Life lessons. Learning the hard way sucks. If you’re a stubborn person, you already know this.
My first job was at a movie theater in a mall. I was 15 years old, working part time, in a suburb of Dallas, where the mall was the local hang out for teenagers. I loved my job, selling movie tickets at the movie theater. At the time the minimum wage was $3.35/hr which was, at least in today’s terms, an unbelievably low wage. Of course that was a simpler time.
My best friend, John, was older than me, and we would run around after I got off work at the mall. One night, we decided to leave through the Sears Department Store exit to the lot he parked in. We ran into a friend of ours (can’t even recall his name) who was browsing in the music section. As we all stood around and talked, the guy slipped a cassette tape in his pocket before we walked out.
Yes, I saw him do it but I dismissed it, turning to leave with John and him. As we left the mall to walk out to the parking lot, we were stopped just before we were about to get into the car. It was mall security. They also saw the guy steal the tape.
We were corralled into a little office where monitors hung on the wall for the cctv cameras. I was scared.i was also defiant. After all, I hadn’t done anything wrong, I thought.
Being only 15 years old, and the only one of the 3 of us who was under age, that meant a call to my father. I knew that meant I’d be in trouble. I pleaded my case, “I didn’t do it” I”I didn’t steal anything!”
They rewound the tape and we all watched as the three of us stood in a group talking, the guy slipped the tape in his pocket, and we tried to leave.
“See- it was him, not me”.I cried.
That’s when the officer said to me, “but you watched him steel it, and did nothing to stop him” … You are guilty by association.
I’ll never forget that night and recently, John found me again, and as we talked and reminisced about the times we had 35 years ago, I asked him if he remembered that night. We laughed about it now that we’re in middle age.
Guilt by association.
parental Alienation is defined as a set of strategies that a parent (or other person with influence over a child’s life) uses to foster a child’s rejection of the other parent. Parental alienation syndrome develops in children who come to hate, fear, and reject the targeted parent as someone unworthy of having a relationship with them. This is since independent of any negative or harmful accu of that parent, such as committing acts of child abuse or neglect.
When a child is alienated from his out her absent parent, the effects are tremendous. They are long lasting – and passed on, sometimes over many generations. The effects are so tragic that it can destroy relationships between a parent and child beyond repair . It can lead to a letting filled with psychological problems as the child grows into adulthood, ranging from substance abuse, self harm, suicide ideologies, relationship issues and more. A myriad of dysfunctionality throughout the child’s entire life.
It is one of the most harmful acts of abuse to alienate a child from a loving parent. Usually the risk of highest during a messy divorce or custody battle. The alienation can involve not only the child and the targeted parent, but also, extended members of the child’s family. It is not an invisible abuse, though it is gradual and takes place over time. The term “brainwashing” is often used o describe the alienation, and comparisons between parental alienation and tactics of cult leaders brainwashing their cult members are often made. The child is put in a position to hate or feel ambivalent about the other parent, choosing the alienater over the targeted parent.
How does this pertain to my teenage mall security story? The lesson of guilt by association.
When defining Parental Alienation and Parental Alienation Syndrome, there are certain manifestations that are universally common among cases despite the difference in the tactics used.
The first step towards stopping Parental Alienation is too be able to recognize parental alienation.
Symptom 1. The “Campaign of Denigration”. First, the campaign of denigration refers to the one being waged by the accusing parent in his or her indoctrination to the child. The other component, however,it is this second component of the first symptom that is seen, manifested in the child himself, which is critical in understanding how the alienation begins. This is the child’s own contribution towards this denigration.
Symptom 2: Weak or Frivolous Rationalizations for the Deprecation of the child’s relationship with the targeted parent. This typically refers to a child offering up trivial reasons for not wanting to be in a relationship with what is now known as the targeted or unfavored parent. During the evaluative process in the context of divorce when parental alienation is present, the alienated child is invariably asked why they do not wish to see the once loved, now unfavored parent.
Symptom 3: Lack of Ambivalence in the child’s emotions with regard to the targeted parent. This symptom refers to the child having no emotional connection to the targeted or unfavored parent. In some respects, this symptom can be a little misleading since severely alienated children can express hatred for the target parent, which is a connection, albeit not a loving one.The term “ambivalence” has a special meaning within the world of psychiatry, psychology and psychotherapy. It refers to a remaining emotional positive connection between a person and what is referred to as a “love object” which is a psychoanalytic way of saying, the other person, even in moments of anger and conflict.
Symptom 4: Independent Thinker Phenomenon. The Independent Thinker Phenomenon refers to the consistent behavior seen in alienated children where they claim that their resistance to seeing the unfavored or targeted parent derives from their own independent thought and is not the result of the other parent’s influence. Very often, this symptoms appears as the child – very much out of the blue – announces that no one told them to say this, and that this is his or her own thought. The significance of this “out of context” expression is that it reveals an agenda, on the part of the child, to carry out their assignment of arguingthat their resistance to seeing the unfavored parent is their independent thought that this thought is not result of the influence of the other parent.
