advertisement

54 thoughts on “What Causes Attachment Based Parental Alienation in Narcissistic Relationships?

  • November 9, 2017 at 7:59 pm
    Permalink

    I have seen this happen in a couple of my friend’s relationships. The upshot was that the three children were turned against their father. He is no longer in their lives and has missed weddings and the birth of his grandchildren. It is very sad to see. I hope one day that these girls can see past the lies and manipulation and can reconcile with their dad.

    Reply
  • November 11, 2017 at 4:59 pm
    Permalink

    This is exactly what is happening in our family. Very sad.

    Reply
  • November 21, 2017 at 11:20 pm
    Permalink

    Hello,

    I’m the empathic parent of an 8 year old boy who is in the exact situation that you described in the above article. His dad lost custody of him when he was two, for recording his responses to his dad’s leading and false accusations against me and then thinking that this was a good idea to bring into court. He also has substance use issues and a domestic violence conviction for breaking a restraining order after I left him. He had supervised visits for two years. His behavior improved enough for those to stop when my son was six. He has increasingly gained more time and was recently granted shared custody. The court appointed a minor’s counsel that was a joke when it came to representing my son’s needs. She became clearly aligned with dad and she and his attorney began presenting me as the “problem” for not trusting dad, living in the past and not “co-parenting”. I know that he manipulates my son, lies to him about me and his past actions and eventually wants him to live with him. We started co-parenting counseling at the request of my attorney and the mediator. He’s a bully, constantly interrupting me and accusing me of making up all of the past allegations as a way to keep him from our son. I never lied about one single thing in any of my declarations. He was a complete mess but now there are no eyes on him. They wouldn’t even require him to abstain from alcohol at our last court hearing, knowing that he is prescribed pain medications. He takes them for chronic pain. He paints me as unreasonable, sees himself as a victim and treats our son as an extension of himself. I don’t know what to do anymore. How do I protect my son from this? I don’t know if the co-parenting counselor sees what is happening as we’ve only had two sessions. I feel like the court has been bamboozled by him and I am terrified that he will manipulate his way into making them think he should have our son live with him even though he is more secure and happy with me. My son sees his dad’s faults and talks to me about them but is afraid of him, too. I have him in therapy and dad will be getting involved in that, too, because he’s paranoid that all we do is talk about him in the sessions. We don’t. The co-parenting counselor seems to see the bullying/interrupting as problematic but didn’t understand the effect it was having on me. I hope that she will? It is like walking back into the nightmare of being in a relationship with him again. My anxiety is through the roof. How do I protect my son?? How do I get through to the co-parenting counselor and court that he is a narcissist without saying as much? The fact that he believes and states all of the things that happened in the past were all lies, makes me feel very fearful for the welfare of our son as well. Please help.

    Reply
    • November 22, 2017 at 11:40 am
      Permalink

      Your story is heartbreaking, and unfortunately, all too familiar. It sounds like you are doing a great job raising your son. Narcissists make terrible parents. My advice is to keep teaching your son critical thinking and survival skills on your end; document everything; continue to fight legally for more time with your son, including on the visitation schedule requirements for no use of alcohol. Your son will survive this. Never lose hope and always stay strong no matter what the narcissist throws your way.

      Reply
      • February 4, 2019 at 3:15 pm
        Permalink

        When msmoon writes about dealing with the court and therapists, she says she tries to convey that he is a narcissist without saying that he is. Is that the best way of dealing with the issue? Does it cause more harm than good? I struggle with how to treat my ex-husband because I’m so accustomed to putting his needs first and not doing anything that makes him angry at me. After I left him, it took a very long time for me to see and understand what I had been doing. As an example, I ‘thought’ that my ex-husband might want to continue seeing the counselor we’d been going to for marriage counseling. Therefore, I stepped aside so that my ex-husband would be free to keep going to this excellent man. I assumed that it would be awkward for the counselor to see us both. I never even asked the counselor about this. Naturally, my ex-husband never went back to see him. After two years, I did. He is a very wise and perceptive man. Going back to see this counselor was a great decision on my part, because he knew us both and knew what my husband was like. He has helped me understand so many issues. Anyhow, delusional thinking on my part. So, I wonder if mentioning the narcissism directly (although not in front of her son) would be a good or a bad choice? And if simply using the word narcissist is a bad idea, is it appropriate for msmoon to bring up his selfishness, his callousness or his emotional abuse in therapy or in co-parenting sessions?

        Reply
  • November 26, 2017 at 6:39 pm
    Permalink

    Thank-you for this article. It describes my family situation exactly. I have been divorced 10 years and my ex is very definitely using his daughter as a pawn in his game of chess against me.
    Your article states “cannot compete with the lunacy of it all”, which is so true. I have always taken the “high road” and elected not to stoop to his level. It helps to avoid all communication with him directly because it is just a circular conversation that goes nowhere. It is not possible to have a rational conversation with someone like this. However, if we want to help our children, the targeted parent needs advice with an action plan to help reverse the damage especially if a professional psychologist is not involved with the children. In my case, when there is no way to get my daughter to see a psychologist (trust me…I’ve tried…even tried to get him to go too!).
    I did already read Dr. Warshak’s book, “Divorce Poison” which did provide some great advice that was helpful. I have developed a “thick skin” as a result and don’t react to things in the same way I used to. Walking away from conflict and focusing on reminding her of happy memories helped alot. I have been able to partially reverse the alienation as a result. However, my ex is relentless. He bought her a car and has a rule that the car cannot be at my house.
    Is there anything I can give to an older teen (age 15-18) to read that may help them realize what is happening? I keep hoping she will “see the light” which I’m sure will happen one day, but is there something that might hasten this along?
    Have you ever considered writing an article for the audience of the alienated teen describing what they are being dragged into and what they can do to make it stop?
    Do you have any actionable advice for the targeted parent to give them the ability to start reversing the damage or prevent further damage to the relationship?

