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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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.

Peace Not Pas

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…

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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.

167 Red Flags

At a BrainSyntax.com community site, contributors listed 167 “red flag” alienating behaviors. The arbitrary number 10 of 167 was given as an indicator that an ex-partner can be defined as an alienator. Missy’s red flag number, based on recorded events and actual quotes from Missy and Zack, is FORTY-THREE. Some of these descriptions mirror Sam’s experiences word-for-word. 

#11 “Refusing to supply or keep the parent in the loop on medical issues, educational issues, [and other] events pertaining to the child.”
#99 “Told the child that the other parent does not love him or her [and] that the other parent never wanted the child to be born.” (See Story 1 ½ “Early Red Flag”)

The number of Missy’s red flags that have not been directly witnessed but are likely based on observation of Zack’s behaviors and Missy’s swift attacks soon after Zack returned to her house is TWENTY-SEVEN.
#7 “Grilling the children about their [time with other parent], asking the children to spy or collect evidence.”
#106 “Alienator denigrates all statements, answers, discipline, and activities of the [targeted parent].”

red flags
SEVENTY, Missy’s grand total of red flags, should convince someone other than Sam and his family that there is a significant problem that needs to be addressed. SEVENTY represents a barrage of attacks in ten years, and that number increases significantly when the repetition of specific behaviors is factored in.

 

Present – September 4, 2017

From: https://pro.psychcentral.com/recovery-expert/2015/11/narcissism-and-parental-alienation-syndrome/

Children are motivated to bond with parents. Even in a conflictual parent-child relationship, the child is still motivated to bond with the parent. This is a typical attachment experience between a parent and child. In parental alienation, we see detachment behavior, not attachment behavior. When therapists encounter a child rejecting a parent, not just having conflict with a parent, but completely detaching from a parent, then they are most likely witnessing parental alienation syndrome. In parental alienation there is no grief response to the separation between the parent and child.

The contact denial situation has escalated from empowered hesitation, “I’m not UNcomfortable at [Dad’s] house, I’m just MORE comfortable at Mom’s,” to snide dismissal, and that’s only IF Zack responds to a text or answers a phone call, which he hasn’t for weeks.

The promising news from Sam’s attorney on August 16 (magistrate expressed disapproval of Missy’s contact denial, a guardian ad litem was to be immediately assigned, and the magistrate agreed that Zack needs counseling) has changed nothing except that Zack added a, “Mom told me I had to come to your house but…,” to his “I’m not ready yet.” And Missy is not bringing Zack to Sam’s or making him ride the bus to his Dad’s, so the court’s “action” is completely meaningless.

Meanwhile animosity is growing and Missy is fleshing out her story that Zack is SO healthy, and SO happy since he’s made the decision to stay exclusively at her house. This story is likely to evolve to an amazing successful first day, first week, first month at his new school — again credited to Zack’s being exclusively with his mother.

Schooled by a Narcissist

Source: Apple Dictionary/Thesaurus

narcissism
noun
his emotional development was hindered by his mother’s narcissism: vanity, self-love, self-admiration, self-absorption, self-obsession, conceit, self-centeredness, self-regard, egotism, egoism. ANTONYMS modesty.

Kindergarten through 2nd grade before and after school transitions were very rough for Zack. He was with Missy before, during, and after school, so when Sam entered this mother/son bubble for their father/son time, Zack displayed extreme anxiety at the exchange. Most days, he would be calm and laughing minutes after he and Sam left the parking lot, but nearly every PM pick-up was stressful.

During these years, Sam saw little of Zack’s paperwork or completed schoolwork except for the occasional spelling list, math paper, or drawing Missy would allow Zack to share with his dad. Sam asked Zack once if he had any “important papers,” in his take-home folder. Zack replied, “Mom takes out all my important papers.”

When Zack was in 3rd grade in a new school (not where Missy worked) and Sam and Melanie still lived out of his school district, they, plus Grandma Baker, moved mountains (modified work schedules, missed meetings, etc.) to get to Zack’s school to drop him off and pick him up on Sam’s parenting days. Missy wanted Zack to ride the PM bus to her first, then Sam could pick him up later. Missy also figured that if Sam couldn’t get Zack to school on the one school morning a week they had together, the Wednesday overnight would have to end. Sam had hopes that this school year would be better for Zack, and his stunted independence, without Missy as a daily intermediary. The average mileage on the days that involved BOTH a pick-up and a drop-off was approximately 170 miles round trip. If Zack had sports practices or school activities, that number was higher. Zack, understandably, sometimes complained about all the time spent in the car and likely saw Sam as the reason, even though Missy was the one who chose to move away. During one trip Zack and Melanie were driving home from Zack’s school and saw lots of houses for sale. They started acting like they were choosing one and would comment on the houses’ yards, curb appeal, etc. Zack stopped the game by saying, “It doesn’t really matter what house I’ll like because the girl will pick it anyway.”

That third grade year was a definite improvement, but Sam and Melanie concluded that a move to Zack’s school district, even though it was farther away from both of their jobs, was worth it for their vulnerable family. Zack could have school friends as neighbors at his dad’s, and he could ride the bus every day — sometimes to Mom, sometimes to Dad. Missy resisted again insisting that Zack was better off following the same bus schedule every day. Even though Zack did eventually stick to the alternating bus plan, at the beginning he complained about missing time with his friends on the other bus. A very familiar refrain continued from both mother and son, always with Sam as the cause of Zack’s hardships.

Now, after two years of uneventful and efficient transportation, there is a new school and another conflict, this one the worst so far. Although the bus routes and schedules are nearly the same, after an entire summer of contact denial, Zack has refused to ride the bus to his dad’s house on what should be their time together as a family.

Who can possibly be blind to this pattern of the neverending grasp for control?