And the “connection” continues ……

It’s been busy, busy, busy around here, but I had to take a moment and share this e-mail we received from one of our alienating parent’s own family:



This e-mail stems from comments our alienating parent posts on genealogy websites — of course, because that’s where her personal comments, thoughts and observations belong, right?  🙂

Our alienating parent claims we started this blog for the sole purpose of bashing her family — even though there is nothing about any of her family on here.  This blog was created to share our personal experience, in attempting to maintain a relationship with my husband’s children after a bitter divorce.  It has nothing to do with our alienating parent’s family — it has to do with our alienating parent and her behavior over the past  36 years, which resulted in a complete disintegration of the father / child relationship.

Funny how her own family can clearly see that our alienating parent and her behavior is the reason behind this blog, as well as other public records which have been posted on the internet.  Wonder why she can’t see it for herself ……   Or maybe she does, but just can’t accept responsibility?

What Does a Severely Alienated Child look like in Parental Alienation Syndrome

Public Lies

What Does a Severely Alienated Child look like?

Copyright 1998 by Douglas Darnall, Ph.D.

  • The child has a relentless hatred for towards the targeted parent.
  • The child parrots the Obsessed Alienator, and makes statements against the targeted parent.
  • The child does not want to visit or spend any time with the targeted parent.
  • Many of the child’s beliefs are enmeshed with the alienator.
  • The child’s stated beliefs are delusional and frequently irrational.
  • The child is not intimidated by the court.
  • Frequently, the child’s reasons are not based on personal experiences with the targeted parent.  Instead, the reasons reflect what the child is told by the Obsessed Alienator.The child has difficulty making any differentiation between the two.
  • The child has no ambivalence in his feelings; it’s all hatred, with no ability to see the good.  (Black and White thinking)
  • The child has no capacity to feel guilty about how he or…

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Children Are Not Weapons

Children who have a close, loving relationship with their father throughout their lives do better than those who do not. That is a well known, documented fact.

What then, prompts a mother — who claims to love her children unequivocally — to use those children as a weapon to hurt her ex? What type of loving, caring mother thinks more about what she is feeling (anger, hurt, hate) than what is best for her children?

And what is being done in today’s society to protect those children from their own parent? Child abuse is child abuse — whether it be physical or emotional.

Sometimes “Mom knows best” just isn’t true …… and sadly, it’s the children who suffer.

Emotional Parentification

Our most recent post brought up an interesting subject: emotional parentification.

“Emotional parentification is particularly destructive for children and frequently occurs in parental alienation cases. The custodial parent implicitly or explicitly dumps their emotional needs on the child. The child becomes the parent’s confidante, champion/hero and surrogate for an adult partner. This is extremely unhealthy as it robs children of their childhood and leads to difficulty in having normal adult relationships later in life.”

Imagine a young child, teenager, then young adult sharing and commenting about entirely inappropriate situations, observations and remarks which originated from their parent. And then expressing the need to take care of that parent, especially when she “freaks out.” Definitely appears to be a case of emotional partentification, doesn’t it?

Why Kids Usually Side with the Custodial Parent, Especially if They’re Emotionally Abusive

“Emotionally and/or physically abusive women and men are scary when on the attack, which probably makes it all the more confusing to see your ex turn your child(ren) against you. Don’t your kids see how out of whack their mom or dad is being? Don’t they know that you love them and how much you want to be in their lives? Don’t they realize they need you now more than ever? Yes and no.

On some level, they do know this. Nonetheless, they’re lashing out at you like mini-versions of your ex. Why?

It’s not that confusing if you think about it from a child’s perspective. Children depend utterly upon their custodial parent. Seeing mom or dad lose it and out of control is anxiety provoking, if not downright terrifying. The following are possible reasons why your ex’s campaign of parental alienation may be successful.

1. You left them alone with the crazy person. You got out and they didn’t. They’re mad that you’re not there anymore to intervene, act as a buffer, protect them or take the brunt of it.

2. Self-preservation. They see how your ex is treating you because she or he is angry with you. Your kid(s) don’t want your ex’s wrath directed at them. It’s like making “friends” with the school bully so they don’t pick on you.

3. Fear of loss. They’re worried that if they anger or displease your ex that they’ll be emotionally and/or physically banished, too. This is especially true if your ex used to shut you out, give you the cold shoulder and/or ignore you when she or he was upset with you. Your kids probably fear your ex will do this to them if they don’t go along with her or him.

4. They’re mad at you. You’re no longer physically present at home, which they experience as a psychological loss. Many kids experience this as betrayal and/or abandonment. Even if they can recognize that you didn’t have a happy marriage, they still want mom and dad to be together.

