Another Wicked Stepmother story

Story #11

When Zack was 7, his transition anxiety was especially apparent. Missy blamed Sam, as always, even though Sam assured her Zack calmed down as soon as they left her driveway. Missy would sometimes call Sam’s cell phone when she knew he was on his way to pick up Zack. She would put Zack on the phone to tell Sam that didn’t want to go to his Dad’s house. When Sam asked Zack why, Zack usually could not come up with an answer. On one occasion though, 7 year old Zack cited his reason for rejecting his time at his Dad’s house as not wanting Melanie, Sam’s girlfriend, to hug him anymore. Sam asked why and Zack replied, “She’s not my real family.” Sam and Melanie married soon after, but the damage was done. Melanie was careful not to cross any lines that Zack might interpret (and report to Missy) as too affectionate. And Zack was empowered to dismiss Melanie as a parent.


Breaking Point


In a sense, there is an almost permanent blunt pain. Every day I think of my children and what they might be doing, other days my mind drifts off thinking about what could have been.

I remember the dark days as I …  realised that my relationship with my children was being destroyed before my very eyes. Hardly anyone believed me. They could not understand [that] the society we live in would allow something like this to happen in plain sight, that parents are capable of such evil – ‘I must be exaggerating’ I saw written on their faces. Those that did believe me became my lifeline with the real world. They were and still are always there, ready to pick up the telephone and just talk.


First, thank you for reading. Whether you are a personal connection or a Twitter follower or if you found the blog following a tag, thank you. I am breaking character as the author of these stories to speak directly. I don’t care if it’s called parental alienation or battling with a narcissistic ex or AB-PA as a DSM-5 diagnosis or whatever terms are used today to describe an ex-spouse maliciously manipulating your child’s feelings against you.

Living like this is agony.

Please try to imagine that YOUR child runs away, is kidnapped or dies. Feel that nauseating pain and gaping emptiness. In the case of the first two, imagine that the police do nothing. You beg for law enforcement to search and they are passive. You obsess about your child’s location and well-being. You are in the dark and helpless. In the case of death, imagine that your child passes away and no one shows up to mourn with you. Or someone tells you to just move on. You are heartbroken and even more alone.

Imagine, in any lost child scenario, how it feels to walk past their empty bedroom every day. Imagine being surrounded by family photos showing you with your smiling child. Imagine the pang when you see a parent and child laughing together at the grocery store or riding bikes in the neighborhood. Imagine your mind completing the phrase, “It’s X’o’clock, do you know where your children are?” every time you see a clock. And your answer is always no. Imagine all the tiny things that remind you of a past shared routine or moment — buttering triangular toast, hearing a certain song, or seeing his favorite Gatorade in the back of the fridge, for example — and feel the loss hit again and again.

The father who wrote the blog entry which is quoted at the beginning of this post says that people think he’s sometimes exaggerating the alienating parent’s behavior and the resulting anguish. Yes, I’ve been told that, too. But if you truly imagined yourself and your lost child in any of the scenarios described above and in the stories on this blog, do you think your trauma can be understated?

Add to all of this the fact that someone is vindictively and successfully creating this torment. The lost child is living minutes away but is unreachable. The suicide rates of alienated parents are high and no wonder.

Please BELIEVE and support any devoted parent you know who is being eviscerated by a toxic ex-spouse who (empowered by an ignorant legal system) is striving for and/or succeeding in a rejection campaign against them.

Present – July 19


By the time all of the evaluations are in place and the case is heard by the court, considerable damage has been done to the child. It is an irony that the very people we turn to for help in such a difficult situation can often be those who most contribute to allowing the on-going abuse and neglect of the child to continue.

Sam is living his nightmare. Time with Zack has been, and will likely to continue to be, completely lost. Sam continues to go to Missy’s to pick up Zack according to the original summer schedule. Each time, contact is denied and Sam files a police report. The police take no action. Sam did finally receive a court date, but it’s in mid-August when school begins, so the academic year will probably start with ongoing contact denial.

Do the Math


Parent alienation is a dynamic where a child is significantly influenced by one parent (typically referred to the “favored” parent) to completely reject the other parent (often known as the “unfavored” parent). Children are literally placed in a situation where they must view one parent as all bad and one parent as all good. This dynamic leaves no space for a child to love both parents. Given that children view themselves as half Mom and half Dad, the end result is that the child is forced to deny or reject a significant part of themselves.

Story #10

Sam talked with Missy and stressed that it’s important for Zack to be with both sides of his family because he is half Baker and half Smith. Missy told Sam he was wrong. She said Zack is clearly “90% Smith and 10% Baker.”

Present – Mid July


The Independent Thinker Phenomenon, is a symptom that can be easily missed, or perhaps given less significance than it deserves. The Independent Thinker Phenomenon refers to the consistent behavior seen in alienated children where they claim that their resistance to seeing the unfavored or targeted parent derives from their own independent thought and is not the result of the other parent’s influence.

Contact denial (which began in May) continues. Missy has finally been served with papers from Sam’s attorney which address the contact denial (as contempt of court), request a change in custody to 50/50 and mandatory counseling for Zack. Sam did not hear from Missy regarding her receiving the papers but instead received angry texts from 12 year old Zack expressing his outrage about court involvement and accusations that Sam is not listening to him. Zack repeatedly stresses that his mother is not at fault and is not telling him what to say – she is only respecting Zack’s feelings.

Becoming invisible

Story #9

When Missy and Sam’s breakup began, Sam’s first conversation with his attorney focused on how he could safeguard his relationship with his son. Sam’s lawyer advised him to stay in the house so Missy couldn’t claim abandonment (she did anyway). During this time of traumatic coexistence in their house, Missy screamed at Sam when baby Zack called for his Daddy, “I’m going to blindfold him so he can’t see you.” This threat has been methodically executed for ten years.

