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.

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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.

 

Evolution of contact denial 2006-2017

Missy said:
You can’t pick him up because…
He doesn’t want to come to your house today because…

“You can’t get the the car seat he needs into your car.” (Sam had already visited the police station to have them check Zack’s car seat safety before Missy said this.)

“He has a fever and wants to be with his mommy.”

“He wants a special day with his Grandpa.”

“Melanie doesn’t even like small children.” (Stepmom Melanie worked at a junior high when Zack was a preschooler.)

“A new bus schedule will confuse him too much.” (This when Zack began 4th grade and Sam & Melanie moved to Zack’s school district over the summer — Missy had moved Zack further away from Sam’s house when Zack began kindergarten.)

“He doesn’t like the food at your house.” (See Story #3 “Food Fight”)

“He’s bored at your house.”

“If he’s not with YOU, he should be with me — not Melanie or your mom.” (This when Sam took grad school classes that were sometimes scheduled on Sam’s parenting days. Sam was upset when these conflicts occurred because he hated missing the time with Zack AND because he predicted Missy would object to Zack being with Melanie and/or the Baker grandparents. He was right.)

“He’ll miss being with his cousins.”

“He wants to be with his friends whose parents are MY friends, so YOU can’t take him to their house.”

“You make him read too much.”

“He just doesn’t want to be with you. I’ve told him someday he’ll be old enough to choose. And you’ll see, he’ll never want to be with you.” (Zack was about 6 or 7 years old when Missy said this to Sam for the first time.)

And this summer, Zack said,

“I’m not UNcomfortable at your house, I’m just MORE comfortable at my mom’s.”

“I can’t believe you’ve put me in this position.”
So Zack is without his father. And Sam is without his son.

And Missy claims innocence.

Practice, practice, practice

In a recent text exchange between Sam and his 12 year old son Zack who has chosen, with his mother’s blessing, to refuse time with his Dad this summer, Sam asked how Zack’s baseball practice was.

Zack’s reply, “You’d know if you had been there.”

First of all, this snide response sounds nothing like Zack and everything like his mother, Missy. Zack’s typical reply to a text question like this would be, like many 12 year olds who text at lightning speed, a one-word answer like, “Fine,” or “OK,” or “Good.”

Zack has been playing sports since he was four years old. Missy originally denied Sam any information about Zack’s sports practices and games. Sam had to contact the coaches or the leagues (some of whom had been “warned” about Zack’s Dad by Missy), and he often encountered obstacles when asking for information about his son’s participation. Eventually, along with an order to share medical and school information, the court required Missy to share Zack’s sports league information with Sam. She began obediently providing information, but usually not until the week or the day Zack’s practices or games began, and she has NEVER communicated with Sam when she signs Zack up for activities. When Zack was younger and Sam was still fighting to receive information about his sports’ schedules, Sam would attend Zack’s practices as soon as he heard about them. Missy resented Sam’s presence at these practices if they fell on “her day,” and she told him he was not welcome there. Zack often ignored Sam altogether at these practices, and Missy would go on the field or court to help Zack pack up gear and would hustle him to her car to avoid any contact with Sam. On the flip side, when Sam took Zack to practices on “his day,” Missy, and sometimes the Smith grandparents, would attend and would go so far as to go on the field of play to greet and hug Zack ensuring that the Smith family, unlike the Baker family, could not be ignored. (See “Do the Math,” Story #10)

This recurring kind of situation, created by Missy and the Smith family, is exactly why her behavior is harmful to her own son — a fact she cannot recognize as its creator. Eventually Sam attended few, if any, sports practices on Missy’s days.

So, not only is Zack’s sneering response to Sam’s inquiry out of character, he and Missy have made it perfectly clear in the past that Sam is not wanted at Zack’s practices. (Also keep in mind that coaches and other players’ families witness this dynamic and see Sam and his family put firmly in their place as fringe characters.)

The conversation between Sam, Melanie (Zack’s stepmom), and Grandma Baker (Sam’s mother/Zack’s Grandma) after Sam told them about Zack’s spiteful text and his upcoming first regular season game was this:

Melanie:  If you had called Zack this morning and asked if he’d like you to be at his practice, there is absolutely no doubt that he would have said No.

Grandma Baker:  Does this mean we won’t be welcome at his game next weekend?

Sam:  Mom, we’ve never been welcome.

10 and 2

Story #12

From: http://warshak.com/blog/category/overcoming-parental-alienation/
Any aggression that you show, either verbal or physical, will merely play into the hands of your ex. Your behavior will be taken out of context, blown out of proportion, and then used to justify the children’s rejection.