    Reply
    • November 26, 2017 at 10:37 pm
      Permalink

      I would love to write an article about what to do with older teens and young adults who get brain-washed by one parent to hate the other parent. It reminds me of Hitler’s propagandists and the Jews. Somehow Hitler was able to convince the entire country of Germany to scapegoat the Jews by using acceptable means of advertisement to do so. It’s as if the narcissist is able to get his/her children to project onto the target his/her (the narcissist’s) behaviors and motives. It’s like voice-throwing or Jedi-mind-trickery or something. It is master-manipulation at its worst. How was Manson able to convince all those young people to go commit heinous murders against innocent strangers? It truly is fascinating the power of psychological manipulation.

      Reply
      • July 4, 2019 at 1:30 pm
        Permalink

        Yes Dr. Stines. I think what you are describing in these situations is an under appreciated condition known as Shared Psychotic Disorder. It can be as serious and dangerous as what happened in Hitler’s Nazi regime. On a smaller level, it can happen in parental alienation cases. Others that the personality disordered person is able to convince of their delusions are known as “bystanders”, and essentially enable the pathology to which the child and others are victim. Unfortunately, bystanders can include (ignorant) mental health providers, including child custody evaluators, and family law judges. More awareness of this phenomenon on various levels may help to prevent such catastrophes in the future.

        Reply
      • July 6, 2019 at 8:49 am
        Permalink

        Yes, I agree. Thank you for this.

        Reply
    • July 4, 2019 at 1:20 pm
      Permalink

      Craig Childress has a video series on youtube that is geared towards teens and older (Craig Childress talks to the child). Also Ryan Thomas does this kind of work as well. https://ryanthomas.mykajabi.com
      tough situation. Dr. Stines is right on the money with this dynamic.
      This even happens to us in the mental health field. From what I can see, our court assigned coparenting therapist is pretty much ineffective and unknowledgable on these basic family systems dynamics. My child is just getting more entrenched and symptoms are worse. Blessing to you and your child.

      Reply
  • January 3, 2018 at 9:48 am
    Permalink

    This is exactly where I am-word for word! I too have always taken the high road and so far my son “seeing the light” has not happened. This article is so spot on! Yes, yes, please share actionable advice for the targeted parent!

    Reply
  • January 4, 2018 at 8:02 pm
    Permalink

    This article is based on me, my narcissistic husband and our two children! Oh dear me, how these people ruin lives and take such delight in doing so. Now my husband is in care due to Dementia, the two children are grown-up, (or so their chronological years tell me), and here I am now accused of ‘dumping’ their father in a home.
    A no win…I do suspect that when he goes to his heaven I will be categorised by the children as some kind of witch.

    I was so in love for so long. I invested my Life in this man; and invested 30+ years into our children.
    I’m bereft. Bereft of love, care, feeling, nuturing, kindness, support and respect.

    Thank you for the opportunity to write this and I do hope that anyone in this situation is not as slow to learn, take appropriate steps to be away from these toxic people at their earliest opportunity lest THEIR life is totally wasted.

    Reply
    • January 5, 2018 at 2:12 am
      Permalink

      I know, it’s a rude awakening to realize that someone who makes vows to you and professes to love you forever ends up destroying your heart and betraying your trust. I think your advice is well founded. It is better to leave sooner rather than later.

      Reply
    • February 29, 2020 at 11:38 pm
      Permalink

      Thankyou for your comment. I am sad for your situation, and hope you can find connection with people who care about and understand you.

      Reply
  • February 28, 2018 at 12:12 pm
    Permalink

    As shown above, the replies relating to this well written, accurate description and explanation of Parental Alienation are all from Women.
    I am a Father of two Daughters. Now 20 and 18. For the last eight years my family has been in high conflict and some mental health professionals have called us toxic.
    After my oldest daughter and her Mother got into an extremely physical confrontation five years ago, I decided to request custody modification through the courts. My oldest daughter has not spent another overnight in her Mother’s home.
    In an effort to not have my two daughters grow up in separate households and to remove my youngest daughter from the unhealthy environment at her Mothers. I filed for custody modification seeking primary and legal custody of both of my daughters.
    Before we made it to trail, (which took almost two full years) my former spouse demanded to see me and our oldest daughter one Monday morning. She came to my home to address some concerns about some on-line posts. After a few minutes of not being able to show me what she was concerned about I asked her to leave my home. Again, my oldest daughter and her Mother became physical right in front of me. I began to attempt to physically separate both of them from each other and then I let go. I grabbed and turned on the video camera that was on a table next to where we all were. I video taped the remaining seven minutes even as I called 911 requesting to remove my former spouse from my home. Yes, in the middle of a physical confrontation between my daughter and her Mother I turned on a video camera to document the confrontation to prove what had actually happened.
    When the police arrived. They heard her story first as she was outside. Then came in to speak to me and my daughter. I then showed both officers the video I had just taken. A few weeks later, my former spouse was charged with second degree assault of me. (not child abuse). Although she plead Not Guilty. The Judge’s Sentence was a PBJ of three years of Probation with the first six months being monitored probation.
    During the Custody Modification Trial some 15 months later. My former spouse manipulated and lied to the Judge.
    Of the Ten Findings Of Facts the Judge Offered in her opinion after the three day trail. Eight of these Facts were not factual. Even though my oldest was living with me and had been for several years. The Judge granted my former spouse legal custody of the Daughter she physically abused many times. The Judge also granted Sole Physical and Legal Custody of my youngest daughter to my former spouse.
    Since then.
    I have not had a custody/visitation weekend as per the agreement.
    I have seen my daughter twice in over three years.
    Both of my daughters have hardly spoken to or seen each other in the same three years.
    My youngest daughter is graduating from High School this coming Spring. I have been preparing for the reality of not being there.
    I know my Family is not the only Family in a similar situation.
    How can the Courts/Family Courts/Judges be better educated to recognize what is happening and make better decisions in the best interest of the Children.

    Reply
  • April 29, 2018 at 11:07 pm
    Permalink

    I can’t believe I found this blog; just when I needed it most!

