For Alienated Parents

This Page is for discussion about being an alienated parent and for all things related to coping with being alienated.

6 comments

  1. Tony · September 3

    Hi Karen,
    Many thanks for all that you do to help our children.
    I am looking for a little guidance as a non resident but involved parent on helping my Daughter grow up free of any lasting damage caused by PA.

    My Daughter is 7, her Mum and I separated within months of her birth. The separation was rooted in an outright rejection of my role in our Daughter’s life. Every obstacle was thrown to try to stop me from having a meaningful relationship, but I never stopped fighting. With the help of family and friends, I was able to stay in her life, although it did mean an awful lot of travel (car, plane and train) for just a weekend visit. When my ex knew she could not remove me, she turned her attention on our Daughter with horrible results.

    At this point, I concluded I was powerless to stop my ex, but if I just kept to my schedule and be the Dad I wanted to be, it may act as an antidote. In general, I found this worked. I would see her love come out and I made sure I would never talk ill of her Mum regardless of the pain she had caused me.

    For several years now, the PA seems to have subsided quite considerably to the point were I think it has stopped. Unfortunately, from time to time, in what I can only describe as waves of bizarre behaviour, manifest themselves in our Daughter.

    My Daughter sometimes talks about the pain she feels, she tells me ‘Daddy, I feel like stretchy string’. I tell her, whatever she feels, nothing is her fault and that both her Mum and I love her very much.

    I worry about my Daughter’s mental health sometimes as a result of the conflict that exists. My ex, will not engage in discussion, transition is done through an intermediary (Ex Mother-in-law whom I have kept a good relationship with). I feel she struggles with unresolved issues and projects them onto our Daughter. And yet, despite my ex being a trained child psychologist, I am told by my ex Mother-in-law that they cannot understand why she sometimes cries when it’s time to see me (the crying always turns to happiness as as we drive off).

    My question is, how do I ensure my Daughter grows up with a healthy and positive mental attitude?

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    • karenwoodall · September 3

      Hi Tony, I think your daughter is actually coping well with a transitional life style, she is ablr to articulate her attachment to both of her parents by decribing it as feeling like stretchy string, a great way for everyone to visualise the challenge that a child in two homes has to overcome in order to deal with the movement between parents well. Attachments do stretch but sometimes, when the child is over tired for example or ill, the stretchy string is not so stretchy and becomes tight and the child seems clingy. In reality the child is simply dealing with an in the moment need which cannot be accomodated to a schedule of time here and time there, if the parents can be friendly, co-operative and work together allowing the child that little bit of time here and there that they might need, the stretchiness of the attachment returns and the child can bounce back into a routine of movement. If there is hostility however, or if the child’s clinginess or tears are interpreted as evidence that the child is unhappy with the other parent trouble brews up and the child becomes caught in the adult interpretation of their behaviours. The child’s behaviours are simply a coping mechanism, if the child could say it in words the tears would say I’n struggling with my stretchiness today mum and don’t feel like leaving you…once the movement is made of course the child is fine but she needs a helping hand across that bridge of change as her stretchiness is not so stretchy on occasions. When children get older the stretchiness becomes less of attachment and more of independence as the child begins to practice being an adult, this is when real arguments can erupt over the child’s behaviours and it is useful to know that reluctance to move on age 13 plus should be treated carefully to avoid driving the child into rejection as a way of avoiding negoatiation of changing boundaries. As a parent in shared care situations it is vital to know that negotiation of time spent with you at age 13 plus is a key indicator of whether the child is able to continue a transitional way of life. Many children reject as the only way of coping with their inability to negotiate their need for changing boundaries. It is a delicate busines sharing care and to get it right for children is a real skill. I don’t think you have too much to worry about myself, your daughter is able to articulate her feelings, reassuring her that the stretchy string is what keeps her connected to mum and to dad is important, teaching her that stretchy strings sometimes need some help to stretch and that it is ok to find it difficult at times is also important. Reassure mother in law that what they see is normal transitional difficulty and nothing to worry about, reassure her by sending a text or an email updating her on how your daughter is when you get back home, even though you may not feel she deserves it it will keep her anxiety from increasing the difficulties your daughter is coping with. Hope this helps. K

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  2. Tony · September 4

    Hi Karen,
    Thanks so much for your reply, especially in the context of stretchy string.

