Conflict Reducing Guidelines

1. NEVER put your child in the middle. Communication with your ex-spouse directly is important. With modern technology now being commonplace, if both parents are in agreement with the child having a cell phone, it is okay for the non custodial parent to call the child but making sure that they leave out any negative comments about the other parent or not asking the child to relay messages that the parents should be dealing with (example: child support payments).

2. Children should NOT be asked to choose parents. This includes directly asking a child to choose or indirectly by discouraging your child to be interested in anything your exspouse may take an interest in. Children should feel free to love both parents.

3. Do NOT blame each other for the fault of the marriage. Marriages consist of two individuals and both contributed to the problem in the marriage. If you need to vent, talk to friends, relatives, or a therapist. Do NOT tell children things that may hurt their relationship with the other parent.

4. Keep negativity out of the conversation when talking to the child about the ex-spouse. Children understand that they are apart of both you and your ex, so speaking negatively about one partner may get internalized by the child and they may think that you are speaking negatively about them too. Watch any type of blaming of the ex-spouse.

5. Make and keep appropriate boundaries with your children. Children should not be forced into a parental role or the role of your counselor, if you are struggling with the divorce process, you should seek the help of a professional.

6. Take care of yourself and move forward with your life as quickly and as best as possible. Children are known to adjust to divorce the way that they see their parents adjust. Do positive things to relieve stress, like exercise or taking up a new hobby. Doing these things will be a good model for your children to follow.

7. ALWAYS allow your children to express their feelings. Find ways for children to express their feelings to you (example: making sure you are actively listening to your child. When your child is talking to you, stop what you are doing, turn towards them and listen).

8. Make books available about divorce and its adjustment for your child. You do not have to force them to read these books but allow the child to have access to them.

9. Give developmentally appropriate responses to your children when they ask about why you and your ex-spouse divorced. It may be important to give examples to children to explain it in more basic terms to your children. For example: find two foods that the child likes that are opposing or aren’t foods that are typically eaten together like, macaroni and cookies, you can explain to the child that they like both of these foods but they don’t taste good when eaten at the same time. Communicating this with your children can help them to see that both macaroni and cookies are good but that they aren’t good when mixed together.

10. NEVER engage in conflict with your exspouse in front of your children. While in the presence of your children, if you can’t say anything politely to your ex, don’t say anything. Most times, meeting in public places reduces some of the tension and anger and helps you to control your speech to your ex while in the eye of the public.

11. Continue to tell your children that the divorce is NOT their fault. Children tend to think that the divorce happened because of something that they did. Make sure that no matter the child’s age, you emphasize that the divorce did not happen because of them.

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Do Not Wait to Find Answers

“I’m 36, happily married, and a father to a beautiful boy and a girl. I was raised by a single mom. When I was 22, I decided to find my father.

After hating him my whole life, I showed up at his doorstep one day. I said my peace, what was years of pent up anger and heartache of a little broken hearted boy. He didn’t interrupt. He thanked me for coming and for being so candid, and he calmly asked if I wanted to hear his ‘truth’. He chose to show me paperwork and pictures. He sent me home with bundles telling me to take my time and that his door was always open to talk.

In the bundles, I learned of the fight, the pain and the pure hell my DAD went through trying to be a part of my life. Equally maddening, I learned of the evil that my mother was. I read poems and his journal which helped form a bond instantly for us because HE was the one there for me all along, the one who really cared about me. He lost his whole life. My mother did everything she could to destroy his reputation and his life and to keep him from me. Solely because “she didn’t like him anymore” and likely a lot of jealousy. Keeping me from a good dad.

All the sleepless nights I had wondering what I did wrong or wondering what kind of dangerous freak helped to conceive me. And, I wondered if I held the same horrible fate. She told me so many lies over the years making me hate him more and more and making me pity her and feel like I had to comfort her for being a poor single parent. And I show up at this stranger’s doorstep one day cussing him out, like he hadn’t been beat and battered enough. And he NEVER once said an ill word about my mom.

I can’t imagine if I hadn’t worked up the guts to go to his door that day. I never would have known the great man I am privileged to call dad.

My dad passed away last year. I only had 13 years with him but HE has made me the man and father I am today. My only regret now is not knocking on his door sooner and ending his pain sooner. To all of the “kids” wondering, don’t wait. Go find your answers now. To mothers and fathers fighting to be a part of your kid’s life, you are all heroes in my book.”

[Source:  Time to Put Kids First; January 2016 newsletter]

Happy Birthday ~ I Miss You

Parental Alienation

Parental alienation is the most insidious act which has an incredibly devastating impact on men and their children around the world.

There are millions of parents (usually mothers) walking around who are keeping their children from the father’s who love them. They do this through a mentality of self importance, which says that their rights are more important than those of the father’s.

What they are intentionally ignoring is the rights of the children to have a relationship with both their loving parents. These children are often being raised to believe that their daddy never fought for them, or that daddy never loved them.

Please share this video and raise awareness for children that their daddy is most likely one just like my friend Gio. A loving father who is forbidden from caring for his children and coparenting them so they grow up knowing love, connection and belonging.

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Divorce ends the husband / wife relationship, but not the parent / child relationship

Three Things to Consider About How Divorce Affects Children

“Marriage begins with two people. The moment a baby is born it changes. The relationship demands a larger world view from both individuals. The decision to become a parent means that one gives up the right to behave immaturely, insecurely or selfishly. It should morph into a relationship with two people who are capable of loving the children more than loving one’s self.

The selfish and immature games played throughout divorce only hurt the children.  Good parenting requires loving the children more than one dislikes the spouse they are divorcing.

They must consider the following three things.

Maturity: First and foremost, divorce mandates a mature parent. Once a child is born, the parent loses the right to behave like one. It does not matter the circumstances, the anger, the bitterness, upset, etc. of the divorce – what matters is the child or children. An immature parent is one that is filled with ego. It’s all about them and their pain supersedes that of anyone else including their own children. It is spoiled and indulgent behavior not befitting any parent. Maturity makes it impossible to behave as if the divorcing parent’s feelings are more important than their children. Therefore, maturity is critical because it allows a parent to be absent of ‘ego.’

Bottom line:  Once children are born, one gives up the right to behave like a child themselves.

Confidence: Secondly, divorce requires confidence. A confident parent will be secure enough to put the children first regardless of divorce. A confident parent will not feel the need to pit children against a spouse. This parent will not feel the need to make the other parent look bad so that they look good. The confidence allows for a tolerance and kindness that permits the divorcing parent to make good decisions for their children when involving the other spouse. It also gives the children the healthy permission to allow room for both parents in their lives without feeling a sense of conflict.

Bottom line:  A confident parent does not need to make another parent look bad in order to make themselves look good.

Selflessness: Thirdly, in the midst of divorce a parent must be selfless. It seems instinctual; however, an individual that lacks maturity and confidence can often possess enough ego to behave very badly despite the children. This very simply put is selfishness. A divorcing parent needs to be unselfish enough to put the needs and feelings of their children first. This means taking into consideration that every divorce game played that is meant to punish the spouse is essentially punishing the children. All children want to love both their mother and their father so seeing one parent hurt the other is selfish pettiness that only hurts the children.

 Bottom lineThe very nature of the word parent makes ‘selflessness’ synonymous with it.

A divorcing parent has to tackle their problems as adults. This takes maturity, confidence, and selflessness. All marriages that ultimately end in divorce already allow for enough bad behavior that parents wish to shield their children from. Therefore, it is even more essential that divorce promotes healing for the children. It should be an opportunity to provide enough distance that the unpleasant aspects of the relationship heal and the children are allowed to be children.

Bottom line:  Parenthood and especially divorcing parenthood demands that an individual be mature, confident, and selfless. In essence, it requires an adult rather than a child walking around masquerading as an adult.

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Family Law Reform: Minimizing Conflict, Maximizing Families

Establishing and maintaining a parent child relationship is of fundamental importance to the welfare of a child. Therefore, the relationship between a child and both parents should be fostered unless inconsistent with the child’s best interest.

Further, any legal process that allocates parenting functions and responsibilities should be guided by each child’s best interests.

Post divorce arrangements should aim to promote the maintenance of the relationship between nonresidential parents and their children. Most children in two parent families form psychologically important and distinctive relationships with both of their parents, even though one may be a primary caretaker. These relationships are not redundant because mothers and fathers each make unique contributions to their children.

The majority of children experiencing parental divorce express the desire to maintain relationships with both of their parents after separation. Time distribution arrangements that ensure the involvement of both parents in important aspects of their children’s everyday lives and routines—including bedtime and waking rituals, transitions to and from school, extracurricular and recreational activities—are likely to keep nonresidential parents playing psychologically important and central roles in the lives of their children. How this is accomplished must be flexibly tailored to the developmental needs, temperament and changing individual circumstances of the children.”

[Source:  The Ohio Task Force on Family Law and Children]

When one sibling remains alienated

Memories of an Alienated Daughter

It is a few days after Christmas and our home phone rings. I see my mother’s name on the caller ID and answer it right away.

After she says hello and asks how I am, her voice catches and she tells me my grandmother has died. She gives me some details and I listen and respond.

We talk.

I’m sorry, I say.

And I am sorry.

I am sorry for the loss.
I am sorry for my mother’s loss and the loss of all who loved my grandmother.

I’m sorry for my loss too, for missing out on all the years I should have stayed bonded to this grandmother who loved me.

I am sorry that the traumatic breakup of my parents’ marriage caused such unjustified estrangement from my mother and her family.

I am sorry life is so brutal sometimes.

It is mostly brutal when people are brutal.

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Magnifying the problem, rather than looking for a solution

“Human nature always wants to sort things out, to get what we regard as ours, to have the last word and so on.  If we need money we run around begging and borrowing, some even steal.  If it’s a relationship problem we seek support and validation from others, forcing friends and family to take sides.

The only thing that all this running around does is to exacerbate the problem and exasperate everyone concerned.  In other words, we magnify the problem rather than look for a solution.”

[Source:  Successful Living:  A Practical Guide to Self-Mastery and Successful Living]

A New Start, to a New Year

Our year-end blog started us thinking about where we go from here.  Anyone who has been following this blog since it’s inception might know our story.  We’ve been married over 30 years.  My husband was married before, and that marriage produced two lovely daughters.  He had no problems seeing his young daughters (ages 3 and 8 months) after the divorce.  He had no major problems with his ex-wife.  His parents had a very close relationship with their grandchildren, and babysat for their former daughter-in-law.

Five years after his divorce, my husband and I met and started dating.  The troubles began when we announced our engagement, and have continued to this day.

I won’t bore you with the details, since most of our story can be found on the Our Journey Through Parental Alienation page on this blog.  All of the documents we’ve shared speak for themselves.

Fast forward to 2015:  My husband hadn’t spoken to his daughters or grandchildren for over 7 years, when he was diagnosed with a very serious medical condition.  Both daughters reached out to him.

This happened at a very vulnerable time in his life.  He had just undergone surgery.  He underwent radiation and chemotherapy, and is still going through chemotherapy.  He doesn’t understand why his daughters wanted nothing to do with him when he was healthy and could have enjoyed a relationship with them, but now that he is ill, they chose to get in touch with him.

He also worries that nothing has changed…….  The situation when he and his daughters chose to end their relationship almost 8 years ago was extremely toxic.  It was not good for anyone:  father, children or grandchildren.  So, just because he is facing a life-threatening illness now, should that relationship resume?  When nothing has changed and the situations still exist which caused everyone to decide to end the parent / child relationship in the first place?

He was going through, and continues to go through, an incredible amount of medical treatments.  His daughters’ contacting him added to the turmoil he was already going through.  He actually sat down and wrote out a narrative of his feelings about being alienated from his children.  And then he created a videotape telling his story, in his own words.

He did that because he felt no one was listening to him, or understanding what he had gone through.

He loves his children.  He is a good man and deserves to have a relationship with them.  He is their father.  The only thing that changed between the time he and his ex-wife decided to bring these children in to the world and now, was their divorce and his re-marriage.  He’s still the same good, honest man she chose to have the children with.

Unfortunately, we feel there is nothing to be done in our particular situation.  The ex-wife continues to monitor every move we make, going so far as to offer her opinions of us and our situations (personal, medical, financial, etc.) on an ongoing basis.  Why does she feel the need to even comment about us?   Almost 40 years after her divorce from her children’s father, and almost 8 years since her adult children chose to end the relationship with their Dad?  As my husband says:  what business is it of hers?

The daughters’ attempts to reconnect with their father were short-lived.  We have heard from mutual friends that the one daughter has even made it perfectly clear:  she wants nothing to do with anyone who might have contact with us.  Seriously?!?  So, not only does she want nothing to do with her father and I, she wants no one else to associate with us either.  And if they do ….. look out.

She left on a comment on our blog the other day:  “Why is it that you and your husband are not allowed to see any of your grandkids?”

My response:  You and I — and everyone who is aware of the situation — knows the answer to that:  because you’re angry.  It’s as simple as that.  You’re pissed, so we can’t see the grandchildren.  Not only yours, but your sister’s as well.

During a discussion with a mutual friend, we brought up the fact that my husband’s oldest daughter had been calling him on a regular basis.  The friend’s response:  “Not anymore!  C***** put a stop to that!”  And it’s true.  My husband, after speaking with his oldest daughters for a few months, and even suggested we get together and go out for a bite to eat, has heard nothing from her since then.  I guess now we know the reason why.

The ex-wife and daughter are unhappy with this blog.  They obviously do not agree with what we are saying here.  They may not agree with what is being said, but does that strip us of our right to voice our opinions, and to tell our story?  Yes, it does, according to them.

And that is the crux of the problem with maintaining a relationship with my husband’s children.  My in-laws went through the same thing:  if they upset my husband’s ex-wife, they were not allowed to see their grandchildren.  Shortly after the birth of my husband’s first grandchild, the cycle continued with him.  Our friends are now being told they cannot have anything to do with us ……

It’s all about taking sides.  When someone gets mad or upset, everyone has to take her side ….. or pay the price.

Here is a man who, at this stage of his life, is being told he will live it by someone else’s rules and regulations, or not see his grandchildren.

To my stepdaughters, I would say:  Girls, your father feels like nothing has changed from 8 years ago.  Is he right?  If he isn’t, you need to show him — slowly and gently — that things have, indeed, changed.  If he does something you don’t like, does that mean he won’t be allowed to see his grandchildren?  Or will you work through whatever problems might arise like adults?

Is he allowed to see, talk and have a relationship with whomever he’d like to see, talk and have a relationship with?  Or is that your decision?

If you think there’s any chance at all, we all need to work through it together.  It is going to take time, and some changes.

If you can’t do that, then please leave him in peace.  He feels you girls were alienated from him.  You may not agree, but he has the right to feel that way.  No one says you have to agree with him.  But he is certainly entitled to his opinion.  And he certainly has the right to voice that opinion.

Is it too much to ask that we be allowed to tell our story, and maybe help others along the way?  We’ve been through a lot.  This is a serious issue in our society today.  Again …. whose decision is it?  Yours or ours?  And if you’re not happy with our decision, the result is:  no relationship with the grandchildren?

If this is the end, God Bless you all.  We wish you nothing but the best.  We hope you all live long, healthy lives and prosper.  If you can’t allow your father the right to feel the way he feels, have a relationship with whomever he would like, have a relationship with his grandchildren without the fear that he will lose them if he steps out of line and does something you don’t like, then please …. please ….. just leave him in peace.  We know you’re angry, so there’s no need to keep posting messages on our blog, or telling our friends they have to make a choice between us, or you.

Live your life, and let us live ours.