Some of the observations from yesterday’s post about a biological parent sabotaging his or her children’s relationship with their stepparent also hold true for parental alienation. What is parental alienation but an attempt by a biological parent to sabotage their child / children’s relationship with their other biological parent?
Sure-fire ways to damage your child include denying your child / children the right to love their other parent. How does that affect your child / children?
“You deny your child permission to be himself. You rob your kid of free will, which can make him feel unimportant and depressed.”
This is the narcissistic behavior by an alienated parent that we’ve experienced. No one — not even her own children — are permitted to feel or think differently than she does.
“You force your child to focus on your needs instead of his own. Your child feels less safe and taken care of. Emotional energy towards fulfilling your demands is divested from your child’s ability to relax and be himself. Your child is left uptight and guarded, which can lead to anxiety problems.”
This was always a problem with our alienating parent. The children took on the adult role of taking care of the parent at an early age. It was all about how the alienated parent was feeling. If she was in a good mood, everything was okay. But if she was feeling angry, jealous or unworthy, look out.
My mother-in-law (who babysat our alienated children) often told us about incidents when the children were unnaturally afraid of their mother’s reaction to various situations. Instead of being permitted to be children, and enjoy their childhood, their main concern was trying to keep their mother from getting upset — whether it be about an accident they had resulting in dirty clothes ….. or her whether it be about their mother’s anger at their father.
“Engaging in the role reversal in which your child has to take care of his mother instead of the other way around can also set the stage for your child to become an enabler for people with other problems, down the line.
This was a particularly disturbing aspect of our case of parental alienation. As previously discussed, the children were put in the position of taking care of Mom and her various mood swings. As adults, they even told us that they lied to their mother because otherwise, she would “freak out.”
Forbidding, or encouraging your child to misbehave or cooperate with his / her other parent or stepparent: “Your child won’t feel like the part of the family when at your ex’s house. It’ll impact his self-esteem. It’ll also damage his sense of belonging (a fundamental need) which, when missing, leaves a void that people try to fill with things like addictions and cults.”
“You discourage your child from being in touch with his feelings, which can foment resentment, anger, and depression.”
A child needs to be allowed to express what they are feeling, and not keep it bottled up for fear that it would anger the alienating parent.
Let you child be a child. That child did not ask to be put in the middle of your ongoing anger, hatred and animosity toward your ex. That is between you and your ex. Allow the child to be a child, and love both parents — in spite of your anger, hatred and animosity toward your ex. That’s what is best for your child.
[Source for quoted portions: http://www.remarriedwithchildren.org/ ]