It’s time to tell the stories

Ten years ago there was a divorce. It was nasty. There was a small child and a conservative court. The mother was granted full custody. The father was devastated.

He was bullied by his wife during their brief marriage and he knew the bullying would intensify in the empowered hands of his ex-wife. She held the perfect weapon. Their son.

A Google search for “parental alienation” leads mostly to psychologist and attorney sites.  These sites are very informative but do not tell the stories. There are a few other voices out there — both targeted parents and adult survivors of PA. This blog will add a voice to the heartbroken but determined choir. Is anybody listening?

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Weather forecasting

Mark Twain may or may not have said “If you don’t like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes.” Regardless of the source, people say it all the time about all different places, and it has been especially true in Ohio the last few weeks. One minute it’s sunny and cloudless, and the next minute it’s a drenching deluge with violent lightning.

This is also how our life works dealing with Zack’s alienating mother, Missy.  (See early blog posts for background of 12 years of parental alienation. Good PA in a nutshell blog post here.)

A May court “action” stated that 13 year old Zack should be spending time with his dad, Sam, after a year of contact denial. The parenting times are every Wednesday night and every other Saturday PLUS a 7 day summer vacation. (See the previous “Play Ball” post for a partial look at this complicated tightrope walk of reunification attempts). Missy has pulled all her usual stunts to minimize and control any time Zack is supposed to spend with Sam. BUT we recently enjoyed 3 days together — playing golf, watching World Cup matches, playing board and card games, and enjoying a backyard 4th of July party with family. All sunshine, stars and stripes, and slushies.

Until Sam took Zack back to Missy’s house, and she came at Sam with all her usual tactics. (It’s also predictable that there WAS an attack after Zack spent 3 whole days with us — the most time since the summer of 2016.) There was an ugly argument about the upcoming Saturday which Missy wants with Zack even though it was originally planned as Zack’s time with Sam. Missy and Zack had clearly already discussed this change. (Excellent definition of “adultification” here.) She told Zack, as usual, to “speak for himself,” and tell his dad that he doesn’t want to be with him. And our sunny day turns immediately dark with clouds and thunder. As she’s done hundreds of times before, Missy quickly replaced Zack’s good experience and fresh positive memories with his dad with this nasty and stressful experience Zack will resent and blame Sam for. Who can’t sympathize with Zack for not wanting time with his dad if he has to worry about the potential for this turbulent storm at the end of it? Even when he KNOWS his life can be safe and good with his dad. It was just minutes ago. THIS is alienation.

Play ball

I didn’t take off my Red Sox hat at Zack’s latest ball game when they played the US National Anthem on a boombox (which is a new thing in this particular tournament), and I heard someone say, intentionally loudly, “Maybe she’s Canadian.” I wish. Truth is I hadn’t washed my hair, I had a headache from the scorching sun and the lack of appetite/eating, and I’m not particularly keen on lying by honoring the USA as “the land of the free.” Parental alienation is a daily injustice our family has endured since 2007. We all, my husband and his parents, were at Zack’s baseball game this week for a tournament game. Zack’s mother, my husband’s alienating ex Missy, has never, not once, asked for his opinion about Zack’s involvement in sports. For example, she registered Zack for (American) football when Zack was very young, and after a single game resulted in injuries to more than five elementary school players, she didn’t sign him up to play football again. Considering football has the highest status in our SW OH USA area, it isn’t a big surprise that, years later, Zack’s narcissist mommy still has the “my son is a football player” sticker on her SUV’s back windshield.

At this particular June 2018 baseball game, 13 year old Zack is stellar. He is a star left-handed pitcher, first baseman, and RBI leader. Sam, Zack’s dad, had no say in registering Zack for this team, but he DID toss and catch and throw and pitch with him since Zack was tiny. Zack’s baseball talent was always obvious. He outgrew our backyard as a small child to the point where they could only safely hit and throw at the nearby school with an actual baseball field. Now we are tangled in a family/custody alienation and contact denial battle which began in 2006 when Sam told Missy, Zack’s biological mother, that he no longer believed in their marriage. (Read the earliest stories in this blog to see the progression of alienating behaviors.)

Zack plays baseball. He’s an excellent teenage player. It seems so simple. But we’re fighting for our family, and on May 16 this year our county court agreed Sam must have a summer vacation/family time with Zack after a year of contact denial. Sam asked Zack what he would like to do. Zack said camping. Zack’s mom told Zack’s dad that he couldn’t go on vacation so far away that he might miss baseball. Sam agreed to stay nearby. Missy’s attorney, when she told him about Sam’s agreement to stay nearby, said a “staycation” didn’t count as vacation so Zack didn’t need any of that dubious “vacation time,” with his father. Sam’s attorney countered with, basically, bullshit, Sam gets extended summer parenting time per the court order. Respecting Zack’s baseball commitment AND his request for a “camping trip,” Sam registered time at a local campground which would allow for the unpredictable summer tournament schedule’s demands — if they win, they keep progressing chronologically and geographically, but if they lose they’re done. HOW CAN ANYONE PLAN FOR ANYTHING, let alone a desperate grasp for family reunification in these circumstances? In other words, Sam is both court-ordered and desperate for time with Zack, but the unpredictable baseball tournament schedule makes planning this time impossible.