Whilethese two components are in many ways overlapping, their separate expression is consistent with the kind of urgency that only alienated children experience. The purpose of this symptom is to convince the audience – very often court appointees – that they should not have to see their once loved parent.
Within the context of parental dispute, be it divorce or post divorce, unless there as been actual abuse and or neglect in the extreme, children will typically contort themselves to not takes sides in the parental dispute. If a child feels one parent is being ganged up on in some way, they will often go to their aid and support their position
Symptom 5: The Reflexive Support of the Alienating Parent in the Parental Conflict. Within the context of parental dispute, be it divorce or post divorce, unless there as been actual abuse and or neglect in the extreme, children will typically contort themselves to not takes sides in the parental dispute. If a child feels one parent is being ganged up on in some way, they will often go to their aid and support their position.
Symptom 6: Absence of Guilt over Cruelty to and/or Exploitation of the Alienated Parent. This symptom is typically found in the more severe end of the spectrum of parental alienation. It is manifested through the alienated child’s angry and critical tirades against the targeted parent. Under these circumstances, the severely alienated child will hurl hateful and demeaning comments directly to the targeted parent and will express or experience no guilt or remorse for doing so.
Symptom 7: The Presence of Borrowed Scenarios. One of the most common examples of “The Presence of Borrowed Scenarios” is when an alienated child announces that the targeted parent did not want for them to be born, and that they wanted the mother to have an abortion. This obviously could have only come from the alienating parent or her minions. This symptom may also be identified by the age inappropriate use of language by children. For example, a 4 year old child saying that she had nightmares when she was at her father’s house (the targeted parent in this particular case). When asked about her nightmares, she said that she did not know, and that I should ask her mother because this is who told her that she was having nightmares at her dad’s.. Borrowed scenarios may also be thought of as being the result of coaching. The notion of coaching, that is the alienating parent, either directly or indirectly saying things to the child for the purpose of negatively influencing their perception of the targeted parent, is a hallmark of the alienation process
Symptom 8: The Spread of the Animosity to the Friends and/or Extended Family of the Alienated Parent. The last symptom, the eighth symptom of Parental Alienation is The Spread of the Animosity to the Friends and/or Extended Family of the Alienated Parent. With this symptom, we see once loved grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins being rejected by the alienated child.
I recommend reading the entire 8 part series, a very good read and source of information. By clicking here.
As one can only imagine, the process of these eight symptoms and their development when a child is indoctrinated, especially in severe cases. It takes time. This process is far from instant, and it can even take years to truly manifest. The situations all differ depending on the circumstances and the influence the alienater has over the child.
At first, it may be unnoticed or dismissed at first by others. Maybe they are not immediately involved in the child’s life to se the abuse. such as the extended family members who live only visit from time to time. Maybe the initial lack of attention to the abuse fail to seewhat is going on is due to a lack of education in the topic, or maybe a lack of compassion is the reason, or fear of the abuser. Only knowledge and the desire to intervene will prove helpful if done in time, before the harm is set in. However, most alienaters are narcissists and, as such, narcissists will only surround themselves with people who are either so charmed by them that they blindly believe every word they say is true or people who have learned that it’s easier to keep their mouths shut rather than reap the wrath of expressing an opposing opinion. That being said, If you’re a targeted parent, it’s a painful realization that the abuse kicked into high gear was only possible with the help of enablers, some of whom may even have stooped so low as to deliver a few blows themselves.
in my case, the abuse went even further since 2 of my 3 older brothers are attorneys. The abuse came from our mother, towards myself via my child. My brothers have such a close relationship with our mother, that it would be impossible to imagine that they didn’t know what was going on. They have not spoken to me since my son was taken, and they knew quite well that my son was kept hidden from me. My oldest brother “represented” my mother in an incredibly painful 14 year custody battle over my daughter when my mother intervened during my divorce from her father. The money wasted in that case could have put both my kids through college. My son’s father is in prison so without him to contend with, getting rid of me was fairly simple with the backing of my entire birth family, who all enabled the abuse. They are GUILTY OF THE ABUSE AS WELL, under the doctrine of guilt by association. That lesson I learned in high school.
What do you think? What life lesson changed your perspective throughout life?
Leave a comment and tell me what you think, or share your story. We would love to hear it. Knowledge is power.
It was 4 days before Christmas, 2004, when I arrived at my scheduled visit with my 8 year old son. The visitation center was getting ready to be closed until after the new year. I waited, and waited. I had driven over two hours in sleet and snow with an arm full of presents to give him for the holiday.
After about a half hour or so, the Director of Collin County CPS, Claudia King, came in to inform me that there would be no visit that day. When I asked why, she told me he “forgot” it was visitation day. I knew that could not be true.
