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32 thoughts on “Characteristics Commonly Found in “Alienated” Parents (or other Alienated Relationships)

  • October 29, 2018 at 1:31 pm
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    “Children rarely reject unavailable or abusive parents. Usually when that happens it is not without a great amount of anguish and grieving. When a child alienates a parent, he/she does so with impudence.”

    All I can say is this is not my experience. And the statement assuming so is hurtful.

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    • October 29, 2018 at 1:48 pm
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      Really? Was it easy for you to walk away from an abusive parent? What was your experience? I’m just writing what I’ve observed. Not meaning to offend anyone.

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      • October 29, 2018 at 4:45 pm
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        No it wasn’t easy. Many years of therapy and increasing boundaries and ultimately failure that includes a huge sense of guilT.

        I get the alienated parent has a valid side to be presented but I found that to be so far from my experience and so definitive in not leaving room for my experience that I had to speak up.

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      • October 29, 2018 at 4:48 pm
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        I think I read your statement wrong. I thought you were saying children who reject abusive parents do so without a lot of grief, guilt, or regret.

        I apologise for the misunderstanding.

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    • October 29, 2018 at 2:36 pm
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      I finally disengage when I realised my abusive parent would never take personal responsibility for the harm she caused. It was always someone else’s fault. I disengaged for mental health and it has been slow but at the same time I feel like a mountain of anxiety has been lifted from my shoulders.

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  • October 29, 2018 at 4:47 pm
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    I can only speak to a sample size of one (myself). My ex wife has done just about everything she could think of to alienate our daughter from me with repeated episodes of success.

    I find your comment about alienated parents to be guiless does not apply in my case. Things would be great and poof a bit of time with mom and things would go to hell. I did not usually know the specifics until later but I knew something happened. It would take time to get that straightened out and poof it would happen again.

    While I sincerely wish my ex well be assured that I deliberately caused her great emotional pain on several occasions in response to what she was doing. What I refused to do was anything the child would pick up on.

    Your comment about power also does not apply in this case. Our daughter never viewed me as weak. Her mother quickly realized that wouldn’t work so she resorted to playing the sympathy card along with guilt.

    Messing with my daughter is simply not a good idea.

    You are free to decide if this makes me whatever label you choose. However as part of the decade long custody battles all sorts of examinations were done and none had me as suffering from any disorders.

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  • October 29, 2018 at 7:13 pm
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    I would be interested in determining a “fix” for the alienated parent. I see myself in the 3 characteristics you list.
    Essentially, at this point, I very rarely reach out to my adult kids. If I do, it is often with something very benign, unobtrusive. I am often amazed at how condescending, sometimes downright rude my daughter’s remarks to me are.
    My son very rarely calls me, unsolicited. I’m very hurt by this because I went through some nightmarish incidents with him. He had a period in his teens with alcohol/drugs that he was able to overcome through our help and the help of professionals, some other issues with poor choices, but he grew from that and we are very proud of the man he is today, and love his wife.
    I feel like my husband and I gave them a good home, and a good example of a loving, committed relationship. But our kids were taught responsibility and accountability, too.
    I’m very proud that they are leading independent and successful lives, and I tell myself this is what I wished for them.
    And I do lead a purposeful life, have social contacts, and stay busy. So I am content in that. I hope to do a bit more travelling.
    I simply would like that every now and again, they could check in to see how I’m doing. Or just chat a bit.
    How do I express this without seeming needy or setting myself up for the eyeroll and the exasperated sigh that I so often get? I have to tell you, it hurts so when I get that. When I call them on the behavior, it is quickly downplayed, then it becomes about my perception.
    Suggestions?

