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Understanding these 7 things will change the way you look at what has happened to your family.
1. ‘The Opposite of Love is Not Hate.’
– Elie Wiesel
If your child appears to hate you
there’s a good chance he/she still loves you.
2. Be Patient. And Then Be More Patient Than That.
Authentic, unconditional love stands the test of time, while ‘love’ built from fear, or conditional love is unlikely to survive. Knowing this may help you practice the patience that will lead you and your child back together. Being ‘patient til even patience tires of [your] patience’ without developing bitterness is the challenge. To help you sustain this degree of patience, find a therapist who is well versed in parental alienation so that you may come up with a long term plan together.
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So much of yesterday’s post, Co-Parenting with a Narcissist, made us feel like we were reading a story about my husband’s relationship with his ex-wife. Especially poignant was the paragraph entitled “Plan for the Worst.” And have we ever seen the worst ……
Over 35 years after their divorce, several years after all contact between the children and their father ended, and our alienating parent still feels the need to let everyone know her thoughts and feelings, via postings on the internet. Most of which are posted on genealogy websites under the names of my husband and my deceased parents.
“Narcissists do not forgive and forget. They hold grudges for a very long time. They thrive on revenge and trying to psychologically hurt you as much as they can.” Unfortunately, we have first hand knowledge of the truth behind that statement.
It is virtually impossible to truly co-parent with someone who has no understanding of teamwork. Instead, you need to focus on co-parenting in spite of a narcissist, with an emphasis on insulating yourself and your children from the narcissist’s manipulation and rage.
For those that are still in relationships with a narcissist, psychologists recommend decreasing emotional contact with the narcissist. For those no longer in the relationship with the narcissist, the best approach is to minimize contact as much as possible.
Narcissists thrive on conflict. They will attempt to maintain a relationship with you by initiating conflict. If possible, the best thing to do is avoid face-to-face contact. Instead, try to engage in e-mail contact as your primary means of communication, and use phone contact only when necessary. Keep your conversations strictly to the topic of the children. If the conversation turns to other subjects, bring the conversation back to the children. If he continues to change the subject, end the conversation as quickly as possible. Arrange neutral, public places for drop-off and pick-up of the children.
Narcissists will feel like they’ve won if they can make you angry or lose control of yourself by yelling, crying, or pleading. If they win, they will continue to behave in ways that will make you overly emotional. Remaining as unemotional as possible is the best way to interact with a narcissist. Due to the difficulty of this, minimizing contact is one way to be able to maintain control of yourself in front of him.
Educate yourself. Understanding what is likely to happen can help you to prepare yourself to deal with different scenarios that may arise when dealing with your narcissistic ex.
Narcissists do not forgive and forget. They hold grudges for a very long time. They thrive on revenge and trying to psychologically hurt you as much as they can. Prepare yourself for a tough battle. Before seeing your ex face-to-face, think about what you are going to say and try to think about all the possible responses and how you will deal with them. Preparing yourself for interactions in advance may help you to control your frustration in the moment.
Making promises and not following through is a typical narcissistic behavior. Make sure to get everything in writing. Don’t believe verbal promises. He may promise that he will pay child support but he sees child support as giving you money, not as a means to help support his children. Work with your lawyer to have as much written into a court order as possible. Talk to the lawyer about what you can do after everything is finalized to ensure that promises are kept.
Maintaining boundaries with someone who has no respect for them is difficult. Remember that you are not maintaining boundaries to change the narcissist’s behavior. You are maintaining boundaries to keep yourself and your children as healthy as possible.
There is a difference between passivity, assertiveness, and aggression. If you are passive, the narcissist will always get his way. If you are aggressive, you are attempting to get your way at the expense of the narcissist. If you are assertive, you are standing up for your rights without damaging the self-esteem of another. Understand that the narcissist will not see things this way. He will most likely see any attempts at boundary setting as aggression. His response to your boundary setting is not your responsibility. Your boundaries will provide the consistency that you and your children need to be healthy.
