Category: Parental alienation

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Molly Finnegan

Molly Finnegan

As of this writing, I have been separated from my ex-husband for 22½ years and happily divorced for 14½ years.  There was certainly one bright light after the wedding – my child… an amazing daughter to whom I refer as the best baby ever born.  She is everything to me, and I don’t believe that I would have weathered this storm without her support, encouragement, and a smile that would melt the deepest and tallest glacier.

“I am not going to be the one to ruin that relationship.”  That was not only my mantra, but it also became my commitment to my daughter with regard to her father.  Prior to separating, I communicated with my entire family that I did not want anyone to bad-mouth my ex in front of my child; by and large, they acceded to my wishes – but outside of my child’s earshot, one family member particularly insulted, demeaned, and criticized both me and my ex.  To this day, this person (to whom I am indentured) is blind to the fact that he/she is exactly like my ex in character and temperament – and they absolutely can’t stand each other (never have; never will).  Even though they have not been officially diagnosed by any mental health professionals, I can honestly say that both check off several boxes of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

While I am including this TAR Tale under “Parental Alienation”, I want to tell you it is possible to minimize the effects of this terrible form of abuse and manipulation for your children.

My ex-husband is a brilliant person.  A perpetual student with several advanced degrees (including two Masters’ and a Ph.D. in an extremely marketable field).  We fell apart following the birth of our only child – she was, after all, an infant and needed everything to be done for her.  She became the center of my world, and I had no problem with that.  Jealousy and competition became the orders of my ex’s life – resentment over my maternity leave, having to buy diapers instead of movie tickets, cleaning up after my child, and generally committing every waking hour to her.  He felt all of this was at his expense, and he participated less than minimally in the wonderful job of parenting.

I told him that he must leave our home after a “straw that broke the camel’s back” day.  I woke up early to get my daughter ready for her day with my Dad, who provided care for her while I worked full-time 20 miles from home.  Before I went to pick her up from my Dad, I went home to put dinner together for the three of us.  My heart started palpitating, I became short of breath, and I found my ex in the bed where I left him 10 hours prior.  He hadn’t even taken out the trash to be picked up the next morning, and left a huge mess in the kitchen.

Using my best outside voice (many of my friends will say that I don’t yell), I demanded that he come downstairs.  Fifteen minutes later, he showed up in the living room.  I said, “you have two weeks to find a place to live.”  He knew that was coming – and offered no argument.  I called 911 to come and evaluate if I was having a heart attack when he went back upstairs.  After being told that it was a panic attack, I settled myself down and went to pick up my daughter and treated us to a fast food dinner.  He moved out the next day; I can’t tell you the relief I felt.

My ex could have made this very difficult, but I never gave him any ammunition to use against me.  I didn’t file for divorce for 7½ years, left him on my health insurance for five of those years, and allowed him to call me three days in advance of when he or his parents wanted to see our child.  My daughter and I told each other everything; she was so precocious and spoke in sentences at 16 months to my complete relief.  She understood when I explained that she had to live by the rules of three households – mine, my parents’, and her father’s parents’ homes – and she adapted pretty easily.  Every month her father would ask me if I wanted to go through with a divorce; believe me – if I thought things would improve and he would be a member of the family, I might’ve said “no”.  I knew that change was not happening, so when a dear friend brought me to her law firm saying “we’re getting you divorced” I did not refuse.  We had to take classes to manage custody, finance, and contact; my daughter’s teachers told me that she could teach the class for her peers all on her own.  That was another relief for me – she was adjusting to our new life pretty well.

Fast forward.  He opted out of the divorce hearing and didn’t contest anything.  We had no property, and he certainly didn’t want the responsibility of caring for our daughter even half of the time.  He also did not pay child support after the divorce.  I’m no hero, but I remained steadfast in my commitment to my daughter. 

“I am not going to be the one to ruin that relationship.”

The best advice I can give all of you struggling with leaving a toxic, narcissistic relationship is this:

  • Build your relationship with your children.  Let them know where they fit into your life.  Make them your priority.  Love, hug, and kiss them all the time.
  • Never speak ill of your ex if at all possible, especially while the kids are tiny.  If your ex speaks badly of you, make sure that your communication is open enough with your children to attempt to explain why she/he says mean things about you.  If you take a few minutes to think about how to explain, you can adjust yourself in the direction of “tact & diplomacy” – one of my Dad’s favorite adages.
  • When the kids are tweens and teens, let honesty enter the conversation.  While you still need to interact with your narcissistic ex, make sure all of the rules are clear.  It’s okay that we have most of the control – it sends the message that you will not allow your children to be victims of a toxic relationship or person.

