I have seen it many times, I have had to insert clauses in separation agreements, I have had to go to trial over this issue more than once. Parental alienation is when one parent disparages the other parent to the point the children truly believe that this person is a bad parent and someone to be feared. It causes emotional and sometimes physical distress. One parent is actively working to alienate the children from the other by whatever means necessary. Most of the time it isn’t even because the other parent is a bad person and doing destructive things to harm the children it is usually due to the anger and bitterness one person holds for the other. They use the children to try and hurt the other parent to the detriment of the children. Sometimes it is because there is a new person in the picture, the new person can sometimes contribute to this because they are looking for that happy family that doesn’t include the ex. Let the alienation begin.
These types of issues are difficult and tough to litigate, the children are dragged right into the middle of your fight. They end up having to choose sides, go to therapy and sometimes reintegration therapy if it has been a long term separation from the alienated parent. But at least we have options, but what do you do when it is the parent alienating themselves?
When my mom and dad divorced it was not easy for anyone. My dad remarried almost immediately and left my mom trying to figure out how she was going to take care of six kids. My step-mom most assuredly loved my dad but she had no desire to be the mother of six kids. She began the process of alienating my dad from us and he happily went along. Whether he realized it or not is another story but in the end he chose his wife over his children. It didn’t have to be that way of course, he could have easily had both if he had wanted but I believe it was just easier for him to go along with her than fight for his kids.
Now I find myself in the same position, almost. My ex long ago moved away from myself and my children. Although he is in another state he is still within an easy driving distance. It would be very easy for him to drive down on any given weekend to spend time with our kids especially since he does not work and therefore has plenty of time for whatever. But he chooses not to. He doesn’t call much either. He is not remarried or even has a girlfriend, he has no family where he lives and I am unsure if he even has friends. He has missed out on so much of his children’s lives for no good reason that I know of. At first I encouraged my kids to call and see him when they could but as they grew into their own lives it became harder and harder for me to justify or encourage it. They were old enough to decide on their own if this was a person they wanted in their lives when he decided to take the time to allow them in. Slowly they began to just let go, just as he did many years before. It never had to be this way the same as with my own dad, never in a million years would I have believed that my kids would walk the same path as I did at almost their exact same ages. I will never understand what makes a person do this, I cannot imagine not having my children in my life. I never expected to have them in the first place but now that I do I will never let go.
It has been approximately 30 years since I last spoke with my dad and I really hope and pray for my children’s sake that it is not the same for them. When you have parents in your life that are fully present it can be a wonderful thing. I really miss that for me and my kids.