Everyone makes mistakes and it is natural for people to want to admit to and apologize for their mistakes. However, admission of mistakes will be used as ammunition by the narcissist. Mistakes can be blown out of proportion and used as evidence that you are the crazy, unhealthy, unstable parent. If you make a mistake, move on from it as matter-of-factly as possible.
A narcissist’s needs will always come first. He will not put the children first and attempts to use the children to try to encourage empathy will not work. Since he will not put the needs of your children first, you need to – regardless of the effects of your behavior on him.
Your kids need to see one healthy parent. If a child has one healthy role model in their lives, they will not only survive, but they will thrive. You need to show them that although they may not be able to control their unhealthy parent’s behavior, they are able to control their own. Don’t bad mouth the narcissist to your kids. Chances are, he is doing that about you. Show your kids the right way to behave.
Narcissists generally do not have strong emotional connections to their children. Due to this and the fact that they don’t put their children’s needs before theirs, kids can feel emotionally neglected by a narcissistic parent. Make sure that you compensate for this by reassuring your children that they are good people and that they are loved.
Enroll your children in activities that allow them to explore their interests. The other parent may not encourage this, as some of the activities, like games and practices may occur on his time. Encourage him to bring the children to their planned events but be prepared to do so yourself if he is not cooperative.
Co-parenting, or two parents working together to raise their kids, is not possible in high-conflict situations. A better option is parallel parenting. Parallel parentingallows both parents to make decisions regarding the children when the children are under their care.
There are two main goals of parallel parenting. The first is to avoid conflict in front of the children. Although one result may be to decrease conflict overall, the main goal is to decrease the amount of conflict that the children see. The second goal is to minimize parental contact with each other. This goal is not to minimize either parent’s contact with the children. The goal is to allow both parents to see the children while minimizing contact between the parents.
Parallel parenting plans must be very specific and are usually set up in the court custody agreement. The plan is designed to cut out as much necessary communication as possible. Make sure that your custody agreement specifically details at least the following:
You may also wish to consider adding things such as which parent has responsibility for which activities — for example, one parent may take responsibility for sports while the other parent takes responsibility for another activity. As this is a legal document, talk to your lawyer about additional stipulations you might want.
Chances are, the narcissistic parent won’t change very much. Be realistic about this. However, for the sake of your children, try to keep things as amicable as possible. This may not work, no matter what you do. Just remember that although you cannot control another person’s behavior, you can control your own. The ultimate goal is your children being able to have relationships with both of their parents that are as conflict-free as possible. Make that your goal every time you interact with your kids’ other parent.
[Source: family.lovetoknow.com ]
“Any attempt at alienating the children from the other parent should be seen as a direct and willful violation of one of the prime duties of parenthood” – J. Michael Bone and Michael R. Walsh, authors of “Parental Alienation Syndrome: How to Detect It and What to Do About It”
Parental alienation (PA) is an emotional disturbance in which a child sees one parent as good and the other as bad. PA happens in children whose parents are going through a divorce or custody battle. When the primary parent brainwashes the child, the case becomes known as parental alienation syndrome (PAS). The child begins showing extreme hostility toward the “bad” parent, verbally vilifying him or her and refusing to do anything with that parent. Children with the syndrome are known to be deceptive, and finding evidence is not easy.
Proving that a spouse manipulates a child can be difficult. A parent sometimes maintains a diary of how the child acts when around other people and finds witnesses who can testify about denigrating things the child says. PAS children often contort stories to make alienated parents look bad – a behavior promoted by the alienating parent.
A child with PAS sometimes repeats lies and misinformation around other family members and friends. An example is a mother who has primary custody repeatedly telling her child that his father is worthless and does not care about him or her.
PAS parents have been known to directly interfere with custody and visitation rights, prevent the alienated parent from attending school functions, and not allow the child to keep any gifts received from the alienated parent.
A parent who is a victim of PAS should attempt to reverse the alienation by spending as much time with the child as possible. Maintaining that relationship can help the child realize he or she has been manipulated by the other parent.