I think that the worst thing I said to my ex after he didn’t show up for our child’s high school graduation – “She’s an adult now.  I never want to sit across a table from you ever again.”  Finally, after not paying child support for more than 10 years and never being denied a visit when it was convenient for him, he has limited contact with my daughter and knows very little of her life.  This does not make me happy; and there is no room for vengeance in my heart which is filled with my daughter’s love.  Honestly, I hope that someday he will learn how to build his relationship with her.  He really has no idea what he’s missing; that is the tragedy in all of this.

Paul Michael Marinello

Paul Michael Marinello

May 9th of this year was a very sad day for me, as it marked a full 365 days since I was erased from my daughter’s life. The process of alienating a child from a loving parent often takes years of quietly applied maneuvering, co-dependency, coercion, and the profound altering of a child’s emotional attachment to the other parent – as was the case in my scenario. It is considered child abuse for a reason. When you take the time to re-evaluate the intricacies of your parental relationship, and that of a divorced spouse, the pattern that emerges can be quite overwhelming. I’m lucky, I wrote everything down. 

Looking back upon the dumpster fire that has been this last calendar year, I find myself waking up more days holding on to the essence of my own hope. Today, I am fully engaged with those around me and have purposely removed myself from a place of isolation. 

I’m not claiming that I’ve been saved, nor am I the savior.

I am one man, peddling nothing but facts and truth. When faced with a moral dilemma that you’ve lost something that you can never properly or organically (re)ascertain, a sense of moral awakening takes place. The embers remain in their worst place – a dark flammable corner – where one spark could cause a four-alarm blaze.

Not today. Today I have some hope. And with hope comes accountability. To concentrate on truths, hollowing out the use of excuses, take control of my own behavior, and offer a simple nugget for those going through this. 

What I Have Learned: 

  • My daughter’s alienation was not my fault – I have learned that I am powerless over the alienator’s ways and it is in no way beneficial for me to harbor blame upon myself. I don’t need to list my achievements as a father – I have 18 years of memories that tell me exactly what happened. 
  • There remains but one truth – Dissect statements and thoughts and what you have seen with your own eyes. No matter what “they” say, whoever they are, there is only one version of the truth. As long as your intentions are well-meaning and humble in nature, stick with the truth. Like Richard Roma tells George Aranow in Glengarry Glen Ross — “The truth George, always tell the truth. It’s the easiest thing to remember.”
  • I was a good parent – No time for superlatives. Fact: I stepped up at every moment to be the best father I could be. Everyone makes mistakes, I sure did. But I never left my daughter’s health and safety up for chance. She never needed anything. While this is a tough thought to process (particularly while alienated), part of my recovery must allow this truth to sink into my psyche.
  • I am prepared for her to never return – It has been mentioned in earlier blogs that even if a child returns to an alienated parent there are still serious implications that cause a detriment to the already fractured relationship. That really sucks on the whole outlook front. It’s been a year with no contact and I am prepared for her to remain alienated. I understand the power of this debilitating family disease. Think alcohol, schizophrenia, and other major mood disorders including narcissistic personality disorder – all handed down genetically. My ex never had a chance, and neither did I.
  • I have people that love and understand me – Although slow to start, it was imperative that I opened up about how alienation has affected me. I post publicly and occasionally am asked. Lately, I have averted simply saying that it’s been a while since I spoke with my adult daughter. I am more apt to share this facet of my life – while never really giving a shit about what the receiving end thinks about me personally. This is not about me. I may be alienated, but I am not alone. My daughter is alone in the abuse she is enduring. My close friends understand and the community at Parental Alienation Anonymous (PA-A) and CPTSD Foundation have really supported this journey. I am thankful for those I have met in 12-step groups – they inspire me to push forward even when I don’t want to.
  • Stronger than a year ago – Getting acclimated to my new world over this past year has delivered challenges. Like you, if you woke this morning then you have what I consider the greatest gift of life: another shot to get it right. 12-step programs allow you to open your mind to differing scenarios, many of which your mind never even considered. It is within the confines of these meetings that I cumulate my hope. I could not even tell you how poor my state of mind was when this final bout of alienation began. 
  • You have to do the work to get better – There is a moment when alienated parents ask themselves “How do I go on living?”. I asked. A million times. There are no answers and the sooner you realize that the better your individual situation will become. There is no way to figure this thing out, just as you can’t figure out a family member’s drug problem. The realization that you are comfortable letting go of the need to understand how an issue works itself out is quite freeing. You have to put in the work. Whatever that means to you.