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  • October 29, 2018 at 8:56 pm
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    I too am concerned with this article. It comes off to me you may be providing an unbalanced position regarding a child rejecting a parent. The terms “most” and “rarely” are almost all encompassing terms and can lack or discredit the validity of your claims. I could possibly assume your use of these words consider the client base you have experience with, or you may not be seeing both sides clearly. Either way, your article appears to attack the actual victims, the children, while glorifying the alienated parent or abuser. My experience with abused children who have rejected their parent, is they have endured a mass amount of tactics, which included many different mental and physical abuses. Their desire to not reject the other parent can have many different factors for why, which can include their belief they are the problem and/or they can not make it without the parent around. Most of which have been instilled or conditioned by the rejected parent and used for controlling purposes. Claiming alienated parents are not interested in playing dirty or fighting unfair, once again places the child at the bottom while glorifying the rejected parent. Projecting one’s innocence while claiming purity, as you describe as guileless, are also fundamental tactics used by highly manipulative and controlling people. Your situation can apply but the method in which you obtain this information to determine which one is more plausible is almost impossible to extract. Highly manipulative people will have the advantage more so than not over others especially in regards to children. Although all of these terms are difficult to explain in so little words, the powerless term is the most difficult. Every person whether a child or an adult is entitled to their own “power” as you define. The disconnect between children’s therapy and adult’s therapy is bewildering. Counselors help adults get out of toxic relationships and encourage them to, but most of the time, use unhealthy tactics to coerce children into reconnecting with their toxic and abusive parents. Why are children expected to follow one path while adults are encouraged to follow the opposite? Power is not important, but why a parent and yourself would worry about power is concerning. The idea this came as a power struggle would not be surprising, but placing blame on the child is absolutely ridiculous.

    I believe further elaboration and understanding of your audience is needed for this article to have any merit. If you would like to discuss pure parental alienation then some of your statements may apply, but when you start attacking children who are rejecting their parents, the contexts of each rejection must be specific and not be all encompassing. I would also encourage you to apply the same to other parents. Your article, if written correctly, could help some parents or people who have been the victims of alienation, but I feel your article just fuels and hurts those who made a healthy choice when rejecting the toxic relationship.

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    • October 30, 2018 at 10:40 am
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      I don’t think you are reacting to this short piece about parental alienation. I think you are talking about parents who use their child as a chess piece in their sick game. Who plays which sick role is irrelevant.

      Parental alienation isn’t that. It is exactly what this short article explains. Alienation happens, before the alienated parent knows what hit them. They do sense a change over the time before they are cut-off, but they are not a parent who understands what has happened, until it happens. That is the ‘guileness’ meaning. After all Who would think their child could reject them? Only ones who are using their child in a sick chess game. And that is another story all together. Not parental alienation.

      As far as the children, this article is about the hallmarks of parental alienation, not the damage it has on a child. That’s a whole other horror. So much damage in so many ways these days. Terrible.

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      • October 31, 2018 at 1:33 pm
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        Thank goodness for your comment, Pillar. I was beginning to think that no one was understanding the intent of the short article. I actually thought it was pretty clear (and correct).

        “Guileless,” targeted parents are so because they would never in a million years think to use their children to get back at a spouse who has disappointed – most often because they have left the targeting parent (the one using the children for revenge). Their naiveté leaves them completely unprepared for children who begin to disrespect them, ignore them, and hurt them through mean comments. And it happens so quickly that it makes the targeted parent’s head spin.

        I invite people to please re-read the article. There is a lot of wisdom in those words, and it is a source of comfort when the messages are understood.

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      • November 1, 2018 at 1:39 am
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        Thank you for your comments. I didn’t realize there was really anything negative implied in the points I was trying to convey.

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      • November 1, 2018 at 1:10 pm
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        Everyone is well into labelling here often as a crutch. Just here the word ‘narcissistic’ over and over as if it is fascinating or scandalous. Are we not carers of broken people who are seeking recovery or redemption? I have major issues with this page and I hope your influence does not spread any further.

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      • November 2, 2018 at 10:10 pm
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        Any labels used are not intended to imply that anyone is beyond healing.

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      • November 1, 2018 at 6:30 pm
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        For us so-called Guileless parents please read the following short true summary and comment on what we should do.

