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.