    I’m a severely targeted mother who’s been ostracized from my youngest daughter by her father; my narcissistic ex husband This is a brilliantly worded article and spot on. The more sane and empathetic parent would never choose to cut the baby in half like King Solomon would. I have two grown daughters with my ex husband and, for some reason, he didn’t begin alienating them from me until our divorce while they were in their late teens. My exes severe disparagements, insults and ridicule of me, didn’t “take” w/my oldest daughter but it did w/my youngest. I love my two girls dearly and equally and have worked hard to provide for them what their chronically unemployed father could not. My youngest feels sorry for her father and promises to take care of him in his old age. He began right away to mooch off our oldest daughter once the cash cow (me) left the relationship after our divorce. Their father is a 76 year old man who acts like a child; rolling his eyes and elbowing our youngest when I’m present as if mom’s a dimwit who should be dismissed, negated and spoken down to.

    This is all so heartbreaking and excruciating to me. I joined a group years ago, for PAS and learned this affliction mostly targets fathers. I have to suffer through birthdays, holidays and, especially Mothers Day feeling awful about myself since my youngest child wants nothing to do w/me. This article hit a lot of nails on the head; my ex doesn’t demonstrate true love to our girls yet our youngest clings to him. However, she assumes she can insult and berate me to death and I’ll take it since I’m the loving, compassionate and sincere authentic parent in her life. Putting my foot down with her is hard since her father’s told her, “Mom only thinks of herself”. That doesn’t make it any easier when she calls me names and lashes out at me.

    I was diagnosed with cancer 4 years ago and almost died during two major surgeries. I’ve since recovered but during that time, my youngest only reached out to me once while I was in the hospital. That was via a text wherein she wrote to me, “I hope you die.” That was the lowest point in my life. Parental alienation does require a personality disorder on behalf of the alienator. I’d rather be the pained and aggrieved yet sane parent if I have to, then to be the one who compromises the well being and security of my children by denigrating the other parent.

    My ex husband is 76 and I’m 60. I just hope there are enough years in this life after he’s gone; wherein I’ll still be alive and can attempt to rectify my relationship with my youngest daughter.

    Reply
    • July 22, 2020 at 2:26 am
      Permalink

      Wow, hoping for a bus! God be with you girl. I am feeling your pain.

      Reply
  • July 15, 2018 at 7:26 pm
    Permalink

    Please help us parents with direction on how to decrease any further damage/alienation from our children. Are there any articles/research on effective advice to help turn our relationships in a positive direction?

    Reply
  • July 22, 2018 at 11:06 am
    Permalink

    I agree with Dr. Stein’s description of the pathology of attachment-based “parental alienation.” It is an accurate description of the pathology.

    Craig Childress, Psy.D.
    Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857

    Reply
    • July 23, 2018 at 12:05 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks, I learned this all from you! I’ve been “following” you for awhile now and I am constantly referring people to your website, which is an awesome resource!

      Sharie

      Reply
    • July 26, 2019 at 2:04 pm
      Permalink

      Hi there,

      If this logic is so obvious why is it then so hard to prove (in court) what is going on?

      I’m the targeted patent and (almost) lost the whole relationship with my to kids due to this. My attorney and me couldn’t prove it in court and I lost both custody and nearly all visitation.

      Best regards, Klaus (Denmark)

      Reply
      • July 26, 2019 at 3:59 pm
        Permalink

        Because it’s not illegal to psychologically manipulate your children covertly. It is, however, illegal to hit your kids and leave a mark.

        Reply
      • January 18, 2020 at 5:07 pm
        Permalink

        This is exactly what is happening to me right now.

        Reply
  • July 23, 2018 at 2:04 pm
    Permalink

    I have had a ringside seat to this type of situation as the step mom to my husband’s two daughters. His ex-wife physically abused both him and the girls. My husband has sole custody of the girls and their mom has visitation. The girls are now 18 and 16. Their mom has lied to them and told them she had cancer to garner their sympathy and time. She lets their boyfriends spend the night when they are on visits with her, she provides alcohol and cigarettes to the party that takes place at her house. The oldest one plays along because she’s a teenager and takes advantage. But the oldest one understands the manipulation. The younger one was never very close to her mom during my husband’s marriage and this article described exactly what has happened with the youngest child. The youngest does anything to get favor from Mom, even when she is repeatedly lied to and disappointed, the next time it happens it is as if it is never happened before. Mom baby talks to the youngest and makes Kissy Kissy noises during phone calls, but if the youngest says anything positive about Dad or me, her tone changes immediately and Mom hangs up on her child. The child then pursues mom to apologize and make up for it. Mom will sometimes punish the child by not accepting her calls and ignoring her texts for days. The child becomes desperate for the approval and love. It’s very hard to watch. The youngest will lie to her dad about the smallest things, with the encouragement of her mom. It hurts my husband’s feelings to have been the rock for these girls and to be disrespected like that. Mom tells the girls what a prude dad is and his rules are ridiculous and he is just trying to control them. I think we will be okay with the oldest daughter, but I am very fearful for the future relationship between dad and the youngest.

    Reply
  • July 27, 2018 at 3:02 am
    Permalink

    I’ve been going through a very similar situation with my two adult daughters and my ex-husband. I swing between hope and fear, with an undercurrent of pain because I loved them so much and loved being their mother and never ever expected that both of them would reject me or try to hurt me or act as if I was the least important person in the world to them. It’s been more than five years since the divorce and not once has either daughter asked me anything about why I left or let me say anything at all about the divorce. I saw my oncologist recently, who wanted to know about the level of stress in my life. When I told her what was going on, she strongly advised me to write them a letter or email telling them the facts about the divorce. She believes that I should do something decisive and tell the truth and take the risk, rather than wait patiently and hope, because being in a perpetual holding pattern is too damaging and stressful for someone who’s already had cancer once. All the other advice I’ve been given has been to take the high road and let them come around, if they ever do. What’s going to work here? Like so many of the other people who’ve written to you about this article, I would really appreciate some answers about how to handle this.

