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By: Dean Tong
September 28, 2008

After a short term marriage of nine years and then divorcing his wife, actress Kim Basinger, in 2002, culminating in the infamous 2007 voice mail message to his now 12 year-old daughter, Ireland (berating her), actor turned author Alec Baldwin will bestow upon us on Tuesday September 23 his 240 page memoir titled “A Promise To Ourselves.” Mind you, I’ve not yet read his book, but from all accounts this is what I’m hearing.

The author attacks the family law industry, calling for a re-examination on how divorce and custody should be decided relative to fathers. He laments about taking entire days to fly across America to attend court appointed fathering sessions with Ireland only for the same to be cancelled once he lands in Los Angeles. Baldwin recounts all of the lies and courtroom arguments in a book that would have garnered more credibility had Dr. Stephen Baskerville (author of Taken Into Custody) written the Foreward.

Baldwin attempts to become the spokesperson for “father’s rights,” impeaching the family law industry for how the same treated him in and out of court. He was court ordered to attend therapy sessions as well as anger management classes. But, what about that short temper of his? Ostensibly, Baldwin did bash the very person he professes the system failed. He claims the court did not act in Ireland’s or his best interests (the family court’s only obligation is to order in the CHILD’S best interest), but did he put Ireland’s needs in front of his own?

I’m not defending Kim Basinger’s possible alienation of Ireland against Alec, but did he foster the relationship pf the child with her mother? After all, parental alienation cuts both ways. As someone who has gone through and survived two incredibly contentious divorces over the past quarter century (one with children) – and I know firsthand, perhaps better than anyone, what wielding a child as ammunition in the midst of a divorce and custody battle does to “the child.”

We, as men, and fathers, are supposed to take it on the chin. Not that we deserve it. Not that it’s right. But if we are going to educate and articulate anecdotal information about parental alienation to a lay public that is going to show a pre-conceived bias toward mother and child, we should do so with academicians watching our back. Without the likes of experts like Stephen Baskerville, Richard Warshak, Michael Lamb, or Kyle Pruett adding empirical points to Baldwin’s memoir it’s possible his book will do more harm than good with respect to “father’s rights.”

Please keep an open mind before promoting “A Promise To Ourselves” as the book that saved all men and fathers from future bad orders in family courts across America. If you think his book is going to change public policy regarding divorce and child custody, please think again! It will increase awareness of the topic of parental alienation, but that may be as far as it goes. As for Baldwin, he should stick to acting as he surely is not the poster boy for father’s rights.