So Zack’s team won the regional championship. It’s no surprise, based on predictable alienating behavior patterns, that Zack called Sam today and said he doesn’t want to miss baseball practice, and now he refuses to go camping, even though he could easily do both because of Sam’s careful campground selection.

THIS is a perfect example of the alienation game we’ve played for a decade. If Sam says yes to Zack and his all-powerful mother, Sam tap-dances to honor Zack’s request to go camping, but then agrees to cancel the camping reservation and take him to baseball practice instead. Sam allegedly has these “vacation” summer days with Zack but, they are also currently challenged as invalid “staycation” days, since we’re not going anywhere SPECIAL for “vacation.”  This this this this THIS is ONE example of the madness of alienation, but we persevere and play ball… 

One story. From one day. One example. More than a decade of alienation.

One year later…

We arrive at the one-year anniversary of the weekend the nightmare began of Zack refusing to be with his dad Sam (and Sam’s parents and me). It’s a year later and despite court involvement, nothing has changed. Sam is keeping track of the days and at last count, it’s been over 120 days of missed time together. (Scroll down to see the archive of posts beginning in May 2017.)

Brief recap: Memorial Day 2017 was DAD’s holiday on the custody order, but Zack’s Mom’s family, the Smithies, had a big party planned and 12 year old Zack chose, with his mother’s blessing, to reject Dad and stay with them. The yearlong pattern of contact denial begins.

LAST WEEK, 16 May 2018, there was finally an actual court appearance. Although called a “contempt trial,” there was no trial, no contempt decision or sentence, and the only action was a stern(?) reminder that Missy had better start complying with the guardian ad litem’s recommended schedule — Zack with Sam on Wednesday nights 5:30-8:30pm and every other Saturday 10am to 8pm. She starts complying or what? More of the court’s finger wagging and empty threats and attorney fees until Zack turns 18 in five years?

Since Zack’s baseball games are often on Wednesday nights, it is assumed that those days are forfeited as they fall right in the window of what would be Sam’s parenting time. There was no discussion about this. Zack just shows up at his game with the Smithie camp, barely acknowledges his dad and the Baker grandparents, and leaves with his Mom & Co.

Which brings us to Memorial Day weekend 2018, which will be the first Saturday since the recent court appearance that is “Dad’s Saturday” based on the standard weekend rotation, which has been ignored for months, but is now to be followed under the fresh threat of consequences.

Here’s where this story gets even crazier if you’ve stayed with me this far.

Months ago, Sam was selected to present at an international conference in Toronto this weekend. The trip was booked, but there was always the undercurrent of “Should I go if there are potential strides with Zack?” and “Will they use it against me if Zack claims he was willing to be with me, but I was out of the country?” (We know the answer to that. Missy has played that card before. Another story.) Sam decided early this week to cancel the trip and sacrifice his opportunity to make a professional impression with this conference appearance, since this is the first Saturday which falls under the new legal dictate, or let’s say realistically, guideline. In other words, Sam believed time with his son would FINALLY happen, and nothing else matters.

But.

Sam received word from Missy yesterday that she has no intention of Zack being with Sam this weekend because…

DRUM ROLL

According to the custody order that she’s been dismissing for a year…

Memorial Day 2018 is MOM’s holiday weekend.

THIS, ladies and gentlemen, is one glimpse of what successful parental alienation looks like.

Parental Alienation 1 2 3

Parental Alienation in 3 easy steps

1- When child is a toddler, do not let him take his favorite blanket and stuffed animals to his Dad’s house. Be sure to pack these comfort items when he has sleepovers with the maternal grandparents, though, to show that other beds CAN be okay, but the bedroom at Dad’s is the WRONG bed.

2- When child is in preschool and is experiencing toilet training problems or gastric distress, blame Dad’s diet as child is listening when talking with friends, family, daycare staff, and doctors (when the most likely diagnosis is nervous stomach due to anxiety). Make it clear that the food at Dad’s is the WRONG food.

3- When child is school age, fill out the school forms so his stepmother and paternal grandparents are not on the list for approved pickup or school communication. There are only so many lines available on the forms, and after listing maternal grandparents and, grudgingly after a court order, Dad, there’s no room to add stepmom or paternal grandparents. They are not approved members of his family. Make it clear the people at Dad’s are the WRONG family.