Early red flag

Story #1 ½

From Divorce Poison, revised edition, by Dr Richard A Warshak

At such a vulnerable time in their lives, children especially need and deserve as much love as they can get. Those who close off avenues of love and support detour children from their pursuit of emotional security.

Grandma Baker, Sam’s mom, was asked if any particular stories stand out to her regarding Missy’s behavior and Zack’s developing alienation. When Sam and Missy were newly separated and meetings with attorneys were frequent, Zack would sometimes stay with his Grandma Baker. Toddler Zack said to his grandma, “Daddy didn’t want me.” She was mortified and said, “Who told you that?” His reply, “My mommy.”

Read between the lines

Story #8


…[A]lienated children not only experience the trauma of divorce and the threat of losing a parent, they also readily see the needs of the alienating parent and strive to accommodate them.

Missy has not and does not believe Sam when he tells her Zack is fine and happy when he is at his dad’s house. Her disbelief stems from Zack’s tone of voice when he answers her phone calls and from Zack’s own reports of discontent. During Zack’s childhood, Missy called him nearly every day when he was at his dad’s. Though Zack sometimes expressed reluctance to talk to her, Sam would hand Zack the phone. (See reference to the Golden Rule in “Beach Vacations.”) Zack’s tone of voice would immediately change to a babyish whine, and Missy would ask what was wrong. Zack would answer with same pitiful voice, “Nothing.” There were times when Zack was in a fit of giggles and the phone ringing would stop him cold. Zack behaved as his mother would expect him to, sounding miserable while at his dad’s. Another example of Zack’s need to “love the one he’s with,” rather than have his own genuine feelings, involves books and reading. At Missy’s, Zack watches TV and plays video games. He does these things at his dad’s, too, but with attempts at clearly defined boundaries. Zack sometimes enjoys reading at his dad’s house, and sometimes balks at the reminders to complete his school-required reading time. Sam, Zack, and Zack’s stepmom, Melanie, often visit libraries and bookstores because Sam and Melanie are educators. A common activity at Sam’s is trying out a new book to see if it would be an effective classroom read-aloud. Although Zack appears to enjoy these short books with Sam and Melanie, he has, according to Missy, reported to her that he is constantly forced to read at his dad’s house. Missy expressed to Sam that she believes a cause of Zack’s difficulties with reading is because Sam has dictated too much reading and Zack is sick of it. Missy said Zack was commanded “to read an hour a night when he was six.” This is blatantly untrue, but must have been relayed to or understood by Missy by something Zack reported to her. THIS behavior is one example of the insidiousness of parental alienation and why it is emotional abuse. Zack is continually pressured to take sides, or lie, and struggles to express his own opinions.


…[M]any alienated children make negative comments about the targeted parent because they are often encouraged or rewarded by the alienating parent. Some children feel such a strong sense of obligation to the alienating parent that they make disparaging comments about the targeted parent, even when they do not agree. Making these disclosures creates a sense of cognitive dissonance for alienated children and results in strong feelings of anxiety and confusion…

Present – Week of July 4


Top actions of an alienating parent:
Teaches the child adult things to tell you, such as “I don’t feel comfortable about the duration of our summer visitation, Dad.”

12 year old Zack has maintained that he does not want to spend time with his dad this summer because he is “not comfortable,” and he does not want to spend multiple days away from “home,” his mother’s house. To further entrench the contact denial, Missy invited Zack’s cousin to come back with them from the beach vacation. This out-of-state cousin, Jack, has never before left his parents to stay with his Aunt Missy. Zack did not communicate with Sam once during his vacation with the Smith family, but Zack texted on the day of their return that Jack came home with them and he wants to spend time with Jack, not his dad. (See “Beach Vacations” regarding an alienator’s involvement of extended family in her campaign.)

Summer vacation

Story #7


The characteristics of an obsessed alienator are:

They are obsessed with destroying the children’s relationship with the targeted parent.
They having succeeded in enmeshing the children’s personalities and beliefs about the other parent with their own.
The children will parrot the obsessed alienator rather than express their own feelings from personal experience with the other parent.
The targeted parent and often the children cannot tell you the reasons for their feelings.
Their beliefs sometimes becoming delusional and irrational. No one, especially the court, can convince obsessed alienators that they are wrong. Anyone who tries is the enemy.
They will often seek support from family members, quasi-political groups or friends that will share in their beliefs that they are victimized by the other parent and the system. The battle becomes “us against them.” The obsessed alienator’s supporters are often seen at the court hearings even though they haven’t been subpoenaed.

The Smith grandparents always take their grown children and grandchildren on a summer vacation for two weeks. Until a court order equalized summer parenting time, Missy had no intention to allow Sam to have a two week stretch with Zack citing that a mother cannot be expected to spend that much time without her child. When Zack was younger, Missy would refuse to give Sam contact information for the beach houses. After additional court action required Missy to share school, medical, and other essential information with Sam, she began to offer the address but no land line phone number. When Sam has tried contacting Zack during these vacations via cell phone, no one answers or responds. One excuse she used in the past was that the location was remote and a cell signal was elusive. The other repeated reason for contact denial is that Zack doesn’t want to speak with Sam while on his Smith family vacation. When Zack has had time with his dad, his mother’s frequent calls are answered without question. Missy would say this is because of course Zack wants to talk with her. Another view might be that 1) Zack knows she would be hurt if he didn’t answer and he doesn’t want to upset the favored parent and 2) Zack’s communicating with his mom has always been supported by Sam. He has held on to a belief that treating others the way you would like to be treated is the right thing to do.