completed the Parenting History Survey and were administered the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2).
Relevant declarations and court documents provided by the parties were reviewed.
Relevant Background informationThe parties met in April, 1987 according to MS. SMITH, according to MR. SMITH it was in May or June, 1987. MS. SMITH moved into MR. SMITH's apartment in June 1987.
They were married on the Fourteenth of February, 1988. There was a pre-nuptial agreement regarding property. In July, 1987 they moved into a house MR. SMITH had previously arranged to purchase.
During October of 1987 MS. SMITH had an abortion.
"John" was born on 24 March, 1994.
The family moved to a new home on about 20 April, 1994.
MS. SMITH and MR. SMITH began marriage counseling in July, 1995.
MS. SMITH left the home on the 20TH March, 1996 according to her. MR. SMITH states that she left on the 24TH of March, 1996 the day of "John"'s birthday. On 1 May, 1996 the court granted the MR. SMITH's petition that both parents be restrained from removing the minor child from the State of [DELETED]. That order also provided for temporary distribution of automobiles, possession of the family home, and responsibility for debts.
The parents completed parent training classes at For the Kid's Sake in June 1996.
On about the Thirteenth of June, 1996 the present temporary parenting plan took effect. MS. SMITH and MR. SMITH change custody of "John" every two days.
In June of 1996 MS. SMITH and MR. SMITH saw Dr. "Audrey Red", for counseling about the effects on "John" of the dissolution of marriage. According to MS. SMITH the reason for visits was that "John" displayed aggression toward her.
In December 1996 MS. SMITH and MR. SMITH began this parent evaluation at the Parent Evaluation Training Program at the [DELETED].
Social HistoriesMS. SMITHMS. SMITH (DOB XX/XX/61) was born and raised in [DELETED]and rural [DELETED]. Her mother and father were married for 35 years when they divorced in 1983. MS. SMITH has two older bothers, one older sister and one younger brother. She reports that her parents had a good relationship but that her father became angrier after he had an industrial accident and could not work full time. MS. SMITH was about 11 years old when his disability began, her father had worked as a truck driver. Her mother went to work then as an aide in a nursing home. She reports that two of her brothers were forced by her father to have Marine style haircuts when they were in High School. One brother was oppositional to the father's rules in part because he got into fights in school because of the haircut. She reports that her father was very strict and spanked too much. when she was about 12 years old he spanked her with a belt and left bruises. She informed her mother that she would report him to authorities if he did that again (father heard the comments) and he never spanked after that.
MS. SMITH reports that her mother and father did not drink or use drugs. She reports that her father changed his name from [DELETED] to [DELETED] when older brothers, who were raising him, stole his paychecks to buy liquor. The name change prevented the thefts. She reports that her father never drank after he married her mother in part because a close friend died drunk in an automobile accident.
MS. SMITH reports that she was an honor role student through the ninth grade. When she began High School she enrolled in Trigonometry, Advanced Algebra and Latin, she also began to work full time, and her grades went down. She participated in Latin Club, Volleyball, Track and the YWCA. She worked full time as a waitress throughout her High School years and graduated in 1979.
MS. SMITH reports that she was raped when she was sixteen years old in a date rape situation. She told no one about it because she feared her father would say it was her fault.
MS. SMITH reports that she has no relationship with her father and that she has a very good relationship with her mother who has told her that she often wished all the children had been like her.
MS. SMITH reports that when she graduated from High School she spent two years "traveling around the country". She was doing telephone promotions for charitable causes.
MS. SMITH went to [DELETED] in 1982 where she worked in the oil fields and where she met her first husband. They married in 1983 and divorced in 1985. However, she reports leaving her husband six months after they were married because he had an extra marital affair. She reports that they were both virgins when they met, except for the rape. They had no children. MS. SMITH reports that her husband was physically abusive of her, that he shook her until she got whiplash and she had to wear a cervical collar. She reports that they moved seven times in ten months at one point, following the work in the oil fields. When she left her husband she went to [DELETED] where she had friends, and where she could escape from his abuse. They had no children and she reports no abortions. (MR. SMITH reports that she may have had two abortions prior to his knowing her.)
In [DELETED] MS. SMITH met an older woman who worked as a long haul truck driver, and who offered to train her as a driver because her ex-husband would not be able to find her when she was on the road. MS. SMITH did not like the trucking lifestyle and three months later called her mother from [DELETED] and offered to pay her to come there from [DELETED] and pick her up, which she did.
MS. SMITH then enrolled at a technical school in a nurse training program. However, her mother had remarried and she had no relatives to stay with while she was in school during the winter of 86-87. She was not working then and living in her car. She left school and went to [DELETED] after a friend here sent her the want ads which seemed to offer many jobs at fair pay.
MS. SMITH came to [DELETED] State in February of 1987, rented a room from friends in [DELETED] , and took a job in a nursing home. MS. SMITH reports she left that job in three to four weeks because of the way the clients were abused there, and she took a job with [DELETED] as an in-home aide. She reports that she nearly lost that job because she took a neighbor who was in a medical emergency to the hospital, leaving her charge unattended.
MS. SMITH reports that she met MR. SMITH in April 1987 while she was living in [DELETED]. When asked what attracted her to him she said "I don't know" but that "he was interested" in her. She also said that she was on the rebound from her first marriage, that because she was raised Catholic the breakup of that marriage was especially devastating, and MR. SMITH offered her love. She moved into MR. SMITH's apartment in June of 1987 and in July they moved into the house he had bought.
MS. SMITH reports that she became pregnant and had an abortion in October of 1987. She says MR. SMITH pressured her to have the abortion. She also reports that MR. SMITH did not want "John" and that he asked her when she reported her pregnancy with "John" in August of 1993 "Are you sure you want to keep it?" She says that was a selfish statement on his part. She also reports "...we both wanted children." "John" was born on 3/24 1994.
MS. SMITH had a C section birth and she says the post partum depression was severe. She reports that the depression worsened because the baby would not nurse. She reports that they had no medical insurance for the birth because she did not see a doctor early enough in the pregnancy for the insurance company to take responsibility. She complains that MR. SMITH was stingy with money and that she had to pay the past medical bills with the funds from an insurance settlement that she received after an automobile accident in October of 1994.
