Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Words for Today are.......Parental Alienation

Had my parents divorced when I was a kid I honestly couldn’t you tell who I would have preferred to live with. More than likely some “educated” judge well versed in domestic violence propaganda, oops I mean literature, would have awarded mom custody. I hate to say it but I wouldn’t have fought it.

My dad was, is and always will be the only parent I have. I know that now. I have one parent and one prison camp director that raised me. As much as I loved my dad, as a child I wanted the prison director to love me, too. Mom made it clear that she had no time for any of her children if we dared to refuse or refute her nasty comments about her husband, her children’s father. Mom was subtle with her parent alienation. She didn’t come right out and say she thought dad was an idiot. I have now learned as an adult that my mom encouraged my dad to take a job with evening hours. It was a promotion and she told dad that he deserved it so he should take it. She then turned around to lament to her children how awful it was that our dad refused to get day hours so he could spend more time with us. She would say that dad “just didn’t think about his kids.” She also hated any attention dad paid to his dtrs. A hug or a compliment from dad was termed “sick. According to her, normal fathers don’t hug their dtrs and this was a message she pounded home daily. She taught me that hugs from my father were bad and shameful so I started to refuse them.

The way my mother used to talk about my father upset me quite a bit. I know now that what she was engaging in is called Parental Alienation. What I and my sibs went thru is nothing compared to what other kids go thru, I know. However, it’s unsettling nonetheless. I see so many kids living with a Borderline parent that engages in Parental Alienation. These kids are caught in a dangerous spot. They must side with their alienating parent or face utter annihilation. To show any love or affection to the other parent means punishment.

Unfortunately, as kids we don’t have the words to tell the other parent “I’m doing what I have to do in order to survive.” Eventually we get to the point where we repeat the lies from the alienating parent. We are worn down. As we repeat the lies we begin to believe them. Reality is dictated by a child’s parent, and when that reality is a custodial parent telling us what an SOB the other parent is we start to believe it. Honestly, I know it’s hard for other dads to hear but we have no choice. As I stated above, we do what we have to do so we can survive.

I was secure in the love my daddy had for me. I knew that my dad would never leave me. My mother, however, made it known that her love for me was conditional. Sad to say, I sided with mom time and again, and most often in matters I had no business knowing. I felt I had to show my allegiance to my mother in order to keep the peace which lead to what I thought was her love for me. I was a dog begging for emotional scraps. In the same way you train a dog with treats, an alienating parent trains their child with the most potent of “treats”-praise, affection, and some insane charade that they tell us is love. As a kid, and even as an adult for the short time she declared all out war on dad, I just wanted her acceptance. I wanted peace. I wanted her to shut the hell up. The easiest way was to nod and play along. At that point in time fighting back risked too much for me. I didn’t want to lose whatever scraps mom threw my way.

Even today I see the affects of mom’s distortion campaign. I try to take over whatever it is dad is doing because he doesn’t know how to do anything (according to mom). I dismiss any thought or emotion he has-“your father just can’t communicate” said mom. “He’s cold and uncaring.”

Well, actually he isn’t. I’ve worked very hard on the above bad habits. Dad and I are now closer than ever and he now has no fear in telling me to shut the hell up or to quit taking over whatever it is I am taking over. He says these things with love and with firmness. He says them as a dad. Dad kept quiet for so long; afraid of what would happen should he point out the obvious-that his kids were being brainwashed by a seriously mentally ill mother. My dad deserves a medal. I don’t know how he kept going all these years, taking the undeserved crap his kids dished out. He never gave up on us; he was always there, no matter what. Mom walked out when her kids refused to continue being her robots.

I don’t know how he withstood it for so long or how he knew when the time was right to point out the flaws in the logic I parroted from my mother. I can’t fathom how he lasted so long being married to someone who tried to turn his kids against him. What I do know is that I will always and forever take my dad’s real, quiet, constant unconditional love over my mother’s grandiose, self absorbed version of love.


Jim Hueglin said...

Here's hoping my son's daughters are able to survive their experience with their mother as well as you have.

John Doe said...

I'm sorry this happened to you, but thank you for writing about it. This behavior is one of the invisible sins of our age.

Anonymous said...

I am married to such a hero and I thank you for writing this! I will print it and keep it for the day that his children come home to him so that they will know they weren't alone! Bless you for writing this!

