Sean Goldman: Will Custody Fight Over Boy Leave Scars?

The court case is over, and the ruling has been delivered. But as the drama in the case of Sean Goldman continues, some child development experts fear the pressures of the international custody battle could take a toll on the 9-year-old's psychological well being.

In an interview last week with ABC News correspondent Jeffrey Kofman, New Jersey father David Goldman said that the psychological trauma his son may have suffered during this lengthy, highly-publicized case is upsetting.

VIDEO: Child development expert weighs in on the challenges facing Sean Goldman.
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"There's a lot of things going through my mind," Goldman told Kofman. "My son's well being, and how he is. And all this pressure that's being put on him is upsetting and very sad."

Goldman also said that he felt his son was being psychologically abused by his deceased wife's family in Brazil.

"He can't live with this pressure," he told Kofman. "He spoke -- he already had spoken loud and clear to the Brazilian judicial system, to the Brazilian courts, to three appointed Brazilian court psychologists who evaluated him... He is being abused by those who are holding him."

While Sean Goldman's case is the latest high-profile custody battle to capture the nation's attention, it is far from the first. In 1999, there was the case of Elian Gonzales, the 6-year-old boy from Cuba whose custody saga became an international crisis.

VIDEO: David Goldman reunites with his son Sean.
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And then there was the 2004 case involving former Playboy model Bridget Marks, who was locked in a high-profile court fight with millionaire casino executive John Aylsworth over the custody of their twin daughters, Amber and Scarlet. The girls were four years old at the time.

Today, Marks has custody of both girls. And she said she believes custody battles of this nature can have a real impact on the kids involved.

"I think it's harder on the children, because they don't have any control," she said, adding that her girls, now 10, are now both well-adjusted and are top performers in school.

VIDEO: Daniel Goldmans long battle for custody of son Sean comes to an end.
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"They do remember everything, but it's not something that we talk about because things now are amicable and quiet," she said. "I don't see any impact now."

Helping a Child Through a Tough Transition

Marks said that her children do see a court-appointed therapist – important, she said, since "the child has to have a neutral place where they can talk about their feelings."

"The adult has to put themselves aside and put the interests of the child ahead of their own.

VIDEO: Brazilian Judge Awards David Goldman Custody
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"They have to realize that there's a human being involved here and they can't go in with a 'take no prisoners' or 'scorched earth' mentality."

It is a sentiment with which child development experts agreed.

"Of utmost importance is the need to protect this boy from feeling pulled between allegiances," said Rahil Briggs, director of Montefiore's Healthy Steps Program at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine's department of pediatrics in New York. "The adults in his life must work to put their own negative feelings aside and help this boy navigate his conflicting emotions related to loyalty, identity, and family member roles.

"While long-term psychological effects of this protracted battle are inevitable, the adults in his life have a very clear choice in terms of the way they handle the future: with his best interests and well-being in mind, or with other, more negative and self-centered goals."

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