People who take a position of entitlement act contemptuous of others. Superior. They become offended when somebody objects to their behavior, and have a very difficult time apologizing when they make a mistake or act inappropriately. They may easily blame, criticize, shame, humiliate or judge others—or demand that others meet their needs or live up to their standards—but are resistant to meet your needs or to live up to your standards, and they aren’t empathetic. The act as if they have the right to do or say whatever they want, and you have no right to object. So says psychotherapist John Mariner of the Relationship Resource Center in Denver.
Frequently this behavior comes from people who were shamed as children. Adults shamed as children frequently get angry and feel defensive when someone challenges or disagrees with them. They suffer feelings of humiliation if forced to look at mistakes or imperfections, and they often feel judged by other people.
Author John Bradshaw argues that the core of feeling shamed comes down to my sense of inadequacy. Feeling inadequate, in turn, makes me feel afraid that I will be discovered to not be good enough—and that I will never measure up. Avoidance of negative judgment or criticism—or any suggestion that I’m less than perfect—therefore becomes the organizing principle of my life. So I must cover up my mistakes at all costs, and one way of doing so is for me to judge, criticize or get angry at you.
So what can you do if you live or work with a person who frequently takes a strong entitlement position? You can:
So what can you do if you live or work with a person who frequently takes a strong entitlement position? You can:
- Use praise and admiration whenever you can.
- Remove the criticism and blame from your comments.
- Don’t take an adversarial position unless you have to. Verbalize what you agree with, what makes sense or what you think is a good idea. Then say what you want—but say it as tactfully as you can.
- Ask questions that encourage teamwork: “Where do you think we’re in agreement?” or “How can we put our heads together and come up with a solution that all of us can live with?” or “What could I do that would assist you?”
- In cases where it’s not appropriate to agree with someone, at least acknowledge his/her emotions. “So you’re feeling we should go in a different direction. Is that correct?” As soon as the other person feels heard and understood, tension and conflict are likely to be reduced. By choosing to respond to a disagreement with a non-adversarial, empathetic approach, you can often transform the defensiveness, anger or hostility into teamwork and cooperation.
“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you can help them become what they are capable of being.” —Goethe
[Source: www.heartrelationships.com ]
The space of time sandwiched between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day can bring unique anguish for people whose children have become alienated from them through a high conflict divorce.
Parental alienation happens when a child becomes enmeshed with one parent, strongly allying himself or herself with that parent, and rejects the other parent without legitimate justification. These children are encouraged by one parent, the favored parent or alienating parent, to unjustly reject the other parent, the targeted parent. The children can fall prey to the alienating parent’s tactics as a means of escaping the conflict.
According to psychiatrist Dr. William Bernet, professor emeritus of Vanderbilt University and a researcher into the phenomenon, “Almost every mental health professional who works with children of divorced parents acknowledges that PA—as we define it—affects thousands of families and causes enormous pain and hardship.” (Parental Alienation, AACAP News, Sept 2013, pp. 255-256.)
Bernet and other researchers refer to eight criteria for diagnosing parental alienation, including a campaign of denigration against the targeted parent, the child’s lack of ambivalence, frivolous rationalizations for the child’s criticisms against the target parent, reflexive support of the alienating parent against the target parent, the child’s lack of guilt over exploitation and mistreatment of the target parent, borrowed scenarios, and the spread of the child’s animosity toward the target parent’s extended family or friends.
These criteria sound academic but their effect is exquisitely awful in the most human and primal way. The child basically constructs an alternate reality where the parent is some kind of monster. There’s no longer any sense of the parent as a human being with the ordinary nuances of the gray scale, or as a good-enough parent; the parent’s actions and statements are twisted, distorted, and massaged to “prove” that the parent is unworthy of contact.
Children will adamantly maintain that they themselves have compiled their list of rationalizations for the parentectomy in progress. This is called the independent thinker phenomenon.
For a parent who would willingly give his or her heart or liver to a beloved child who needs it, it’s a nightmarish turn of events. The pain is surreal, and it’s frequently heightened both by outright viciousness on the child’s part and by the child’s complete lack of remorse about the way he or she has treated the targeted parent. The child feels entitled to demonize the targeted parent and justified in doing so, and therefore entitled to behave with extreme nastiness toward the parent.
Amy J. L. Baker, PhD, one of Bernet’s research colleagues, writes about seventeen primary strategies used by the alienating parent to foster conflict and psychological distance between the child and the targeted parent.
These include poisonous messages to the child about the targeted parent in which he or she is portrayed as unloving, unsafe, and unavailable, such as, “your mother is a rage monster who shames you”; erasing and replacing the targeted parent in the heart and mind of the child, “you can trust mommy, she doesn’t judge and malign you like daddy does”; encouraging the child to betray the targeted parent’s trust, “how bad was daddy this weekend?”; and undermining the authority of the targeted parent, “your mom’s rules don’t apply, you don’t have to listen to your mother, do whatever you want.”