        TP (targeting parent) disappears to another state with your child and refuses to return. You go to court and TP makes all sorts of outrageous false allegations. Judge orders you to have extremely limited professionally supervised time until things can be investigated.

        TP repeatedly refuses to return the child. You are being investigated by police and CPS in 2 states. P!us paying lawyers to get your child returned in 2 states. Meanwhile TP is telling your child if they see you they are to scream and run.

        Months go by of court hearing after hearing. Finally TP is arrested for contempt of court. All of the investigations come back you did nothing wrong. However TP makes new completely false allegations that have to be investigated so again you don’t get to spend time with your child without paying a supervisor $50 an hour.

        TP calls the parents of every one of your child’s friends and tells them a judge won’t let you near your own child unless a professional is present because (repeats false allegations). Your child loses almost all of her friends and TP tells her it is because they are afraid of your dad.

        After 9 months or so this plays out. Then the judge decides it would be too much of a change for the child to spend more than 1/3 of their time with you. As compensation for all the lost time and tens of thousands of dollars spent you get 4 extra hours once.

        The idea you are innocent until proven guilty is a joke in these kinds of cases. You aren’t arrested but you don’t get to be with your kids. Meanwhile your accuser is almost never punished for making false allegations.

        Several times a year for nearly the next decade you kiss your kid goodbye and they are giggling. When you see them a week later they are giving you the silent treatment or obviously upset about something they won’t talk about. Then 2 weeks later you are being served with a subpoena to show up in court because the TP is claiming your child doesn’t want to be with you ever.

        Would you propose kidnapping your own child, having the TP murdered, telling your child what the TP is quite mentally ill and there is no hint you are, force them to read a pile of documents to prove your point?

        It’s a bit late for me but I would be interested to know what I should have done to amp up my guile.

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      • November 2, 2018 at 10:08 pm
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        I wasn’t blaming the victim, nor was I trying to insult targeted parents. Let me just say that, abusers, in general, exploit the weaknesses of their targets, regardless of what the “weakness” is. For instance, your supposed weakness was honesty, integrity, and playing by the rules. The alienating parent was ruthless, dishonest, and played dirty. In your individual case the three components would be (1) available; (2) plays fair; (3) has less power.

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      • November 3, 2018 at 2:07 am
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        I understand you are not casting blame on anyone except the Targeting Parent (TP). Let me have another go at explaining my position then please comment.

        We agree the TP may resort to and feel very comfortable doing extremely inappropriate things to alienate the other parent. In fact they will often feel pride in doing so. The level of guile of the targeted parent is irreverent.

        We seem to agree this type of behavior is almost always very abusive to the child. It would almost always be abusive squared to the child to attempt to alienate the TP.

        In my case it is repeated relatively short term alienation. I know what has to be done because I have done it before. The part which has been elusive so far has been making it stick.

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      • November 4, 2018 at 1:45 am
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        Tour article is absolutely bang on. Thank you so much.

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      • November 10, 2018 at 10:22 pm
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        Serena, I understood what you meant. I am a parent on the receiving end and am blown away by being alienated. My ex-husband began his undermining long before I realized it and then I could not believe a parent would do that BECAUSE a good parent “the good parent” would never alienate a child. Although my ex-husband was a terrible father, I insisted my children see him. Why? Because when my parents divorced when I was 3 (1958) my mother abandoned me and my older sister; then – three years later she gained custody away from my father, whom I needed dearly by then. Then she allowed us to see my father three days a year. Period. So I vowed I would never do that to a child. But now: MY ex-husband took my divorcing him as “gloves are off” and used my kids badly. So I sit here at 63, alone, after raising kids all my life.

