Those who have been following our story know that we lost my husband to a terminal illness last year. He was incredibly proud of his Irish ancestry, so the grandchildren each painted a small rock — one green, one white and one orange — for the Irish flag. We put those on his grave last June.
Throughout the winter, during rain and snow storms, and even driving winds, the rocks never moved. Every time I visited the cemetery — which is at least once or twice a week — the rocks were there.
Until a couple of weeks ago …… the rocks had started to fade, but they were always right where the grandchildren had placed them ten months ago. When I arrived at the cemetery during one visit, I immediately saw the rocks were missing. On either side of my husband’s niche are beds of rocks and so I started looking through those. To the right of my husband’s niche, I found the rocks our grandchildren had painted. I, of course, put them back where they belonged.
During my next visit a few days later, the rocks were gone again. At first I thought, perhaps someone, not realizing the importance of the rocks to our family, might have simply mistaken them for random pebbles and put them back with the others. But for that to happen twice in a matter of a week? After they had been sitting there, undisturbed, for months?
This time I found two of the rocks in the rock bed to the left of my husband’s grave, but I was unable to locate the third one. I gathered up the two I found, along with another new rock, and took them home to be re-painted.
When I arrived at my husband’s niche to replace the newly painted rocks, imagine my surprise to find the third rock I hadn’t been able to find during my last visit — along with another, new rock, which had been painted and placed in the spot where our grandchildrens’ rocks had been!
Obviously this is not some random act. Someone is purposely taking the rocks painted by my husband’s grandchildren, and then going so far as to replace them with another similar rock.
After everything my husband went through, being alienated from his own children and grandchildren — never even being permitted to meet his youngest grandchild — and then being stricken at such a young age with a terminal disease …… everyone said: now, perhaps, he can finally rest in peace.
It seems peace is not in the cards at the moment, when momentos lovingly created by the grandchildren he was permitted to have in his life, are being stolen, and then replaced by similar momentos, created by some unknown person?
Who would do such a thing to a grieving family? And to the grandchildren who were so proud of the creations they had lovingly made for their beloved grandfather?
Taking anything from a grave is theft, of course. The appropriate authorities have been made aware of the situation. And they have assured me, in this day and age, where cameras are everywhere, it will not take long to find out who is disturbing my husband’s final resting place. They have also assured me that charges will be brought once we identify the perpetrator.
Maybe one day soon, I’ll be able to stand in front of my husband’s grave and say: Rest in Peace my love. Not yet ….. but soon ……
The scene: a bitter divorce, and a custody battle over the couple’s 7-year-old son. Awarded full custody, the mother—perhaps seeking revenge? – sets out to destroy the son’s relationship with his father. The mother tells the son lies about the father’s behavior, plants seeds of doubt about his fitness as a parent, and sabotages the father’s efforts to see his son. The son begins to believe the lies; as he grows up, his relationship with his father becomes strained.
According to Colorado State University social psychologist Jennifer Harman, about 22 million American parents, like that fictional father, have been the victims of behaviors that lead to something called parental alienation. Having researched the phenomenon for several years, Harman is urging psychological, legal and child custodial disciplines to recognize parental alienation as a form of both child abuse and intimate partner violence.
An associate professor in CSU’s Department of Psychology, Harman has authored a review article in Psychological Bulletindefining the behaviors associated with parental alienation and advocating for more research into its prevalence and outcomes. She and her co-authors explain how these behaviors are the source of long-term negative consequences for the psychological health and well-being of children and adults all over the world.
“We have to stop denying this exists,” said Harman, who previously co-authored a book about parental alienation with Zeynep Biringen, a professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. “You have to treat an alienated parent like an abused person. You have to treat the child like an abused child. You take the child out of that abusive environment. You get treatment for the abusive parent, and you put the child in a safe environment—the healthier parent.”
In their new paper, Harman and co-authors Edward Kruk of University of British Columbia and Denise Hines of Clark University categorize parental alienation as an outcome of aggressive behaviors directed toward another individual, with the intent to cause harm. They draw direct lines between widely recognized patterns of abuse, like emotional or psychological aggression, and the behavior of alienating parents.
For example, psychological aggression is a common form of child maltreatment that involves “attacking a child’s emotional and social well-being.” In a similar manner, alienating parents terrorize their children by targeting the other parent, purposely creating fear that the other parent might be dangerous or unstable—when no evidence of such danger exists. Alienating parents will further reject, shame or guilt-trip their children for showing loyalty or warmth to the other parent.
The authors also argue that such alienating behaviors are abusive to the targeted parent, and they liken these behaviors to more familiar forms of intimate partner violence between spouses or dating partners.