Avoiding negative communication with the alienating parent lessens the chance to create conflict. The late Dr. Richard A. Gardner, who formulated the parental alienation syndrome theory, advised the targeted parent to not speak badly about the aggressor in the presence of the kids. By holding still, the alienated parent can shield children from the effects of bad-mouthing and prevent losing respect, affection or contact with them.
Parental alienation destroys a child’s relationship with the other parent, particularly when a parent intentionally undermines a child’s relationship with the other parent. Parental alienation is a form of child abuse because it creates confused emotions, damaged relationships, loss of family, adopted hatred, and withdrawal symptoms.
Mom makes negative comments about Dad in front of a child, and the child becomes confused. The father he has always loved is now presented as a monster, and he does not know whether to trust his mother’s words or his own feelings. The child looses a relationship with one parent because the alienator often severs the child’s ties with the other parent, and that child may never recover that relationship.
When one parent is a monster and the other is always angry, the child feels the family is lost. The child who is the victim of an alienator takes on an obsessive hatred of his other parent but without any personal experiences to rationalize it. The child withdraws from normal life, avoiding contact with her other parent and that parent’s extended family, missing on fun activities, and acting without remorse.
[Source: www.divorcesource.com ]
Parental alienation is a significant legal issue. Unfortunately, it remains a prevalent feature of many family law cases. It intent and effect is to destroy the present and future relationship between a child and the alienated parent. The brainwashing is very effective because it is delivered upon a young, emotionally vulnerable and impressionable mind.
There is no cure for parental alienation not arrested in time. No parent, for example, who has been unfairly alienated can ever retrieve the father-child, or mother-child time lost with their child.
In any event of prolonged parental alienation, an emotional time bomb is implanted into the child. Even if amends are later made, the child either turns against the alienating parent, or reserves in regards to the alienated one; both, in any event, stifling that child’s development into a fully developed and emotionally mature adult and parent in his or her own right.
In R v KC, Justice Sheppard adopted these words:
“The parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a childhood disorder that arises almost exclusively in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the target parent. When true parental abuse and/or neglect is present, the child’s animosity may be justified and so the parental alienation syndrome explanation for the child’s hostility is not applicable.”
In a 2007 Ontario case, CS v MS, Justice Perkins recognized not only the devastating effect of parental alienation but also the complexities it presents to the court:
“Children who are subject to the parental alienation syndrome (I will call them PAS children) are very powerful in their views of the non-alienating parent. The views are almost exclusively negative, to the point that the parent is demonized and seen as evil….
“PAS children feel empowered and are rewarded for attacking the other parents and feel no remorse or shame for doing so.
“PAS children have a knee jerk, reflexive response to support the alienator against the targeted parent, often on the basis of minimal evidence or justification. PAS children broaden their attacks to encompass members of the other parent’s extended family.
“PAS children are recruited by the alienating parent and alienated siblings to the alienating parent’s cause.
“With PAS children, you cannot be sure who you are listening to – is it the child (or) is it the alienating parent?”
In BSP, Justice Acton adopted these words:
“Parental alienation occurs when one parent convinces the children that the other parent is not trustworthy, lovable or caring – in short, not a good parent.
“(S)uch manipulation of the children, with the resulting alienation, carries very high risks. It can seriously distort a child’s developing personality and subsequent life adjustment. The sooner it is identified and appropriate interventions are implemented, the better the child’s chances of avoiding its worst long-term effects.”
In PLC v CJP, Justice Graham adopted these words to define parental alienation:
“… a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from a combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the target parent.
“PAS is more than brainwashing or programming, because the child has to actually participate in the denigrating of the alienated parent. This is done in primarily the following eight ways:
The child denigrates the alienated parent with foul language and severe oppositional behaviour;
The child offers weak, absurd, or frivolous reasons for his or her anger;
The child is sure of him or herself and doesn’t demonstrate ambivalence, i.e. love and hate for the alienated parent, only hate;
The child exhorts that he or she alone came up with the idea of denigration;
The child supports and feels a need to protect the alienating parent;
The child does not demonstrate guilt over cruelty towards the alienated parent;
The child uses borrowed scenarios, or vividly describes situations that he or she could not have experienced;
Animosity is spread to also include the friends and/or extended family of the alienated parent.” [Source: http://www.duhaime.org ]
We began this blog to share our story of parental alienation. To avoid a “he said / she said” situation, we’ve shared many of our alienating parent’s communications with us from over the years, as well as — more recently — her posts on the internet. We decided to let her own words tell the story. And they don’t paint a pretty picture.