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    • October 31, 2018 at 11:02 am
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      Thank you for saying exactly what I was thinking ,after a tumultuous childhood and me leaving when I was 14 .I have tried everything with my mother over the years to explain how I feel and how she keeps breaking boundaries with me .Ive tried to get her to go to counseling with me but she refuses any kind of help.She ignores everything I say and keeps doing what ever she wants I’m now 58 years old and have had to let her go for health reasons
      .Of course she tells everyone she doesn’t know what the problem is ???? And how awful I am that I won’t see her anymore
      I feel deeply saddened by this

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  • October 29, 2018 at 9:05 pm
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    Hello Ms. Stones,

    Your article really resonates with me as I have been alienated from my beautiful 16 year old daughter. I have always raised her and her brothers as a single mom with dad visiting on weekends. She was a bit spoiled but polite with good grades. This past April she attempted suicide by ingesting pills after I forbid her from seeing a boy who was a bad influence. After her hospitalization, her therapist decided I was stressing my daughter out and drove her to take the action she did. I was already reeling with guilt over why my daughter would do something like that. My ex pounced on the opportunity and convinced my daughter that life would be rosy at his house. My daughter has not spoken to me in almost 6 months. I went through horrible depression following the separation but am living life one day at a time. Her father tells me I am to blame for my daughter despising me.

    Broken hearted Mom

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    • October 30, 2018 at 1:19 pm
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      Kelly,

      I am really sorry your daughter tried to take her life while living with you. That must have been horrible. I am glad to hear that your daughter is alive and currently living safely with your ex-husband. I would rather have an alive daughter I never speak with than no daughter at all. Whatever is triggering your daughter to desire such a negative outcome must be extremely horrible, I hope she can find peace and normalcy. Recovery from such a dark place can take a long time and I wish her the best success in your journey.

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    • December 29, 2018 at 12:31 pm
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      I truly feel for you. My nightmare started Sept 2018. Parental Alienation is not reckoned in South Africa. My life is shattered.

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  • October 29, 2018 at 10:59 pm
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    I agree with this totally. We become sort of addicted to the narcissist that abuses us. My adult narcissist daughter has done horrible and illegal things to me since her teenage years. She is also a. Heroin addict. Now she has alienated my granddaughter that I pretty much raised while my daughter was in jail and rehab. She has never done these terrible things to her now deceased father when he was alive. He was an abusive father and a very abusive husband. But in her eyes he was a great guy and I am of no value to her. She just abuses me and throws me away. Spot on article

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  • October 30, 2018 at 2:07 am
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    I have never read something that hit on all points. When my now 21 year old was 16 she met a boy who was a very bad influence. She started refusing to come home at curfew and only wanted to go to the boy’s house. She changed so much from a good kid to one who drinks smokes and even ended up in and out of rehab. Found out later his parents were giving her alcohol and drugs. When i confronted her she said they have been good to her and i was a P.O.S. It was literally like she was possessed by evil talking that way. Long story shorter, i tried talking to the parents but they cursed me out saying i was no better than them because i asked that she not stay out all night. My daughter lied so well that it was scary. She tried convincing people to feel sorry for her by telling them i tried to kill her and the bf family demanded my arrest. I was dumbfounded because I was trying to protect her from them. When police wouldn’t she ran away and i went looking for her. When i got her to answer the phone That I was paying for she said i did nothing for her and she left because she wanted to. What a horrible experience, the bf family hated me and i just wanted her focus on grades and stay out of trouble. I thought maybe i gave her too much because didn’t want her struggling like i did, maybe i should’ve given more discipline. Can’t imagine treating my mother like that even when i was mad. And never would i allow any person to disrespect her. I still wish i could have a relationship with my daughter but don’t think that’ll happen anytime soon. I finally do know it wasn’t about me.

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  • October 30, 2018 at 6:52 am
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    Insightful article on an important topic! Thank you, Dr. Stines.