MS. SMITH reports that she tried to leave MR. SMITH in September of 1994, that she had the car packed but that MR. SMITH would not let her take "John", that MR. SMITH "used him like a toy."
MS. SMITH reports that in March of 1995 "John" had febrile seizures, seizures due to fever. "John" also had ear infections which were complicated by infected tonsils. There was surgery on "John"'s ears, and he had a tonsillectomy in January of 1996. "John" was also tested for epilepsy, in part because MS. SMITH had epilepsy as a child. She says she has no signs of epilepsy now. She reports that she began losing weight when "John" was sick and got down to 98 pounds; she is five foot four inches tall.
MS. SMITH reports that in October or November of 1995 they started marriage counseling and that MR. SMITH started to take antidepressants shortly after that. She says the antidepressants seemed to make him worse.
She reports that she left MR. SMITH on 3/25/96.
MS. SMITH reports that she has had harassing phone calls from MR. SMITH, that those calls were to two or three of the places where she worked and that they caused her to lose jobs. She said she felt like she was being stalked.
MS. SMITH offers the following contributing factors to the breakup of the marriage:
She says she was thinking of divorce when she became pregnant with "John" in July, 1993. That she began regretting the marriage after three years. That MR. SMITH was often depressed and that he cast a pale of gloom about the house. That he never wanted to do things socially, that on the weekends he stayed by his computer or slept. That she was incompatible with MR. SMITH in regards to money, that he was stingy and greedy. That he did not support her financially and that if he did give her money it was in the form of a loan. That she had to sell personal belongings to pay for medical bills. That he did not support her emotionally during the pregnancy, for instance, he did not attend child birth classes with her. That MR. SMITH did not help her with the house work and that he was lazy. That MR. SMITH was self-centered as evidenced by his asking her if she wanted to have the baby, by his lack of financial support, and by his not letting her express her personality by decorating the house with flowers or nic nacs. That his buying a new house within a month of "John"'s birth was another example of his selfishness. That he bought the house because of profit from the old one, and that he bought it in spite of the move being difficult for her, and that he said "new baby, new house."
MS. SMITH reports the following concerns regarding MR. SMITH's parenting abilities:
She reports that she had to take "John" to the doctor because of a diaper rash that developed during the time "John" was with MR. SMITH. That MR. SMITH plays "monster" with "John" and that "John" reported to her that the play scares him. That "John" has been dirty and smelled bad when returned to her. That MR. SMITH calls her "bad mommy" in front of "John" and that "John" then calls her "bad mommy." She also reports that "John" has told her "Daddy shoot mommy, daddy take gun and shoot mommy hard."
She reports that "John" tells her that he has fun with a family friend, "Jane", and she believes MR. SMITH coaches "John" to say that. That she is afraid of "Jane" because "Jane" is out to get her, and conspiring against her with MR. SMITH. That MR. SMITH gave her money, two thousand nine hundred dollars, to move in with her friend "Jane" when she left MR. SMITH. Later she had to get a restraining order against "Jane" in order to break the lease agreement. She reports that she wanted out of the living arrangement because "Jane" may have been using drugs and because she once kept her awake late at night when MS. SMITH was to report at a new job the following day. That "Jane" once told her that she knew someone who could take MR. SMITH out of her life for two thousand dollars. That "Jane" is angry with her, in part because of the restraining order. That "Jane" may have stolen a handgun from her and that she left nasty notes on her car. MS. SMITH says "I'm afraid to go out at night."
MS. SMITH reports that MR. SMITH has abused "John" emotionally and physically. The incidents of physical abuse were when "John" was three months old MR. SMITH grabbed his arm when "John" was being "very fussy." MS. SMITH noticed a bruise the next day and " ... he stated to me that maybe he should watch how hard he grabs "John". That MR. SMITH slapped "John"'s hand and left it red, leaving her to comfort "John". That "John" had a diaper rash in July of 1996. She believes that either day care or MR. SMITH or both, were neglectful of "John". That in November of 1996 she met MR. SMITH and "John" in the doctor's parking lot, "John" was sick, and MR. SMITH had neither zipped "John"'s coat nor put on a hat. That "John" is often returned to her unbathed with his nails dirty and his hair uncombed.
In the area of emotional abuse MS. SMITH reports the following: When Mr. SMITH calls to say goodnight to "John", "John" sometimes says "I don't like you." MR. SMITH then asks him who is telling him to say that. MS. SMITH explains to MR. SMITH that that language is natural in some situations, age appropriate, but MR. SMITH presses the matter and afterwards it may take her half an hour to calm "John" down for bed.
MR. SMITHMR. SMITH (DOB XX/XX/58) was born in [DELETED] He was raised in [DELETED] primarily by his mother. His father and his mother divorced when MR. SMITH was about six years old. MR. SMITH and his sister "Mary", who is about four years older than MR. SMITH, stayed with his mother. His father remained in the area for a few years but eventually he moved to [DELETED] when MR. SMITH was about thirteen years old. MR. SMITH has gone to [DELETED] to visit his father on one occasion since he has been an adult, he describes his relationship with his father as friendly but not intimate. Mr. SMITH's mother did not remarry. She worked for the federal government in [DELETED] and raised the children by herself. She achieved the G.S.13 rank (a high rank) working at the Pentagon and at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
MR. SMITH reports that his mother and father did not drink or use drugs. They jointly ran a family business while they were together. He reports having a good relationship with his mother who now has advanced Parkinson's disease and that he would like her to join him here in [DELETED] when she can no longer care for herself. However, she has friends there and is reluctant to leave the [DELETED] area at this time. MR. SMITH reports that his sister "Mary" does not have too good a relationship with his mother. He describes her as a child of the Sixties who engaged in protests when she was young and that she still is oppositional to her mother. His sister lives in [DELETED] where she does union organization. "Mary" left in conflict with her mother when she was sixteen or seventeen years old.
MR. SMITH reports that he did not do well in school academically. Because he would have had to repeat a year, he went to a boarding school in [DELETED] where he did the ninth and tenth grades. The boarding school was residential only during the school week and he spent the weekends and all other times with his mother. He reports that the school turned him around and with the guidance he found there he did better. He reports that the experience of boarding school made him closer to his mother and improved their relationship. He credits his mother for his current stability.