    I do recognise that sometimes I am overly suspicious of my Daughter’s behaviour. That sensitivity does stem from my ex’s past actions. Thankfully, I stay on good terms with my ex Mother-in-law and do send her texts to alieviate any worries after a teary transition.

    Yes, I do wonder what the teenage years will look like, so thank you for the advice. The schedule at that time will have to be flexible as my Daughter will probably want to be doing her own thing.

    Best Regards
    T

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  3. Helen · November 6

    Dear Karen,
    My adult child has been alienated from me for 6 years now. He is in his 20s now and is hostile to contact from me. He is also alienated from one of his siblings.
    Recently my attempts at contact have been met with marginally less hostility i.e. he eats the birthday cake I drop off without seeing him, accepts the birthday card and gift that I drop off at his workplace. I simply drop these gifts off in a benign manner and depart. If this seems an inadequate attempt on my part it is because he is not civil toward me, he has in the past threatened violence towards me and towards his sister who lives with me if I attempt to contact him.
    I have recently discovered (through my other daughter who lives independently) that their father still calls me names in their presence, despite my daughter’s protests and the protests of their father’s partner. My son lives with his father and is not doing well.
    My attempts to engage their father in dialogue about this matter have been unsuccessful, he maintains that my son simply dislikes me ( and proceeds to share with me some of the more disturbing utterances my son has said about me to his father) and that it is nothing to do with him. He insists that our son is doing just fine, despite reports from numerous others to the contrary (he had a black eye when I visited him at work).
    There is no family about as we moved a long way from family for my ex husband’s career. My ex husband is the main, quite possibly the only, adult in my son’s life.
    Quite apart from my own devastating feelings of loss and grief, I am deeply concerned about my son’s mind and personality and the implications for him of the absence of a loving relationship with anyone other than his father.
    I have recently sent my ex husband a tip sheet for parents of a child rejecting a parent. I have studiously avoided educating my ex about PA as I believe it will likely provoke deeper defensive resistance, anger and (sadly) he is likely to share this with my son, thus shoring up their united sense of me as an enemy and them as occupying some other world reality.
    My daughter who lives independently has tried to have conversations with my son about his lack of relationship with me. She finds his thinking disturbing and says that the ‘criticisms’ seem petty and that his father ‘seems to get off scot free’ and that he holds his father ‘up on some sort of pedestal’. She has been unsuccessful so far.
    I would welcome suggestions from you, or indeed anyone with sensitivity, as to anything more that I can do to help my son. The threat of violence seems to have passed. He is trying to get his life back on track through work and study. There are some slightly positive signs, I guess.
    As I say, I would really welcome suggestions for how to gently breach the divide here. I would like to make it easy for him to have contact with me (us) without all the painful feelings of guilt and remorse that must be there somewhere in him, and without him feeling that he has to compromise his relationship with his father, upon whom he is financially and emotionally dependent. I would like him to be able to have contact without feeling he is ‘losing face’- as he must do because he has maintained this ridiculous position all these years, which no-one but he and his father accepts or thinks is justified. One member of my in-laws’ family described my son and his father’s position as “psychotic” (it is not). I repeat this not to pathologise but rather to demonstrate that those who know me cannot reconcile this situation with my personality or parenting.
    I would appreciate some thoughtful suggestions of an approach.
    thank you
    Helen

