The Effects of Alienation on Adult Children

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Although I started this blog in response to the PAS suffered by my two youngest stepchildren, I have often mentioned the older three stepchildren that I have from my husband’s first marriage.  It was funny, but as the younger kids were moving further out of our lives, the older children were moving back in, after being estranged in their own way(s) from their father, by their own mother as well as his second wife and the effects of divorce, remarriage, and everything in between.

My husband has often told me stories of the Alienation inflicted on his older children when they were young, which I feel pales in comparison to the more recent scenarios we have undergone since then, but any alienation, no matter how extreme, is abusive, manipulative, wrong and damaging.  It has long-term effects that resonate with children as well as parents for the rest of their lives.  I still suffer from trauma even though I haven’t had to deal with the principal Alienator in our case in over three years.

One of my older stepchildren was over at our house the other day for dinner, and was hanging out with her father in the kitchen afterwards.  I was in the other room, but later on, my husband told me how she broke down crying, and confessed to being conflicted about her feelings for him.  The older three children have often had difficulty expressing their love for their father, and their mother still plays a very influential and significant role in their lives and I’m sure they are not completely spared from alienating conversations and influence.  My oldest stepdaughter even told me once how their mother sat them all down and lectured them at length about their father’s failure to pay support over the years, complete with spreadsheets, elaborate calculations and (I like to imagine) pie charts and bar graphs.  If that’s not Alienation 101 then please tell me what is.

On the one hand, I am deeply saddened by this most recent display of emotion, as it is such a blatant reminder of the emotional and psychological damage that Alientation causes, and how it continues to manifest itself long after the kids are grown up and (relatively) living their own lives.  I’m not exactly sure of the specific concerns that my stepdaughter is having, or what she is currently struggling with, but obviously there is significant distress between her heart – which loves her father – and her head, which has been repeatedly told that her father is no good, that he is a deadbeat, etc. etc. etc.  I will be the first to admit that the man I love has his flaws – we all do – but he is also extremely compassionate, loving, well-intentioned, and loves his kids more than anything else in the whole world.

The flip side of this is that I am hopeful and encouraged about her ability to open up to her father like this and confess her feelings to him.  It is hard for any children to speak honestly and freely with their parents sometimes – even those that have amazingly solid, loving relationships – and the fact that she could enter this line of discussion with him so directly made me very proud and grateful.  Out of all of my stepchildren, she is definitely the most mature and has made a very strong and concerted effort to let her father back into her life.

I remember a few years ago, when she was still in high school, and not long after the kids received the extended “Child Support Lecture” from their mother, she called her father and let loose a long tirade of anger and vitriol at him for all of his failures and shortcomings.  The amazing thing about family is that, no matter how large the disagreements or intense the fights, you always (usually) return to a place of love, despite everything.  And even children that have been subjected to so much pain, so much trauma, are still desperate to return to that place.

One of the most amazing things about my husband is that he is a trained chaplain and counsellor, and his ability to deal with people in intense states of emotional distress or grief is second to none, and his demeanour is always calm and compassionate.  He is a great listener and allows people speak freely, without judgment.   He was able to tell her that he loves her, that he wants nothing else in the world other than to be able to help her in her life, no matter what form that may take.  We definitely let the children determine their boundaries with us and the amount of time and contact that they want to have, but I always struggle with that, desperately wanting to reach out and encourage more contact and visits, while also trying to take a back seat and let their father take the reins – after all, they are his children, not mine.

Despite having children that are “grown up”, family relationships can still be difficult to navigate and I don’t think they will necessarily get any less complicated as time goes on.  This most recent event has made me a little bit fearful for what is to come down the road with my youngest stepchildren, and how painful that reunification (or final rejection) may be. I can only hope and pray that my stepchildren (all of them) are able to process their feelings about their father and family history relatively early on in their (adult) life, in order to allow them to grow and mature, and develop into psychologically healthy people who are able to nuture their own healthy relationships with others.  As some famous Psychiatrist once said (was it Freud?), “The past is the present”.

Social Worker Schadenfreude

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I found out today that the Social Worker who is ultimately the reason I haven’t seen my stepchildren in three years is being investigated for Breach of Ethics and faces a Disciplinary Committee for multiple (13!) different reasons.  Ah, karma.  It might be too little too late but I’m glad that someone had the nerve to report him and have him investigated.  We wanted to do so at the time – as we were well aware that he was completely biased, ignorant and in no way an objective mediator for our case – but we were so emotionally devastated by everything that was happening that we really didn’t have the stomach for additional court and tribunals and committees and hearings …. I’m sure any of you who have been involved in family court will understand.

Today I feel differently – I want to report him right now.  I want to call the College of Social Workers and tell them all about how horrible he is and how he intentionally contributed to ripping apart a perfectly loving and caring family.  How he sided with a sociopathic, narcissitic Borderline mother, who filled his head full of lies, exaggerations and complete make-believe, against a loving, compassionate father who was just trying to do right by his kids, despite the circumstances.