When MR. SMITH graduated from High School he went to work installing antennas and then he worked for a company that manufactured commercial air-conditioning equipment. He had those two jobs during the two years between High School and technical school. He went to technical school through the urging of a friend who had done the same and who enjoyed some success. Mr. SMITH studied technical instruments. When he graduated from technical school he came to [DELETED] in 1980. He worked for a company called [DELETED] where he installed and serviced electron microscopes. He was there for about eleven years when he went to work at [DELETED] where he serviced laboratory equipment. He was there for less than one year when he went to [DELETED] where he assembled and calibrated Scanning Laser microscopes. In 1993 he went to work at [DELETED], where he still works, giving technical assistance to their customers.
MR. SMITH reports that he had a couple of girlfriends before he met MS. SMITH in 1987 but that he had neither married, nor had children. He met MS. SMITH through mutual friends on the same day he found a house that he intended to purchase. He reports that she was living with friends of hers in a small, not very private room, and that her friends were not very nice to her. He reports, in retrospect, that he felt something like being a rescuer. He further reports that MS. SMITH was attracted to him and that he liked that. They were intimate within a short period of time, they both liked to smoke marijuana and within about three weeks MS. SMITH moved into his apartment. That was in June of 1987, in July or August of 1987 MR. SMITH bought the house he had found and they moved into that home. They were married on February 14, 1988.
MR. SMITH says he was attracted to MS. SMITH because she was "earthy" not "yuppyish". That she could cook from scratch.
MR. SMITH reports that in September of 1988 he had surgery for a parathyroid condition. In November of that year MS. SMITH had surgery on a foot. And in December 1988 he had a chainsaw accident. He reports being in good physical condition and in good health. He reports that he quit smoking marijuana one week after MS. SMITH moved out and ended the relationship. He feels better now because the marijuana slowed him down and sometimes he did not complete tasks around the house when he and she were smoking marijuana on a daily basis. MR. SMITH does not believe that they smoked marijuana to excess, for instance, they did not use marijuana during the day or before work, only in the evening. He reports that no one told him he was using too much and that it did not otherwise interfere with their lives. He had smoked marijuana since High School. MR. SMITH was medicated for a time with an anti-depressant. He began taking the anti depressant after talking with his marriage counselor, Dr. [DELETED], at [DELETED]. MR. SMITH took the anti depressants though he had adverse reactions to them and after consulting with his family physician who prescribed them, discontinued. He reports that the antidepressants did not help him and that he and his doctor believed the depression was probably situation, related to the stress of the marriage, and that the depression had not deepened to organic levels where medication could have been effective. MR.SMITH reports no other personal health problems and that he feels good because he works out with friends at his employer's health facilities.
MR. SMITH reports that he and MS. SMITH saw a marriage counselor during the years 1994 to 1996, as noted above, and that they have seen another counselor for advice about how to best help "John" deal with the separation and divorce. He completed parenting classes "For The Kid's Sake" on 6/8/96. He reports that "John" saw a physician, Dr. [DELETED] at [DELETED] in 1996, because of febrile seizures. And that "John" saw another physician in 1996 after an automobile accident he was in with MS. SMITH. However, he does not know the names of the caretakers that "John" saw after the auto accident. MR. SMITH reports no other past medical or emotional problems regarding himself or his son.
According to MR. SMITH, MS. SMITH became pregnant in 1989 and she had an abortion after they both decided they were not ready for children. He also says MS. SMITH may have had two abortions prior to their relationship.
On 3-24-94 "John" was born and during April of 1994 they bought another house and moved into that home. MR. SMITH says the birth of "John" drew he and MS. SMITH closer for a time. He states that they shared the parenting duties, but that MS. SMITH occasionally "took over" from him when he was doing things like changing the diapers, that she actually pushed him aside on occasion. He explains her pushing him aside, in part, by stating that MS. SMITH loves her little boy. He also says they shared the housework, and that MS. SMITH was an adequate housekeeper. He says he took a week or two off from work when the baby was born.
According to MR. SMITH, on 3/XX/96, "John"'s birthday, MS. SMITH told him that she was leaving the relationship and that she wanted a divorce. She left the same day. He says he helped her financially at the time by giving her five thousand dollars, half of his savings, and purchasing incidental items for her like a television. He further states that MS. SMITH would give him no explanation about why she was leaving except that he was depressed.
MR. SMITH offers the following contributing factors to the breakup of the marriage:
He suspects that MS. SMITH had a cocaine problem for several months, beginning shortly before, and continuing through and after the breakup of the marriage. That MS. SMITH was dating another man prior to her leaving the relationship with him. He was unable to trust MS. SMITH because she lied to him, for instance, about whether she was smoking cigarettes during a time when they were quitting smoking. He was unable to trust MS. SMITH because she was stealing money from him, he says that after much suspicion, he marked bills in his wallet and later found them in her purse. That she was not responsible for her end of the financial arrangements. That she did not pay bills. That she wrote bad checks and did not contribute to a joint checking account. That MS. SMITH was unable to discuss problems with him and that if she was not winning an argument, "she would run away, leaving the house and driving away", that she was defensive emotionally, and emotionally unstable. That she has been unstable in her employment since he has known her and that her instability on the job was due to interpersonal conflicts. That she was not intimate sexually and that she withheld sex from him, and taunted him about it. He says she was excessively jealous of him, that she was jealous about a friend of his who he had dated before he met MS. SMITH and who has remained a good friend of his. That MS. SMITH would force him to choose between herself and his friends.
MR. SMITH states the following concerns regarding MS. SMITH's parenting abilities:
He believes that MS. SMITH may have a drug abuse problem, that she may be using cocaine and if so, he believes her acquaintances would not be good influences on "John". That MS. SMITH's former husband, "Bill Jones" of [DELETED], states that MS. SMITH went with a cocaine dealer when she left him and that she "did the financial thing with him too". That MS. SMITH has spent excessive amounts of money in a short period of time, around fifteen thousand dollars. That period was shortly before and shortly after they separated. That on two occasions she forged his name to loan documents in order to obtain large amounts of money that may have been spent on drugs. That she pawned two handguns and a computer. He had given the computer to her because it had games on it, the same games he has for "John" on his computer. He believes that MS. SMITH was exposed to excessive corporal punishment as a child and that she spanks "John" too much. He states that he has possession of a wooden spatula that she used to spank "John" and on which she had written "John"'s name. He also says that "John" has demonstrated to him and to others how MS. SMITH has spanked him with a hairbrush. Relatedly, he says that MS. SMITH yells at "John". He states that she is too demanding of "John" and expects things from him that are beyond his developmental abilities. That MS. SMITH belittles "John" to the point that he cries, and then belittles him for crying. He states that MS. SMITH has threatened to kidnap "John" and to leave the state with him, and that the threat was repeated in front of the family mediator, [DELETED]. He says his concern is so great that he has fingerprinted "John".