In a recent PA-A meeting, someone mentioned the absence of guideposts during the alienation journey. As a family disease, much secrecy lies within the borders of alienated families. There are few who can understand outside of the walls of a PA-A step program meeting. The truth is that the rest of us have no guideposts, no road signs, no speed limits, and no justification in terms of accountability. It’s an open and empty road, filled with large obstacles and no driving manual. I take great pride in the fact that I learn something new in every meeting. 

I realize how topical these statements are; however, because of the truth that is embedded within these thoughts I have found a moment of clarity. It is okay to breathe deeply and let the worry exit your chest, neck, and shoulders. It’s okay to smile and to live. It’s okay – when the time is right – to come up for air.

A special thanks to those whom I have had the pleasure of working with during my alienation journey. Without PA-A, I could not confirm where I would even be today. Thank you. 

You are not alone. To learn more about Parental Alienation Anonymous, as well as our weekly schedule of meetings, please click here:https://parentalalienationanonymous.com/meeting-schedule/

Paul Michael Marinello

Paul Michael Marinello

A father’s journey is one of perseverance. A journey where each passing day – whether bright and hopeful or dark and pressing – allows for the joys of life, the celebration of milestones, and a reckoning that as a father, you have done everything in your power to keep your child(ren) happy, healthy, and safe.

For seventeen years I was a dedicated, loving, and involved parent to my daughter. I was there for her birth, every birthday, every graduation, every parent-teacher conference, and every doctor’s appointment. I played the Easter Bunny, Santa, and the Tooth Fairy. When she was ill, I was there to nurse her back to health. As recently as a few months ago, we toured colleges and universities together. 

I gladly and willingly paid child support for a decade as it was the only way to ensure no less than 50% of parenting time. After child support orders ceased, I continued to make sure my daughter had health insurance, life insurance coverage, supplies for school, clothing, and adequate social connections (dance, softball, camp, time with extended family).

Those I have spoken to have predicated their thoughts regarding this situation by acknowledging the sacrifice a parent needs to make. I never sacrificed anything – I chose my occupations and geography carefully so that they would align with my trajectory of being a single dad. The joy of having a child should not lead to sacrifice – it should lead to sanctuary. My daughter has made me proud in a million different ways.

Things Change

While there is much to this story that cannot be told just yet, for both legal reasons as well as the ensuing completion of my book — The Dragon & The Hare — which outlines my personal divorce and custody journey in great detail. I hope that someday it serves as a roadmap for others to navigate the perils of parental alienation.

That journey has been stifled by immeasurable change and trauma which happened slowly yet diligently at the hands of a parental alienator.  Children are meant to trust their parents instinctively.  When the trust is tethered in the unfortunate circumstance of a parent dealing with Borderline Narcissistic Personality Disorder, everything changes.

I too have suffered from mental health challenges throughout my life; however, in the 17 years since my daughter’s birth, I have managed – with therapy, exercise, and medication – to live in relative bliss.

When I received the WhatsApp call on Mother’s Day of this year from my daughter – with her mom and “advisor” in tow – things became unhinged and erratic. I began to feel encumbered with helplessness almost immediately and for the better part of two weeks before picking myself up and getting to work on the understanding. I spent every spare minute researching and learning about parental alienation, narcissism, triangulation, lack of ambivalence toward a targeted parent as well as weighing several governing factors of our collective pasts to find the pattern. This has quietly been going on for years. It wasn’t until I retained new counsel that I learned that in many states, parental alienation is akin to child abuse. 

Crossroads

I am grieving and I have guilt. There were plenty of warning signs dating back to the initial divorce proceedings where I had to exercise my rights (continuously) in court just to obtain legal guardianship of my daughter including visitation. I could not see, however, the strategic “behind the scenes” maneuvering that would eventually alienate my daughter and me. Blindsided, I felt a need to ascertain whether I was feeling grief as a component of the loss or as a component of guilt over the signs that I overlooked. After all, I only had one job: keep her happy, safe, and healthy.