5. Rewards and punishment. Your ex “rewards” the kids (material goods, praise, trips and fun activities—probably with your support money—oh the irony) for siding with her, being cruel to you or cutting you off. If your kid(s) stand up for you or challenge your ex’s smear campaign, they’re chastised, lose privileges or have affection withheld from them. Remember how your ex used to treat you when she or he was displeased? It’s way scarier when you’re a kid. You have options as an adult that your children don’t.

6. The good son or daughter. They see how upset and out of control your ex is and want to take care of and make her or him “better.” They try to do this by doing what your ex wants, which is being hostile toward you and/or excluding you from their lives. This creates what psychologists refer to as the parentified child. Parentification forces a child to shoulder emotions and responsibilities for which she or he isn’t developmentally prepared and is also a form of child abuse.

Emotional parentification is particularly destructive for children and frequently occurs in parental alienation cases. The custodial parent implicitly or explicitly dumps their emotional needs on the child. The child becomes the parent’s confidante, champion/hero and surrogate for an adult partner. This is extremely unhealthy as it robs children of their childhood and leads to difficulty in having normal adult relationships later in life.

7. Power and control. They see the power your ex wields by behaving in an abusive and hurtful way toward you. They can wield the same power by acting out and hurting you, too. A child or teenager’s first taste of power can be thrilling for them. Of course, what they’re learning from you ex is how to gain control by being an emotionally abusive bully.

8. It’s good to be the victim. The more your ex plays the professional victim to friends, family and the legal system, the more benefits she or he may gain—deferential treatment, sympathy, power, money and other assets. The kids mirror your ex’s victim mentality and behaviors and use it to net their own gains.”

As we’ve mentioned before, our alienating parent was sexually abused by her own father as a teenager, which obviously left scars and may be the reason behind much of her behavior. She has been on medication for mood swings and for depression. She stopped the medication and psychiatric treatment because it “worked” and she felt she no longer needed it. Her children, however, told us time and time again about how “Mom freaked out,” and “Mom completely lost it,” and so on and so forth. Her own sister called and told us she hadn’t talked to her in over a year because she was “so far gone.”

When we read the above article, it explained a little as to why the children behave the way they do, and feel the need to take care of their out-of-control mother. Doesn’t make it any easier to accept, but it does provide an explanation.

Before blogs …… there were diaries! :-)

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know that my husband and I have been married 30 years. His divorce and the subsequent parental alienation took place in the late 70s, throughout the 80s and well in to the 90s. All of this, of course, was before blogs came to be. It didn’t stop me from writing about what was happening, however, and I kept a diary of interactions with our alienating parent.

I was browsing through the diary recently and it reminded me of the many documented instances of parental alienation that have taken place over the years, at the hands of our alienating parent.

Her children are grown now, she’s a grandmother, but that still doesn’t stop the behavior. Here’s an entry from July, 2002:

“Well, XXXXXX (one of the grown children) called yesterday afternoon to let me know that they wouldn’t be going to PA after all. The reason she gave for them not making the trip was because XXXXXX’s (our alienating parent’s) car insurance had been canceled and she has to pay about $150 to get it reinstated — and she doesn’t have the money and doesn’t want to be driving that far without auto insurance. This reminded me of the story XXXXXX (the grown child) told me a month or so ago: their phone was turned off for non-payment and XXXXXX (the grown child) had to take $150 from her child support and pay the phone bill to get it turned back on!”

This was during a period of time when the grown child, who had a one year old child herself, was living with her mother — and felt the need to use her child support to pay her mother’s bills.

Remember one of our earlier posts:

“A sixth manifestation of PAS is reflexive support for the alienating parent ….” Here you have a grown child, who is clearly a victim of PAS, using money she receives — which is supposed to be used to support her own infant child — and she’s using it instead to support the alienating parent! An alienating parent who had a full-time job, btw.

What motivates a parent to try and alienate a child from it’s other parent?

Having gone through this for many, many years, we know in our particular case, the alienation began after the targeted parent remarried. Several people observed jealousy toward the new wife, on the part of the alienating parent. Others remarked that she obviously suffered from low self esteem.

Jealousy ….. low self-esteem ….. revenge …. feeling rejected by the targeted parent ….. anger ….. hate …..

There are many motivating factors behind parental alienation, none of which excuse the behavior. As a parent, a person should put their feelings aside for the betterment of their children.

10 Top Ways to Fight Parental Alienation

We came across this great article on Mr. Custody and thought we would share it here, in the hopes that it might help other parents dealing with parental alienation:

“There is much debate as to whether or not “parental alienation“ rises to the level of a definable mental illness often referred to as “parental alienation syndrome.”  At Mr. Custody Coach, we don’t much care about that part of the argument.  Reasonably intelligent individuals are aware that people of all ages can be taught to hate, love, learn, etc. on any number of topics.  When a malicious parent chooses to teach their children to hate the targeted parent – that’s parental alienation.  (Referred to as “PA” throughout the rest of this article.)

