Parental Alienation Explained

What to Do About Parental Alienation

As an excluded parent, as an alienated child, and as a by-stander.

What is Parental Alienation

“Parental Alienation” is the common name for a pattern that can happen to a family, usually after separation, when one parent harmfully turns their child or children against the other parent in a lasting way, and with no good reason. This rejection can happen to mothers as well as to fathers, and can extend to the whole of one extended family network. Justified rejection is not called Alienation (eg, proven abuse by the rejected parent).

In Parental Alienation, one parent implacably rejects and resists collaborating with the other parent. The child cannot resist that parent’s coercive pressure to side with them. Whether this pressure is strategic or unwitting, the child typically becomes as loyal to their parent as if they were in a mind-control cult. More commonly a mixture of the behavior of both parents, and of the child too, combine to produce the pattern.

All of this amounts to emotional abuse of the child, but that focus is lost under the child’s loud loyalty, and the escalating tribal side-taking on both sides by the adults – the parents, the wider family, and by the multiple social and legal agencies involved. If one or both parents are involved in a high-control group, the effect of the Alienation can be compounded exponentially, especially if one of the parents has exited or is attempting to exit the group as well as the marriage.

The range of severity and of factors involved means that each situation has to be carefully considered as unique. Until professionals learn more, even well-meaning counselors can often make the Alienation worse. Everyone should judge the competence of the professionals they turn to, and make sure that they are aware of the dynamics of Alienation..

As an Excluded Parent

As soon as you feel you are being unjustly excluded as a parent, you should urgently find out more. Towards your ex-, you should take reasonable and collaborative steps, in writing too, if only to show that you have tried and that it has failed. Do not “give it time”. Do not accept it when a professional says “trust me, I know what I’m doing” (because most do not).

There are also many helpful websites (such as OurFamilyWizard.com), which offer divorced or separated parents a selection of apps designed to schedule child custody, track and schedule shared custody time, and manage expenses – all while creating an accurate, unbiased record of all communication.

Finding the label “Alienation” can be a mixed blessing, as few know what it means and there is much controversy surrounding it. Flourishing the label like a weapon can make things worse. But the term certainly helps you to Google vast amounts of validation and resources online. Much of that information is simplistic and polarized, so it may not fit or help your own case. Every situation is unique. Your country and locality will also be different, so you need to follow your nose to find what works best for you where you are.

Whatever is going on, do everything to keep any kind of contact going with your child or children. Long arduous legal processes may be your only course of action, yet often ignorance and expense is the only outcome. As for loved ones trapped in any coercive situation, keep ordinary rapport going if you can, to keep the door open for more and better communication.

As an Alienated Young Child

As a child of a minor age, eg under 18 years old – and even more as an alienated child – you will likely not have any chance at all of knowing what’s happening to you. Nor will you have any access to anyone else who could help you understand your situation any better. You are under the influence of a very powerful family dynamic, of powerful emotional pressures, and of unwitting support from people and social systems all around.

As in other coercive family patterns, Alienation is part of “undue influence”. Alienation is the same brand of social isolation found in cults and all the other situations that the Open Minds Foundation campaigns about. The key purpose of Alienation is to keep you away from your other parent, from healthier relationships, from information and other constructive support for your healthy development.

Your main “life-and-death” preoccupation when Alienated will be to keep in with the parent you’ve got … even though they need you to meet their needs. They are not really looking after your needs. At the back of your mind will be your genuine feelings: you hope that your other parent will realize you don’t mean the hateful things you say – you have to say them, to keep in the good graces of your close parent.

As an Alienated Grown-Up Child

As an alienated more grown-up child, you may begin to think for yourself, discover something’s wrong, talk to others, read things that make you aware of what has happened to you. You may look for your other parent on social media. Google and read all you can about Alienation. You may need friendly or professional support to help you work out what to do. You will want to find the truth. That may include making a new relationship with your rejected parent. It may mean distancing from your close parent, at least while you develop your understanding of the situation.

As a By-Stander

Given this picture, by-standers may wish to stand well away, rather than get caught up in such a nightmare. But this is a situation where standing back actively helps the nightmare continue. Often it is only the by-standers – family, friends, neighbors, ordinary and specialist professionals – who can make a difference to such an entrenched situation, by saying something to someone, by reading about alienation, and by talking to other by-standers or professionals. By-standers: please do more than stand by and watch a child’s true self be rubbed out.

 

Reblogged from Open Minds Foundation

Read additional information here: – https://www.openmindsfoundation.org/learning/exploitative-techniques/alienation/parental-alienation/

Shared from Mother Erased: a memoir, written by an alienated daughter

Moth GrandSLAM story: Reconnecting

I told this story live at the March 2016 Boston MOTH GrandSLAM.  After decades of being alienated from my mother, this is a window into our attempts at reconnecting. 

