What is your PA story?
The system might have been stacked against me – I am a brown, ambitious, non-biological, lesbian mother. But all in all, my story is sadly too similar to most of yours. And that is what has changed things for me: we are not isolated incidents.
Is that why you started Simply Parent?
The short answer is, yes.
But actually, I hoped somebody else would do it.
Unlike many other parents in similar situations, when I nearly lost my children I was incredibly fortunate to have the resources and the public visibility of our family to attest to my parentage. I still lost everything in an effort that often felt futile, but too many parents are much less lucky. So after nearly a decade of vacillating, I wrote my story down. In Parent Deleted, I bare myself – warts and all – and call out how our biased and antiquated legal system senselessly destroys loving families.
And with fellow Board-warriors, I started Simply Parent. Not because it’s a fun, exciting venture but because it’s necessary. Because about 22 million parents battle parental alienation in the US alone, hemorrhaging money in court, losing jobs to keep showing up at school pick-up, and living in silent shame because the rest of us assume they deserve it.
We started Simply Parent for all who are silenced by their absence in the law, compromised at every turn, treated as the lesser parent. For mine and all other children who have the right to love both their parents. For those with the power to shape law and policy because we can no longer allow a brutal violation of basic human rights.
What would you say to parents experiencing PA?
Don’t give up, not on your kids or on yourselves. I don’t know if I’d make it if I had to relive what I have been through, but there is not a doubt in my mind that I’d do it all over again for my children.
Honor them. One day, perhaps sooner than you think, they will know everything about this. They’ll hold you to account, make sense of their experience through your authentic account, and learn from your mistakes. And that will break the cycle.
And don’t retaliate. I know many won’t agree with me on this, but you asked for my opinion, right? You deserve to lean on Parent Survival Guide, and draw from Parent Speak meetings, but try – even as everything sways the other way – not to harden or get defensive. Whether you see your kid(s) or not, you are still a parent, making vital decisions every day.
What’s the biggest hurdle in stopping PA?
From my perspective, it’s the silence, and overcoming it is no small feat. Trust me, I know the cost of speaking up; many targeted parents live with the chilling, palpable threat that their tenuous lives with their children could get worse. Raising one’s voice against the establishment that holds your children hostage is more than any parent should have to do. But everybody can help; and that’s what it will take. When one of us is affected, the entire community is affected.
What is your vision for Simply Parent?
My goal is to get to a place where Simply Parent is no longer needed; to a time that we shut our doors – with a grand celebration, of course – because institutionally endorsed parental alienation has become a thing of the past.
What gives me hope is that as a society, we have done this before. In the last decade alone, we have taken on bullying, sexual assault, drunk driving, human trafficking and more and persevered until we could draw a line in the sand. We asked, what exactly is it – and how do we stop it? And vowed not to let up until we succeed. So let’s do this again; because every trauma is a shadow upon generations. And because raising a family – and knowing the parents who love you – is a basic human right.
Ms. Darné’s career exceeds 30 years across publishing, marketing, fashion, entertainment and investment industries and includes And Baby Magazine, an award-winning pioneer alternative parenting product that Ms. Darné published and parlayed into a radio show (7M listeners) and a TV series (35M homes Time Warner/Cable).
Praise of Parent Deleted:
"Don’t shy away from the emotional challenge that is this book. Michelle deserves for her story to be read and spread with love, because every parent deserves to be just that.
"7 Captivating Books to Read this Labor Day Weekend"
"Top 5 Memoirs For Moms To Read This Fall"
"Top 10 Memoirs Every Parent Needs to Read"
“An uplifting message to mistreated and alienated parents, and an essential read for all seeking to end institutionally endorsed parental alienation.”
-- William Bernet, MD, Professor at Vanderbilt University and coeditor of Parental Alienation: The Handbook for Mental Health and Legal Professionals.
“So good! Racy and engaging.”
-- Tina Perinotto, Editor & Publisher (Australia)
"Parent Deleted is a MUST read for all parents, everywhere. It tragically exemplifies how parents can be alienated from their children. This powerful story reminds us why we must protect our families, even if from ourselves, and illustrates — with disarming humility — what we can and must avoid at all costs. Children need access to all of their loving parents and extended families! Michelle Darne's book is also an olive branch to the millions of children who have been severed from their parents. Parent Deleted will spark unexpected, invaluable conversations and change how we plan our families.”
-- Terri Orbuch, PhD, The Love Doctor®, Professor at Oakland University, and author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage From Good to Great.
“In reading Parent Deleted, we find our unquenchable love for our children and our ability to bear anything. We see our own better selves.”
-- Traci L. Slatton, Author of The Year
of Loving and Fallen
"Parent Deleted has heart, it has guts, it has pain, and it has the clear light of our essential human condition."
"Michelle's enthralling and heartbreaking story presents the raw truth about parental alienation. Her experience reflects that of millions of other parents who are blamed for what is happening to them, and for whom there is no relief. It takes great courage to share such a story, and Darné is to be commended for doing so."
-- Jennifer J. Harman, PhD, Associate Professor at Colorado State University and coauthor of Parents Acting Badly.