Harman is an expert in power dynamics in human relationships. Her research has found that parental alienation is similar to what’s known as “intimate terrorism.” Intimate terrorism is chiefly characterized by a lopsided power dynamic, in which one partner subjugates the other through intimidation, coercion, or threats of (or actual) physical violence. Such a scenario is distinct from situational couple violence, in which both partners have relatively equal power in the relationship but cannot get along and resort to physical or emotional violence.
Analogously, children are used as weapons in the form of intimate terrorism known as parental alienation, Harman argues. The power imbalance in such intimate terrorism can be seen in custody disputes, in which one parent is awarded full custody of a child. This parent wields that court-ordained power to subjugate the other parent by withholding contact or actively seeking to destroy the other parent’s relationship with the child.
The family court systems see these situations every day, Harman says, but judges, lawyers and social workers aren’t attuned to the prevalence of parental alienation as child abuse or intimate partner abuse. Instead, such situations are regarded as simple custody disputes, or the inability of the parents to get along.
Harman says she’s hopeful her reframing of parental alienation will spur other social scientists to continue studying the problem. More research into this particular form of family violence will bring greater awareness, and may marshal resources to better identify and stop such behaviors.
Children need both parents, and that doesn’t change just because the child’s parents are no longer together. Instead of trying to bolster your own parental identity, think about the damage being done to your child when you attempt to destroy the child’s relationship with the other parent. Children should not have to take sides. Children should be permitted to enjoy their childhood and grow into healthy adults.
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.
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?
So many parents say: “I’m putting my children first” after a divorce, but in actuality, how many honestly do that?
How many parents put their own feelings of anger, jealousy and loneliness aside and nurture their children’s relationship with their former spouse? The wants and needs of the grown adult parent should not be put before the wants and needs of children who are simply trying to grow up in today’s world as best they can. Making it more difficult for them by keeping them from a loving, caring parent is one of the worst things a parent can do …… yet it happens so often.
I watched first hand as an incredible father was denied a relationship with his children for many, many years. The mother always pretended to put her children first. But what was she protecting them from? A father who loved, supported and cared about them? There was no need for “protection” from this hard-working, dedicated father. Obviously, the mother was more concerned about her feelings, which is the only reason the children were kept from their father. She was angry. She was jealous. She was lonely. For those reasons — and those reasons alone — the children were not permitted to see their father for extended periods of time.
It’s time for our courts to overhaul the theory of “best interests” of the children when there is no reason for the children to be kept from one parent due to the anger and insecurities displayed by the other parent.
It’s time to honestly put the children first!
By James M. Lynch
In the aftermath of a divorce, the animosity that the spouses feel for each other can trickle into their parenting choices and abilities. Unfortunately, this can have a negative impact on their children, which is something that courts strive to great lengths to avoid.
This tension is especially prevalent after a divorce court grants the parents shared physical custody over their children. The more that divorced parents have to transfer their children to each other, the more opportunity there is for conflict to arise. Parties occasionally agree to use parenting coordinators (PC) to limit conflict, but such professionals can be expensive and are limited to the powers the parties agree to grant the PC. Moreover, it can be difficult for courts and third parties to identify and address a parent who creates conflict through a bad attitude and poor communications rather than clear violations of parenting orders.
Recently, an appellate court in Massachusetts recognized the problem and stepped in to help.
In the last ten years, family law attorneys across the United States have seen a surge in shared physical custody arrangements, particularly as more states (not including Massachusetts) have adopted laws making shared (50/50) custody presumptive. This shift in the law moves things away from courts reflexively assuming that a child’s mother should be granted primary physical custody. More women are in the workforce, and the nature of the roles of that adults play in a family, has been evolving for decades. Additionally, social science research has found that a child benefits in numerous ways when both parents are involved in their life after a divorce.
However, there are instances where shared physical custody is not appropriate, such as when the parents involved are still emotional from the divorce. Poor communication between the parents involved in a shared custody relationship is all too common, and many attorneys agreed that high-conflict behavior is on the rise, as the barriers to shared physical custody become lower, and 50/50 parenting plans more prevalent. Courts frequently see text messages or emails that are inappropriate in volume (numerous times per day), content (profanity, name calling, etc.), and tone (conflict oriented, lack of boundaries), or inappropriate subject matter (arguments about new significant others or matters unrelated to the children).
Ironically, the concept of parental alienation has grown more widely accepted as shared physical custody has increased. However, for many judges, parental alienation seems to be a problem that only afflicts parents with primary physical custody of children. Once shared physical custody has been granted, the mindset seems to be: except in extreme circumstances, parents must simply deal with the bad behavior of a former spouse. The feeling among attorneys is that some probate and family courts have stopped examining whether a parent is willing or able to co-parent before entering a custody order. Positive co-parenting behavior, once considered an asset in custody cases, is now taken as a given, while bad co-parenting is frequently viewed as an inevitable and incurable feature of post-divorce life.