He states that MS. SMITH is emotionally unstable as evidenced in part by her often being angry and out of control, in part by her employment history, in part by her transient lifestyle, and in part by her history of theft. That MS. SMITH stole from him by forging his name to loan documents. That she may have attempted to defraud an insurance company. That she has not maintained automobile insurance and that she was involved in an uninsured accident with "John". He reports that she has had three or four different residences in the past year.
He reports that MS. SMITH may make anti-Semitic statements around "John", or "teach anti-Semitic values" and he says that she confessed doing that on one or two occasions.
Psychological Test ResultsThe Minnesota Multiphasic Personality (MMPI) is a widely-used personality measure that is computer scored. The following statements are based upon the characteristics of other persons in a large-scale validation study who provided similar test results. MMPI-2 interpretations are useful in defining general trends; however, limited weight should be given to specific statements without corroboration from the other sources of information in the evaluation. Its results should not be used in isolation from the other findings contained in this evaluation.
MS. SMITHMS. SMITH produced a valid but defensive MMPI-2 profile. She attempted to present herself in a favorable light. Clients with similar profiles tend to present themselves as normal, responsible, and without fault. They tend to be overly conventional and socially conforming. They can be rigid and they tend to utilize repression and denial excessively. They appear to have little or no insight into their own motivations. Also they may have little awareness of the consequences to other people of their behavior.
MS. SMITH's clinical scales suggest she may reject traditional female roles. People who score as she did are interested in sports; they are described as active, vigorous, and assertive. They also tend to be very competitive, aggressive, and dominating. Her clinical scales suggest she may be anxious and that her anxiety tends to manifest in physical symptoms including body aches, sleeping problems, and eating problems. People who score as she does are overly optimistic and have naive views of their situations and of the world in general. They tend to be immature, egocentric, and selfish. They are insecure and have strong needs for attention, affection, and sympathy. They are very dependent, yet they are uncomfortable with the dependency and they tend to engage in conflict to distance themselves when uncomfortable in relationships. Although people who score like MS. SMITH are outgoing and socially extroverted, their social relationships tend to be shallow and superficial, and they lack genuine emotional involvement with other people. They tend to exploit social relationships in an attempt to fulfill their own needs. They lack skills in dealing with the opposite gender, and they may be deficient in heterosexual drive. They are rather logical and calculated in their behavior and may be rather unemotional. They can be seen as unfriendly by some people. They may have problems with alcohol, concentration, and school. People who score as MS. SMITH tend to harbor resentment and hostility toward other people, particularly those who are perceived as not fulfilling their needs for attention. Most of the time they are overcontrolled and likely to express negative feelings indirectly and passively, but they occasionally lose their temper and express themselves in outbursts or explosions. They may also deal with frustration and anxiety by abusing drugs and/or alcohol.
MR. SMITHMR. SMITH also produced a valid but defensive MMPI-2 profile. Clients with similar profiles tend to be very critical of themselves and of others. They may be ineffective in dealing with problems in their daily lives, and they may have little insight into their own motives and behavior. They are socially conforming and tend to be overly compliant with authority.
MR. SMITH's clinical scales suggest he may be shy, sensitive, immature and self-indulgent. People who score as he did tend to be emotionally passive and harbor very strong unrecognized dependency needs. Such people have adequate control and are not likely to act out in delinquent ways. Men who score as MR. SMITH did fear being dominated by females and are sensitive to the demands of females. Depression is a concern for such individuals; they are easily hurt by criticism, and they feel inferior, unhappy and useless.
People who score as MR. SMITH report feeling traumatized by painful experiences and fear they may lose emotional and cognitive control. They describe considerable problems and hostility in their families, and these problems have significant impact on them because of the importance of their family to them.
Behavioral observations and Clinical InterviewsMS. SMITH presented herself at each session as an age appropriate woman of average height and weight. she reports that she has been too thin in the past. She presented herself as a friendly, pleasant, helpful person. However, she seemed quite anxious while describing some of her conflictual interpersonal relationships. She cooperated in the evaluation process and provided documents and information requested by the evaluator. However she denied any drug use in the family history questionnaire. Later she minimized the use and denied adverse effects of the drugs when confronted with Mr. SMITH's claim that they used marijuana together on a daily basis.
MR. SMITH presented himself at each session as an age appropriate person of average height and weight. He presents himself as a friendly, helpful, and pleasant person. He cooperated in the evaluation process and provided documents and information requested by the evaluator. He also provided unsolicited documentation regarding money that he had provided to MS. SMITH and documents purporting to show her forgery of his name on loan documents. The documentation he provided was computer generated and very orderly.
Parent - Child ObservationsMS. SMITH
MS. SMITH and "John" arrived early for their parent child observation session. "John" was dressed appropriately in long jeans and a shirt. He appeared to be clean and groomed. MS. SMITH did not bring toys from home, but she brought toys from the waiting room into the observation room that were age appropriate. She changed his diapers at the beginning of the session.
MS. SMITH displayed enthusiasm for the play session. She sat comfortably on the floor with "John". She focused her attention upon him during the entire session.
"John" was oppositional toward his MS. SMITH during most of the session, demanding to play as he wished, he built a play fire with building logs. "John" asked his mother for help in his play but when she responded with an idea for play he yelled "no". "John" hit MS. SMITH on the head with a log, she did not respond with anger; however, she continued to direct the play toward what she wanted him to play. MS. SMITH had some difficulty engaging in "John"'s play world on his terms. The logs were not quite age appropriate, they were a little small and required some intricate assembly for building.