At the time, he made a psychiatric diagnosis of my husband that he was completely unauthorized to make, as he is not a psychiatrist or even a psychotherapist or a psychologist of any kind.  He based that “diagnosis” solely on the hearsay and made-up stories as told by a jilted, unstable, mentally ill ex-wife.  Even if that had been true, and my husband had suffered from that particular mental illness, is that cause to prevent him from ever seeing or speaking to his children ever again?  Even fathers serving time in prison get visitations with their children!  I could go on, as I’m sure I have in this blog many times before.

But basically, I am moderately satisfied that there is some semblance of karma or justice in the world.  I hope that this particular social worker gets the disciplinary action that he deserves.  I have saved the online articles about it in my PAS file for future reference and perhaps some nights I will sleep a little more soundly. …

 

 

Why Parental Alienation is Child Abuse and Why Punishing Such Abuse Can Never Rebound on a Child.

Karen Woodall

A child’s parent breaks the child’s legs and pretends that the child fell over.  The parent bruises the child and tells the child it is her own fault.  A child is sexually abused.  A child is neglected and left to fend for himself.  A parent engages in a campaign of hatred and denigration of the child’s other parent, persuading the child into a fused and encapsulated delusion that the parent is harmful and has done harmful things.

Q. Which of these are child abuse and which are not?

A. All of them are child abuse.

Q. Which of these should be punished and the child protected from suffering such harm?

A.  All of them.

Apparently not according to the head of CAFCASS who in a somewhat bewildering statement to the Telegraph this week tells us that parental alienation IS child abuse but that abuse cannot be punished because doing so…

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Estrangement and Alienation

Parental Alienation

To alienate means to make separate. To estrange means to make indifferent. In family law, both terms relate to a breakdown in a child‘s relationship with a parent.

Children can become estranged from one parent for a good reason that has nothing to do with the behaviour of the other parent. In some cases, a child’s relationship with one parent can be damaged by the actions of the other parent, sometimes in the course of a custody battle and sometimes intentionally. These children are usually said to have been alienated from the other parent.

This section will provide an introduction to the problem of alienated and estranged children, and discuss what the experts have to say about a largely discredited theory called Parental Alienation Syndrome. It will also look at ways of dealing with alienated and estranged children during parenting disputes, and provide a selection of helpful online…

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Alienation isn’t the same thing as estrangement

Parental Alienation

Parental alienation is often confused with estrangement, but they are not the same thing.

Estrangement can occur if a parent is abusive or has shortcomings that damage or strain his or her relationship with the child. For example, a parent may have a mental illness or other problem that makes it challenging to communicate with the child in a healthy way. As a result, the child may not want to have much contact with the estranged parent. In such cases, the child will express ambivalence toward the estranged parent.

Parental alienation, on the other hand, is when the actions of one parent intentionally harm the relationship the child has with the other parent. In these cases, the child feels little to no guilt about his negative feelings towards the alienated parent.

This difference is one reason why the clarification in the DSM-5 is important. Clinicians need to be better trained…

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Happy Belated Birthday

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To my beloved step-daughter, whom I have not spoken with in over three years.  Happy Sixteenth Birthday XOXO.

I know this post is over a month late, but please don’t ever think that we would forget your birthday and that we weren’t thinking of you on your special day.  It has been many years since I was able to share a birthday present with you, and I will never forget that time I bought you tickets to Katy Perry’s Prismatic Tour for your 13th birthday and your mom would not let me give them to you or take you to the show.  Since then, gifts and cards have seemed hopeless, but we send love and encouraging and supportive thoughts your way every single day.

This year is especially difficult, as you would not even accept your Christmas cards from us – so why send a Birthday card, if you aren’t even going to look at it?  Why send cheques that won’t ever be cashed or the money used?  I still put your bi-weekly allowance away in a savings account for you, hoping that one day I might be able to help you pay your college tuition or your rent. I know that all the experts say, sending cards and letters to Alienated children still has a significant effect, even if they toss them aside and say they hate you and never want to hear from you again.  But it hurts. Alot. And it is so easy to avoid doing things that cause grief and pain.

Your father has been meaning to send you a card and a letter, regardless.  He thinks about writing it every day, but hasn’t been able to bring himself to do it.  I get it.  I too have been avoiding doing certain things in my life recently that would be so simple, yet they seem impossibly daunting.  I hope that one day, reaching out to us again is not too daunting a task for you.  I hope that the thought of reconnecting with us brings some light into your life that overshadows the difficulties and trauma that might also be involved.

We are here for you.  We have always been here for you. We love you. XOXO

Parental Alienation Damages a Child DEEPLY

Sometimes a parent isn’t alienating the child/ren on purpose; sometimes they are just so full of pain over the break-up they can’t bring themselves to be respectful… Talking about the other parent in a positive light is actually impossible when one is hurting so badly… and alienation can occur subconsciously.

However, once a parent understands that their behavior, comments, and preventing contact so that normal healthy parent/child relationships can continue to exist, is harming not just their ex, but also damaging the children, well then we move to a different level. We may be leaving kids in the care of a cruel and possibly dangerous person… One who doesn’t care about the child’s self esteem, or who places their own feelings above those others. This is the person who should face sanctions, possibly criminal charges for child abuse. That is EXACTLY what this behavior is; Child Abuse.

Signs of parental alienation include:

Bad-mouthing the other parent to the children
Limiting contact
Erasing the parent from the children’s lives
Forcing the children to reject the other parent
Forcing the children to choose sides
Creating the impression the other parent is dangerous (yes I just said the alternator is the dangerous one…)
Belittling comments to the other parent in front of the children
Calling the children to testify against the other parent
Convincing the children the other parent is creating financial hardship on the family
Spreading rumors and lies to community members which make it difficult, if not impossible, for the other parent to remain within the family’s previous shared community.
Making criminal allegations to law enforcement causing legal issues and sometimes incarceration when there is no validity to the charges; or the charges emanate from legal activity prior to divorce or separation.

Source: Parental Alienation Damages a Child DEEPLY, Wounds that will Affect the Adult S/He Becomes…

Christmas Pageant: A New Hope

Hello Blog my old friend,

I haven’t forgotten about you – just don’t take as much time as I used to to wallow in the sadness and hopelessness that is associated with being a target of PAS.  BUT today I bring you happy news.  A glimmer of hope and a beacon of light for the future.

Usually Christmas is such a sad, hard time, thinking about the stepkids that I don’t get to see or shower with gifts.  This will be our third Christmas without them and it sure doesn’t get easier every time.  The youngest just turned 13 and his sister will be 16 in January, how time flies.  Two more years or maybe things will give a little before then, who knows.

This week started off really rough and devastating, as we had sent Christmas cards with letters and pictures and money for the kids through my sister-in-law, who saw them on the weekend.  The children refused to open the cards, read the letters, or even take the money and left the cards behind at her house.  That really hurt, as at least in the past they had always cashed the cheques and I could be assured that they money was getting put to good use – even if it was only their mother taking it on their behalf (we are never sure whether they actually get that money or if mom takes it).  This year there won’t be any wondering, but at least I saved two hundred bucks 😦  It is still hard to accept, as we had become more bold in our letters and also including more and more pictures of their half-siblings and cousins that they are also estranged from.  It was at least a way of reaching out through the iron curtain, but it seems the curtain has clamped shut once again.

On the flip side, the kids are spending more time with my sister- and brother-in-law (on their dad’s side), which is huge.  Having those adult influences in their life will be their saving grace, and for a year or two it was even really hard for them to be able to see the kids, but it seems like in time the noose is loosening. I heard through the grapevine that they even saw their cousin and aunt (also on the dad’s side) that they probably hadn’t seen in a long time, so that connection remains, and that is also so encouraging.  Even if we can’t see them or reach out, I can have faith that there are some connections to their paternal family that remain strong and will ultimately vouch for us when the time comes.

Today was their cousin’s Christmas pageant (she’s 4), and the older of my two stepkids went to the concert to see her.  Her grandparents were also there, and I believe that the last time they were able to see or speak to their grandparents was Thanksgiving 2013. They have been convinced in the past that those grandparents don’t want to see them or care for them at all.  Knowing that they had a face-to-face reunion with them is something that makes my heart burst with joy 😀   I’m sure there were alot of mixed and difficult feelings on my stepdaughter’s part, but it is all part of a process.  At least I can know that my parents-in-law got to look at her 15 year old face and tell her that they cared, that it was good to see her.  Grandpa even invited her to New Years’ Eve at their house, which is going to be a huge gathering of all of her dad’s side of the family – ourselves included – as well as their half-siblings, whom they also have not seen since probably Christmas 2012!!!

We are 99% sure they won’t come, of course, as their mother has convinced them there is a restraining order against us and that they are never to see us or be in the same location as us (not true). BUT that is not the point.  The point is that they were invited.  That there was an opportunity to reach out and someone reached out.  Across the void.  Through the iron curtain.  And that is the best we can do for right now and it is everything.

Whether they get their Christmas cards or not, they know that we sent them.  That there was something for them, from us.  That we didn’t forget.  We will never forget.

Kids, not a day goes by that I don’t think about you with love in my heart XOXO

We love you ❤ ❤ ❤

 

 

Narcissists and Sociopathic Behaviour

I discovered this blog today and I am posting here for future reference …

Narcissism vs. Narcissistic as well as the reassurance that sometimes, when dealing with people with Personality Disorders of this sort, going low contact or no contact is HUMANE BEHAVIOUR.

Grieving the loss of relationship with an abusive child