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.

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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.

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.

 

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?

 

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.

Arrogance. Check.

Story #13

From http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/narcissistic-personality-disorder/basics/symptoms/con-20025568

Many experts use the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, to diagnose mental conditions.

DSM-5 criteria for narcissistic personality disorder include these features:

Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
Believing that you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people
Having a sense of entitlement
Taking advantage of others to get what you want
Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner
Although some features of narcissistic personality disorder may seem like having confidence, it’s not the same. Narcissistic personality disorder crosses the border of healthy confidence into thinking so highly of yourself that you put yourself on a pedestal and value yourself more than you value others.

Sam went to pick up Zack, and Missy answered the door to tell Sam that Zack was at his Smith grandparents’ house and didn’t want to be with Sam. Sam, again, stressed that Zack’s time with his father’s side of the family is just as important. Missy said, again, that she was simply respecting her 12 year old son’s choice. When Missy was asked about her family helping keep Zack away from Sam (see Story #7 “Beach Vacations” regarding narcissistic alienators’ mob tactics), she said her family was only, “supporting Zack.” Missy was then asked directly, “Do you think your family is better than our family?” Her response was, “Well LOOK at your family.” Which is a definitive, “yes.”

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.

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.