***

When my mother called me last September, I was surprised by how easily I still recognized the sound of her voice.  When I was four, my father had thrown her out of our home and out of my life.

My mother became like a family myth, an outcast who people only whispered about when they thought I couldn’t hear.

I saw her once when I was a teen. I didn’t dare tell my father.

I saw her again when I was in my twenties, a mother myself. She met my daughters who were babies then. For the next year we engaged in an awkward attempt at reconnection. We looked so much alike, yet we were strangers.

I had no idea how I would integrate her into my life, the life that did not include her, that in fact was very much built on her absence.

Besides, my father was still in my life and I didn’t know how to tell him I was reconnecting with my mother.  I could not find the words.

So I had pushed my mother away, because this seemed like the safest thing to do.

Devastated, she said “I think your father is controlling you just like he controlled me”.

“Well you’re the one who left me with him”, I snapped back.

Not long after this aborted attempt at a reconnection, she moved to Arizona

And then twenty years slipped by, just like that.

But last September she flew up to Massachusetts because her mother, my grandmother, was dying.

On the Wednesday before Labor Day weekend, she called me.  I asked about my grandmother and about my mother’s flight from Arizona.  I was eager to settle on a day that I would come see her, knowing this might be our last chance to reconnect. If not now, when?

I offered to drive to my grandmother’s house the very next day, on Cape Cod where my mother was staying.  She agreed, and then we hung up.

The next morning I went through my closet…what does one wear when they haven’t seen their mother in twenty years?

It was a beautiful, sunny day driving to my grandmother’s house. When my mother answered the door, I thought how lovely she still was.  And she was real, not a myth, not my imagination, Not someone to forget. She is my mother.

I saw my grandmother that day too, and my aunt, also casualties of my parents’ divorce; that whole family had been erased from my life.  Now they embraced me, welcomed me as if I had finally come home.

My mother and I walked and talked of the weather and of my grandmother’s end of life. We talked of my daughters, all grown up now, and of family resemblances and of the ocean and of her quiet life in Arizona.

I wanted to talk about the stolen years, to face everything head on, but I knew that even after all this time, her pain was still raw; I saw it in her eyes that filled with tears at the slightest mention of the past.

I can feel her regret that is so vast it could swallow her; I think her grief might turn her to particles, to the dust in the desert she lives in.

I want to say I wish you would move back to Massachusetts. I want to spend spend time with you, to make up for all the lost years.  I want her to know my husband and our daughters.

I want my mother back.  I don’t want her to live two thousand and five hundred and seventy-two miles away for one more day.  But I don’t say this.  Instead I ask “Don’t you miss the ocean?”

When it was time for me to go, we hugged goodbye and both said how happy we were to have had this day.   We agreed that we both wanted to stay in touch, but we made no promises, no unrealistic mention of all the time we would spend together, knowing she would fly back to Arizona, to her life there.

*We talk on the phone sometimes now.  We are still getting to know each other.

I usually keep the conversation light, because I know that’s what she needs.

But the last time we talked, I did bring up the past. I told her I needed her to know something. I said “I know you meant to bring me with you when I was four. I know that was your plan. You told me so back then. You were preparing me to leave with you; I remember”.

..There was a long pause…and some tears.  She was relieved that I knew this .

I love you she said. I always have.

I say I love you too. And then I ask about her day.

From https://thefourthagreement.wordpress.com/2017/03/31/moth-grandslam-story-reconnecting/

Parental Alienation

From – www.eventbrite.com

Parental Alienation

Parental alienation is a form of child abuse. Parental alienation is the process, and the result, of a parent psychologically brain washing their child into showing unwarranted fear, disrespect and even hostility towards the other parent. In some cases, the alienating parent will deepen the brain washing by witholding the child from the other parents’ parenting time, manipulating the police with false allegations, taking advantage of the courts – who don’t have effective mechanisms to handle these cases. These children victims often suffer social adjust challenges face difficulty re-engaging with the needed love of the targeted parent.