Unfortunately, the attitude among attorneys and judges sometimes seems to be that a parent must simply live with negative, conflict-driven behavior from the other parent. Few judges seem to enforce the type of conduct encouraged by the mandatory Parent Education Program. As we have discussed before, most of the benefits associated with two-parent involvement in a child’s life are offset or eliminated if the child is exposed to significant parental conflict in the process:
[T]here is persuasive science demonstrating that children who have positive and active relationships – including substantial parenting time – with both of their parents develop into healthier adolescents, teenagers and adults. …. On the other hand, there is an equally deep and persuasive body of science demonstrating that children who are exposed to parental conflict – in the form of bickering, disputes over parenting time, and verbal and physical confrontations between parents – suffer greatly from the feelings of instability, guilt and fear they experience.
A recent Massachusetts case, though, took a more active approach.
In Leon v. Cormier, the Appeals Court was called on to review the Probate and Family Court’s contempt of court finding. The Probate Court held the mother in contempt after it found that she had failed to follow the recommendations of the Parent Coordinator, whom the parties had agreed would have binding, decision-making authority in their parenting agreement. Under the parties’ agreement, the Parent Coordinator had made two rules for the divorcing couple to follow. The first was that “emails between [the parties] should still occur during the designated Tuesday email time. The ONLY exceptions are in case of significant emergency or a necessary change in logistics that must be established for something that is to occur prior to the next Tuesday email time.” The second required the children to be dropped off by the mother at the Chelmsford Police Station, where the father could pick them up.
Reviewing the lower court’s finding of contempt, the Appeals Court held:
Regarding the e-mail communications, the judge concluded that “on seventy . . . separate occasions between December 23, 2013, and February 25, 2013,” the mother had violated the order. With regard to the custody exchanges, the mother likewise committed violations “on fifteen . . . separate occasions between September 3, 2014, and December 30, 2014,” by “consistently delivering the children to the Pepperell Police [s]tation instead” of the Chelmsford Police station as ordered.
In addition, the Court “noted that many of the e-mail messages sent by the mother were ‘written in all capital letters and reference[d] ‘MY CHILDREN’ demonstrat[ing] the [mother]’s ongoing urge to struggle with the [father]. The hostile and dictatorial tone of the emails is counter-productive to effective co-parenting of the minor children.’”
As a result of the violations, the lower court had held:
[I]f the mother continued to violate the parent coordinator’s order relating to e-mail communications, her parenting time might be suspended until she addressed her behavior with a family therapist. The father was allowed to make up twelve days of parenting time, and the mother was to reimburse him a total of eighty-eight dollars for the costs associated with the service of process.
In the end, the Appeals Court of Massachusetts decided that holding the mother in contempt of court was a proper response to the issue. This decision is a big step in how the legal system deals with contentious parents in shared custody situations, because it shows an increased judicial awareness that negative parenting is a problem that needs to be controlled if the best interests of the child are to be pursued.
In speaking with a mental health professional recently, I shared some of the bizarre behavior I had seen exhibited by our alienating parent over so many years. I was quite taken aback when the person I was talking to put it quite simply: “She honestly does not think her behavior is unusual or abnormal.”
How can that be? If you’ve been following this blog you’ll remember the insults; the mood swings; how she has copied so many of our actions, while at the same time complaining about them; tormenting a dying man by relentlessly urging her child to go against his final wishes and then turning around and sharing her respects, saying that she hopes he rests in peace once he was gone ……. the list goes on and on.
I find it so difficult to wrap my head around this type of conduct, but professionals see it all the time when treating people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Our alienating parent’s ongoing need for admiration: putting others down as a way to build herself up. And she doesn’t even realize she is doing it? Of course, being the superior being that she is, she has to insult others, make derogatory comments about them, right?
Lack of empathy for other people: a man, laying in a hospice facility, after having made the decision he did not want to see one of his daughters before his impending death, debilitated to the point where he could not give consent, and then the narcissist urging that daughter to visit under cloak of darkness. Because that was her decision — not the decision of the man who lay dying. She was in control. And she considers that attitude normal?
How does she justify her behavior to herself? She doesn’t! Any problems that she might actually admit to are always someone else’s fault. The majority of people that I know are guided by their conscience. Their actions based on their feelings. They are able to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. But what happens when you have no moral compass? When you lack empathy? When you remove those abilities – what’s left?
Our alienating parent made a point of becoming interested in two of our favorite hobbies: photography and genealogy. Now, according to her, she is the best Photographer and the best Genealogist ever to be seen! Strangers who have dealt with her in those venues are continually dumbfounded by some of the things she has shared, but our alienating parent …… well, of course, she is the most intelligent, the most perfect, the most superior person in these fields, so all of her comments are well founded and everyone should recognize her for the exceptional human being that she is.