MS. SMITH praised "John" at various times throughout the session. She said, "Good boy" "There you go" and "That's pretty cool." However, only two instances of labeled praise occurred. (MS. SMITH's tone and approach to her boy appeared discouraging and invalidating throughout the session.) Her attempts to direct his activity often met with failure. "John" seemed intent on defying his mother. She was unable in most interactions to join with his play and remain child centered. Even during the child directed portion of the observation she attempted to assert her agenda.
MS. SMITH and "John" had some affectionate physical contact during the session, However, "John" was somewhat resistant to physical contact. She looked after his safety by, for instance, moving an electrical cord out of the way of his play.
"John" was ready to end play early. MS. SMITH had removed his shoes for the play and she was able to get them back on by directing him to assist her by sitting for a moment.
MR. SMITH and "John" arrived on time for the session. "John" was dressed in long pants and shirt, he was clean and groomed. MR. SMITH changed "John"'s diaper prior to the formal observation period. MR. SMITH brought age appropriate toys from home and he allowed "John" to bring a lion and a tiger from the waiting room.
MR. SMITH showed enthusiasm for the play. He sat on the floor with "John". He was not directive during the period that "John" was supposed to lead the play. "John" was oppositional to his father only once, at the beginning of the session.
MR. SMITH and "John" played lions and tigers with great enthusiasm, they made noise together. There was some affectionate physical contact. MR. SMITH removed "John"'s shoes, and he provided for his safety. There was one instance at the end of the session when "John" went to leave the room. MR. SMITH said "young man", demonstrating his ability to set boundaries for the child in an appropriate manner.
During the portion of play MR. SMITH was to direct they build houses and garages out of the blocks. They built them very high and "John" demonstrated exceptional dexterity and lightness of touch. It was clear they had built houses before. "John" always knocked the house down and that was obviously a traditional part of the game that MR. SMITH had much patience for.
MR. SMITH praised "John" with more non-specific than labeled praise. Mr. SMITH engaged very well in "John"'s imagined play. He also demonstrated his bond with "John" by often repeating what "John" said. When "John" said "House fell down, MR. SMITH said "house fell down" and then "help me" and "help you", then "car coming out" and "car coming out, vrooom."
MR. SMITH sang a ditty for "John" while he put his shoes back on. "Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my" "John" was transfixed by the rhyme and by his father. There appeared to be a strong emotional bond.
MS. Brown reports that she first did business with MS. SMITH in October, 1994 when MS. SMITH purchased an automobile policy for herself and for MR. SMITH. She reports that in October of 1995 MS. SMITH purchased a life insurance policy for "John" with herself as the beneficiary. She made application for life insurance policies for herself and for MR. SMITH at that time. MS. Brown reports that MS. SMITH then declined the policy, in part because of the requirement for a physical examination. She further reports that MS. SMITH was very agitated when she was told of the requirement for a physical. She reports that neither MS. SMITH nor MR. SMITH purchased life insurance policies but that the application for MS. SMITH had been filed. (Mr. SMITH reports no recollection of MS. SMITH or himself making application for life insurance.)
MS. Brown reports that MS. SMITH had both failed to pay auto policy premiums and issued bad checks to the insurance agency. Her auto insurance was canceled in August of 1996. In late September MS. SMITH turned in a claim for an auto accident. When told the policy was expired she claimed the insurance company had not notified her and that she did not receive notification of the check failure from her bank.
MS. Brown reports that MS. SMITH purchased a renters policy from her in April 1996 and that the policy was mailed to MS. SMITH on 3 May, 1996. She states that she was concerned about fraud when the policy was sold and that she expressed her concern to her staff. She was concerned because MS. SMITH asked questions that agents are trained to recognize as red flags. She reports that MS. SMITH appeared to her as very unstable at that time. That MS. SMITH said that she was moving, that there had been threats on her life, that her credit cards had been stolen and that a gun had been stolen. MS. Brown reports that within a few days MS. SMITH turned in a claim for the loss of gold candle sticks which she valued variously at fifteen hundred to three thousand dollars, and a handgun. MS. Brown referred the case to company investigators who were told that the candle sticks came from her mother. The investigators asked to talk to the mother and were told that the mother had a recent heart attack. They asked to talk to the mother's physician and then the claim was dropped.
MS. Brown stated that the insurance policy for "John" is still funded but that regular payments have not been made. She said that she was very concerned that MS. SMITH owned a policy on her son for fifty thousand dollars. She said that MR. SMITH had offered to take over the policy and make the payments but that MS. SMITH refused the offer.
"Janet Wilson", Daycare Provider.
Janet Wilson has been "John"'s daycare provider since he was ten months old. She reports a change for the worst since the parent's separation. She reports that "John" is very high strung and emotionally volatile. He does not cooperate with the other children. He does not share his toys well with other children. The other children avoid "John". "John" is aggressive toward other children, he hits them and says things like "I'll kill you, "I hate you", "I don't like you." He throws fits when he doesn't get his way. She reports some differences in parenting styles. Specifically, MS. SMITH uses the bottle to feed "John". MR. SMITH uses the tippy cup. "John" prefers the cup at daycare because the other kids use the cup. "John" is not toilet-trained. MR. SMITH seems to support the toilet training more than MS. SMITH. She sees the need for closer cooperation between parents regarding training for age appropriate development.
"Sarah Green", Ph.D. Psychologist at [DELETED] Hospital,
MS. Green met with MR. SMITH four times and with MR. SMITH and MS. SMITH three times between July and October 1995. Her notes indicate that MR. SMITH appeared to be dysthymic. She recommended evaluation for antidepressants. MR. SMITH began taking medicine but it did not seem to work well. Her notes indicate that MS. SMITH appeared late for at least two sessions. She failed to show for one session. Ms Green notes that MS. SMITH was quite defensive and sometimes hostile as indicated in part by being late and failure to show. She notes that MS. SMITH once threatened to leave the state and take "John" with her, but when queried she took it back. She notes that MR. SMITH appeared to be attached to his son.