The targeted parent can feel bewildered when witnessing the alienating parent’s strategies, because the distance itself is so unthinkable. It doesn’t feel real in the context of a history of a normal loving relationship with a son or daughter. It’s shocking and heart-rending when those toxic tactics succeed. “Alienation occurs when one parent gives the child permission to break the other parent’s heart,” Baker notes.
Older children can be particularly eloquent and cutting in their reasons for rejecting a parent while simultaneously insisting that the parent has rejected them. A parent trying with the greatest love to effect rapprochement can find older children completely recalcitrant.
“They must choose between the pain of self-inflicted alienation and torture on the one hand and the hard work of life: working it out with people with whom you should work it out. Free will. It is their choice,” said one psychiatrist. But do they even know they have a choice, after having basically been brainwashed to despise a parent?
In an extensive program of research, Baker has found that children exposed to the 17 primary parental alienation strategies and those who become alienated suffer in the long run, as do their parents. “To turn a child against a parent is to turn a child against himself,” she says.
Some groups oppose the concept. Some advocates of victims of domestic violence and child abuse claim that there is no such thing, that children reject a parent only when the parent has been abusive. Dr. Richard Gardner, a psychiatrist who formulated a specific theory of parental alienation syndrome, was roundly criticized. To this day, parental alienation per se has not been incorporated into the DSM-5.
Fortunately, thanks to the efforts of Bernet, Baker, and colleagues, the spirit of parental alienation recently made its way into the DSM, even if the exact term “parental alienation” has not. There are now diagnoses that reflect the mental illness of this terrible phenomenon, in particular parent-child relational problem and child affected by parental relationship distress.
Of child affected by parental relationship distress, Bernet writes, “It is an important new diagnosis used ‘when the focus of clinical attention is the negative effects of parental discord (eg, high levels of conflict, distress, or disparagement) on a child in the family, including effects on the child’s mental or other physical disorders.’”
To study this sad phenomenon and to educate the public, Bernet founded the Parental Alienation Study Group (PASG). PASG is an international, not-for-profit corporation with about 220 members – mostly mental health and legal professionals – from 32 countries. PASG members are also interested in developing and promoting research on the causes, evaluation, and treatment of parental alienation.
For a targeted parent, it can help to know that there is support. In addition to the PASG website, there are several books, some good ones written by Baker herself. There are therapists and coaches who can offer compassionate support and strategies for responding to the alienating tactics without becoming engulfed in anger or despair.
Alienation can last for many aching years but reconciliation is a possibility. There’s no making up the lost time, but the parent sometimes is found again.
[Source: The Blog, by Traci L. Slatton]
I am putting together a series of seminars at the moment, for professionals working with intractable cases where children are fully rejecting of a parent. As I do so I thought it might be useful to hold a regular Sunday seminar on self help for alienated parents, let us know what you think and we will add this to our new service as an additional self help tool.
Self help is a way of working with families that enables and empowers the individuals within to find their own way to healing. This week, a family I have been working with for over a year now, have moved into a phase in which they have taken over the therapeutic work of healing their children from alienation by working together. This might seem astonishing to some who read this and of course, it is not for everybody, but the truth of the…
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Put the blame on Mame.
That sums up how many of the women with stepchildren I interviewed for my book, Stepmonster, felt about the stepmother role. They told me:
• “The kids are hostile and rejecting no matter what I do. I know it’s not their fault. But it’s as if I’m not supposed to have any feelings about it, let alone discuss them.”
• “I can’t do anything right — if I buy them a present, they think I’m buying their love and if I don’t, I’m cold and unloving.”
• “My husband doesn’t have many rules — so I look super strict and mean if I ask them not to eat with their hands!”
• “Their mother says unkind things about me and calls every half hour while they’re here. So it’s hard to build a relationship with them.”
These women were no whiners–most had been trying to get stepmothering right for years, and all began their stepmothering journeys committed to forging a great relationship with his kids, whatever it took.
But they’re correct that there are external forces, most beyond a stepmother’s control, that may undermine her good intentions and best efforts with his children. These factors include loyalty binds, a child’s jealousy and resentment, the Ex Factor, permissive parenting, cultural expectations about women and children, and a phenomenon called conflict by proxy.
In spite of such obstacles, there is a widely-held notion that “If she’s kind, they’ll warm right up to her.” “Just remember,” one “expert” advised in an online article, “You’ll get back what you give. Keep loving them.”