When she proceeded to tell me it would be after the New Year before I could reschedule, I threw a fit and threatened to file emergency court papers if I did not get to see my son that week, before Christmas. She finally agreed to reschedule for the following day. Her reluctance was a red flag to me so I came the next day with a tape recorder and camera.
When my son arrived the following day, he was scantily clothed in a pair of shorts and a cut off red t shirt that had no sleeves. He wore no socks, and no jacket, and it was snowing that day. He had a pair of mittens on, pink girl mittens. His shirt had blood all over it. He had dried up blood in his nose. His eye was freshly cut, near his brow, and blood filed the whites of his eyeball.
The following are notes from that visit and the audio can be downloaded here.
I had only one more visit with him after that – a few months later.
It would be more than ten years before I was able to see him, or talk to him again. Once he was an adult. It was more than a decade after this and one other visit before I was allowed to see so much as a photograph of my son.
It was this visit that uncovered the abuse he suffered in that home. It was this visit that haunted me and became the story, “It’s Almost Tuesday”
I tell every family involved in the system that my advice, most of all, is to record as much as you can. Record everything!
If I hadn’t recorded this visit, I wouldn’t have been able to go back and listen to what he was telling me. I wouldn’t have had the proof of the abuse which my lawyer had to leverage good release from foster care.
Unfortunately my was released into the custody of our abuser and the parental alienation and brainwashing was set in motion. Our sacred mother/child bond was severed and our lives destroyed. my relationship with my son – as it stands today- (almost 2 decades later) is, I am almost certain, beyond repair. Barring a miracle.
Regardless, my child in these audio recordings was taken from me and forever gone. Nothing can give back that time. No amount of money, apologies, sanctions, not God, not Satan, not a judge, social worker- not a single person or thing can give back my little boy.
The best I got back was an adult version of my son, who is as broken as I am. Or more broken as I am. I don’t know hope broken he really is, and I may never know.
That haunts me every single day of my existence.
As for me, I was murdered in cold blood, just because I haven’t taken my final breath yet does not mean I was not murdered.
He was 8 years old in the following three audio recordings.
Below are notes from the transcript of these audio recordings.
The time stamps are the markers for each note.
Thank you for your support over the years.
4:25 my child tells me that he was not there the day before this visit. he was told that i never showed up the day before which was not true. I was there the day before to visit him and had been lied to by the director, Claudia King when she told me the day before that my son “forgot” that he had a visit.
5:30 my son describes the 3 of the other foster kids ganging up on him and the incident that occurred when they threw rocks at him in front of the foster mother
6:20 my son says “i’ve learned how to control my anger” he says – who has told him he needs to learn how to control his anger? That means to me that he’s getting angry and someone’s saying “You need to learn to control your anger!”
7:10 He asks “what sister?” . henn i ask about his visit and he tells me he sprained his ankle playing dodge ball at PE – Was he taken to the doctor?
7:56 I’m really ja…. piped up right now” he says … sounded like he was gonna say “jacked up” but he said “piped up” where did he learn those words?
8:39 – describes how they gave him pills he’s not supposed to take because they “forgot” and how it triggers his muscles and he can’t control his hands, and how it keeps him “going and going and going” and how its a “good thing” – is he being told in there that making my son a drug addict is a good thing?
14:28 I tell him to wear more clothes than sleeveless top and wet pants in the snow – he says that’s all the clothes he has, the rest are in the wash.
15:10 he shows me the camera he bought with a $50 gift card from a party (a party??)
The caseworker takes photos with the camera – I would like to have a copy of all pictures taken with that camera.
16:50 talks about being afraid to plug things in since being at his cousins… and cuts off into totally separate topics, obvious effect from the drugs of “speeding”
22:20 Argues with me about playing with fake guns and talks about the target his foster father set up and how his foster brother can shoot it “in the heart” over and over again. He says “everybody plays with fake guns”
24:30 mentions how foster parents don’t have much money. He said he got his foster sister to take pictures of his eye when he got beat up … who is the foster sister? where are the pictures?
he says the foster mother doesn’t look at the pictures they take.
25:15 He says he’s got a cold (did he go to the doctor?)
25:52 he says “I just want to hug you” and says “I only have a few more months until I’m out of foster care” he tells me that he won’t have to stay more than a year to a year and 1/2. Who is telling him this?? He says he worries that it’ll be too long before he gets out that they’re tearing apart his life.
26.55 his Daddy (stepfather) calls, and they won’t allow him to say Merry Christmas, even supervised. Ryan gets upset and starts crying. I tell Ryan his daddy misses him and he says “I miss him too”.
28:08 hear people crying in the background.
28:27 I tell him to be strong and tell him that alot of people love him.
28:29 Everything time I go home from a visit i just scream at my foster mom Cuz each time she walks in, it’s not you.