"Alice Black", Family Acquaintance and ex-roommate
MS. Black reports that she has known MS. SMITH since shortly after "John" was born. They met through a mutual friend. She reports a very conflicted relationship with MS. SMITH. Among her statements are these: That MS. SMITH spanked "John" with a wooden spoon; MS. SMITH said to "John" "Go ahead and hit Alice with that stick, be like every other man." "John" was often sick; "John" was seen playing with MS. SMITH's loaded gun in the house; MS. SMITH left Mr. SMITH three days after meeting and dating a man in a bar where Alice worked. MS. SMITH has had several car accidents and that she drives very aggressively and MS. Black is concerned for "John"'s safety when he is with her in the car; "John" was seldom with MS. SMITH during the time when they lived together; MS. SMITH baby sat for her and that money and other things were missing from the house and she suspects MS. SMITH took those things; MS. SMITH was always plotting to hurt people, such as suing them. MS. SMITH is overly litigious; MS. SMITH asked her on at least two occasions if she knew a hit man who could take care of MR. SMITH; MS. SMITH took her to court for domestic violence and for stealing a gun and candlesticks from her (the candlesticks were inexpensive brass) MS. SMITH seemed inappropriately jealous of Alice's friends. MS. Black reports being afraid for her life because of MS. SMITH; "There is still a gun out there." MS. SMITH gets weird when she feels cornered; "The evaluator should have a metal detector." It should be noted that MS. Black is in a conflicted relationship with MS. SMITH as evidenced by court action.
"Sheila Blue", MS. SMITH's supervisor at [DELETED]
MS. Blue reported that MS. SMITH is a hard worker. She reports that she gets along well with fellow employees and that she organizes social functions there. She says she is the one who remembers the staff birthdays. She says that MS. SMITH seems to be an "honest and nice lady." She reported that she has known MS. SMITH "for about a year."
"Jean Gray", coworker of MS. SMITH at [DELETED]
MS. Gray reported that she has worked with MS. SMITH for about four months. She said MS. SMITH always seems to be "up" meaning that she is cheerful. She reported that MS. SMITH often hosts unit social functions, a pot luck for instance, and that she is friendly and remembers coworkers birthdays. She said she had never seen her angry. She said she is a hard worker.
"Beverly White", MS. SMITH's roommate
Ms White reports that she has known MS. SMITH since about 1 January 1997. MS. White owns her home in [DELETED] and her 2.5 year old son lives with her. She interviewed potential roommates and she chose MS. SMITH. She has observed MS. SMITH and "John" interacting together and she makes the following comments: She says that MS. SMITH clearly loves "John" and that she is attentive to his needs. She says MS. SMITH does not use corporal punishment, but uses time-outs when he misbehaves, and when his behaviors need to be de-escalated, and that MS. SMITH is patient with "John" but also stern when setting limits. She says that MS. SMITH is very "sweet" with "John". She says that "John" "can be a handful", "he is aggressive", "he is aggressive with my son." She reports that with the parent's work, the two boys can get along and play well together. She reports that she has often thought about why "John" has behavior problems and that she once thought he was being taught aggression somewhere, but that now she doesn't believe that but rather thinks it is probably due to his difficult schedule (alternating every two days between parents) and the conflict between MR. And MS. SMITH. MS. White reports that she enjoys having "John" and MS. SMITH living with her.
"Henry Purple", MD Past Employer of MS. SMITH
Dr. Purple employed MS. SMITH for a few months in 1995. He was "John"'s physician for ear and adenoid surgery. He reports that MS. SMITH's employment went well for a while but that she became very upset when a new employee was added to the staff and she thought the new employee posed a threat to her position. Dr. Purple reports that the new employee did not pose a threat to her position. He reports that MS. SMITH often became very angry on the job and that she caused stress among the other employees. He reports that MS. SMITH resigned her salaried position and that he paid her for two weeks in advance and terminated her. He reports that MS. SMITH sued him for unpaid overtime work and that he paid five hundred dollars rather than fight the legal battle. He reports that MS. SMITH was in charge of accounts. He believes that MS. SMITH sabotaged the computer system, large amounts of data were lost, perhaps all the data are lost. He believes that as much as fifty thousand dollars were lost to the firm. He reports that other employees saw her mishandle the computer system. He reports that she did not want her pay checks mailed to her home, as was company practice, and he assumes that she did not want her husband to have knowledge of her money. He reports that she is a very angry and mean spirited woman. He reports that she did not accurately report her past employment in order to be deceptive about being fired from other jobs.
"Larry Pink", MD "John"'s physician
Dr. Pink verified that MS. SMITH had taken "John" to see him. He also verified that he had seen MR. SMITH. In regards to "John" he noted that he appeared to be well cared for. He also observed that MS. SMITH loves her son and that she cares. He said that "John" may be distressed due to the breakup of the marriage and that the breakup appeared to be "messy." He reported that he referred her to counseling for herself and her son. He noted that MS. SMITH complained of harassing phone calls to her work place and that she reported the phone calls were made by the boyfriend of her ex roommate "Alice Black".
He noted that MR. SMITH expressed relief at the divorce and that he believed MS. SMITH had had an affair. Dr. Pink reported that MS. SMITH appeared to be more "angry" and that she appeared "emotionally based, arousable, looks angry."
"Audrey Red", Ph.D. Family Counselor
Dr. Red worked with the family after the parent's separation. She reports that MS. SMITH sought her counseling because "John" was having behavior problems at daycare. Dr. Red made the following observations, based on the course of treatment: MS. SMITH acknowledged difficulty with her moods and her relationship with "John". Her moods were labile. She acknowledged being "up and down". She was distressed because of financial problems. She was also distressed because she had been the primary caretaker of "John" and she seemed threatened by the prospect of sharing responsibility for the child with the child's father. She did not want shared custody with the father. Dr. Red noted that MR. SMITH was more supportive of the child's mother, that he credited her for her parenting abilities. That was in contrast with MS. SMITH's difficulty with supporting the father's role with the child. Dr. Red noted that of the two parents, MR. SMITH was best able to stay connected with both the child and the other parent.
DiscussionThe issues discussed in this section will provide a basis for the recommendations made in the following section. Each issue relevant to this case will be discussed in the context of the [DELETED] State Parenting Act and the criteria for establishing a permanent parenting plan (RCW 26.09.187.191).