In this formula, the only good or successful stepmother is one who is embraced by her stepkids. Here’s why that standard is so off the mark–and why kids of all ages really dislike their stepmothers.
Loyalty binds. Many stepkids–and adult stepkids–suspect that liking stepmom would be a betrayal of mom. So they keep her at arm’s length–or worse. And there’s nothing she can do about that. Only mom can release them from the torturous loyalty bind and pave the way to a healthy stepmom/stepchild relationship, by saying, “I wish you’d give Jenny a chance. I won’t be upset.” Too often, no such permission is given.
When there is a loyalty bind, nothing’s worse than stepmom bending over backwards to win the kids over. Drs. Larry Ganong and Marilyn Coleman found that such stepchildren and adult stepchildren are especially rejecting of a stepmother they find warm and appealing, as she elicits tremendously conflicted feelings.
Possessiveness and jealousy. Children may become remarkably close to their parents post-divorce, and used to having mom and dad “all to myself.” Adult children may develop an intense, peer-like relationship with a single parent, making adjustment to a stepparent tough. With a preadolescent or adolescent girl, possessiveness and jealousy will pose an even bigger problem, psychologist Mavis Hetherington found. In her Virginia Longitudinal Study of families who divorced and remarried, preteen and teen girls especially described the stepparent as an interloper in their world and an obstacle to intimacy with mom or dad. A stepmother may encounter particularly fierce resistance from a teen girl, both because she is close to her father, and because teen girls tend to model the feelings and attitudes of their mothers.
The Ex Factor. While there are exceptions, an ex-wife generally poses more challenges for the stepmom/stepchild relationship than an ex-husband, stepfamily experts Constance Ahrons, Anne C. Bernstein, and Mavis Hetherington found. Why? Mom’s more likely to be the primary parent, and to have a strong agenda about what goes on in her ex’s household. The stronger the ex’s agenda, researchers found, the more involvement across households–and opportunities for conflict. And high conflict situations between two linked households lead to greater resentment of the stepparent, who feels more expendable and less loved by the child than a parent. In addition, Hetherington found that ex-wives feel more anger, and feel it for longer, than ex-husbands. Stepkids pick up on these feelings–and often act them out on mom’s behalf. Translation: stepmom loses this draw due to gender.
Permissive parenting. Research consistently shows that children do best with authoritative parenting–high levels of warmth and high levels of control. But post-divorce, permissive parenting (high warmth, low control) frequently prevails. Why? Mom is likely to have primary custody, and if she’s single, that can mean a lot of work and stress. She might let the little things–and then the not so little things–go. Dad likely fears that if he angers his ex or the kids, he won’t see them as much, and feels guilty that the kids went through a divorce. And so an “Always ‘Yes’ Dad” is born. Against the backdrop of permissive parenting, stepmom’s normal expectations about manners, scheduling and respect may seem draconian, rigid, and “unfair.” And kids with permissive parents understandably don’t have much sense that it’s wrong to be rude to an expendable-seeming and “overreaching” (in their view) stepparent. This ticks off stepmom, who then seems even less likable and fun to her stepchild..
[Source: www.psychologytoday.com ]
Introduction: There are many ways and methods angry or bitter parents use to create a division between a child or children and their other parent. Hostile Aggressive Parenting is exhibited in such a situation where one parent hopes to alienate children from the other parent for a variety of reasons. This article is written to help explain Hostile Aggressive Parenting and what fathers can do to avoid it in their own parenting and to address it if they are the victim.
Definition: Hostile Aggressive Parenting is defined as a pattern of behaviors or actions on the part of one parent or guardian that interferes with or creates difficulties in the relationship between a child or children and their other parent or guardian or another person involved in the raising of the child. Hostile Aggressive Parenting also can include behavior patterns that create or maintain an unfair advantage in child custody or parenting arrangements.
Situations where Hostile Aggressive Parenting can happen: It is most common when parents are divorced or separated, but it can also occur in situations where the family is intact, but where there are major differences between parents in child-raising philosophy or style. It can also be directed at others who may be involved in a child’s life, such as grandparents, school teachers, child care providers and others, when a parent wants to drive an unwarranted wedge between the child and these other persons.
Victims of Hostile Aggressive Parenting: Fathers are usually the parents targeted by Hostile Aggressive Parenting. Here are some statistics:
- Children living with dads tend to feel positively about their moms, while those living with mom tend to feel negatively about their father
- 42% of children said that their mothers tried to prevent them from seeing their fathers after a divorce, but only 16% of them said their fathers tried to keep them from seeing their mothers
- Children are more than twice as likely to have no contact with their other parent when they lived with their mother.