Anonymous said...

Reading your post was at the same time heart-wrenching and uplifting. I am stepmother to a loving, bright, charming 9 yr old pixie whose bio-mom could've written the book on PAS. In the 6 yrs I've been in this little girls life, I've witnessed so much evidence it shocks even me. Age 3 -she got into her fathers vehicle on visitation saying "why won't you give us any money daddy?" (dad was paying $2700 a month child support at the time), age 5 - singing a song with the refrain "my dad's gone crazy, maybe he should kill himself", age 6 - she greets her father with; "mummy says we're going to have to move to England if you won't pay more child support" (cs was up to $3100 a month at this point.

It's always something designed to break my husbands heart, and it rarely fails to succeed. My one hope is that some day, my stepdaughter comes to know the truth about her mother and her manipulations, and about her father and how very, very much he loves her.

It's such a pity that more judges and Family Court Advisors (including ours) refuse to acknowledge the existance and danger of PAS. I'm living it firsthand and it's absolutely crushing.

God bless you for writing about your struggle with Parental Alienation Syndrome.


Anonymous said...

I got that same kind of brainwashing during my parent's divorce. My mom alienated me from my father and made it clear I wasn't to accept him or his new wife. When I rejected him, he responded by rejecting me and my brother. Then they both kind of moved on to other relationships, as adults do. Except my brother and I never really did. I feel like we didn't really survive their divorce.

Anonymous said...

What's unnerving about reading this is that it reminds me of a friend who was eventually Dx'd with Borderline Personality Disorder herself, but before that point, she'd often described her own mother and upbringing in similar terms (e.g. "Mommy Hitler") to what the author describes here. Please consider that if she had it, you may have it too, so get yourself evaluated if you haven't already.

I gather one manifestation of BPD is the tendency to lionize or demonize people; everyone they know is regarded as either an absolute Angel who can do no wrong or an utter Devil who can do no right, often for trivial or arbitrary "reasons", and there is no in-between. Was my friend's demonization of her mother an expression of my friend's BPD, or an accurate description of her mother's own BPD-influenced behavior? Both? Quite the vicious circle, if BPD runs in the family...

It gets better (worse). Another BPD symptom is what shrinks call "substitution of a non-present desired ideation in place of a present, non-desired non-ideation". I.e., if reality pales in comparison to a fantasy, or doesn't jibe with their angelic/demonic expectation of another person's behavior, they often can't tell which is which in retrospect or even in the very moment; they may "remember" something they wished had happened as if it really had happened, and forget what actually happened if it didn't match what they wanted or expected.

How much of what my friend -- and perhaps this article's author -- "remember" of their mothers' abusive behavior may actually be their own BPD-influenced exaggeration of the fact, perhaps amplifying behaviour that was already warped in actuality by the mother's own BPD to begin with? The circle gets ever more vicious when BPD runs in the family...

I stopped thinking of my ex-friend as a friend when she pretty much manipulated me and another friend of hers into a compromising situation contrived to benefit herself. That event drove me to realize and accept that not only could I never believe a single word she told me, I couldn't believe a single word she had ever told me, and I felt like such an utter fool to have been played for the entire time I knew her. It's not even that she lied deliberately nor willfully, but only because her brain had an inherently-tenuous grasp of reality and the truth in the first place, so she was incapable of being honest and realistic, except within her own fantasy-saturated version of reality.

Louise Uccio said...

I have to agree, thank you for using your voice to educate others.

Whether it's the female or the male parent alienating, "I" believe there is a serious dysfunctional personality disorder behind it.

I'm so happy that you were able to see through the B.S.

I am going to add this blog to my blog in a section labeled adult children of Parent Alienation.

I have other adults that were alienated as children that have also come forward to tell their story as adults.

I pray one day my children will see and understand what has happened to them.

I am an alienated mother, I feel my estranged husband would be diagnosed as a sociopath if any judge ever held him to an evaluation by a qualified Dr.

Thanks again..

Renta Tecamachalco said...

I`m an alienated father who has lost its two daughters. I`m writng a book on the subjetc because in Mexico there is no knowlage of PAS. I would like to use your letter.
Juan Carlos Martin

Rachel said...

If anyone would like to use a portion or all of this post, please e mail for permission at
I'm pretty easy going about this stuff as long as someone asks frist. Thanks!