For those attempting to co-parent with a narcissist, I’m sure this post doesn’t bring much comfort. I am hoping that it will, at least, make understanding the narcissist just a little bit easier.
Our targeted parent was a “victim” of Parental Alienation for 40 years. I use the term “victim” in lieu of a better description, because he never felt like he was a victim. And he never let the parental alienation take over his life.
Yes, he was incredibly unhappy / angry / frustrated when he could not have a close, loving relationship with his children. And then when the grandchildren started coming along, and his own daughter — an alienated child herself — followed in her mother’s footsteps and kept his grandchild from him , even though that caused him incredible pain, he never considered himself a victim.
He missed his children. He missed the grandchild he was not permitted to see. He wanted a voice and wanted people to know what he had been through, which is why we started this blog.
But, even in the face of all of that adversity, he lived his life to the fullest. He enjoyed his family and friends. He thrived, even after fighting so many battles to see his children over so many decades. He was the strongest man I have ever know, and that strength came shining through during the difficult times.
As much pain as he was in from dealing with parental alienation, he never let that affect his life, and his love of those around him.
When he was diagnosed with a life-ending disease, he handled it in the same manner: dying was not so much an issue to him as living with a fear of dying. Not fearing death allowed him to live what time he had left, better.
So, I think I will follow his lead. As much as our alienating parent continues to attempt to engage me in her ongoing antics, and as much pain as I am in from our loss of this incredible man, I think I will focus instead on the wonderful memories I created with him over our thirty-five years together. Our targeted parent’s family and friends have chosen to to live our lives as he lived his: to the fullest. Taking strength from each other — those who honestly loved the man we lost too soon, and who are grieving right along with us.
We all recognize what he went through. We all heard his voice and will continue to carry on his story of his parental alienation. But, we will NOT engage our alienated parent in any way, shape or form. We will follow the example of our dearly departed, and instead, choose to celebrate his life and his legacy.
Watching the moving words spoken about Senator John McCain yesterday, I am drawn to reflect on the many similarities between our targeted parent and the Senator.
Senator McCain was, undoubtedly, an incredible man. He handled himself with dignity, oftentimes putting others before himself. He served his country well. He was tireless in his goals. He was known for his integrity. He was a wonderful family man. He was truly a Maverick.
While our targeted parent certainly never made the sacrifices made by Senator McCain, he too, was an incredible man, handling himself with dignity, putting others before himself, being a tireless worker, known for his integrity and being a wonderful family man. After 35 years with this man, I can definitely call him My Maverick.
Our targeted parent also died from the same disease which claimed the life of Senator McCain: glioblastoma.
And just like Senator McCain, our targeted parent also made decisions after he was diagnosed with brain cancer and was given a certain period of time left to live. One of those decisions was that he did not wish to see his youngest daughter before his death. He had not seen her for over ten years. She is not a nice person and he did not want all the drama that goes along with being part of her life.
Senator McCain, likewise, made the decision that he did not want our President — who is of the same political party as Senator McCain — at his funeral. Instead, he asked that President Bush and President Obama speak at his funeral. In death, as in life, he did not want our country divided by political parties. He obviously respected both of these former Presidents enough to ask them to speak at his funeral.
After our President called Senator McCain “very weak,” “foul-mouthed,” “a dummy,” “a loser,” and “not a war hero,” it’s obvious why Senator McCain requested that the President not be invited to his funeral.
The decisions made by our targeted parent and Senator McCain were certainly understandable.
One can’t help but wonder if our alienating parent is blogging about Senator McCain’s decision that Donald Trump not be invited to his funeral. Wonder if she is blogging that Senator McCain cannot enter heaven with a resentful and vengeful heart? And that Senator McCain’s family should have taken the reins and directed his heart toward compassion and forgiveness? Or did she just save those comments and observations for the man she had been divorced from for so many years?
When people are faced with the prospect of dying, it is not uncommon for them to make decisions about their final days, and what will happen after they are gone.
If you’ve read our prior posts, you will know that our targeted parent’s last wishes were not respected by his daughter. She waited until she knew he would be unable to speak and, consequently, be unable to ask her to leave his hospice room. She waited until “cloak of darkness” to visit, when she knew no other family members would be present, who would also ask her to leave. That was when she visited him — against his express wishes.
After Senator McCain’s death, our President tweeted out a short message: “My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!” After years of battling with the Senator and making numerous disparaging remarks, the President now offers his condolences?
And likewise, after our targeted parent passed away, our alienating parent posted on the internet: “For those who have gone before us; Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace.” After four decades of battling with our targeted parent and doing everything in her power to keep his children and grandchildren from him, our alienating parent is hoping he rests in peace?
I’m glad that Senator McCain’s last wishes were respected more than our targeted parent’s were. This is not a political post. This is a post about respecting a dying person’s last wishes.
R.I.P. Senator John McCain. Thank you for your years of service to our country.