It’s a mix of emotions. Most of my closest allies still cannot comprehend what is happening despite over 20 million American children suffering from some type of parental alienation. They know that since about 2012 we (myself, my daughter, my ex-wife, and her new husband) spent most of our holidays together, vacationed together, attended shows and assemblies together, and planned and executed birthday and other commemorative moments together.

I feverishly found and spoke to several attorneys shortly after Mother’s Day. I consulted with mental health professionals and parental alienation specialists, and all have concluded that this is clearly a case of contempt, parental indifference, and alienation. The issue is that my daughter will be 18 years old in a few months and no court will likely hear this case prior to her emancipation.

The Trauma

I have learned that trauma comes in many forms and has many intricacies that I am still educating myself about. I know one thing. The loss of a child is innumerable at any stage of parenthood whether it is a child’s death or the dismembering of a healthy father-daughter relationship.

My personal trauma embodies the fact that I was not expecting such an event. Like 9/11 as a New Yorker, it was something unanticipated and unrivalled in terms of impact and resolution. Perhaps the fact there is no resolution is the difficult part. There are few ways to compartmentalize the events that took place. (20 years ago on a sunny day in Manhattan or during a routine WhatsApp call that occurred several times per week.)

This trauma was caused by a mother who purposely used me to punish the sins of her own father, who incidentally left the family at the same age as my daughter is now. This is not a coincidence.  Despite being there, involved in every aspect of child-rearing, raising, and development for almost two decades, the words of the alienator have been portrayed on the flag as fact.

I guess. I wouldn’t know. I haven’t spoken to or seen my daughter in months. It’s been difficult to discuss these feelings and emotions with friends and family as it is almost impossible given the past for them to understand it. One of my closest friends with whom I lived during custodial time with my daughter explained to me the virtue of truth: with it on my side, I have nothing to lose by telling this story. It’s all about evidence. The testimony of countless people who have witnessed my unwavering love for my daughter along with the experts. I have the truth on my side.

I am sorry, my love, you’ve been manipulated. I’m sorry dear, it is my fault. Through all of my battered emotions, I cannot imagine the torture you must feel thinking your father is anything less than loving, caring, and with you every step of the way.

“It sounds like settlin’ down or givin’ up

But it don’t sound much like you, girl

I wanna grab both your shoulders and shake, baby

Snap out of it (snap out of it)

I get the feelin’ I left it too late, but baby

Snap out of it (snap out of it)

If that watch don’t continue to swing

Or the fat lady fancies havin’ a sing

I’ll be here waitin’ ever so patiently

For you to snap out of it…”

– Arctic Monkeys

Paul Michael Marinello

Paul Michael Marinello

I was awoken by my alarm promptly at 5:00 a.m. this morning, the same time it is set for on all seven days. I have always preferred mornings, in darkness, prior to the sunlight’s blissful rise to capture the essence of my day. These morning hours bring clarity, sanctuary, and allow me to prepare for whatever the day has planned for me. For most of the past few weeks, the plan was working.

I feel truant when I sleep past the alarm and so I have several snooze options available at my disposal – and use one almost every day while the coffee is perking.

It’s the middle of the afternoon and I am feeling a bit defeated by the day. Despite trauma by way of parental alienation, most of my recent mornings were pasted with a candy-colored aura reminiscent of gratitude toward all things. I have begun a job I really enjoy after mostly COVID-related downtime and in between a few nannying positions.

And while the days over the past three weeks or so have been good for my résumé and wallet, my mental health continues to teeter somewhere between thinking I am totally fine and thinking I am a total wreck. This is Trauma 101.

I was recently reading a report from the National Library of Medicine which starts with this introduction: Existing research suggests that trauma survivors who experience psychological distress may deliberately inhibit the behavioral expression of emotion (Hassija et al., 2013; Litz, Orsillo, Kaloupek, & Weathers, 2000; Marx & Sloan, 2002Roemer, Litz, Orsillo, & Wagner, 2001)

This struck an immediate chord with me. By better understanding the behavior of trauma sufferers, we can better our state of mind and find a level of expectation that works for us. What emotions are we living by and which are we quelling? Is my own personal positivity a shield – an indirect flight or fight moment that leads to continual fleeing?

Since parental alienation entered my life about six months ago, I have been searching for a balance to which I may not be entitled. A balance which offers flexibility to allow me to feel the traumas and the guilt I possess while living a purposeful, service-filled life. I have found some common ground: attending and leading parental alienation meetings has been pivotal to my recovery. Expressing and sharing my thoughts in writing and conversations is equally of value and allows others to learn about similar situations.