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  • October 30, 2018 at 11:36 am
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    Thank you for this, after 12 years of walking alongside my husband in his alienation from his 3 children I find your conclusions spot on. My husband is all three of these thing and they make him an amazing father to the children we have together but unfortunately when placed up against his ex’s narsistic/controlling ways his gentle and kind personality has no chance. Now as teenagers mom has convinced the kids that a relationship with him is only valuable as far as $$$. The pain his ex is inflicting on him through the use of the children as her pawns is horrible, and the children can not seem to see it. I pray daily for their eyes to be opened and I fear that they will repeate these behaviors as they have relationships. Thank you for reaffirming for me that what I see in our lives is also seen by others.

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  • October 30, 2018 at 1:27 pm
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    I think your article is very accurate. However, I too felt confusion between alienated parents and no/low contact parents. I think this is a difficult subject because so often abusive parents don’t ‘see’ no/low contact as a consequence of their poor and abusive behavior. They all too often see themselves as victims of parent alienation which is being done to them through no fault of their own.

    I believe your article is defining the characteristics of people in general and parents in particular who inadvertently accept abusive behaviors by a failure to recognize them as abusive. Whether an abusive parent is manipulating the child or the child has developed the abusive behaviors, the parent in your article has been discarded or alienated.

    Unfortunately, this is such a difficult, painful discussion for those of us who have gone no/low contact. It certainly strikes a nerve to know our abusive, unkind and damaging parents are out there claiming parental alienation even when you’ve clarified we/they are not your intended target audience.

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  • October 30, 2018 at 2:00 pm
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    Currently alienated by both my daughters who have gone to live with a father that was rarely present in their lives since we divorced. They were babies…years later when i have sacrificed my life, settling down etc, he offers them tertiary education & theyre off without even discussing the decision with me. Almost 2 years in & they’ve quit communication after i expressed my disappointment in their inability to keep in touch.

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  • October 30, 2018 at 10:58 pm
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    This is me!! My daughter has rejected me for fifteen years. And her mother was the abusive parent. Unfortunately, because I am a man it has been assumed that i was the abusive parent. My ex wife has been able, with the use of malicious gossip, to portray me as a monster. It has been heart breaking.
    Thank you so much for describing why this has been done to my daughter and I.

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  • October 31, 2018 at 7:03 am
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    I separated from my ex husband in 1998. We had two children who at the time were 8 and 5. We shared custody 50-50. My ex husband swore he would never pay a dime of child support. I should have taken him at his word on that one. About a year into the process of divorce when it became necessary to divide property I had remarried and was pregnant with a child to my new husband who made much less money than my ex. New husband was supporting all of us on a cooks wages, lawyer bills were mounting as ex husband was in the marital home and playing legal games to remain there adn divide the property, and making a play for primary custody to help him maintain ownership of the marital residence. I was not working and provided all child care while ex worked. I asked ex for a bag of groceries to be used to feed the children every two weeks as he paid nothing for child care. All Holy Hell broke loose! My lawyer suggested I file for support. A custody fight ensued and ex won primary placement.

    Over a ten year span of time he did everything his power, along with his new wife to alienate the children. It worked with my daughter who was only 5 when I left. She had always been a daddy’s girl and she aligned with him adn his new wife immediately. Suddenly she began speaking of the six grandparents she had. Ex’s new wife was the product of divorced parents so there were four grandparents there- two on each side plus my father adn ex’s mother. But the alienation never worked with my son who was 8 when I left ex. But son could never speak up. I believe he was afraid of his dad who never really liked him in t he first place. he was often abusive to our son who was so much like me in looks and mentality.

    The children grew to adulthood. I was absent from many of the events in my daughter’s life or if i was invited I was treated as a mere spectator while dad had center stage. Step mom was treated as mom. When son got married HE decided I would have the chance to make up for all I had missed out on. I was allowed to have a shot at preparing the wedding feast of a life time. I love to cook and I had had to suffer watching my son’s Eagle Scout Court of Honor banquet ruined by Step Mom serving ham Salad sandwiches! I was heart broken. its a once in a lifetime event. Son’s new wife likes me adn we get along well. We set about planning the wedding reception and my husband helped me prepare as I had become disabled. We cooked a banquet for 125 people with four entrees. People, including Step moms friends raved about it for weeks and son made sure I was star of the show. he wanted me to have all of the honor a mother should have adn that I had missed out on all of his life and this was backed up by his new wife. It was a night to remember.