Result: When child becomes a teenager and can express his “own” views, he will say, “Dad’s house is the WRONG house. I don’t want to go there anymore.”

To these 3 simple steps, add hundreds more direct anti-Dad statements and actions and thousands more in-direct allusions and hints and subtle but discernible sighs and body language and facial expressions. You will have success in COMPLETELY eliminating Dad and Dad’s entire side of the family from child’s life.

As one alienator confessed, “It’s easy.”

 

“It’s easier to buy a gun than to get help.”

A co-worker said this referring to a different mental health situation, but it hit home. We have been dealing with contact denial since late May and parental alienation for eleven years. The court has been “involved” this time since early July. The court “ordered” the contact denial to end and for reunification counseling to begin “immediately.”

It is DECEMBER 18. Contact denial continues. Psychs and counselors have been unwilling or unqualified to tackle reunification or just don’t reply to requests for information.

The lawyers and a judge had a phone conversation in August. And in October. Another one is scheduled for January.

It is DECEMBER 18. Nothing has changed.*

Suicide is all too common in alienation situations. It makes sense – a part of you has already died.

  • Men aged 45–64 had the second-highest suicide rate for males in 2014 and the largest percent increase (43%) in rates, increasing from 20.8 in 1999 to 29.7 in 2014. (cdc.gov)

How more hopeless can hopelessness get when professionals are involved and are supposed to be helping and NO HELP HAPPENS?

*Except deeper entrenchment and resentment.

It is DECEMBER 18. A gun could be purchased TODAY at nearby Dad’s Gun Shop. Maybe there’s even a holiday sale. God Bless America. Merry Xmas. The war continues.

Our Response to the Westminster Dialogues

US families are suffering, too. Some states are worse than others, as is the case with most things American. And as usual, Europe is more progressive.

Cornerstone Community Alliance Support

An important debate is taking place next week with the aim of legal reform.

We have composed the following to input to that debate, which we have contributed via one of the affiliated sites.

Some excellent comments.
It is clear that parent alienation is an issue that grows and infects more families with every divorce.
It is apparent that there are links between alienation and the statistics relating to unhappiness and self-harming in children and suicide statistics relating to men within the traditional “fatherhood” range.
As awareness grows, however, we must not be diverted by the symptoms, we must strive to address the root causes and to bring about changes to family law, social services and enforcement,

I represent an organisation called Peace not PAS. (www.peacenotpas.com).

As the name suggests, we were established in order to provide support for all those affected by Parental Alienation and also promote awareness of…

View original post 1,999 more words

Grandpa’s letter

2017 will be remembered as the year of the lost summer as Zackary’s mother did not allow the Baker family the opportunity for meaningful time with him. No trips together. There was only one meal I had with Zack during the early summer. [Father’s Day when Zack agreed to see Sam and Grandpa Baker but later texted Sam that he wouldn’t have seen them if he wasn’t forced to.] No conversations. No opportunities to listen, teach and to discuss life.

This obstruction could only seem deliberate as his mother had set up the summer visitation schedule but did not require Zack to follow the schedule for even one day. The schedule had been mutually agreed upon months before. Is she immune from having to keep her word? If so, then what is she teaching Zack about the importance of following through on your commitments?

Continuous indulgent acquiescence by a parent prevents a child from developing admirable character traits such as responsibility, commitment, compassion, and empathy. The result is extended adolescence that leads to dependency. By making a child dependent, the parent is falsely assuming she will be able to control the child’s life. With control, the parent will be able to use the child as a vehicle for manifesting her hate rather than accepting that she didn’t get her way and move on. The inability to forgive allows hate to motivate her actions.

Hatred is an acid that eats away at the core of a human being. Hatred spawns a pursuit for vengeance that narrows one’s perspective to the point where truth and reason are cast aside.

Zackary’s father has invested as much time and energy into raising a son with character traits that will serve Zack well in adulthood, as he does with teaching and inspiring his students. A good parent works hard to do what is right for their child. A parent who believes they are good because they are a friend to their child, or because they provide the child with things, or simply because they gave birth, thinks these behaviors make them an excellent parent. That is delusional thinking.

Zackary is my only grandchild, so it is only natural that I resent his mother and her family for turning Zack away from 50% of his heritage. I feel like the poor man with just one lamb which was taken and slaughtered by a rich man who had many sheep and cattle to prepare a meal. The rich man took the lamb because he could, and he had no compassion or empathy for anyone who might be permanently disadvantaged by this loss.

Letter to the grandparents

This email was sent from Melanie to the Grandparents on September 26

Sam had his first (only?) meeting yesterday with the court appointed guardian ad litem. He is not confident that the meeting went well. Unfortunately the GAL had spoken with Missy already, so Sam spent most of their meeting defending himself against her accusations. Without making this email 10 miles long with the details, I’ll get to the gist.

