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Reflections on Child Custody and Cults

Article Index
Reflections on Child Custody and Cults
Contact with Both Parents
The Need for Security and Predictability
Children Need to Feel Worthwhile
Learning Skills
Parental Flexibility

by Michael D. Langone, PH.D.

The central question in a custody dispute is what is in the best interests of the children? Regarding this question, I make the following assumptions about children's needs:

    1. When parental separation occurs, contact with both parents is preferable, provided both parents are loving and act responsibly toward their children.

    2. Children need to feel secure and their lives ought to be reasonably predictable.

    3. Children need to feel worthwhile, that is, esteemed in their own eyes, in their parents' eyes, and in the eyes of their immediate community.

    4. Children need to learn interpersonal, intellectual, and practical skills that will prepare them for independent living in the adult world.

    5. Children's parents should have sufficient flexibility and understanding to adjust their expectations and disciplinary methods according to the changing developmental needs of their children.

I do not here attempt to justify these assumptions because I believe that they are widely accepted in the psychological community. The comments that follow are generalizations. Each case is unique, and professionals should always remain alert to exceptions to clinical generalizations.