    Reply
  • August 31, 2018 at 7:04 pm
    Permalink

    This article perfectly describes a situation going on in our city, but even worse one night while the two boys were home with their mom one of them shot and killed her claiming she was attacking one of them(unlikely). Very difficult investigation. Anyone have experience with that?
    And please be careful, no one saw it coming.

    Reply
  • October 2, 2018 at 11:40 am
    Permalink

    My ex husband abused me physically and emotionally for years. He is a horrible person. One day I made the decision that I did not want my daughter to grow up watching that and choosing a person like that as a spouse and/or my son to choose to become a man like that towards his wife. This lead to him calling me a cheater, turning my family, friends, coworkers and anyone I knew against me. He has stalked me, broken into accounts, my vehicles etc. He makes up stories about me and tells anyone who will listen. He tells my children horrible things about me and uses them as pawns in games. He has found the “only the mother that has ever wanted them” twice over now and is working his way to replace me with this “mother”. I constantly feel like I am fighting to defend myself to him and the children. I also have remarried and this constant battling is destroying both myself and my husband. I feel like I am dying inside. I thought being married to him was bad, but this is worse. Every day it gets worse. I truly feel that he is omniscient. The more evil he acts the more things come his way. People have said good overcome evil. But I don’t think that’s the case. Evil seems to always win. I am losing my children and also myself. It helps a little to read that others are suffering similar pains. It also hurts to hear that such evil people are out there in the world, and that kids can so easily be manipulated into falling for their lies and games =(

    Reply
  • February 3, 2019 at 12:44 pm
    Permalink

    This is happening to me at the moment. Reading both the article and the comments has reassured me that I am not crazy and not alone.

    Reply
  • February 11, 2019 at 11:05 pm
    Permalink

    Having lived/ survived this as a 17 year old when my parents separated I would like to encourage anyone out there that the way you treat kids over a long periodof time matters.

    Reply
  • February 16, 2019 at 3:55 am
    Permalink

    Please help me.Im a mom who wants her children.They are 19 and 21.Their father has brainwashed them with this exact scenario that is written.I love Grant and Grace with all my heart and soul.I gave them my life when I had them.They are my world.Im going crazy not able to see or talk to them.Theyve moved in with him and have blocked me excluding me from their lives.He has told them so many lies that they believe that their dad is some victim.This monster was abusive to me before and during our marriage….Cotrolling abusive, black eyes. Stitches in my face pulled down steps and choked while pregnant n yet they don’t believe it.Grace was even hit so hard he left his handprint on her when she was 10.How is this all forgotten? how is the struggle of being a single mom keeping a roof over their heads while their father moved in his parents basement twisted to make him a martyr/hero? I’m the one who provided and went into debt just to do wonderful things for them such as concerts, luxury classic car for senior prom, senior week condos, anything they could want just to show that I love them. I’m lost without my children

    Reply
  • February 28, 2019 at 8:22 am
    Permalink

    I’m in a similar situation. My fiancé, who is/was in the process of divorce went back to them because she was turning his boys against him. He doesn’t want to be with her, but he’s afraid of losing his boys. He’s currently sleeping his is office which is in the basement of his garage. We both love each other very much and want to be together, but he’s torn because of his fear of losing his boys. They would say things like “your going back to your replacement family” and “you abandoned us” when he would go visit. We live 5 miles from them and he would go visit them 3+times a week. He didn’t tell me everything they were saying until he left. My heart hurts so much. We are currently going to couples therapy, and he’s starting to see a lot. His boys (4)are 16 and older. They only have friends within that house, it’s sad. The 22 year old finally moved out and is the only one who has outside friends. I just pray he can find his strength to leave again because I believe it is the only way for them to see/learn that this isn’t how life/love should be. Please pray for him/us.

    Reply
  • May 9, 2019 at 1:08 am
    Permalink

    In reading this article, I thought I was in the “typical, “good enough” parent” category, whose adult daughter inexplicably estranged from, but then there was a short, three point list that described what types of children reject their parent(s), and I was in some kind of horror that my situation my be classified under “Children with Narcissistic Parental Alienation Syndrome.” The article describes this possibility as follows, ” . . . the dynamic that occurs when a child is manipulated by the narcissistic parent to reject the other, healthy and empathic parent. It happens because the narcissistic parent uses a type of invisible coercion to convince the child that the other parent is no good. In essence, the narcissistic parent teaches his/her child to hate his/her other parent, and uses the child as a weapon to hurt the other, non-narcissistic parent.”

    I understand that this statement is essentially describing a situation where one parent tries to turn the child against the other parent. I also understand that this often happens in divorce between custodial and non-custodial parents. But, this does not address the problem that occurs when one parent has reason, as well as past experience, to want to protect the child from the other parent.

    In my case, when I became pregnant just two months into my marriage – and my husband told me to ‘get rid of it’ – I knew, I was in trouble. My then husband had always expressed a desire for children prior to the marriage – until I actually became pregnant. Then, he wanted me to abort the baby. Why? Because, babies are expensive and he’d rather buy a house. That was not a good enough reason – nor would any reason – have been a good enough reason for me to choose abortion. When I told him abortion was not an option, he did not speak to me for the remainder of the pregnancy – nor did his mother or his two sisters. Apparently, I had become pregnant by some kind of magic that didn’t involve him. However, once the baby was born – and she looked like him and not like me, with my ‘god-awful red hair and white skin’ – the baby was perfectly wonderful – I was dispensable. My then husband spent no time with the baby. He was in a position to alter his work schedule so that he could have better hours and thus time to spend with her and be a parent. He refused to do that. I woke up every morning and fed her, cared for her and drove her to day care so that I could continue working, as I was expected to do, while he slept until noon, then went into work at 1 pm. He never was home before 10 pm, at which time the baby had been in bed for many hours. When I had to have exploratory surgery for cancer, when the baby was 2, he was angry because he had to wake up early to ‘feed the kid’ because I was in the hospital. He did not drive me to the hospital for that surgery, nor did he visit. It was at that time that I decided I needed to leave him, because, clearly, I did not have a ‘marriage.’