Missy’s mindset has always been that She = Home, and Zack visits Sam. Therefore if Sam is elsewhere, Zack should be with Missy (not us). I have countless arguments here, but this is a big sticking point for Missy and for the GAL. Sam is being accused of “wasting two years” of his time with Zack because he took college classes. I could explode. Sam was HEARTBROKEN as well as ANGRY when a semester’s required classes were only offered on Wednesdays (which did not happen EVERY semester). If Missy was taking classes to extend her education and Zack was with Stepdad or the Smiths, would this be an issue at all?? Sam has always gone to great lengths to avoid any work commitments that fall on Zack days, but it does sometimes happen.  I’m struggling with keeping this brief…

Parts of this specific accusation: 1) Sam is inflexible 2) Sam is not devoted to Zack 3) Zack’s time with his stepmother or grandparents doesn’t “count”

Missy’s definition of “inflexible,” is basically — not her way. Sam is seen as inflexible if he says no to Zack going to an event with her or one of her friend’s kids during our time. She has always been brilliant at putting Sam in these situations. (See Story #6 “In the NO”) We have so little time with Zack that we want to maximize it and that sometimes means making plans to be with you because when else would you see him?! And so Zack (and Missy) don’t get what they want = Sam is inflexible. Sam explained that these last two years allowed him to see Zack off to the school bus in the mornings, which never would have happened if he had his traditional work schedule. The GAL was not impressed with this. Clearly she does not understand how much Sam cherishes the small moments that he has with Zack — little daily routines that seem meaningless if you can have them every day, but Sam has been robbed of most of these kinds of simple times with Zack because of the 2007 custody decision. (Remember, Missy said THIS SUMMER that she knows Zack is 90% Smith and 10% Baker. She said this when talking to Sam AND Zack. Don’t underestimate the power of her stating this as fact.)

If a “flexible” schedule is mandated by the court, that will translate into Sam begging for Zack while Mom & the Smiths always have a better offer. Unfortunately the schedule HAS to be black and white in our situation because we have ten years of proof that “flexible,” does not work. If we had more time with Zack, then there would be more time with extended family AND time with his friends originating out of OUR house — again not something to take lightly. Missy has ALL the connections with Zack’s friends’ families, so we seem like an obstacle rather than a vehicle for Zack’s friendships.

Sam and I agree that this is likely the final battle — if Missy “wins,” we will see very little of Zack from now on.

We’ve all lived with the situation of Missy’s dominance for over 10 years. It is impossible to condense our stories in one letter or email, but I’m asking you to consider sending the GAL a letter or email to share your thoughts. Say whatever you want, you don’t have to address the specific accusations above. Anything you say on Sam and Zack’s behalf is welcome. It may be our last chance to say anything to try to save Zack’s Baker family connection.

Double dose of poison

Source: http://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2017/08/28/overparenting-how-to-raise-an-adult (screen shot below)

National Public Radio’s Here and Now segment recently featured the author of How to Raise an Adult. The interview was fascinating and Ms. Lythcott-Haims pulls no punches about how to begin to STOP over-parenting children. Number one is: Stop saying “we,” when referring to the child’s activities — WE have soccer practice, WE have to work on our spelling words, etc.

The information in this broadcast combined with knowledge and experience with parental alienation was a gut punch. What if the vindictive narcissist parent is ALSO an over-parenting parent? Maybe this is a no-brainer, and maybe ALL alienators exhibit these patterns of “velcro-parent” behavior, too. And good god, how is any child under the influence of a person like this ever supposed to achieve any sort of independence with decision-making and self-confidence?

Screen Shot 2017-08-28 at 7.11.09 PM

 

What’s wrong?

Missy called Zack every day when he was with Sam. And Zack always began the call (even as a big kid) with a whispery babyish, “Hi Mama.” And she would immediately ask, “What’s wrong?”

Life has been hard for Zack. But it never had to be. His dad, Sam, was always willing to work with his mom, Missy, to do the right things for Zack, but Missy always snapped and snarled and belittled him. HER behavior has put Zack in a lifelong position to feel that there is something wrong in his world. And Missy has made it clear that ALL wrongness in Zack’s life emanates from his dad.

An analogy: Missy’s younger son, with her new husband, has severe food allergies. Does she act like her unfortunate son’s life has been impacted by some horrible force? Does she apologize to him every time he has to eat a different dinner than the rest of his family in a way that makes him feel wrong about himself and furious at the perceived cause of his allergies? Or does she deal with the unique needs of his life matter-of-factly and without judgment? A life without hardship was available to Zack, with cooperative divorced parents, if his mother would have dealt with his two-home life without malice. But she didn’t. Everyone in Zack’s family, particularly Sam, stepmom Melanie and the Baker grandparents, has suffered.

Zack has suffered most of all.