    Fast forward three years to when Daughter who is still having a somewhat strained relationship with me announces her engagement. She had been reaching out and had come to live with me for a bit after her high school graduation. We got along well then ex had a cardiac arrest. happily, both children were present. Both are Emergency Responders thanks to time I had to give up during that ten year custody battle. Ex found every activity for them to be involved in to take time from he. As the judge was close friends with his in laws, I never got to have the time made up,so I lost months of time. But I never minded the Emergency Responder’s training. I think every kid should know CPR and rescue skills. Long story short. My kids brought their dad back from V Fib! Hey folks- this almost never happens! V fib is usually a guaranteed death sentence even for professionals! I am proud of my kids. After this she began acting just as she did when she was younger and alienated.

    So last year she is getting married. She asked me to help with the wedding. But she wouldn’t actually let me. Dad was in the spot light, of course. I was not even introduced. it was the most hurtful day of my life. The inlaws never even knew she had siblings except her older brother, my son with her dad. After that I stopped all contact with her. if she called me I would engage in a short phone convo. No invitations to the house. No gifts, no acknowledgements. Six months after the wedding she is calling me weekly, visiting on holidays, I even took her out to dinner for her birthday. her husband will not engage with me adn i don’t know why, but I do seem to have a relationship with my daughter. I think it was due to the boundary i set. Last Christmas all og my kids got the usual nice monetary Christmas gift daughter adn her husband got a very small monetary gift I would give a neighbor. Treat me like a stranger, expect the same.

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  • November 12, 2018 at 9:15 pm
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    What you are describing is domestic violence by proxy. The abuser turns the children against the other parent through bullying, coercive control and undermining tactics. There is almost aways a history of domestic violence by the abuser against the other parent.

    Parental alienation, on the other hand, is a scam pushed by unethical and unqualified “experts” with sketchy backgrounds to help abusers win custody when they fail to alienate the children. These “experts” do not care about the children and they are essentially paid to dismiss evidence of abuse and discredit the victims. Their reunification therapies and programs are not only cruel and traumatizing for the children, they are ineffective in the long run. The alienated” parent may “win” custody, but after a lot of money spent, the children don’t want anything to do with them once they become adults. Frequently, the children end up with PTSD and have little or no with either parent.

    It is sad and unconscionable that these parental alienation “experts” create and prolong the conflict just for their own financial gain. They are truly worthy of our contempt.

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  • January 16, 2019 at 8:10 pm
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    Oh my God–you described what happened to me. I have three children, two of whom I haven’t seen in twenty years. My ex-husband is a retired physician who painted me as morally corrupt and often gaslighted me. I left to save my sanity, thinking I could develop a relationship with them on my own. I had to leave town because I knew there would be constant pressure to go back. What happened broke my heart. My older son and his family live with my ex-husband and there’s been a constant battle for the affection of the two children between my son and his dad who is the pied piper. I know this because my youngest child who an adult recently diagnosed with high spectrum autism lets me know a little of what’s going on. For years my son defied the pressure to cut me out of his life. Still, he thinks his father is a saint and he would defend his dad. The truth for him would be devastating.My oldest, my daughter is an attorney tows the line. We have never been close, but I think she goes along to keep the peace. At the center of it all, is my ex-husband, who has never been close to anyone in his life. I asked him once and he was proud of never having a friend, even as a child. I don’t hate him and as you said, I can’t fight back. I fear never seeing my children again. I’ve never been to a wedding or seen any of my grandchildren. Thank you for being here. I’ve made a new life and have someone who loves me. I can usually tuck the pain away, but sometimes it overwhelms me.

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