There are countless stories and articles about African American parents who have “the talk” with their children about what to do if they get pulled over by the police. One of the things usually mentioned is the driver keeping their hands on the wheel at the 10 and 2 clock position. And sometimes it still doesn’t matter. Injustice prevails. Alienated dads like Sam grit their teeth and keep their hands at 10 and 2, and it makes no difference. These fathers follow all the rules — don’t get angry, show up even when they know they’ll be rejected, be patient and hope for an enlightened attorney/therapist/judge, etc. Injustice prevails again and again and again. Ex-wives continue to lie and win custody in court. Children become so entrenched in the alienator’s world that re-connecting seems impossible. It’s been 53 years since the US Civil Rights Act was signed, and discrimination remains rampant. Fathers, stepmoms, grandparents, and the CHILDREN suffer at the hands of empowered toxic Narcissists, and are nowhere close to organizing sit-ins, marches, and freedom riders. We scream our little blogs out to 2 or 3 readers and hope it’s a start for small victories and eventual justice. Will someone deliver an “I Have a Dream” speech for alienated families soon? Or ever? Who will listen?

Meanwhile Sam keeps his fists locked at 10 and 2.

Breaking Point

From: https://lost-dad.com/2017/06/29/a-living-death/

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 – Mid July

From http://www.jmichaelbone.com/blog1/the-eight-symptoms-of-parental-alienation-independent-thinker-phenomenon

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.

Present – First Day of Summer

After almost a month of contact denial at “his choice,” approved by his mom, Zack agreed to go golfing on June 21 with his dad, Sam, only if Sam agreed to take Zack to his mom’s house immediately after. Sam informed both 12 year old Zack and Missy that he intended to follow the parenting schedule which has Zack with Sam for the entire week of June 19-23. Sam said if Zack wanted to leave his dad’s house against the schedule, Missy would have to pick him up. Zack countered he would not golf with his dad if Sam would not agree to take him to Missy’s. Missy said she WOULD come get Zack, but she thought Sam would “use it against her.”

Present – Father’s Day 2017

From https://www.ourfamilywizard.com/blog/co-parenting-on-fathers-day

As with Mother’s Day, Father’s Day is a parent-specific holiday, so if schedules allow, children should spend the day with the fathers in their life (Dads, Grandpas, Uncles, etc). If Dad’s parenting time already falls on Father’s Day, there won’t be much to coordinate in terms of custody; if custody time does not fall conveniently on this day, try to make it happen, if possible. Be specific when communicating about tentative plans, and do not muddle the discussion among other issues or requests. Father’s Day is more than just Dad’s holiday, as kids value having special time with Dad.

After weeks of contact denial, Zack agreed to be with Sam for Father’s Day. Missy continues to empower 12 year old Zack to do all the communicating and decision-making. Plans include seeing Grandpa Baker for lunch (Sam’s dad) and having dinner with Grandma Baker to celebrate the day for Sam. When Sam asked Zack about coming back to his dad’s house for a movie after dinner, Zack said he needed to return to his mom’s to celebrate with his stepfather. On the Missy-created summer custody schedule, Sam’s parenting time includes Friday, June 16 (Father’s Day weekend) through Thursday, June 22. Zack returning to her house is a violation of the schedule and a shameful shot at Sam.  Zack has always spent Father’s Day with Sam, just as he has always spent Mother’s Day with Missy. Based on her pattern of behavior, Missy would never allow Zack to spend time with his stepmom or his paternal grandmother on HER day.

Hostile exchange

Story #5

From http://www.la-familylaw.com/toddlers_and_custody_transitions.html

…[A] parent’s nonverbal communications can play a significant role in soothing a young child.  Parents should be aware that hostile or tense physical communications and facial expressions used during transitions can heighten anxiousness in a young child.

Zack has always been anxious during transitions. Based on divorced-parents guidebooks and advice from other families, Sam prepared Zack for a switch calmly and matter-of-factly. Sam said yes when Zack asked if he could take a toy or other item to his mom’s, even though she historically did not allow it when she saw Zack carrying something toward her house. Sam and Missy had numerous conversations about Zack’s behavior during house-switches. Missy consistently reported that Zack would sob and say he didn’t want to go when he knew it was time to go to Sam’s. Sam told Missy that Zack was always fine as soon as they left her house. Often before they even turned off her street, Zack would be singing or laughing or asking if they were going to go to a park or going to see Grandma. Missy did not believe Sam and told him it was clear by Zack’s behavior that he did not want to go to his dad’s house. Sam explained to Missy his approach to Zack’s transitions, stressing that he tried to get Zack to understand that he has two equally important and loving homes. Missy told Sam, “I know you like to think that.”