20:55 You okay? What are you thinking I’ll give you a penny for your thought?
He said I don’t know what I’m thinking – – well, i’ve been having visions. he talks about “visions”he’s been having, like the kind of visions Jesus Christ has.
This is for my Daddy, who left me ten years ago today. RIP Daddy, I love you and need you more now than ever. You were a saint.
‘I see nothing in space as promising as the view from a Ferris wheel.’ EB White
“I am homesick!”, I said..
to the Big Guy above.
“Take me back to the places that I cannot go… to the time before my future became paved by such darkness that it turned me cold.”
If only my past could exist with tomorrow, but it does not fit.
I only want to be held – one more time – by my little-girl-hand
in my Daddy’s comforting grip.
“ I want to remember a time before then. “
When they drew a prettier picture of me & of life & love;
Before they painted my face with dreaded fears that could fill up the sea with my shredded tears …
I watched the wind carry away my dreams …
They left me standing in the rain, in the beautiful afternoon storms lighting up the Florida skies
Oh, how I cry for the return of it all…
My life… & love.
My tomorrows were not always covered by such pegged animosities.
my dreams were once filled with something more maternal…
I lost every known part of me when they destroyed who I used to be…
My everything stopped in that paralyzed year, left me yearning to hear my little boys voice again.
Its a haunting recollection that I now live with and it will never mend.
Had I stayed too long they would have only seen me as I crumbled, so I remained just long enough to let them watch me as I fluttered to the innocent touch of human skin.
I was startled by the losses of my family, my son, and then – all of them; Including my last loyal friend.
I have been battered & beaten until my soul is black & blue.
I spent many sleepless nights remembering the time before then.
I close my eyes recalling the moment when I said “I do”
& I crossed my heart
& I promised
not to lie down & die in some distorted idea of “love”…
My life on a beachfront lair was widowed by the trusted hand of abandoned care & he sent me away
into a world
– so cold –
I was so scared as I drove away, utterly lost & unprepared.
I have been traveling since then.
From then until today- just trying to find my way home again.
i have been riding through time, alone & unaccompanied, and carrying many legal files & a few changes of clothes.
I have been fighting against a horrible sin.
i have met so many monsters of this life
& so many misrepresented women & men.
I am now an insignificant nonentity.
I am the shell of a woman with a numbed mind & lost soul.
Now, I have become so very cold .
I had to become that way… just so I could survive most days.
Even still, I have learned many things, in my new life….like, how there is a world out here that most of you will never understand.
It is a world so dark & cruel & it has imprinted itself on me & changed all that I am…
…on the inside.
I had hoped that it all would have ended & no matter how badly I tried to stop it all or how differently I wanted things to be, nothing went my way…
nothing at all.
The only thing that I had left to save me was my wish.
All I had left was my longing…
for a single ride into the sky.
I want to go on a journey with my two children, way up high.
I want to take them so far up there where I can protect them from witnessing the realities of this world below, where the dark truths that have tainted my crying eyes for five years now.
Up there, sin does not exist.
My sorrow has stained my face so that now I know only one remaining state of being called ‘existing’ in this god awful place .
I don’t even know who I am anymore.
I am seeking is only to find my children & take them to a Ferris Wheel to ride on so I can take them above it all.
We will find our way back home from there.
We will find our way back to a safe place, far away from all the bad women & men of this world & we will be able to make new friends too.
“We will ride our troubles away, one day.”
I want to say to them.
I will forever recall the requiem of the day that he left me when they took him away.
It is as if it were yesterday, although, it was a decade ago in that month of May.
I cannot remember the goodbye that shadows my chronicled frustration, nor can I recall what was said, what he wore, or if I held him close enough in a hug so he knew my love.
I do not think I did.
My love was and is greater than all else of this world except one thing – the pain of losing him.
We did not know tomorrow would not come.
I did not know that was the end.
If only I had …
That day became infinite in time.
It made me so broken without hope that I ran away from everything. I ran away from me.
I ran back again & back & forth
I was just trying to bring him home to me. I felt like I was missing something so I could not stand to stay still….
I want to tell him…
“Son, I love you so- I always have loved you. And I am here! I am waiting for you – I am on the last mile…”
I am holding out a carnival ticket that is frayed in tatters. Its ink is bleeding stained inverted markings on my fingers but to me it’s the ticket that is the only thing that matters.
“You see, it’s my ticket to freedom… “
I tell the young man at the entry gate.
“Freedom from what?” he asks.
He is obviously bewildered by my words.
Underneath my breath, I faintly whisper …
He looks confused, so I feel the need to explain.
“Please, I need admission for three, permission to go the place of childhoods deferred & to both of my children.”
My voice fades…
“…to our dreams postponed…”
“Lady… it’s getting late.”
“But I can see the ferris wheel right over there – just beyond the trees!!”