Parental alienation is very prevalent, with 13% of all parents reported alienation and 48% of those to be deemed extreme(Harman, Leder-Elder, Biringen 2016). Of note and contrary to popular belief, there is no significant gender variation – it’s about 50/50. This is growing health crisis and hidden epidemic, out of sight because the children have no physical signs of abuse and they don’t even know they are being abused. A parent who inflicts parental alienation child abuse typically has either a narcissistic personality disorder (6% of the population) or a borderline personality disorder (6% of the population) or fit both diagnoses (10% of the population) (Grant et al. 2008). If one of these diagnosis is present, divorce trauma anxiety often triggers that parent to initiate alienation behavior in order to mediate their loss experience associated with the divorce. (Interpretation from C.A. Childress, Psy.D. 2015)

The long-term effects of parental alienation revealed seven major areas of impact on the victims: (1) low self-esteem, (2) depression, (3) drug/alcohol abuse, (4) lack of trust, (5) alienation from own children, (6) divorce.

  

From – www.eventbrite.com

Thanksgiving – Sometimes you have to dig deep to be thankful  

What makes alienation so easy? Humans need security. To ask someone to stop and question 10-15-20 and even 30 years of their security is something most people cannot handle. To learn that half of their life is built on lies and half-truths is unfathomable. Life is easy, why complicate it.

In most circumstances, only a tragic event will make a person question what they believe; and how many parents are willing to ask that their child suffer so great an event, that they hurt deep enough to make them question what they believe.

Many times, only after the alienated parent is long gone, does the alienated child come to the realization all was not right. By then, it is too late. So, why then, do kids not question when they have those nagging thoughts that God has placed on their hearts? Only they can answer that and the unknown is scary.

So, for eighteen years, I have spent Thanksgiving alone, Christmas alone, Easter alone, summers alone, days and weeks alone, birthdays alone. I don’t know if it will always be that way, but at times like this, it feels as though it will be.

Sometimes I get really really angry. Anger is the emotion that feels the void my kids no longer fill. It sneaks up on me when my heart is aching so much that it is an actual physical pain. Pain takes my breath away and anger keeps me from exploding. There is so much pain that anger consumes me.

It’s Thanksgiving Day today. It is a day when we are supposed to be grateful for everything in our lives. It is two-fold for me. It is a holiday that I thought I would always spend with my daughters. Now, I have only the memories. Holidays make me sad. I am thankful they are both happy in their lives and I guess that should be enough. But it’s not.

I am so very thankful that I had the first twelve and sixteen years of their lives. Sometimes it feels as though life has been suspended. Although they are no longer twelve and sixteen, they remain so in my mind. They are my babies. I wish I could gather them in my arms and hold them one more time. I wish I could smell them again. I wish I could tell them that I love them one more time. I wish I could see them smile one more time. I wish I could tell them I am sorry that they felt abandoned. I wish I could tell them that I didn’t abandon them. I wish I could tell them how broken I was. I wish I could tell them I was hanging on by a thread. I wish I could ask them if they could love a broken mother. I wish I could ask them if they could still love me.

Read also –

If You See My Mother

Memories of my Dad

IMG_5629My dad passed away Tuesday evening at the age of 84. He had been struggling for a while, suffering from Alzheimer’s, Dementia, and Parkinson’s. The one person who should have been holding the family together, was more instrumental in tearing it apart so that now we are a family divided.

The last time I visited with my dad was this summer. He didn’t seem to know who I was. He still looked well and I felt good about my visit with him. That was the last time I saw him. I know that as time marched on, his condition deteriorated and I chose not to visit. While some may view this as a cop-out, I look at it as self-preservation. The family drama also made visits difficult.

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My mother, father, younger sister, me and my sister Debbie.

I lost a sister fifty years ago to Leukemia. I was 5 and Debbie was 7. I remember some things as though it happened yesterday. It was an event in my life that changed me forever. I do not deal very well with losing people. I know that it’s part of life; just not one that I deal with very well.

I’ve been through a lot of loss in my life, beginning when I was very young. The last, and most devastating loss was during my divorce from my children’s father. That was 18 years ago. Although they are blissfully unaware of what transpired (the therapist said I protected them too much) and how things have progressed to where they are now, it was through manipulation called Parental Alienation Syndrome. That’s the problem with PAS. Children do not normally realize what happened until sometimes many years in to adulthood and they get angry any time it is mentioned. Sometimes much too late to reconcile with the alienated parent.

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My Dad‘s parents, my dad, me and my daughter, Ashley

This is a loss I wake up with every day of my life. While we bury some of our loved ones, grieve, and somehow manage to move on with life, this is different. It is a loss of a loved one every day and you continue to grieve, but not move on.

My Dad wasn’t perfect. None of us are. But, he was a good dad. He was a State Trooper for many years and because the pay was extremely low, he sometimes worked three jobs to support his family. If I had a “situation” he was there to fight my battles, to defend me. He sewed my broken bra straps. He dried my tears. When I needed a bug collection for science class, he helped me catch the bugs and then he carefully preserved them and mounted them inside of a glass case that he built for me.

He built two wooden shadow boxes and hinged them together. It had a handle and a latch and looked like a wooden briefcase. Inside each side he mounted styrofoam board with my bugs and installed glass over each side. It was the best in the school. While others mounted their bugs on poster board, my dad helped me mount them in first class. I was teased unmercifully, but like Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors, that bug case was made with more love and attention that most kids get in a lifetime.

There was a Christmas when I received a little keyboard and I learned to play the Blue Danube. He was so proud. Anyone who came to the house had to listen to me play! I remember my dad singing all of us to sleep with Red River Valley. I also remember him keeping a little jar of lemon drops on the dresser and we were forbidden to enter my parents bedroom. We’d go to bed and listen to make sure they were in the kitchen and one of us would sneak into the room and take a couple of lemon drops. He never said anything about the missing lemon drops, although I’m sure he knew we took them.

He passed on his love of German Shepherds to me. He accepted me as the person I am. I am proud to have had him as my dad.

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State Police Headquarters

When my dad began feeling the effects of his illness, he mention two things that he wanted to do. One was visit the State Police Academy and the second was to visit his hometown of Olla, Louisiana. My husband (also a retired trooper) made arrangements to take him on a tour of the academy and he had the opportunity to sit in the Colonel‘s chair. He enjoyed his day tremendously and I was so blessed to have this time with him. The second in command presented him with two State Police medallions and when we returned home, I printed a photo of the old academy and of him in the Colonel’s chair and framed it along with the medallions. He loved to look at it everyday and tell the story. I regret that his health soon declined and we never had the chance to take him to Olla.

My dad had retired from the State Police by the time my second daughter was born, but when my first-born was little, he loved driving up to my house and putting the lights on for her. She would stand in the window and clap her hands. She adored her grandpa and he her. She was the first grandchild and the darling of his eye. He often picked her up and took her home with him.

IMG_5609My dad was a member of the MPs.

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This is my older sister and I with my dad at Christmas around 1959-60.
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My dad and me about 20 years ago.

While I miss my dad terribly, I know he is in a better place. A place where he can no longer hear the drama and manipulation around him. A place where he can now hold the child he lost so many years ago. That brings peace to my heart and I feel more happiness than sorrow. I’ve had him all these years and now my sister will have her turn in eternity. That makes me happy.

Those thoughts will carry me through his wake and funeral. I’ll grieve but it will be bittersweet. Goodbye for now my wonderful Dad. You were here for me when I needed you and I will miss you. Enjoy your life in eternity.

 

As the days are slowing creeping by, more memories have been floating around and I wanted to add them to this post, mostly for myself, but I also thought you might enjoy them as well.

When I posted on Facebook – what did we do before Facebook – to let my friends know that my dad had passed away, they began sharing memories of their own, which in turn, brought back memories for me.

There were times when I was stopped by policemen and didn’t understand why. I was always told I was going too fast, when I was pretty sure I had not been. Years later, I found out the reason. My dad, who was a State Trooper at the time would occasionally come across other law enforcement officer’s children who were speeding. He had a habit of following the kids home or driving them home, if need be, and standing there while they admitted to their parents that they had been driving way too fast, or were inebriated. Turns out, it wasn’t always appreciated by the parents. Also turned out, I was an easy target. I drove to school my senior year and like most places with one highway, it was easy to spot your target. While it bothered me at the time, I’m pretty proud that my dad tried to take the better road by trying to help these fellow classmates out rather than plopping them in jail. I can only imagine the retaliation I would have received if that had happened.

My high school boyfriend said there were many scary moments with my dad (I think I may remember more than my fair share – blushing here) but the one he really remembers is when he hit a parked car as he was driving past my house – about 15 miles away from where his father thought he was.

Another school mate admitted that my dad had stopped him for speeding and he must have been singing my praises (he was a friend) because being my friend got him out of a ticket.

I guess those were the good old days with such simple stories. My little group of friends and I were the goody two-shoes as the saying goes. Our idea of trouble was stopping in a curve on the “back road” and running into the graveyard to touch a grave. Of course, it was Deadman’s Curve where the groom was racing to see why his bride had been delayed and they crashed head-on. Doesn’t everyone have a story like this?

My dad’s CB handle was the Toy Maker. He carried his wooden toys that he made in a box in his police unit. When I was expecting my first daughter, he built a cradle for her. It is a work of art. He later made replicas for both of my daughter’s for their dolls. I have a toy train that runs around my Christmas tree each year.

I’m not calling this post finished because I know there are lots of memories that I will remember. Hope you enjoyed some of them.

 

Who Moved My Freakin’ Cheese?

A story of parental alienation; a must read.

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