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15 thoughts on “What Parental Alienation Is and Is Not

  • August 5, 2018 at 6:50 am
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    Hi Christine,

    I found your article reading through one of my news feeds that I’d catch up on over weekend.

    I am a dad, have suffered from depression for many years without having it diagnosed or treated having been a fairly ‘happy’ person on the exterior and ‘high flyer’ at demanding company, I seemed normal.

    Long story short, I got divorced just before my daughter turned three. I had a few relationships after that and was cautious who I introduced into my daughter’s life. Sometime it really caught her when the relationship didn’ work out.

    I got married again about 10 years later, which after a major burnout (aka nervous breakdown), became a contributing factor to my slow recovery. At that stage, about two years ago, my daughter simply cut communication with me. I wasn’t allowed to go and watch her sport, she didn’t take my calls on her birthday or Christmas or other special occasions, let alone just messages asking how she was.

    Her mom and I became like fuel and fire, we argued and fought and were for a most part unhappy. I, stupidly, had a one night stand with a work colleague. I immediately told my (then) wife what happened and for the sake of my little girl, knowing that no counseling would fix our situation. I didn’t want my baby girl growing up thinking that what her mom and I had, fighting all the time, was love. I saw getting divireced and trying to have two slightly for more happy, yet dysfunctional, homes the lesser of the two evils.

    When I got divorced again, her mom told her what I did causing our divorce, probably with no context. She has remarried and has a stepdad that can give her financially everything I cannot.

    I have and still continue to send her messages wishing her well with exams, her weeks her weekends and tell her I miss her and love her very much.

    I was angry at my ex-wife for condoning this and giving a 13 year old so much ‘power’. I have come to realize that to force the situation may be more detrimental for the future.

    Do I continue this way? Is there anything I can door do I ride this horrible wave out?

    Regards
    Greg

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    • August 5, 2018 at 9:58 am
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      Thank you for reaching out however it is difficult to give advice based on the information you have shared. I would suggest on reading about teens and their developmental process so you can have a better perspective on how to relationally connect with her. Please speak with a therapist about this case, your relationship with your daughter is too important to just let go.

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    • August 10, 2018 at 11:26 pm
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      Hi Greg. I’m not a psychologist, just a mom who was once 13. I think what your daughter really wants to hear is an genuine apology showing remorse (not regret –there is a difference) and an acknowledgement that you made a mistake, without trying to deflect blame on her mother. You should also take into account her age –the preteen and early teen years are difficult ages for girls. They don’t just reject their parents, but they will suddenly reject their friends as well in favor of new friends. Keep sending her supportive messages and maybe a giftcard to a store you know she likes, to show her you’re really listening to her and you want her to be happy. If she’s not responding well, back off a little. You may not realize it, but she’s probably pushing her mom away too and making her mom feel like she’s needy. And no, letting her know she does have some power over you is not going to turn her into a spoiled narcissist or teenage tyrant (unless you are showering her with gifts and granting her every wish every day). It’s going to let her know you do value and care about her. Be patient, be persistent in your presence, but never force her. In time, she will come back to you.

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  • August 7, 2018 at 6:06 pm
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    This is an ongoing problem
    In my case the white x came into my single full time dad life for the sole perpose of getting a black baby

    She lied .manipulated me my childrens feelings. Got me fired only to call me financially isecure lol

    The second the baby came out she attacked. Being black i was raped in the system. My 2 children that i previously had were made to feel as if they were NOTHING!!!

    My rights were taken away i have never recived nor seen my baby girl

    Being treated like a nigger is alive and well in Canada

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  • August 8, 2018 at 10:38 am
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    Though your article has some good information, I have some serious concerns. The term “Parental Alienation Syndrome” was invented by Richard Gardner in a SELF published NON peer reviewed book in the 1980’s. There is no such “syndrome.” It is not a clinical disorders s is NOT included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The term is misleading. It was used to discredit women who alleged child abuse against their husbands/ex-husbands. It was used by underground extremist Father’s Rights groups to take custody away from mothers. The APA and other reputable Mental Health Professional organizations came out against it.
    Richard A. Gardner created The “Talking, Doing, Feeling Game,” earlier in his career. However, later he reportedly experienced a difficult divorce and “Parental Alienation Syndrome” was born.
    I work with divorcing parents and definitely see the damage when the kids are placed in the middle. I often have the Kids create their own Bill of Rights for Divorce to both empower them and to guide the parents against putting their children in the middle of parental conflict.
    I hope you find this helpful as the term “Parental Alienation Syndrome” has torn apart countless lives. Especially the children.

    Respectfully,
    Kate Webb, LMFT, ATR-BC

    Reply
    • August 8, 2018 at 2:06 pm
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      I know it is not a diagnosis which is why I didn’t say it was. But it is frequently brought up in divorce court proceedings and therefore needs to be discussed.

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    • August 11, 2018 at 12:18 am
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      Hi Kate. I feel the problem really is with the way parental alienation, which I prefer to call domestic violence by proxy, is currently identified . To deny parental alienation is a slap in the face to the people who have experience it, however, to assume parental alienation in every case is incredibly re-traumatizing for abuse victims, especially when their complaints of abuse leads to the children being given custody to the abusers.

      I really hope women on both sides of the issue can come together to realize that we are dealing with the same enemy. I say women, because the majority of coercive controllers are men because, they can. Right now, these master manipulators have us triangulated, denying each other’s reality. Coercive control, btw, is a crime in the UK since 2015. I like the term because it basically is the definition of “abuse” and doesn’t require a diagnosis of the abuser with an antisocial personality disorder.

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      • August 12, 2018 at 10:42 pm
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        Ms. Webb sounds like a counselor who hates non-custodial parents and men. Hardly the attitude a supposedly impartial counselor should have. What is extreme about father’s wanting the right to see their kids? I am sure you totally excuse any alienating behavior by women.

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  • August 9, 2018 at 9:57 pm
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    Excellent article. I’ve never heard of Reverse Parental Alienation, but it describes my situation to a tee. My own observation is that parental alienation, false accusations of PA, and now, reverse PA are all forms of domestic violence by proxy, wherein a coercively controlling abuser continues to control and punish the other parent for perceived abandonment or rejection by controlling, punishing, or winning custody of the children. In my case, my ex tried to alienate our children and when he failed, he punished them to illicit an estranged response and then accused me of alienating them. The current framework currently used to identify PA is extremely flawed, as it is designed to silence abuse victims. Anytime the child resists a parent, the assumption is that the other parent is alienating, when that’s not always true. The more a parent or child complains of abuse, the more they are views are alienating or coached. The result is children are falling into the hands of their abusers and mothers who sought to escape abuse continue to suffer abuse. It might be more helpful to look for signs of coercive control –domination, manhandling, authoritarian or overly permissive parenting, excessive punishment, isolation, shaming, taunts, intimidation, triangulation, etc. –and consider the effects of such behavior on the child.

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  • August 12, 2018 at 9:04 pm
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    What do you call the behavior when one parent would (ab)use court to legally alienate/cut off all contacts by default judgment, says nothing to the children except to say they can’t see or talk to me until the judge say otherwise? Putting the blame on the legal system to do her dirty work. From what I’m told by 3rd parties, who said she’ll not object to me reversing her (groundless) complaint that cut off all contacts… what do you call that?

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  • August 13, 2018 at 11:18 am
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    Ms. Webb, how has a term that describes the behavior engaged in by the custodial parent “torn apart countless lives?”

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