    When the petition for divorce was mailed to him, requesting a dissolution of our marriage and full custody or our daughter – he counter-sued me for full custody on the grounds that ‘he was the better parent.’ I was shocked that he would stoop this low. He didn’t want the baby – he just didn’t want ME to have the baby. She became the rope – in an ugly tug of war.

    He would go to the day care center, while I was at work, and unbeknownst to me, and when I would go to pick her up I would learn that he had picked her up shortly after I had dropped her off – but – I didn’t know why, or where he had taken her – nor when – or worse – IF – he was going to bring her home. It was a great game for him to unnerve me in this way, and he did it far too often. In my mind, reasonable people don’t do this. A ‘good father’ does not use his child as a weapon against the mother – to scare me – keep me off-balance and in a constant state of worry.

    Then, there was the issue of ‘vacation.’ I did not want him to be able to take my daughter on a lengthy vacation, out of state. She was very young. He took me to court to fight for vacation. We were told that he had every right to take her on vacation but that he was also obligated, by court order, to provide me with an itinerary for this vacation as well as daily phone calls, so that my daughter and I could at least speak to each other. He was allowed to leave court that day, with my daughter – and they were gone for 19 days. No word. No phone calls. No ‘itinerary’. No NOTHING. I begged his mother and sister to tell me where he was and if he was ever planning to return. They laughed at me and would not tell me.

    These are not the actions of reasonable, trustworthy people – nor of a reasonable, trustworthy, caring ‘father.’ When he finally and surprisingly returned with my daughter he had the nerve to tell me that ‘she might seem a little strange towards you.’ I asked him why he said that, and he told me, ‘that’s because she thought you were dead all this time.”

    I was enraged! I could not believe that he would allow this little girl – his ‘daughter’ – to believe that her mother was DEAD – and would not put her mind at ease by simply calling me on the phone so she could hear my voice! Again, not the actions of a trustworthy, responsible, or caring parent.

    Every time – every time – she left my house on his ‘visitation’ days or weekends – I never knew if I’d see her again. I had NO REASON not to be fearful – and angry at this continued behavior. It went on for YEARS.

    I believed – and still do – that I needed to let my daughter know that her father might not bring her home – might tell her I had died – when in fact I hadn’t. I needed her to know his potential. Of course I know that all the ‘experts’ say, ‘don’t try to turn the child against the other parent’ – but – scenarios such as mine – were never considered. I felt that it would be wrong for me to ‘pretend’ to my daughter, that I was comfortable with her being with him – when in fact I was far from comfortable and always on edge.

    On the other hand, my ex-husband was the perfect “Disneyland Daddy’. He took her for 3 years in a row. She ate M&M’s and coke for breakfast at his place. And, he bought her tons of toys. Toys he never wanted to spend money on when we were together. I, on the other hand, was the “Eat-your-peas-pick-up-your-socks-stop-punching-your-baby-brother Meanie Mom.”

    I could go on and on with the things he did – to me – to her – and to me THROUGH her. So, yes, my fears, anxiety and anger played a huge role in how I handled those unnerving years when ‘visitation’ was mandatory. I did not paint a good picture of him. I had no tools to work with. He could not be trusted. He was the kind of person that didn’t necessarily get angry – but he was the kind of person that would always ‘get even.’

    So, if my daughter – or anyone else – expert or not – wants to label me the bad parent because I did not paint my child’s father as Mr. Wonderful – when indeed he was not – and this estrangement is ‘all on me’ – so be it.

    Reply
    • May 10, 2019 at 1:59 am
      Permalink

      Wow, that is quite a story! How are things now?

      Reply
  • August 2, 2019 at 1:03 am
    Permalink

    I needed this tonight. So very accurate and helps me to understand the psychology behind my alienation. Gives me hope. Thank you.

    Reply
  • August 21, 2019 at 1:20 am
    Permalink

    Yes, this is my story too. I left an abusive marriage after twenty years. Nothing physical, but I was his whipping boy when he had a bad day. His derisive comments, eye-rolls and heavy sighs taught our kids I was of questionable character, often followed by a “Your mother does okay considering how she was raised”. And there were rules. No friend of mine could visit unless I had his permission. There were good times on occasion. I begged him to go to couples therapy. He would promise and then renege. Though I was the family problem solver, I was also an outsider in his mind. Occasionally he would scream at me and throw things. I always backed down because it terrified my kids. One day I didn’t and we separated. We were supposed to have joint custody. I actually bought a two-bedroom condo with beds ready for my two sons. They never stayed one night. Our older daughter was in college and sided with her dad.

    There was pressure to go back. After following job opportunities in another state, I discovered I couldn’t afford rent and a house payment. I commuted to see my kids on the weekend. By this time, only the youngest one who was nine would see me.

    Twenty years later although he endures a lot of enmity from his siblings for continuing to see me, my youngest child and I talk daily. But even to him, my ex is a saint whose only goal is the welfare of his children. I try to never criticize his dad.

    I haven’t seen or spoken to my other son in all that time. Although I have exchanged a few emails with my daughter, she usually ignores me, so I am sparing in my attempts to reach her.

    I keep the pain tucked away most days, but sometimes it wells up and has its way. It is dreadful. Had I known what my husband would do, I would have tried to find another way.

    Reply
  • August 21, 2019 at 1:36 am
    Permalink

    I left a comment and since it was painful to write, I’ll wait until another time. I tried to confirm it with the email address that popped up. WordPress told me that must use my gmail address which is provided with this comment.

    Reply
  • August 23, 2019 at 12:05 am
    Permalink

    Why isn’t there advice on how to handle this situation?

    Reply
    • August 23, 2019 at 1:33 am
      Permalink

      I wrote a few things and I’m working on a strategic article currently. Should be published today, actually.

      Reply
  • August 29, 2019 at 7:19 pm
    Permalink

    Thank you for your article. I am an estranged father who has not had a relationship with my two children for about 6 years now. The are both in their late teens and the oldest will be turning 18 next year. I periodically attempt to re-establish communication with them both but they remain silent and if I persist sever the means of communication with the most recent being to change their mobile numbers after I sent texts to them on three consecutive weekends letting them know I love them and that I am here for them when they are ready.