It’s real.  It exists.  Despite all of the fear-mongering and hysteria, particularly by women’s groups – it’s not simply a “tactic to gain the upper hand” in a custody proceeding.  A mother can do it.  A father can do it.  It makes one wonder why anyone would be against anything that shines a spotlight on parental alienation.  We have our suspicions, but that isn’t the point of this article.  We want to share with you some ways to combat it when it is happening to you.  

#1 – Don’t become an alienator! Regardless of the order of the rest of the tips we present, this is the most important one.  When you’re experiencing PA, you will have a natural tendency to become defensive and explain yourself to death.  Worse, you may want to counter and talk about what horrible things your ex has done.  This is alienation, too!  Don’t get suckered by your natural desire to defend yourself against false accusations.

#2 – “I love you” always! Any time you do manage to gain contact with your children, regardless of the method, tell them that you love them.  Tell them that you care for them.  Tell them that they’re often in your heart and mind.

#3 – Positive language, always! Avoid the use of negative language.  This is one parents often overlook.  It’s simple and it’s subtle, that’s why it’s missed.  Sometimes we’ll call it “think like the child.”  Examples include:

Instead of, “I miss you…” Use, “I look forward to the next time I see you!” I miss you can put the child in a position to feel guilt or upset.  The second effort is upbeat and positive.

Instead of, “I wish I could have seen that…” Use, “Wow, that’s great to hear and must have been very exciting!” The former conveys a lost opportunity or a regret.  The latter conveys excitement, support, and positive reinforcement regarding whatever experience is the topic.

Find your opportunities to turn a potentially negative message into a positive communication.

#4 – Never stop contact efforts! Even if you know that your cards, letters, gifts, emails, voice-mails, etc. are being intercepted or are otherwise never delivered – don’t give up the effort.  Change may not come in the short-term, so keeping a diary or journal of your contact efforts as well as writing to your children as if they were going to read it – SOME DAY – will prove helpful both for you and, hopefully your children if they have the opportunity to find out the truth.

#5 – Control yourself! Manage your emotions. Follow your court orders and agreements.  Avoid giving your high-conflict ex-partner any reason to vilify  you to the children more than they already have.  Frankly, they don’t need an excuse, they can just make them up.  Made up ones, you are much more likely to overcome in the long run.  Provable mis-steps, not quite so easy to overcome.

#6 – Avoid blaming the children! Try to remember that they are victims in this mess, too.  You will be challenged on this one, as along with the general bad-mouthing about you that is a common part of the PA experience, your children may spy on you, talk about every move you make, every purchase you do, who you talk to or spend time with, and if you don’t remember that it is a part of the alienator’s arsenal, you could become agitated towards the children.  Don’t let it happen.

#7 – Be yourself! Don’t overcompensate, though.  If you just act as you always do, you can’t possibly be appearing to your children as your ex is portraying you.  Avoid overdoing it because of your desire to be “extra-special” as a means of countering your ex’s false allegations. Just be your usual loving, caring, nurturing self.  Always remember that your actions will forever speak louder than your ex-partner’s words.

#8 – Keep your plans, always! That is to say, if you’ve made special plans or arrangements which involve your children, leave them in place even if you fear that your ex-partner will not relinquish the children for your custodial time (custodial interference).  If you’re late or fail to show one time, it will be twisted into “proof” of your lack of caring for the children and give them the power to further alienate the children.

#9 – Build the relationship with memorable moments! We are not suggesting that memorable moments = become the Disneyland parent!  Quite the opposite.  Long talks while canoeing on the lake or during long walks, a nice vacation, having a catch with the ball, sharing a professional sporting event… for younger children – book reading, movie watching, this list is endless.  It’s not about “fun and games all the time” – it’s about memories that will forever be etched in their brains for all time.

#10 – Create the best team of professionals you can afford! Legal professionals, mental health professionals, therapists, articles, scholarly studies with solid data – all of that needs to be readily available to make your case the strongest it can possibly be.  Be sure they are knowledgeable and experienced with parental alienation and can advocate for the appropriate changes that will benefit your family.

Conclusion: Parental alienation of children, regardless of severity, will very likely affect them well into adulthood.  It is vitally important that you avoid, at all costs, directing your rage, frustration, or disappointment at the children. The high-conflict, vindictive ex-spouse is the root of the problem no matter how much the actions and words of the child are what becomes your immediate torment.  The children are caught in the middle of a terrible struggle and doesn’t really mean the terrible things they’re saying about you or doing to you.

Hang in there!”

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