I resist the urge to become angry with him. So much so, I am remaining eerily calm.
My fist is clenching the last half of the ticket, it is soggy with sweat from the palm of my desperation.
I fall to my knees to beg him,
“Please, take my ticket, despite its disarray.”
My frustration is tearing it into two pieces, my one and only carnival ticket.
I implore this young man to take a moment, & listen.
“Please… it’s about my children & the truth..”
I must tell him how it is.
“You see, I want to fly my love …like an angel … to them… “
I must convince him…
“Please , will you let me ride on the Ferris Wheel with them?”
I cry myself awake to find myself that I’m really lost in another dream again.
The young man at the entrance gate is really my eight year old boy who shakes his head ‘no’ to me. He is silent, saying nothing as I wake up.
He just fades away…
It takes a moment for me to realize it was just a dream, and each morning when I do this, I mourn again.
There is no young man at the gate.
There is no Ferris- wheel beyond the trees…
I have looked and looked yet I have not found him yet.
I have not found our way home yet.
We have no home. .. to find…anymore.
I have not found the way to a ride on the Ferris wheel yet.
So for another day I lament yet again. Forced into accepting that the young man at the gate may never let the three of us in…
The shattered state of my crippled life, is, in actuality,
still just me…
existing as a broken mother whose love had dissolved into a tailspin struggle of nightly dreams, daily terrors, and a lifetime filled with hate.
I have fallen into a never ending toil for life & love.
I begged them to play no more games!
“Please!? No more manipulations…”
They laughed as they replaced me with the sound of a gavel slammed across my chest & then erased me. It shattered my heart & left me broken in two states of automaton. Finding it damn near impossible just to breathe by the sea.
My anger turned to God,who never seemed to answer me.
“Were you just too busy playing chess with Lucifer to stop them from making a mockery of me?!”
I asked, but, as usual, without receiving a response. So I got lost in my confusion & fond intent.
I fell beneath my hell bent dementia…as anyone with a heart like mine would do.
There I was alone with no family & all along in the lone star state. they all came together, in a wicked plan they made together, except for me.
They took my forever, in their masterful plan to take my little boy away, and it was even my brothers who were leaving a little sister as a grieving mother.
If i were thrown away like trash, or dumped in a ditch it’d be no different in the end than what they did to me.
I am their homicide victim (to be).
I was left for dead by their anti-positional secrets & greed.
They knew it will eventually be the death of me, it’s been killing me, slowly, in ways that cannot be seen .
They killed me, I’m just not dead yet – I am still bleeding out, it is what has happened and it’s what they did to me.
They were changing my sons name for some self-seeking egotistical gain & it sealed a fate for others. They can’t keep closed their Macbeth eyes, for what they all did.
It remains – unchanged for a decade.
I have waited so long for my turn to say what I have to say, and hopefully one day I will get my chance to mediate. It makes no difference, big or small, lies are lies, and the truth shall be known, but so far nothing else was ever said.
Then, Big T watches & a Ferris Wheel stops one day….
a voice from the sky bellows down & becomes the proclamation of all those answers I seek, to end the Forever month of May …
and God says,
“There it is – the absolute pin…go ahead, young man at the gate, go ahead and let just three more in.”
I look up to the Heavenly sky in gratitude, and I hear the sinister laughter of a familiar kind… I think to myself,
Being prevented from seeing or communicating with your child is a special kind of hell – but a parent’s love never dies.
Imagine if you were unable to see or speak to your own young child.
You may know where they live. You may have a phone number or email address or social media handle for them.
But because they live with a hostile parent who controls their contact – your efforts to communicate disappear into a black hole of despair.
Alienated parents, also known as ‘targeted parents’ are distinct from estranged parents, who have a rift in their relationship with a child for a legitimate reason such as abuse, neglect or infidelity.
Alienated children have been caught in high-conflict separations where they have been forced to choose a side, and are aligned, both physically and emotionally, with one parent, rejecting the other.
Reaching out to an alienated child: ‘Never give up’
For loving parents, yearning for child who is alive but cut off from them is a special kind of agony – a pain some have described as “a living death”.
Almost all targeted parents continue to reach out to their children by whatever means available, as a way to let their children know that they haven’t given up. Amanda Sillars, who runs alienated support group The Eeny Meeny Miney Mo Foundation, calls these communication attempts “breadcrumbs of love”.
I asked a dozen alienated parents to share some of these “breadcrumbs of love” – messages of unbreakable love that went unanswered.
The responses are beyond heartbreaking:
This mum sent thousands of unanswered messages to her sons over the years before discovering their phone had been cut off. Source: Alex Carlton
Parents never give up – no matter what. Source: Alex Carlton
What does parental alienation look like?
Never assume that a parent who doesn’t see their child has done something wrong.
In some cases there may be court orders that mandate that the child must see both parents, but the alienating parent defies them with impunity.