Today Was Different

I must have slept poorly as I had almost zero game plan for this day. It’s not that I didn’t have my work tasks and my personal tasks mapped out, but my fortitude to rule the day was in place; however, the mental stability to see it through is at best questionable.

Trauma causes indifference, stagnation, and second-guessing in everyday decision-making.

Shortly after being alienated from my only daughter, I felt astoundingly deep grief in which I wallowed for several weeks. After I dusted myself off and decided to make the best life I could – despite unforeseen circumstances – I found relative security in my day-to-day life that I could cope with such trauma.

At my request, I asked for a full mental health evaluation. I also started weekly therapy to deal with the grief and outpouring of emotional loss that is attributed to parental alienation.

What To Do With This Wasted Day

I realize that this day is not wasted, despite feeling that way. I know that every single day that is lived is a gift. What do trauma sufferers do with a day that’s about to get away from them?

Take a break. Breathe. As a trauma sufferer – you are much more likely to want to wade in your negative emotions than break free of them. It’s not your fault – we are scarred to feel this way. Yet it is at this moment we must make a profound call to action – SEIZE THIS DAY.

It’s 3:15 p.m. and I cannot work anymore today, I did the very best that I could accomplish given the circumstances. As much as I am happy with the role I am in, dedication to my mental health supersedes it. I need to find a quiet place where my mind can slow down – a movie, loud music, handball, or perhaps bump into a few friends. The latter two – basically any activity that introduces outsiders – rate a big “no” when feeling like this. I don’t even want to pick up the phone on days like this. I am trying to remind myself that there are no wasted days. Trauma sufferers are damaged, but not broken.

Paul Michael Marinello

Paul Michael Marinello

For trauma sufferers as well as survivors, the burden of truth is often a difficult pill to swallow. In a recent dilemma, I have been stretched and squeezed into a mode of discomfort when it comes to decision-making.

My only niece is to be married. RSVPs were due yesterday, and I have yet to respond. Since parental alienation ended in the total estrangement of my only daughter, it has been increasingly difficult to assemble a rhythm of clear decision-making. It is particularly true for otherwise “easy” decisions. My brain is in an utter tangle, yet there exists a consistency of love, disappointment, obligation, and duty. As a trauma survivor, my brain has built a complex structure of defense mechanisms, actually solidifying past behaviors and patterns to which I always get to the same destination. Avoidance.

I love my niece with all of my heart and am so happy for her and her fiance. I want nothing more than to spend time with them on their special day, but I must be mindful of the unavoidable pitfalls of attending.

The burden of truth, in simpler terms, is aligned with my core beliefs, particularly one of honesty. Should I attend the wedding, all of my family will be there. Further, I will undoubtedly be introduced to all of the members of the family my niece is marrying into. This means I will have to give innumerable handshakes, hugs, pleasantries, and god-awful forced smiles. These are the worst kind – and in an essence lying. That’s the part I struggle with because I do not want to be disingenuous – I’d rather just not be there at all.

Plus, I will get the same question or two over and over and my mind will rambunctiously fumble formerly planned responses.

“How are you?” 

Option 1: I’m shitty, lonely, isolated, and spend most of my time untangling a grossly unprepared mind. My body and my mind have been broken, permanently. 

Option 2: I am hanging in there (lie). 

Option 3: Things are good (worse lie).

The other is some combination of “How is Maya?” or “Anything new happening with your daughter?” (Some of the family know I am alienated from my daughter, though I am not confident they can truly understand the ramifications of this family disease and the broken levees it leaves on another soul, as it is unnatural)

Option 1: I don’t know (an uncomfortable truth). 

Option 2: Maya is codependent on her alienator, the one she has always considered her “greatest ally” She has suffered more emotional pain than anyone I have ever known.

None of these responses are good. Not a single one.

The truth is – at this very moment there are only a few places where I feel comfortable:

  1. Home on my couch
  2. In a parental alienation 12-step meeting
  3. My home handball court at Phipps Park (despite having had to mostly retire from playing)

It is my cross to bear and I haven’t made a decision. I’ve been harping on this from the day I first received the save the date, a year ago.

This is my burden and it is also my truth.

Someone

Someone

I am an alienated mother.  I haven’t seen my children for 5 years now.  My dear friend referred me to this website, and I hope that these tips will help others mitigate the damage from their own personal war of parental alienation.  Please stay strong, endure, and one day your children will come back to you.

