ALIEN-ation, Run for Your Lives!
No, it’s not a story about creatures who come from outer space to turn loving parents into snow. It’s about the Ex, who’s also parenting your child and about how this formerly devoted husband or wife is carrying spite and anger, like weapons for war, into a battle for control by making your children distrust you, by ALIENating you.
If there is a constant barrage of false allegations, inconsistencies, slights, endless difficulties, relentless criticism and flat out lies and slanders from your child’s other parent, then you are being alienated in your child’s affections. If your ex-partner is constantly bad-mouthing you in front of your child, blaming you whenever anything goes wrong, transferring their faults onto you, twisting your words, ignoring your attempts to communicate or make any plans without their approval, then this parent, your former partner, is trying to win the war (as they see it) for the upper most, high, and most respected parent. This kind of parent craves control, no matter the consequences. They are making an ALIEN of you! Whatever the age, your child will be confused by the new image of you that your formerly loving partner is creating. Your child will distrust you. Because they want the approval of both parents they will believe lies, even if wickedly wrong, told with great assurance from a parent who says he knows who is bad, and then points his finger at you.
Parental Alienation is defined as the “psychological manipulation of a child into showing unwarranted fear, disrespect or hostility towards a parent and/or family member. It is a distinctive form of psychological abuse and family violence, directed at both the child and the rejected parent and/or family members.”
Parental alienation is an attack against you, and although you may not see it, against your child as well. The alienating parent’s lies, and bullying will create a distrustful and insecure child. You are being made to appear that you have engaged in wrong doing when you have not. “Gas lighting”, or telling you, and telling your children, that what was accepted as true is not really true, because you misunderstood or did not remember correctly, will eventually wear down your self-confidence, your ability to make decisions regarding your child. Your child will question you. Your child will see you hesitate, and he or she will distrust you. The “war” fought by the alienating parent against you will cause you to feel that you are losing your children.
Okay, you are now thinking, what are my weapons? How do I fight back?
Don’t bend, don’t vacillate. You know what is true. You know you have done nothing wrong. Say what you want and insist on strict compliance with the parenting plan or visitation schedule. Call out the lies. “Name” the disrespect to your partner, and to your children, forcefully. You have the right to your child’s affection and trust. You have the right to make decisions about your children and to expect prompt communication when there is a problem.
Document it. Keep a time-line and a diary. Write down the little things because Alienation is guerrilla warfare. The alienating partner will ambush you in a hundred different ways and little by little, win the war for control—-and that is ultimately what alienation is about. You probably already know your former partner has a control thing, only now they are using the children to control you. Don’t feel guilty about reading your child’s emails and text messages from the alienating parent. Be wary of any “private” communication with your child, and don’t allow it. Just say “no”.
Build your team. Invite your friends and family to be a part of your life and your child’s life. Give your children other adults to trust—the parents of their friends, and your friends, their teachers, and their coaches. It is hard for the alienating parent to lie about your parenting or involvement if there is a lot of sharing and open communication from you with these other adults, who are also a part of your child’s life.
And finally, talk with your child about the arrangements for his/her care, and assure your child that both parents love her/him. There’s no need to share how the battle is progressing, or even that there is a war to protect yourself from alienation. Tell your Ex that you will act according to the parenting plan and call it out when they make it difficult for you. Be honest, and sure of your rights. Stand firm, and powerful, and not ALIENated.