Sometimes there may be no court orders but the alienating parent has successfully ‘turned’ a child against their mother or father, resulting in the child taking one parents’ side in an effort to reduce the conflict between the parents.
In almost all cases, the alienated child had a loving, normal and secure relationship with the parent they no longer see before the alienation happened – even if their demeanour towards the targeted parent has become hostile.
What does the research say?
There is little Australian data available about parental alienation but according to a study from published in the Children and Youth Services Review, at least 22 million American parents may be a victim of this terrible form of abuse.
It’s thought to affect both mothers and father equally. It can be a difficult concept to understand, even for professionals. Research about it is minimal and there is little consensus about appropriate remedies.
It is recognised in courts in the US, Canada and the UK – and increasingly in Australia – but more research is needed to find out why it happens, what the effects are on children and parents and the what the legal and therapeutic communities can do to help those it affects. The Australian Institute of Family Studies has some information here.
If you are a parent who is alienated from their child or a child who is alienated from a parent, The Eenie Meenie Miney Mo Foundation has some excellent resources that may help.
Most of all, stay strong. And never give up.
How to reach out to your alienated child
Amanda Sillars urges targeted parents to keep trying to contact their children, even if they receive no response, as they may one day be the ‘breadcrumbs’ that their children can follow to reconnect and reunite with the parent they love and terribly miss.
“Often the children read the messages but they don’t want to be caught responding,” she explains. “You might not see the positive outcomes for months or years – but your kids may one day have an opportunity, away from the house or on holidays, to try and reach out. Don’t give up.”
She offers some excellent tips for parents trying to communicate with their alienated child here.
Tips for reaching out to an alienated child
Speak with love and kindness
Always stay calm and never react
Don’t bombard them with communications even though you may be excited to get a break through
Expect crumbs in communication – anything more is a bonus
No response is not always a bad thing
Be the best version of you
Avoid dark and heavy conversations
Show your children that you are interested in them
Ask them about school, activities or hobbies they may be involved in, friendships they have and so on
“I love my children. If the court can’t protect them from their abusive father, I will. Even though he’s never abused the children, I know it’s a matter of time. The children are frightened of their father. If they don’t want to see him, I’m not going to force them. They are old enough to make up their own minds.”
The obsessed alienator is a parent, or sometimes a grandparent, with a cause:
to align the children to his or her side and together, with the children, and a campaign to destroy their relationship with the targeted parent.
For the campaign to work, the obsessed alienator enmeshes the children’s personalities and beliefs into their own. This is a process that takes time but one that the children, especially the young, are completely helpless to see and combat. It usually begins well before the divorce is final.
The obsessed parent is angry, bitter or feels betrayed by the other parent. The initial reasons for the bitterness may actually be justified. They could have been verbally and physical abused, raped, betrayed by an affair, or financially cheated.
The problem occurs when the feelings won’t heal but instead become more intense because of being forced to continue the relationship with a person they despise because of their common parenthood. Just having to see or talk to the other parent is a reminder of the past and triggers the hate. They are trapped with nowhere to go and heal.
The characteristics of obsessed alienation are as follows
They are obsessed with destroying the children’s relationship with the targeted parent
They having succeeded in enmeshing the childrens’ personalities and beliefs about the other parent with their own.
The children will parrot the obsessed alienator rather than express their own feelings from personal experience with the other parent.
The targeted parent and often the children cannot tell you the reasons for their feelings.
Their beliefs sometimes becoming delusional and irrational. No one, especially the court, can convince obsessed alienators that they are wrong. Anyone who tries is the enemy.
They will often seek support from family members, quasi-political groups or friends that will share in their beliefs that they are victimized by the other parent and the system.
The battle becomes “us against them.” The obsessed alienator’s supporters are often seen at the court hearings even though they haven’t been subpoenaed.
They have an unquenchable anger because they believe that the targeted parent has victimized them and whatever they do to protect the children is justified.
They have a desire for the court to punish the other parent with court orders that would interfere or block the targeted parent from seeing the children. This confirms in the obsessed alienator’s mind that he or she was right all the time.
The court’s authority does not intimidate them.
The obsessed alienator believes in a higher cause, protecting the children at all cost.
The obsessed alienator will probably not want to read what is on these pages because the content just makes them angrier.
There are no effective treatments for either the obsessed alienator or the children.
The courts and mental health professionals are helpless.
The only hope for these children is early identification of the symptoms and prevention. After the alienation is entrenched and the children become “true believers” in the parent’s cause, the children are lost to the other parent for years to come.
We realize this is a sad statement, but we have yet to find an effective intervention, by anyone, including the courts that can rehabilitate the alienating parent and child.
More on Parental Alienation
Divorce is one of life’s most painful passages. It is painful for the spouse who wants it, painful for the spouse who feels rejected, and painful for the children.
