A TAR Tale by JohaNNa

JohaNNa

I am a mother who was alienated from my children in South America. I grew up in Ireland and emigrated to South America in my early twenties. I met my husband there, got married, and we had a son and daughter.  I can, like many people who are separated or divorced, say that we were happy at one time, enjoyed life, and had children together. But as one knows, life can change and rearrange. Over time my relationship with my husband began to deteriorate. It is one thing to split up, but to be deliberately and vengefully alienated from my beloved children is an entirely different matter.

I had a woman helper in our home. One day she came to me in the kitchen and said “Your husband is saying bad things about you to the children in the living room.”

I have witnessed separating parents who do not alienate the other parent. They are able to part and still be good, cooperative parents. These children play and go to school knowing that both parents love them. The benefits to the child are huge.  They remain being loved by their extended families. This benefits the extended families who are not torn from their nieces, nephews, or grandchildren. This leads to more peaceful communities which in turn leads to more peace in society.

Our reactions to being an alienated parent are not always what they should be. One is thrown into new territory that we could never imagine or plan. There is shock, disbelief, and anger. We are thrown onto a rollercoaster that we were not expecting. It’s full of troughs and very few rises. We are thrown around like sand in a dust storm.

Why does this happen? It happens because many legal systems in many countries are not set up to deal with this situation. Alienated parents are hurled into legal systems where there is little knowledge or training of what Parental Alienation is, or how to identify it, or how to deal with it effectively and quickly. The alienating parent knows this and presses the button on the rollercoaster. There is little or no accountability for the alienating parent in many of these legal systems. They cannot be arrested for drowning the natural love and affection a parent has for his or her child or children so that they can grow and develop into decent citizens in society. 

From my research and personal experience, alienated parents can be dragged into court again and again; costing money they can ill afford. In the meantime, children are growing up. These children can be asked to make adult decisions while their young, growing, and developing minds are trying to find their own identity as humans, sometimes within a home war zone. These are children without fully developed personalities or life experiences being asked to make adult decisions for they are totally ill equipped. With a vengeful, alienating parent pulling the strings, these children are sometimes asked to choose with which parent they want to live, but then they can – or may be forced to – choose to alienate the other parent who can become isolated not only from his or her children but also from in-laws who side with the alienator.

As a result, the alienated parent cannot stop it, cannot control it, and cannot change the legal system on their own. They have to go through it. I know of some alienated parents who have walked away in despair. The fight is too hard,  too exhausting.  A friend of mine in South America committed suicide when her three children were alienated from her. The youngest child was a four-year-old girl. I knew this woman and often visited her when our children played together. I witnessed a very good mother who loved her children. This was long before I knew what Parental Alienation was.

I am now retired and live here in Ireland.  I have not had a relationship with my son for 22 years. My daughter has kept in touch on and off over these years. We have had a rocky journey and at this distance, it is harder to repair. However, we have not given up on each other, for which I thank God. My Christian faith has sustained me in this horrible journey where one struggles to find meaning when one has lost the love of one’s beloved children.

My two adult children live in South America. They are in their thirties now and they are both married. Here, I give two quotes from my adult daughter in two particular phone conversations over the last few years. “I have to keep both your secrets”; this comment refers to the fact that my ex-husband refused any contact with me over the years because I divorced him. On another phone conversation, I brought up the fact that I had been alienated from her, and my son. Her reply was “Who did that to you?”

When I realized she had blocked out what happened, I changed the subject. There have been times when I thought my heart would burst out of my chest in the agony of losing the love of my children.

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