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  4. Anonymous · January 15

    You know, although I always find myself coming to your site in a crisis that is just the next OFP/HRO this criminal expert abuser can twist even school conferences into somehow claiming that I would “KNOW” she would be there when I’ve never been even allowed even though I have rights but that doesn’t matter and he gets his exparte granted for STALKING that this has continued since 2006 and it’s so impossible and I have found myself coming to this parent board insisting that I know what I want to say that is so impossible and so hopeless as the years go on without her and I figured it out last aug when it was so impossible to move out of the apartment that was meant for her as any damn normal divorced mommy sharing custody and co-parenting like normal adults do and raise their children having 2 parents BECAUSE YOU DUMB FUCK ABUSIVE LOW LIFE AND THAT IS WHAT CHILDREN NEED (sorry.. that is nicest thing to say he has done seriously) but I could do the last thing and pack up the storage room that I knew had a large memory box of hers but had been so many years I didn’t anything in it and I spent days proscranting coming here to write instead. I couldn’t still write a word to describe it just as the day since I was 7 months pregnant in 2004 and I was “told” my plans to breastfeed “WEREN’T GOING TO HAPPEN.” The following day I tried it’s the healthiest thing and cuz he’s a cheap ass stated it’s free but when mentioning it’s the ultimate bonding experience our child could ever have with me as her Mother, it pissed him off so bad and he simply forever ended it with 3 words before famously walking out of the room to never discuss it again and said in his loudest controlling threatening voice “ITS NOT HAPPENING!!!” I never knew the words or what to say and only cried at doctor appointments and in the hospital making up the excuse I had to go back on my medications for depression and etc. the PA started from the hospital and he didn’t let me feed her for the first time and it never stopped and is impossible to to make okay for her. I’m still trying. I blame myself that I couldn’t even take care of my child to breastfeed her and stand up up for her with what she needed the most. I want to do it it all over and I don’t understand how this has all happened or how it got to this that even if I tried to explain the flat out lies you just wouldn’t believe any of it it because there is just no way this could happen. And I’m still here again proscranating because he’s on this 8th OFP/HRO now a felony with a 5 yr criminal sentence because I wrote on my Facebook that I will will always love my daughter no matter what so he he got a felony at the public defender didn’t give a shit to ever contact me until yesterday to meet with me tomorrow. The day before trial to save me from prison with a decade a filed nobody ever cared to look at and he’s claiming in an hour appointment we can handle this. It’s such a joke.

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  5. Rosa Salazar · 11 Days Ago

    I am the step mother in a PA situation. My husband is the one who has been alienated. Back in 2007 he cheated on his girlfriend with me. Well you can imagine how mad she was. There was a 3 year old involved in this separation. Gigi went from seeing her dad 7 days a week to not at all and being told “wait for the courts to decide” he went 6 months with out seeing her except for when he showed up on her doorstep for her Birthday. Her mother would call harass us, deny visitation as a result on child support not being paid do to him loosing his job over the stress of not seeing his daughter. He would call for his daughter everyday and never get a call back. Towards the end of living in the same state as Gigi, we were still going thru visitation denial and having to be responsible for travel which costs $80 a week. We only were allowed to see her 1 day a week when we did see her because it affected mom’s schedule. Well its been 10 years since moving out of state to better our job opportunities, and little to no contact since 2009. There are many court battles, one of which was a molestation accusation towards us. CPS, Police, and appointed attorney’s involved. Basically it has been 10 years, we have sent her gifts when we had the money. But no contact really. I saw a message recently on my Facebook and it was from her mother. I have talked to her ( she is stil playing PA games) and I have spoken with Gigi who sounds just like her mom. We want to show her the proof of all the court docs and old cell phones and texts her mom would send denying rights. But I don’t know what to do . She mentioned to me we have to “prove we want a relationship with her” I don’t know how to one the other parent is staying on top of all her social media and what we say to each other. Do we tell her the truth? Show her the truth? How does one prove to her we want a relationship when the other parent is still alienating us? Also as the step parent, should i drop this and let them handle it? Thank you

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