We can understand and empathize with the spouse who feels wronged and wants revenge, or the spouse who is overwhelmed with anxiety at the thought of losing the children, or the spouse who prefers to forget that the marriage ever was.
But using the children to get revenge, to cope with anxiety, to erase the past, is unacceptable.
Parents must hold themselves to a higher standard.
Parent/child relationships are particularly vulnerable when children are first informed of the impending separation, or when one parent actually leaves the home.
If your spouse manipulates the children to blame you for the divorce, or to believe you have abandoned them, affection can dissolve overnight as their distress and hurt feelings are channeled into hatred.
The risk becomes multiplied if, for any reason, you have no communication or contact with the children after you leave the home. This keeps you from reassuring the children of your love and helping them understand that they do not have to choose between their parents.
A child who feels caught between two homes may feel that the solution to the conflict is to declare a clear allegiance to one household. This motive can result in alienation from either parent.
A child who is anxious or angry about the remarriage may channel these feelings into unwarranted hatred of the remarried parent and stepparent. Or the child’s alienation may express the disappointment of reconciliation wishes that have been dashed by the remarriage.
Regardless of the child’s underlying motivation, if the favored parent welcomes the child’s allegiance and fails to actively promote the child’s affection for the other parent, the child may cling to a maladaptive solution.
The parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the target parent.
PAS is more than brainwashing or programming, because the child has to actually participate in the denigrating of the alienated parent. This is done in primarily the following eight ways:
1. The child denigrates the alienated parent with foul language and severe oppositional behavior.
2. The child offers weak, absurd, or frivolous reasons for his or her anger.
3. The child is sure of him or herself and doesn’tdemonstrate ambivalence, i.e. love and hate for thealienated parent, only hate.
4. The child exhorts that he or she alone came up with ideas of denigration. The “independent-thinker”phenomenon is where the child asserts that no one told him to do this.
5. The child supports and feels a need to protect the alienating parent.
6. The child does not demonstrate guilt over cruelty towards the alienated parent.
7. The child uses borrowed scenarios, or vividlydescribes situations that he or she could not haveexperienced.
8. Animosity is spread to also include the friends and/or extended family of the alienated parent.
In severe cases of parent alienation, the child is utterly brainwashed against the alienated parent.
The alienator can truthfully say that the child doesn’t want to spend any time with the other parent, even though he or she has told the child that he has to, it is a court order, etc.
The alienator typically responds, “There isn’t anything that I can do about it. I’m not telling the child that he can’t.
Alienation advances when the alienating parent urdses the child as a personal therapist. The child is told about every miserable experience and negative feeling about the alienated parent with great specificity.
The child, who is already enmeshed with the parent because his or her identity is still undefined, easily absorbs the parent’s negativity. They become aligned with this parent and feel that they need to be the protector of the alienating parent.
Parental alienation can be mild and temporary or extreme and ongoing. Most researchers believe that any alienation of a child against (the child’s) other parent is harmful to the child and to the target parent.
Extreme, obsessive, and ongoing parental alienation can cause terrible psychological damage to children extending well into adulthood.
Parental Alienation focuses on the alienating parents behavior as opposed to the alienated parent’s and alienated childrens’ conditions. This definition is different from Parental Alienation Syndrome as originally coined by Dr. Richard Gardner in 1987:
“a disturbance in which children are preoccupied with deprecation and criticism of a parent-denigration that is unjustified and/or exaggerated.”
Parental Alienation Syndrome symptoms describe the child’s behaviours and attitude towards the targeted parent after the child has been effectively programmed and severely alienated from the targeted parent.
Parental alienation, on the other hand, describes the alienating parent’s or parents’ conduct which induces parental alienation syndrome in children. Parental alienation is a form of relational aggression by one parent against the other parent using their common children.
The process can become cyclic with each parent attempting to alienate the children from the other. There is potential for a negative feedback loop and escalation.
At other times an affected parent may withdraw leaving the children to the alienating parent. Children so alienated often suffer effects similar to those studied in the psychology of torture.
Alienating parents often use grandparents, aunts/uncles, and other elders to alienate their children against the target parent.
In some cases, mental health professionals become unwitting allies in these alienation attempts by backing unfounded allegations of neglect, abuse or mental disease. Courts also often side with the alienating parent against the target parent in legal judgements because parental alienation is so difficult to detect.
Extreme forms of parental alienation include obsessive brainwashing, character assassination, and the false inducement of fear, shame, and rage in children against the target parent. Moderate forms of parental alienation include loss of self control, flare ups of anger, and nconscious alliances with the children against the target parent. In it’s mildest forms, parental alienation includes occasional mild denigration alternating with a focus on encouraging the children’s relationship with the other parent.
Parental alienation often forces children to choose sides and become allies against the other parent. Children caught in the middle of such conflicts suffer severe losses of love, respect and peace during their formative years.
They also often lose their alienated parent forever.
These consequences and a host of others cause terrible traumas to children as studied in Parental Alienation Syndrome.
Parents so alienated often suffer heartbreaking loss of their children through no fault of their own. In addition, they often face false accusations from their alienated children that they cannot counter with the facts.
Finally, they often find themselves powerless to show that this little-known form of cruel, covert, and cunning aggression is occurring or has occurred.
Often the problem can be cured only by realizing the underlying causes. The reasons are very numerous and varied. These are examples:
Money. The custodial parent may wish to have more than the non-custodial parent is willing or able to provide and the children are leverage pawns.
Retaliation. ‘You wanted a life without us. Now you have it.’
New family member.The mother forms a new romantic relationship and wants her new man to be the father. The non-custodial parent is a hindrance to that new relationship, an unwanted reminder.
New partner’s interference. Mother’s boy-friend or new husband wants to be the man in the child’s life and works to exclude the father.
Jealousy Mother’s empty life is in stark contrast to Father’s recovering one. Mother may not wish the father’s new partner to have the role of ‘rival mother’ – particularly if she is insecure about her own abilities.
Property rights. Mother regards child as her property and is unwilling to share
Social appearance.Mother could never admit that she is not the sole focus of her child’s life.
Depression, Poor health.General negative view on life interpreted by her as being a result of the marital breakup and therefore his fault.
Simple hatred by the mother of the father.
Hostility from the father toward the mother is viewed by her as a risk to the children as well, so she feels that she must ‘protect’ the child by preventing the father from visiting. Mother may have no basis whatsoever for feeling that the father will be hostile to the child.
Possessiveness of the child’s attention and affection. The Mother may have no other close family and be envious of the father’s friends and relatives.
Mother convinces herself that the father is a dangerous human with extreme character flaws to which the child should not be exposed. Mother assumes that activities enjoyed by the father are risky to the child, even though other children may engage in those same activities.
Mother has taken a gender approach and is hostile to all men. This can be particularly true if the mother has limited her own contacts to other single mothers. She may be unable to sustain a wholesome relationship with a man.
Punishment. Mother eliminates visits or shortens contact with the father if the children do not behave. “You have not finished your homework. You cannot go to dinner with your father.” or “You did not obey me about your bedtime. You are grounded here and while you are with your father this weekend.”
Perceived competition with the former spouse. This is particularly true when the non-custodial father spends more on the children than the mother is able to do. Also called “Disneyland Dads”, the father uses his time in high dollar activities while the mother has to make do on free and low cost amusements for them. This also works in reverse with the “competitive” mom – where the non-custodial parent plans an activity, such as a driving vacation and then the custodial mom has to ‘trump’ it by flying the children out of the country on vacation. Neither parent seems to notice that the TWO vacations are far more than the child would have received if in a pre-divorce home and that the child’s values are being distorted on a very subconscious, but permanent level.
Self-esteem. The mother’s interests and activities may be so focused on the children that she has no life if they are not around. She does not wish to, or cannot admit, that they have fun if she is not part.
Fear of abandonment.Mother worries that children may choose the father over her if given the opportunity.
Control. The children may be the only means the parent has of directing the life and emotions of the former spouse.
Reverse control. The mother may have never wanted a man except to sire the child and, once that role is complete, the mother wants him well away from her child. Watch for parents who say ‘MY child’ when talking to the other parent.
Punishment to the Father for forming a new marriage. ‘You were supposed to stay single and grieve for me forever.’
Mistaken belief that the father was actually not interested in the child.Many men are not granted much of a role in baby care, so as the child grows older and the father is ‘learning how to parent’ he may not spend as much time with the child –which may be viewed in retrospect as disinterest. Parenting does not come naturally to everyone and non-custodial parents have less of a chance to practice, with their mistakes being more visible.
Lifestyle conflicts.Mother and father have different choices in cultures, religions, and values and she wants to isolate the children into hers.
Emotional dependence.The mother may feel that the child has only so much capability for affection and wants it all for herself.
Resentment of reminders of failure.The mother may view the dissolved marriage as a failure and wish to avoid all memory of it.
Concealment. The mother may be having difficulties and does not want the children to provide information about her situation to the father.
Theses cases involving Parental Alienating are very frustrating to the targeted parent. Many times the offending parent feels totally justified in their actions. They cannot see the damage they are causing their children.
How can targeted parents in these situations be helped?
Encourage them to keep their heads up, maintain perspective, and contact the right professionals. Open up the line of communication with their children, recognize early warning signs of trouble, and respond appropriately to rude and hateful behavior.
Avoid common errors made by rejected parents through recognition of the problem and quickly obtaining the proper experts, which is crucial in developing a strategy inn a custody case involving Parental Alienation.
If necessary, ask the courts to order an evaluation and most of all to order treatment to reverse the damages caused by such conduct.