    Reaching a place of acceptance of this situation took many years but has helped me reach some emotional stability in my life.

    I now face a new hurdle in this journey and that is guilt.

    I have a new partner who has a young daughter with whom I have gained a strong parental connection with. I find myself regularly seeking internal permission to have this relationship and bond with my partners child when at the same time I cannot have a relationship with my own children.

    I have been unable to find any good information on this situation and would like to hear your comments and advice.

    Thank you again

    Reply
  • December 19, 2019 at 5:58 pm
    Permalink

    pls point us to the link where you wrote or will write about how to deal with this situation especially after that the child is an adult now and believes what his mother told him over years and years that I am the bad parent and the cause of his failure, my last contact with him via texting he said (you are dead to me)!!!
    Regards

    Reply
  • January 18, 2020 at 5:33 pm
    Permalink

    Thank you for this article. My son is 12 and I have been separated from his dad for 12 years. For 12 years he has taken my son on the wknds and my son has come home and cried about his dad not being a good dad, not giving him any attention. For 12 years my son continued to go to dad’s because he was desperate that he would finally get that attention and love and I wanted to encourage him to have a good relationship with him. Dad has always hated me, hated paying support, hated that I had “more control” over son’s life and always threatened that one day I would pay. That day has come and we are now locked in a bitter, ugly fight in court and my son has completely turned against me. I have gone from being mom to a boy who absolutely adored me and so proud of our relationship with each other to now having lost him almost completely. No overnight visits because he is telling the law guardian that he is afraid of me, and never wants to see me again. The accusations of me are horrendous and even though I am proving everything to be false, the court is basically only listening to the law guardian. I’m at a loss, and totally destroyed and devastated. The article is extremely accurate but I don’t know what to do to fix this. My son is telling these lies and the scariest part is that he believes them as soon as he tells them, just like his father. He is so convincing that I’m afraid I’m going to have to just let his father take him, because he doesn’t want to have anything to do with me. In the mean time, we are supposed to be going to a therapist to try to “repair our relationship”. What do I say? What do I do? How do I get my son back? Please- any advice is greatly appreciated.

    Reply
  • January 22, 2020 at 9:20 am
    Permalink

    This is my life. Except I stayed until she graduated high school in 2018. He killed himself after trying to detox Oct 4th of this year. And my daughter is devastated but she doesn’t want to be around me. He was the love of her life. I was with him for 30 years and I never stopped loving him but I couldn’t stay.

    Reply
  • March 2, 2020 at 11:27 pm
    Permalink

    I am the mother of two boys whom I raised and to whom I was close up until recently. The younger son, now 19 was alienated first and now the older one, 22 is completely alienated as well. Looking back I can see better what was happening especially with the younger son. My dilemma now as the targeted parent is trying to navigate all of this. My ex is doing this largely to hurt me ( he is a borderline personality, diagnosed at one point) but also to avoid paying for college. The last text I got from my younger son back in the summer of last year was ” If you take Dad to court I will not speak to you again for a very very long time if ever.”. This was because I was trying to get the ex to pay for his mandated share of the older son’s college. Now I just paid the spring semester and he did not pay so I am faced with once again being in a place where the ex will use me trying to get him to do what is right and pay his share to seal the alienation of them perhaps for good. PS I still pay for their phones, car insurance for the older etc. but feel like maybe I shouldn’t anymore, if they aren’t talking to me am I teaching them to disrepect me even more? Yet if I stop then that seems to be the end of everything, that will be used as proof of how awful I am by my ex.

    Reply
  • March 2, 2020 at 11:30 pm
    Permalink

    My two boys whom I raised and to whom I was close up until recently. The younger son, now 19 was alienated first and now the older one, 22 is almost completely alienated as well. Looking back I can see better what was happening especially with the younger son. My dilemma now as the targeted parent is trying to navigate all of this. My ex is doing this largely to hurt me ( he is a borderline personality, diagnosed at one point) but also to avoid paying for college. The last text I got from my younger son back in the summer of last year was ” If you take Dad to court I will not speak to you again for a very very long time if ever.”. This was because I was trying to get the ex to pay for his mandated share of the older son’s college. Now I just paid the spring semester and he did not pay so I am faced with once again being in a place where the ex will use me trying to get him to do what is right and pay his share to seal the alienation of them perhaps for good. PS I still pay for their phones, car insurance for the older etc. but feel like maybe I shouldn’t anymore, if they aren’t talking to me am I teaching them to disrepect me even more? Yet if I stop then that seems to be the end of everything, that will be used as proof of how awful I am by my ex.

    Reply
    • March 3, 2020 at 1:25 am
      Permalink

      It doesn’t seem like it’s helping them to be paying for all this stuff. It seems like they don’t appreciate it. I wouldn’t want to have a relationship with my kids by “buying” their love or loyalty. I feel that as a mother, part of my responsibility is to raise my children to have decent character and not be disrespectful to people, including me. I also am concerned with teaching my kids that it’s not okay to be “takers.” You are done raising your children as they are both adults. I am currently writing another blog on this very subject. I wish you all the best.

      Reply
  • March 11, 2020 at 12:00 am
    Permalink

    This article is fantastic!!! My ex husband is a total narcissist. We divorced due to his superficial love for me. After I had our 2 daughters the comments started in addition to the “oinking” at me like a pig. I needed breast implants, tanning bed, short skirts and the list goes on. We had 2 girls together. They are and were my life. My youngest daughter is 12 and a total sweetheart. Kind and compassionate. My oldest is 14 and has turned against me, her grandparents and my whole side of the family. She accuses me of manipulating her, “she knows what I did” and basically wants absolutely nothing to do with me for the past 9 months. The devastation is unbearable. Her dad and step mom are the best and are buying her love. She said “ it’s not like I get everything I want”. It’s so sad that the superficial ness of her dad is buying her and as long as she hates me he feels like he won. Side note her dad is still cheating so he loves that the step mom is focused on my child and filling her void of not having kids. I have not bad mouthed or discussed adult matters. It’s crazy how the narcissistic adults can manipulate and turn a child so against the other parent. I will be buying your booklet on amazon. Venting now but for whoever is reading the comments like I do just know your not alone. I pray for a relationship like we had up until she was 13. In a valley now but ready to be on the mountain.