Residential Provisionsi) The relative strength, nature and stability of each parent's relationship with the children, including whether a parent has taken greater responsibility for performing parenting functions relating to the daily needs of the children:During parent-child observations MS. SMITH followed the directions that asked her to first follow the child's lead in play and then to lead the play herself. However, during both of those play periods MS. SMITH was often unable to engage the child at the child's level of interest. She often directed play according to her interests instead of reading clues the child gave about his interest. The child became discouraged and frustrated, he once hit her with a toy. MS. SMITH pressed her son repeatedly to engage in the building of a Lincoln log structure despite it's being an age inappropriate toy (it requires too much dexterity and attention) and despite "John"'s disinterest. MS. SMITH did not follow the cues of the child, cues that were typified by oppositional behavior, frustration, and frequently saying "no." She could have more successfully directed the play by giving the child choices among which he could choose and by being more attuned to his imaginal realm. She was appropriately aware of the child's safety during play.
MS. SMITH has taken care of the child's physical needs. She is well attuned to the matters of hygiene, food, and medical care. She is willing to be physically affectionate but again, she does not always follow the child's cues about his needs. MS. SMITH gives verbal praise to the child though she could use more labeled praise with him. The evidence of the parent/child observation session, the test data, and collateral reports all suggest that MS. SMITH has developed a weak emotional bond with her child because of her personality quirks.
The primary concerns about MS. SMITH's parenting abilities are as follows:
Her moods and affects are labile and volatile. She is often angry. Her interpersonal relationships are conflicted and alternate between extremes of idealization and devaluation. Her interpersonal conflicts escalate when there is the threat of abandonment. Her unstable interpersonal relationships outside the family will adversely affect the development of her son. She may be impulsive about the use of drugs and theft. Testing and interview data could not rule out continuing antisocial behavior. She has displayed instability in her living arrangements and in her work history. According to records supplied by MR. SMITH she has had at least twelve jobs since 1990. MS. SMITH did not deny such a history, but she minimizes her own role in the number of transitions. She has had at least two automobile accidents in which "John" was involved, there are reports of another accident that went unreported. At least one of those accidents occurred when she was uninsured. These characteristics are evident in personal interviews, they are supported by the MMPI test results, and they are corroborated by collateral contacts. These characteristics suggest that she suffers from serious emotional difficulties. She has mental health problems that will adversely affect her ability to parent her child. That evidence comes from collateral contacts, as noted above, which describe failure to protect the child, a volatile relationship with the child, and an inability to support the child in his relationship with his father.
MR. SMITH followed the directions that required the child to direct the play for a period of time and then for him to direct the play. The toys chosen for play were age appropriate. MR. SMITH demonstrated great patience with the child and he was skillful in maintaining the child's interest. He was well attuned to the child's imagination, engaging the child at the child's level of development.
The child was not oppositional to MR. SMITH during the play period. Mr. SMITH and child appeared to have played frequently together before. MR. SMITH was aware of safety issues during the play. He was able to be both firm and nurturing when the child needed direction. Physical affection was expressed between them frequently and spontaneously. MR. SMITH praised the child, however, he could have used more labeled praise. A close bond exists between MR. SMITH and child.
The primary concerns about MR. SMITH's parenting abilities are as follows:
There is some indication of depression, and dependent personality traits. However, the evidence for those problems is not great. What has been seen as a depressed mood can be accounted for by his tendency to be introverted and by the situational context, the breakup of his marriage. The dependency problems are evidenced in his enduring, and perhaps overly enduring support of MS. SMITH. However, they are mitigated by his willingness to take the lead in parenting responsibilities. It appears that neither of these mental health issues has significantly affected his ability to parent "John" well. Neither treating physician of "John" corroborated MS. SMITH's complaints about MR. SMITH's alleged neglect of "John"'s hygiene. No evidence corroborated MS. SMITH's allegations that MR. SMITH emotionally or physically abuses "John".
ii) The agreements of the parties, provided they were entered into knowingly and voluntarily:There is some agreement between MS. SMITH and MR. SMITH regarding property, debts, the child's alternating between their homes every two days, and the physical needs of the child.
The child's educational needs have not been addressed because of his age, but that may be an issue in the future.
Decisions about the child's spiritual needs may be problematic in the future. MS. SMITH considers herself Catholic. MR.SMITH considers himself Jewish. There is evidence of some conflict, specifically, MR. SMITH reports anti-Semitism in MS. SMITH's family and in her remarks to the child. Neither parent is greatly active in their religious communities at this time but it is likely that one or both of them will practice their religion more as they mature. If that is true, the child's religious training could become an important and controversial issue.
iii) Each parent's past and potential for future performance of parenting functions:MS. SMITH had been the primary caretaker through the child's infancy. Since the parents separated both have shared the primary caretaking responsibilities. However, there are important questions about MS. SMITH's use of drugs. In the parenting history report MS. SMITH denied that she or Mr.SMITH had used drugs. When pressed on the issue she admitted that they had used drugs but denied that they had an adverse affect upon their lives. Collateral reporters have said that MS. SMITH is emotionally volatile. MS. Black corroborated that MS. SMITH engaged in drug abuse. The test results could not rule out continued substance abuse.
MR. SMITH has the strongest emotional bond with the child. MR. SMITH has been the most steadily employed adult and he offers greater stability of living arrangements to the child. MR. SMITH has used drugs throughout most of his life, but he reports no drug use since he and MS. SMITH separated. He claims that the drugs had an adverse affect on his energy level and his attention span. Collateral reporters have said that MR. SMITH is even tempered. Test results suggest that MR. SMITH has stopped substance abuse.
iv) The emotional needs and developmental level of the children:"John" is just under three years old. He has had some medical problems as described above, but he has not been developmentally delayed because of the medical problems. The ear infections he has had are often seen in children when there is extreme parental conflict and unneutralized aggressions.
It appears that his emotional development has been greatly affected. His daycare provider reports that "John" is not well adapted socially and that there has been a change for the worse since his parents separated. He is high strung and loud. He hits other children. He says "I'll kill you" to other children. He does not share toys well. He is oppositional when he is disciplined and he throws fits. "John" is not yet toilet trained, though Mr. SMITH is working on that.