The likelihood of Hostile Aggressive Parenting: Those with Hostile Aggressive Parenting tendencies:
- Are likely to be controlled by negative emotions and are controlling of the relationships of others
- Will have high degrees of conflict in other circumstances, particularly in divorce or custody proceedings when these are involved
- Often maximize their own fears and insecurities and minimize those of the children; not being able to see the value of the roles of others in their children’s lives.
Manifestations of Hostile Aggressive Parenting: Parents who are hostile aggressive parents will:
- Consistently undermine the credibility of the target parent
- Interfere in the legally allowed rights of the target parent
- Lie or exaggerate claims to secure advantages in divorce, custody or protective order processes
- Exhibit inordinately controlling behaviors toward children, former spouses and others involved
- Engage others such as friends, coworkers and family members in their attempts to drive a wedge between the child and the other parent.
Impact of Hostile Aggressive Parenting on children: Children who are impacted by hostile aggressive parenting tend to:
- Perform poorly in school
- Fail to develop acceptable social skills
- Learn to imitate the aggressive and confrontational styles of the hostile aggressive parent
- Increase a child’s propensity to violent behavior later in life
- Turn away from positive relationships with other siblings who maintain a relationship with the target parent
Hostile Aggressive Parenting versus Parental Alienation Syndrome: Social scientists draw a distinction between the two. Hostile Aggressive Parenting is the pattern of behavior that leads to a psychological or social condition known as Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). Children who are victims of PAS develop a deep-seated hatred for the parent targeted by Hostile Aggressive Parenting, even extending to extended family members or friends of the targeted parent.
How a father can avoid his own Hostile Aggressive Parenting behavior: Fathers can avoid this dangerous behavior on their own part by:
- Not speaking ill but speaking respectfully of the child’s mother in their presence
- Keeping quiet about the details of the divorce or custody battles that may be ensuing
- Allowing the child to be involved with the mother’s extended family, unless the child is at risk for abuse
- Venting frustration in other ways such as in therapy, in a support group, talking with friends, journaling, etc.
- Taking care of the father’s own physical and emotional needs
- Meeting all legal requirements and requirements of the parenting plan, if there is one.
What can a father do if he is the target of Hostile Aggressive Parenting?: There is perhaps nothing more discouraging to a divorced father than having an emotional wedge driven between him and his children. Many fathers in this circumstance retaliate in kind, resulting in a greater likelihood of the negative consequences of Hostile Aggressive Parenting or Parental Alienation Syndrome. Fathers finding themselves in this pattern should consider:
- Seeking voluntary mediation, where both parents discuss the behavior with a mediator who assesses the concerns, takes into account the needs of the parents and children, and draws some boundaries around the behavior of the parents. These boundaries can be submitted for family court approval and defined sanctions if the rules are not followed.
- Get into family counseling himself and/or with the children and/or the other parent, because Hostile Aggressive Parenting can often be a symptom of deeper psychological problems or pain.
- Develop the best relationship possible with the children, so they can see that you are not the monster you are portrayed to be. Do all the things great fathers do like listening, communicating, showing love, treating them with respect, going to their events, and engaging in constructive play. The more quality time you can spend, positively engaged, will help overcome the many negatives being cast your way.
- Keep the long view, recognizing that as children grow up and mature, they often will gravitate to the parent who has been a real parent and who has always treated them well, showing love and concern and making time for them.
[Source: Fatherhood.about.com ]
“Hurt people, hurt people.” Thus, we need to get to the truth of why someone feels hurt and also in many situations, why they are doing hurtful things to themselves. Maybe we have communicated in unproductive ways; maybe both parties interpreted what the other said or did in unintended ways; maybe both were provoked; maybe both just did not have a meeting of the minds and misunderstood each other’s kind intent. These are common communication problems.
My wonderful Grandfather Ben taught me to never give up because if you are working with honest, sincere people; if there is a will, there is a way. These are some important issues which will determine whether you are working with an honest or sincere, capable person and reunification even has a chance of being successful:
1-Does the person you are trying to reestablish your relationship with truthfully want to also reestablish the relationship…
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Seems like it was yesterday when I saw your face
You told me how proud you were but I walked away
If only I knew what I know today
I would hold you in my arms
I would take the pain away
Thank you for all you’ve done
Forgive all your mistakes
There’s nothing I wouldn’t do
To hear your voice again
Sometimes I want to call you
But I know you won’t be there
OOh, I’m sorry for blaming you
For everything I just couldn’t do
And I’ve hurt myself, by hating you.
Somedays I feel broke inside but I won’t admit
Sometimes I just want to hide, cause it’s you I miss
And it’s so hard to say goodbye
When it comes to this
Would you tell me I was wrong?
Would you help me understand?
Are you looking down upon me?
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We found this website, which offers some help with cases of parental alienation: