Not too long ago, when discussing our alienating parent, someone put forth the questions: What if [our targeted parent and alienating parent] had never had children? How would she have behaved after the divorce?
If there were no children, would our alienating parent have kept track of her ex-husband, and what was going on in his life, for 40 years?
If there were no children, would she have made declarations about her ex-husband’s behavior, for 40 years?
If there were no children, would she have felt it was appropriate to inform others how they should, or should not, behave as her ex-husband lay dying? After being divorced for 40 years?
And, after her ex-husband’s death, if there had been no children, would she have felt it was proper to continue voicing her opinions about him, his death, his relationship with others ……
The answer to those questions is: probably not.
Our alienating parent’s narcissistic behavior would have undoubtedly manifested itself in some other manner — and toward other individuals — had she never had children with her ex-husband. But since she had — and for that reason alone — she felt she had absolute, unilateral power over him.
If that isn’t a person suffering from Golden Uterus Syndrome, I don’t know what is.
I experienced a refreshing change yesterday from the usual nastiness displayed by our alienating parent on genealogical website. If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll remember that our alienating parent became an expert genealogist — as well as an expert photographer — after she realized those were interests of mine. And then, of course, she had to post her comments and observations on websites that I’m a member of. And, being the narcissist that she is, her conclusions are the only possible manner in which genealogy, and photography, should be conducted.
Yesterday’s discussion was in a genealogy group and dealt with how family, and non-family, members are mentioned in an obituary. As you may recall, our alienating parent corrected both of my in-laws’, as well as my husband’s, obituaries because people were not properly identified, or people were left out. She had not been part of our family for decades, but still felt the need to “correct” their obituaries after they were gone because she felt they had been incorrectly written.
It was wonderful to read so many comments, written by actual genealogists, about obituaries.
Here is a sampling of the remarks:
“I think when I’m dead I will have the people I love listed however I considered them.”
“Obits are clues about relationships among people when the were alive. Obits are not DNA test results.”
“I have my obit written. Friends and family are listed. Some family omitted.”
“My obituary will reflect my son by birth and my son by marriage. I am now divorced from my wife and my sons (note I said sons) are grown. My sons will be reflected in my obituary as sons. There will be no words such as “step” written. And my granddaughter will be listed as my granddaughter (not using the word step) because it’s MY obituary and it’s written to honor me and those I love who have been wonderful to me. Both sons are in my will equally and they are both my sons. If this upsets someone in the future looking at my obituary so be it. It’s none of their business.”
“While genealogy is about facts, life and love aren’t always about biological facts. They are about life and love. Yes, we like to trace facts, actually need to for genealogical accuracy so it is our job to sort it all out. However, the real stories, the real lives, loves and connections are found in the feelings of those we track. I love facts but I love the heart and stories of those I learn about. It’s about people. Emotions. The stories are what I love most and often those aren’t found in facts. My trees are first and foremost about people. I hope to leave both legacies behind.”
“My husband’s best friend will be listed as his brother. Sometimes it’s the family’s we choose that matters.
“Obits are written by a bereaved family member or friend. They are not written to benefit any genealogist. When Grandma dies her family around her, biological or not, might be listed by those who write the obit. An obituary is not a fact, it is a chronology of someone’s life, not a lineage document.”
“Write it as you wish. Tell the story of his life. Tell as much or as little as you want. Obits are not the place to give family members labels. I have at times seen step-child or adopted child mentioned, but rarely. Bottom line, you all write it any way you want to, or write none at all. No one’s business but yours.”
“Obituaries are for the survivors. The immediate grievers are the most important. Whatever will be beneficial to their healing is most important. Future generations can figure it out or not.”
There were people in the group who disagreed with the above comments, but most genealogists know that obituaries are not meant to be factual documents. And the most pleasant part of these discussions was that fact that no one was a bully, demanding that the way they felt was the only appropriate way to feel about the subject matter. Everyone was very respectful of other’s opinions.
In all of my dealings with our alienating parents over the past 35 years, I have never once had my opinion given merit, or respected. But that’s what happens when you have to deal with a narcissistic, alienating parent.
For many narcissists and borderlines, drama and conflict serve many purposes. Primarily, both conflict and drama are sources of attention and a way to keep their victims engaged. If you’re dealing with this, you know how exhausting it is. This video discusses ways you can disengage and put your focus back on yourself. Read full […]
And so I was brought up believing that my father had cruelly abandoned, not just my mother, but also both my sister and I. “You are definitely better off without him” As I entered my late pre-teens I became more aware of my one parent status within our close-knit community. I remember our neighbours and […]
Words ….. words ….. words ….. Our lives are filled with words.
But these words have really stuck in my mind: How do you deal with — or protect yourself or others — from someone who has no moral compass?
During our years of coping with parental alienation, my husband and I threw around so many words: child abuse, narcissism, parental alienation, pathological liar … but did it really come down to these three words: no moral compass?
Our alienating parent was a victim of child abuse, at the hands of her own father. Is that what caused her to abuse her own children, by alienating them from their father?
Our alienating parent’s behavior is the classic example of a narcissist. Could the parental alienation be so easily explained?
Our alienating parent has demonstrated, over a 40 year time span, that she will do whatever it takes to alienate her children from their father.
Our alienating parent has proven, time and time again, that she is a pathological liar.
But then, during a conversation with a bereavement counselor after my husband’s death, she asked me: how can you protect yourself from a person who has no moral compass?
Unfortunately it is a fact of life: there are people out there who have no idea what is right from wrong. They have no moral compass.
Is it right to keep children from a parent who loves them and cares for them? A parent who has not given any reason why they should be excluded from their children’s lives? Or is it wrong? Should the alienating parent — at some point — feel: this is not right? I should not be doing this? What I am doing is wrong?
Our alienating parent and the child she raised — who subsequently alienated her children from their grandfather — can certainly be considered individuals who don’t know right from wrong. Lying on tax returns; filing medical claims on an ex-husband’s medical insurance years after the divorce; attempting to collect child support for daycare, when daycare for the children is paid for by the County; lying about medical issues; lying under oath during court proceedings; going to jail for theft in office …. the list goes on and on.
Did my husband’s daughter know right from wrong when she walked into his hospice room, in the middle of the night, when he was unable to call for help — even after she knew he did not want to see her? Probably not; otherwise, she never would have subjected him to that humiliation. He was dying. He made it clear he did not want to see her. Anyone with any moral compass would have respected a dying man’s wishes.
But, in our case, we had the alienating parent being relentless in instructing her child to go against her father’s wishes, even as he lay dying. Was that right …. or was it wrong? Was it the result of the child abuse she suffered? Was it because she’s an obvious narcissist? Was it because she’s an alienating parent?
Or was it because she has no moral compass?
This is a difficult post to write because all alienated parents hope one day to reconcile with their children. And, in most instances, I agree that is for the best. It’s best for the children — to have a relationship with both parents. Of course, it’s good for the parents too. But what is most important is the children. They never asked to be brought into a world of arguments among fighting parents. Children deserve to feel love from both Mom and Dad, and to feel it’s okay to love both Mom and Dad back. There’s a security in those feelings, which every child is entitled to feel. We are talking about innocent children brought into this world by two parents — adults who should be able to put their own feelings (anger, bitterness, jealousy, insecurity) aside to nurture their children.
And, for the children, I hope that most of you reading this continue to strive toward reconciliation with children you perhaps have not seen for many years, or children you do not have a close relationship with.
But what happens when it becomes apparent that reconciliation is not possible? I simply wanted to write and say: it’s okay.
It’s okay to go on and live your life — and it’s okay to enjoy that life.
Of course, I’m writing from the perspective of someone who watched the man I love endure over 30 years of on-again, off-again relationships with his children. Our case was an extreme case of parental alienation. My husband’s first divorce proceeding was filed in 1975, before his second child was even born, with the divorce being finalized in 1978. Back then, the Court system was more concerned with supporting the children. Joint custody and co-parenting weren’t even a concept. You had the custodial parent, and you had visitation with the non-custodial parent. Period.
So keep that in mind when you read the rest of this post. For those of you currently going through difficulties maintaining a relationship with your children as a direct result of parental alienation, I urge you to keep fighting. I know we have a long way to go toward equality in parenting after a divorce, but headway is being made. Keep fighting the fight.
But ……. if you come to a point when you feel it’s simply hopeless, or there are extenuating circumstances ….. and you finally decide, enough is enough ….. it is okay.
In our particular case, as I mentioned before, the divorce took place in the 1970s. My husband and I met in 1983, and married in 1984. I had two children from a prior marriage, and so did he. My ex had taken off and was never to be seen again ….. his ex was doing everything in her power to destroy the relationship between her children and their father.
I’ll spare you all the gory details, but the years of dealing with our alienating parent can be found here: Our Journey Through Parental Alienation
Fast forward to the year 2008. The “children” are adults and have children of their own. My husband always hoped that once the children were adults and no longer under the control of the alienating parent, he would have a better relationship with them. Unfortunately, that just wasn’t meant to be. We would see them. We wouldn’t see them. The youngest daughter took on many of the characteristics of her mother, and began deciding who was welcome in our home, and who wasn’t. She would decide when her father could see his grandchildren, and when he couldn’t. She had to be in control. When he finally realized he was going to be going through the exact same thing with his grandchildren, that he had gone through with his own children, he said: enough is enough.
It was a difficult decision, but — in our respective situation — it was the right decision. It was like a weight had been lifted from my husband. He knew he had done all he could, and he was able to live with that decision. There were no more arguments, no more awkward family get-togethers. It was a good time for my husband.
And, selfish though it may be, I’m glad he had that good time. Because in 2015, he was told he had a brain tumor and had two to five years to live.
When looking death in the face, I’m sure there are a number of ways a person can react. My incredible husband never once felt sorry for himself. He chose to live his remaining years enjoying his family, friends and his favorite hobby: old cars. Even when he could no longer drive, we would hop in his 1970 Cadillac — with me behind the wheel — and tool down the road, listening to some oldies. Negativity and drama were not allowed in our house!
My husband did reconcile with his oldest daughter before his death. She was such a blessing to us in his final years. He did not, however, want to see or speak to his youngest daughter. Some may not agree with that decision, but it was his decision to make — and his alone. He was the one whose life was ending. Who are we to tell him how he should think, act or feel? Anyone who loved and cared about him respected his wishes.
Thinking about others — as my husband so often did — he even made sure that all of our paperwork was in order so that I would not have to deal with his daughter after he was gone. He was adamant that he did not want to see her, and he was equally as adamant that I would not have to see her after he was gone. After all of the court battles he had experienced with his ex-wife, the last thing he wanted was for me to have another court battle with his daughter in Probate Court, so he made certain that everything was in order. That was just one of the many, tiny things he did to make things better for me, because he knew he wouldn’t be around to take care of me, or protect me, for much longer.
I’m mourning the man I lost, but I’m also remembering his smile, and the laughs and good times were shared. Yes, it was a tragedy to lose so many years with his children, but he made the best of it. He left behind a legacy of love, strength and compassion. Those are the things I remember about him.
Even in the face of parental alienation and grandparent alienation — my husband lived his life to it’s fullest, and he lived it well. He was an amazing example of how to live your life in the face of adversity. And I urge those of you who are reading this: no matter what life holds in store, love those who love you and make the most of what life has given you.
My last post got me to thinking: how can someone hate another so much that they would be willing to harm their own children in order to hurt their former spouse, or their own father?
In our particular case, our targeted parent endured being alienated from his children and then — no surprise — from his grandchildren. Because, you see, his own daughter followed in her mother’s footsteps and kept her children from her father, just like she had been kept from him.
And I can’t help buy wonder …… why? As I pointed out in my previous post: there is nothing normal about having ill will and hatred toward people who have never harmed you or your children.
So why did our targeted parent’s daughter make the decision to keep her children from her father? He had never harmed her, and certainly had never harmed her children. Just like he had never harmed his ex-wife, and had never harmed his children. So what was the justification for the actions of these women?
Perhaps the daughter behaved like she did because that is what she was taught as a child herself? She learned, from a young age: if you’re angry, punish the person who made you angry. And how best to punish a loving grandparent? By keeping him from his grandchildren.
Looks like I just answered my own question, doesn’t it?