"John" tends to see MS. SMITH as bad and he appears to resist engulfment as she expresses narcissistic need for him. He is oppositional toward MS. SMITH. He displays some aggressions toward MS. SMITH as reported by her and noted above, saying "bad mommy" etc. He also displayed aggression toward MS. SMITH in the Parent/Child play session, and he did that by being oppositional to her suggestions regarding play. He automatically says "no" to nearly all her suggestions, and once he hit her with a building block when she tried to direct his play. The age appropriate need for his mental health is to attain some object constancy regarding his parents, to begin to see them as neither all bad nor all good. The purpose of that development is to foster in the child a stable sense of his own identity and in particular his gender identity, or his sense of self esteem as a boy and later as a man. The conflicts between MS. SMITH and MR. SMITH may interfere with that necessary development. Specifically, MS. SMITH has verbalized her fears that "John" will turn out to be like MR. SMITH. She appears to be discouraging in most of her interactions with "John". One of the tasks of the parents will be to become conscious of these dynamics and to work together as much as possible to neutralize "John"'s aggression.
If these issues are not addressed maladaption of the child to the demands of preschool, his peers, and authority figures will continue. The solidification of mental health problems is fairly predictable without intervention.
v) The children's relationship with siblings and with other significant adults, as well as the children's involvement with his or her physical surroundings, school, or other significant activities."John" is in daycare now while both his parents are working. His daycare provider reports great acting out behavior, as noted above. His daycare provider appears to be able and willing to work with "John". There should be no change in daycare to prevent further instability during the transition of his parent's separation.
"John" appears to be emotionally closer to MR. SMITH than to MS. SMITH. MR. SMITH appears to be the emotionally stabler parent. His employment is more stable than MS. SMITH's. His interpersonal relationships are more stable than MS. SMITH's. MR. SMITH is best able to support a non-conflicted relationship between the child and the other parent. MR. SMITH has stated in the parenting history report that he believes MS. SMITH should have access to the child and he made similar statements in the private interview. Collateral reporters state that MR. SMITH is supportive of MS. SMITH and that he believes MS. SMITH should have access to the child because the child is a stabilizing influence on her. MR. SMITH has stated to the evaluator his belief that MS. SMITH should have access to the child. In contrast, Ms SMITH would like to greatly limit MR. SMITH's relationship and contact with "John".
vi) The wishes of the parents and the wishes of a child who is sufficiently mature to express reasoned and independent preferences as to his or her residential schedule:Each parent is seeking primary residential care of the child. The child is not old enough to express reasoned and independent preferences.
vii) Each parent's employment schedule:MR. SMITH is working full time days as a technical specialist at [DELETED].
MS. SMITH works full time days as an account manager at [DELETED].
RecommendationsResidential Placement and Visitation SchedulePrimary responsibility for the residential placement of the child should be with MR. SMITH.
MR. SMITH appears to be best able to reduce the child's conflict with the other parent. MR. SMITH has stated in the parenting history report that he believes MS. SMITH should have access to the child and he made similar statements in the private interview. Collateral reporters state that MR. SMITH is supportive of MS. SMITH and that he believes MS. SMITH should have access to the child because the child is a stabilizing influence on her. MR. SMITH has stated to the evaluator his belief that MS. SMITH should have access to the child.
MR. SMITH appears to be the most amenable to change. He has stated his willingness to undergo further evaluation and treatment.
MR. SMITH appears to be least likely to involve the child in his conflicts with the other parent.
Visitation with MS. SMITH should be confined to alternating weekends and holidays. Visitation should be supervised until MS. SMITH complies with the therapy and support service recommended below. The visits should be contingent upon MS. SMITH remaining in therapy at the discretion of the therapist. MS. SMITH should pick up "John" at daycare on alternating Fridays, and return him to daycare on the following Mondays. MS. SMITH should have two weeks with "John" during the summer. That period should be scheduled with Mr. SMITH by the 1st of March. The holiday schedules should be alternated except for Christmas which should be shared, but each segment of the Christmas vacation will alternate every year. The first segment begins at the end of daycare (school) and extends until noon on Christmas day. The last segment runs from noon on Christmas day until the daycare (school) resumes.
Decision-MakingDay to day decisions should be made by the parent that "John" is with.
Major decisions should be made jointly. Decisions should be discussed via fax. The parent therapist should be used for mediation.
Therapy and Support ServicesMS. SMITH should abstain from all drugs and alcohol for a six month period of time, while undergoing a TASC evaluation. She should follow the treatment recommendations specified by TASC.
MS. SMITH should undergo a program of parent therapy in order to learn how to appropriately interact with the child. Sessions should be held every other Friday or Saturday after she has picked up "John" from daycare. She should see the therapist privately on the following Monday to work on her parenting deficits and to perhaps view tape of the parent/child sessions made on the Friday visits. The therapy should remediate, among other things: Problems with age appropriate expectations. Child centered as opposed to parent centered play. Limit setting with structured choices to avoid aggression. Discipline without beating. Labeled praise of the child and reinforcement of acceptable social behavior. Primitive defenses in the parent (projection, projective identification, denial and splitting) that prevent emotional bonding with the child.
MR. SMITH should participate in the parent therapy. The extent of that participation should be at the discretion of the Therapist. The work should remediate the following problems: Better protection of the child. The parent's ability to help the child's socialization, perhaps via home visits with the child's friends, for the purposes of reducing the child's aggressions. Labeled praise to reinforce better social behaviors. The parents mood and dependency traits as they affect parenting skills.
The SMITH's should work with one of the following three therapists: [DELETED], Ph.D. [DELETED], Ph.D. [DELETED], Ph.D.
Communication with the Children and the Other ParentLiberal telephone contact with the child should be allowed.
Both parties should be prohibited from alienating the affections of the child. Both parties should refrain from making disparaging remarks about the other parent.
Dispute Resolution ProcessDisputes between the parties should be submitted to one of the following arbitrators: [DELETED] [DELETED] [DELETED] In the dispute resolution process, the following should occur; preference shall be given to carrying out the approved parenting plan; a written record shall be prepared of any decision reached; the arbitrator should distribute the cost of the process based upon the pro rata split of the fees as determined by the parties, net annual income and net worth. In order to deter an abusive use of dispute resolution, and acts of bad faith, the cost of the process shall be assessed in a way that places financial responsibility on the person who misuses the process. If a party appeals an arbitration decision to the superior court, she/he should pay the retainer fee for the counsel of the unmoving party. In addition, if the moving party fails to better his/her position during the appeal, she/he should pay all arbitration costs of the unmoving party.
Report DistributionThis report should be delivered to each treating professional.