Only speak about the other parent in neutral positive terms – if your child is having difficulty with their other parent, help them develop a plan of how they talk to their other parent and resolve a situation.

Be open to talking to your child about the other parent – what they like and value about them.  Remember it is not a competition – your child loves both their parents mutually.

Try to see the other parent like a business partner and relate to them in this way.  You are in the
business of raising your children together.

Be flexible and return favors – timetables with children may have to change suddenly.

Remember you are doing it for your child and not for the other parent.

Keep your children informed – predictability and routine are essential for children.  Let
children make arrangements directly with the other parent as they get older – let them have
some age appropriate control.

Never lose hope.

Alienated Parent

Alienated Parent

Over a Year

We sat together to share some food.

Our first meal,
my two sons and I,
in over a year.
Minutes, hours, days.
Weeks, months,
a year…

I don’t want to get myself caught,
caught on the side of fear,
counting, counting,
the figures feel real.
Though, as much as time hurts,
we all know it can heal.
Being alone in those many dark days,
not knowing when I will see you and you again.

I turn to knowing,
our connection,
our bond,
my son, my son.

Every other child I see that is around the age or height is you and you.
It’s too easy for parents to cause shame with blame,
forgetting that a child’s life is not a game.

To write these words and say something like this doesn’t seem true.

It isn’t the real me,
or the father I am for you and you.
Now at this table, this moment for us,
we create and hold our own rhythm,
an environment we trust.

So rather than always counting the days, the months, this year,

I’ll send my breath upon the wind,
and you, and you, and you, will hear.

Abandonment Father

Abandonment Father

It is now a year since I have had any contact with my three beautiful young children.

My ex continues to deny me any contact with them. My ex continues to take advantage of a flawed system. A system that enables her to ignore and breach court orders for contact and engagement in interventions, with no legal consequence.

I do not claim to be an expert in parental alienation. My story is no worse than any other of the incalculable number of alienated out there.

The following is certainly not intended to be viewed as some kind of checklist to battle parental alienation.

I have simply reflected on the last year and compiled a list of what I have learnt during the last twelve months.

Normalizing the sense of sadness and low mood one will invariably experience as an alienated parent is okay to do.

Allowing this sadness and low mood to spiral out of control is a slippery slope.

Professionals that claim to be experts should always be challenged.

Reading and learning as much as one can about parental alienation is an integral part of fighting this battle.

Connecting with other targeted parents, be it online or in person is incredibly important. Invaluable for emotional support, sharing of ideas, information and advice.

Complaining to services and institutions with a dignified, articulate and well informed argument is key. You may not feel you are making a difference, but every bit of ‘chipping away at the system’ helps.

It took me far too long to realize that the way people treat me negatively, says more about them than me.

Professionals and friends have told me numerous times to engage in activities that will distract me. It is not always possible. As such I found a distraction that was connected to the issue at hand but also therapeutic, for example this blog.

I have realized that keeping myself well, mentally and physically is key to this battle.

I no longer feel guilty when I find myself thinking of my children less. This is simply a coping mechanism.

I have learnt that this does not mean I love them any less.

I do not need to feel guilty for what is happening to my children. There is absolutely no justification for the abuse that is being inflicted on them.

I have learnt who my real friends and family are.

I am way stronger than I thought I was.

I have learnt from others the true meaning of love, compassion and kindness.

I have learnt how much I love my children.

I will never give up. Nor should you!

Stepmom

Stepmom

I was targeted by the malignant narcissistic ex who wished to destroy her due to her own insecurities, and because of the strong bond that I have formed with my stepchild. I witnessed the cruel tactics of Parental Alienation and its effects on the innocent child, who was encouraged to literally “choose” between her parents. I witnesses the despair of my ex partner, who on more than one occasion wished to commit suicide. While battling my own demons, I went into court and told my truth, and was free to parent and to become herself again.

On that day in court, I made her own ruling: to become the authentic new version of herself, and accept her flaws and strengths.

To help others, who have to become “collateral damage” and have witnessed Parental Alienation from the eyes of an observer- outsider even- to remind you never to doubt yourself. Because tough times aren’t meant to destroy you, they are there to encourage you to rise up and step into your inner power. In times of doubt and despair, I wish to remind you that ‌YOU are stronger than you think.

Stepparents are highly undervalued, but there are a lot of great stepparents who have stepped in and helped their stepchildren who were caught in the psychological war of Parental Alienation.

Never give up!

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.