    Reply
    • March 11, 2020 at 9:54 am
      Permalink

      So sad for you and your daughter. Perhaps you know that they may end up working on your younger daughter to turn her as well. Some kids are just not as vulnerable to the poison though, hopefully she is not. Alienating a child can be charged as a crime in some more progressive countries. Do what you can to save her, but it’s no easy feat.

      Reply
      • April 14, 2020 at 8:42 pm
        Permalink

        Stephen, I appreciate it and yes all I can do is pray and enjoy my 12 year old. This season will pass. 🤞

        Reply
  • July 22, 2020 at 2:23 am
    Permalink

    Well, this happened to me ten years ago. My children do not speak to me at all. It’s as though I died. I cried for 6 years, felt the deepest grieving in my spirit unto death,,,,,,
    I still have recurrent dreams about trying to help them and can’t. Yes, it’s horror. I knew he was narcissistic, I tried to explain it to the Judge. Anyway, my ex husband won, and I was the loser. I am such a good person that did everything for my kids, and they just kicked me to the curb. I have faith in God and He has helped me move on. This does in no way change the pain I have experienced. This is a no win situation. If he died (naturally) God willing, they may try and make contact with me again. But, I believe that only then will they speak to me!

    Reply
    • July 22, 2020 at 10:33 pm
      Permalink

      So sorry this has happened to you and so many other good parents. It’s a horrific process and form of abuse that needs to be addressed. The only thing that my ex has responded to so far was potential consequences imposed by the judge, a sign of a narcissist/sociopath. Like Dr Stines and others say, these people can make themselves look like the victims, wolves in sheep’s clothing. Damaging beyond words. Hope your kids come around someday and realize the truth. Take Care.

      Reply
  • August 19, 2020 at 10:44 am
    Permalink

    I am at the end of my ability to continue with my adult daughter. She is now almost 32 and has just had her first baby. My ex is a narcissist and because of my own dysfunctional background I did not know what I had struck with this man. All I knew was that I was in tears most of the time and thought that I actually loved him. I had no idea what love was because I had never been loved by my parents. It was not their fault and in therapy I found out the dynamics behind why I chose a narcissist as a life partner. I thought that things would get better. He already had a little boy when we met and he would not support my efforts to set boundaries when he disappeared to engage in his own activities and left me with the child.

    He wanted a child but really he wanted to be the child being cared for. When I became pregnant with our child, he was less than supportive and I was extremely sick for months. I had no immunity to Toxoplasmosis and had two cats that my ex would not allow to be in the house at night, putting them in a cold shed and he would not clean the litter tray leaving me with the very difficult decision to re-home my beloved pets.

    During my pregnancy, he was sleeping with other women and staring at women wherever we went. Life became intolerable and when I was 5 months pregnant I left him. I was very unhappy and depressed. I had begun seeing a therapist and after the birth of our baby, my ex, who I had maintained some contact with and who had been at the birth, went on holiday with his son on the day I was to come home from hospital. He also did not assist with any of the hospital bills or pay anything for the baby although he was earning a very high wage.

    Following my leaving my ex, I stayed with my mother until the baby was born and when the baby was 3 weeks old, my ex broke into my mother’s home and cut through the telephone wires and dragged me across the road to his car with the baby in my arms. I could have fallen and the baby and I would have been hurt. He was drunk. I escaped and was able to find places to stay with the baby and the therapist I was seeing suggested that I come into the hospital at which she worked (there was a mother and baby unit). During that time in the hospital the staff was wonderful and I was able to address the underlying reasons for my current situation. That situation required in-patient care, then day patient care and finally out-patient care over a 6 year period and my life fell apart completely exposing the false self I had developed to compensate for not being allowed to express my feelings, thoughts or opinions with my family as a child, along with the physical punishments from my father and the inability to connect with my mother. She was unable to connect with me and had been depressed all the first year of my life. I have never felt close to her. She has a different relationship with my siblings. In the family I had always been treated as the scapegoat.

    When my daughter was 7 months old, we were able to get public housing and this was wonderful. My life got back on-track and when my daughter was 6 I went back to uni to get my teaching degree. My ex was unsupportive and there were VROs and he also only gave a small bit of child support and that, only because he was forced to do so. He was abusive and controlling thought our daughter’s formative years and at age 12 she refused to go on access visits with her father because she found them too distressing. Most times I would have to drop my daughter off at a police station so that he would not harm me at the drop-off and I would collect her there too. During our daughter’s growing up years, her father had a succession of girlfriends and would always paint me in a negative light.

    I learned to be independent and worked very hard to earn my degree, studying all night and weekends when my daughter was with her dad, and then there were many years of having to take cleaning jobs, gardening and ironing jobs to substitute for the lack of relief teaching work and contracts that did not earn enough, along with cars where the engines died and very little money. I cried a lot. I was able to get my daughter into a good public school and she excelled. I provided her with books, read stories to her and gave her opportunities to learn music, drama and dancing (her choices) and a stable home. Finally I got my permanency and was able to get a mortgage on a home in which I now live very happily.

    As my daughter grew into her teens, she renewed contact with her father, He would pay her money when she answered maths problems accurately, took her for dinner at expensive restaurants and bought her gifts that were out of my reach as competition. He took his son and our daughter on expensive holidays and overseas when they were older teenagers. He would also give her money. When she was 16, he cut the little bit of maintenance by half and gave the money to our daughter, leaving me with not enough for living expenses; food, clothing for her etc. I was extremely angry.

    I got permanent work as a teacher eventually but prior to that, the contracts were horrible and I had a mortgage to pay. I was earning $1,150 p.f. and the mortgage was $1,400 p.m. I was depressed and anxious and wondered how to make ends meet. There was no money over for anything pleasurable. My daughter was also comparing me with her friends who had two parents, lovely homes and enough money to take the kids to nice places. She was embarrassed about me cleaning houses and that the other kids’ mothers were relaxed and not stressed all the time.