We had to share this photo our alienating parent posted on the internet on St. Patrick’s Day 2005. Since we’re proud of our Irish heritage, St. Patrick’s Day is always spent with family and friends. Before our alienating parent successfully alienated her children from their father, that included my husband’s children and grandchild.
Before meeting us on St. Patrick’s Day 2005, my step-daughters and step-grandchild had breakfast with our alienating parent. When she shared the photo, she had to make sure to include her observation: “This early morning stop at a local Pub didn’t pose any threat of intoxicated adults.”
As in years past, our alienating parent’s daughter, mother of the child in the photo, decided where and with whom her child would spend St. Patrick’s Day. It appears our alienating parent was concerned about the child coming in contact with intoxicated adults. And she had to make certain everyone knew her feelings on the matter, by posting it on the internet.
These comments are directed at her own child — who made the decision about St. Patrick’s Day festivities. Of course, our alienating parent has had problems with relationships, whether it be family members, friends, or co-workers. Her own child had to see this comment being made about her parenting skills, via the internet, associated with a photo of her child.
But, you see, that’s the life of an alienated child. They have to endure this behavior from their parent — because they’ve already lost one parent, and don’t want to run the risk of losing another.
“Alienated children are no less damaged than other child victims of extreme conflict, such as child soldiers and other abducted children, who identify with their tormentors to avoid pain and maintain a relationship with them, however abusive that relationship may be.” [Source: www.psychologytoday.com ]
Hostile Aggressive Parenting and Parental Alienating often go hand-in-hand.
Most children want good relationships with their parents – whether biological or adoptive. This is important in happy families, and even more important during divorce, separation or a family crisis. Hostile or aggressive parenting is child abuse!
Hostile aggressive parents interfere with the relationship of a child with the other parent or with a guardian. Such interference could include using emotional blackmail, manipulation, or disabling communication between a child and the alienated parent.
Hostile-aggressive parenting can apply to any adult who cares for any child. Interfering with a healthy relationship between a child and a parent or guardian can harm a child. Family court systems around the world have no standard definitions or criteria to guide lawyers and judges as to which parenting behaviors should be regarded as child abuse or maltreatment.
Hostile-aggressive parenting is common. Does anyone you know:
1. Alienating Parents are oftentimes charming, which is a characteristic that tricks the recipient to overlooking other very serious personality flaws. Also, when you see someone as charming, you feel attracted to that person, so subsequent information must be assimilated with that positive view point, lest you question your own judgment.
2. Alienators’ primary goal is to gain social standing at the primary expense of the target parent. In fact, isolating and having the target parent excommunicated by the community is the means by which they punish the target and fulfill their psychic drive. They will selectively share and distort information to shape (manipulate) the community. They will even try to paint themselves as the victims.
3. It is easier/safer to “blame the victim” (target parent). Other parents maintain their sense of control in the world by convincing themselves that losing their child through alienation would never happen to them because they…
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Understanding Brainwashing in the Context of Parental Alienation:
Brainwashing is something we normally think of when we talk about a cult or prisoners of war, but is something far less abstract and distant than what most people think and happens in homes around the world. What is brainwashing? In the world of psychology, it is also referred to as thought reform, with its source being social influences. It’s a way to change someone’s beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. “Brainwashing is a severe form of social influence that combines…[compliance, persuasion, and education]… to cause changes in someone’s way of thinking without that person’s consent and often against his will.” (http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/human-brain/brainwashing.htm)
Brainwashing has been studied since 1929 by Mao Tse-tung, the leader of the Chinese Communist party – who called it “thought…
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