    In her late teens, she became passive-aggressive and would not participate in household chores and would leave dishes lying around. She was at uni and when asked to clean up her mess, she would not do so. Life was very difficult and after one year of her pushing the boundaries, I lost my temper with her (first time ever) and she rang her dad and told him that I had ‘gone crazy’. She left the home that night and asked her grandmother if she could live with her. My mother agreed and did not respect my parenting enough and would ring and tell me how happy my daughter was and how she was making her favourite foods etc. My daughter was very happy living with my mother since she did not have to do any tasks and was waited on. My mother was not working 12 hour days and struggling financially.

    My daughter finished uni and then went to another state then overseas where she was for 3 years and married a young man from an entitled home in our city. My daughter loved having her in-laws who subsidised their rent and still do. When they got married, the in-laws and my daughter excluded me from the wedding preparations and although I was invited to the wedding, my ex gave a very humiliating speech saying that he did not know what our daughter would have done without her in-laws. This was extremely humiliating and hurtful since I had raised our daughter and provided a loving and stable home whilst her father was only there for the ‘good parts’ that enabled him to look good. He was never the parent who did the parenting, the doctors’ visits, the dentist visits, stayed up with a sick child for days etc. He would also just ignore access visits whenever it suited him and would go on holiday with the current girlfriend.

    I was devastated at the wedding and wished I had not gone. The parents-in-law paid for everything, arranged everything and held the wedding in the country. I was not involved and not asked. It was a long trip home and knowing what I know now, I never would have gone. I left first thing the next morning, hugged my daughter and left. I sobbed for three days. As I left the wedding home where they would stay on for a week, I left, feeling as if I was just a nobody. At the wedding, I was just as if I was another wedding guest. I did not expect any special acknowledgement but in all other weddings I have ever attended, the mothers have been involved in wedding plans and have been acknowledged. I still cannot look at the wedding pics I took.

    So it is about 12 years now since my daughter left. She and her husband live in another state. She rarely contacts me. I make a point of sending her a birthday present and card every year. For the first 7 years I would text her every month just to say hello and to let her know I was thinking of her and rarely got a response. I stopped and decided that I would only respond in kind to any effort on her part. She rarely acknowledges Mothers’ Day and that is always a very painful day. She never sends a card on my birthday or a gift of any kind. I am lucky if I get a 5 word text on Mother’s Day or my birthday. Often the greeting comes a day or so after my birthday if at all.

    She made contact when she was pregnant and told me. I was glad and the contact was lovely. I contacted her a few times in her pregnancy, and she did respond. She let me know when the baby was born. She also has twice allowed a whatsApp connection so that I could see the baby and have a brief chat with her. She mentioned that the baby had reflux and that she was taking him to the dr.and she was not sleeping well. The following week I enquired about her and the baby and got no response. I tried again and still no response. I decided to give it one last shot and she responded saying that they were very busy and tired. I acknowledged her text and wished her well and decided that I would not contact her unless she makes contact and said I would like more contact via whatsApp.

    So I have a grandson that I may never see, never engage with, or get to know. I was never an abusive parent and loved my child. She was heard, seen and cared for with all I had to offer and I gave her a stable home with a lot of love. I am so disappointed that other parents who are abusive and neglectful seem to have relationships with their kids and I have lost my daughter. It is too painful to keep trying. I sent her a present for the baby and one for her and a card and a diary that is for her to include vignettes about her baby as he grows. In that diary I wrote a few pages telling her about her history as a baby; things that I would’ve liked my mother to have shared with me that only she would have known about me. She sent me a text today saying that she liked the parcel I sent her. I responded with a short text saying I was glad she liked the parcel.

    In a way this is an ongoing grief that never ends. In some ways, if a child dies, you can grieve and move on. With this situation it never ends. I have decided that I do not want to get close to the baby and feel cheated because other grandparents are excited and get to share their excitement and they get to see and interact with the baby and have some interaction with the child as he or she grows. I have not got that and may never have. No-one understands this pain and there is no point sharing. How can people understand if their kids still communicate with them and it is positive!

    I also do not know about other parents of adult children who have experienced what I have and I have no-one to share this horrible pain and heartbreak that never ends.

    I have created my own happy life and perhaps it is better if I just let go permanently and forget I ever had a daughter. I do not know the woman my daughter has become and it feels as if her in-laws are the family that she wished she had.

    The only thing I can do is know that I did a good job as my daughter was growing up and also broke the pattern of the generational abuse. My daughter may never know what I achieved so that she will never have to experience what I did. The cost is that I feel as if I do not have a child that I loved and raised for 19 years. She is entitled to her life and that it be happy and she can raise her child with her husband. That is positive. I did my job as a parent. She can live in the world independently and happily.

    For me, I hurt and want out. This is too painful and I feel cheated out of having a positive adult relationship with my daughter and may never have one and since I do not know anyone in my situation. I am struggling to understand how this situation could have arisen. Knowing about this ‘Narcissistic alienation’ does help me to make sense of what has happened and I do not know if it will change anything but it does help to explain it.

    Reply
  • August 27, 2020 at 6:34 pm
    Permalink

    What a great article. This is my story, as if it’s written about my life. Thank you for this.
    My ex of 20 years is now in prison for at least ten years, for things he did to women who were believed. I was not, and I was tortured.
    I have moved on and have a good life, but my confused adult daughter of continues to wonder why he is in prison and why she has resentments against me that she is unable to articulate. I’m sixty years old and no longer have time to accept blame, but my heart is cracked and I no longer hold my breath. Thank you. I will keep this forever.

    Reply
 

Join the Conversation!

We invite you to share your thoughts and tell us what you think in this public forum. Before posting, please read our blog moderation guidelines. A first name or pseudonym is required and will be displayed with your comment. Your email address is also required, but will be kept private. (Please note that we use gravatars here, which are tied to your email address.) A website/blog/twitter address is optional.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *