Parental Alienation

myfampgJanuary 13, 2011

Does anyone know where I can find information on parental alienation that does not use the words "mother or father" or custoidal parent or non custodial parent?

Everything I am reading blames JUST the mother or JUST the custodial parent and in my case, I am the mother and I am the custodial parent but I want to get information on how to deal and how to help my child when she is told things by her non custodial parent ~ the counselor doesn't seem to help much other than to tell her how to tell him to stop. But that isn't working either.

But I am really seeing a major bias and it's very unfair to custodial mother's like me that have never tried to alienate the father, he is doing a pretty good job of that on his own....

but I would like to help my daughter to either understand or I would like to "LEARN" how to deal with the questions I have been facing. That may have nothing to do with parental alienation but just a parenting issue.

For example: How do I appropriately "defend" (I use that word lightly) myself when DD is told things that are mostly true but embarrassing, before I had kids kind of stories.. Those kinds of things, You know your child might find out about when they are... say... 19.. not 9.. and you had kind of hoped to be the person to tell them if it ever came up...

any help?

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I'm so sorry.

You might try the Parents Forum;
there were some threads about estrangement there.

I wish you the best.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2011 at 6:31PM
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The book Divorce Poison might be helpful, it has a very practical approach and gives great examples of what you might say to a child in certain situations.

What you describe is probably not alienating behavior, but it is bashing and certainly inappropriate.

My FDH deals with similar stuff. His ex is an alcoholic and let's just say her friends are a bit rough on the edges. She tells the kids often about FDH's past, about the ONE TIME he tried some pot at a party. So then the skids go: "Mom says you have smoked pot" and it's a bit like an accusation you know. (But hey, let's not worry about BM being drunk nearly every night around the kids...)

FDH told them the truth, he didn't deny it but he did say he didn't like it much and that's why he hasn't smoked it since.
I said: "So apart from this negative thing, did you also discuss some nice memories?" Probably the smart-*ss thing to say, but I hope it plants the seed.

What we didn't say: "How interesting that your mum, who you see drunk all the time, has something to say about FDH, whom you've never seen drunk or stoned, by the way...".

You can't stop ex from saying stuff, but you can stop yourself from lashing back. Don't do the same thing, your daughter will not be turned against you, don't worry.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2011 at 7:17PM
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Thank you Sylvia - I will check that out.

Yabber - I did come across the Divorce Poison book. The website turned me off because they talked about the 'malicious mother' and although I can ignore the actual noun in the sentence, most alienation occurs against the non custodial parent in the studies and stories and mostly I read 'mother' has custody 'father' is kept from his child.

I am not like that in a sense. I have a sister like that. If you tell her your opinion, she tells you hers of you when her opinion of you has nothing to do with her question on what your opinion is. If her ex tells her son, your mom did A B C, she doesn't respond with a constructive defense or even a story to explain why she did that 20 yrs ago before he was born, she will say well your father did XYZ AND ABC.. And I hate that about her.

One thing that seriously bothers me is that ExDH has lied a lot about our past to new wife. I am not sure why but I think because her standards are so high and so he doesn't want to show that there were any imperfections in his life so he changes the story to fit his situation. For example: DD was visiting and they started talking about painting finger nails. DD said, I remember when you use to paint my toe nails different colors. (which was true BD enjoyed being a part of silly things like that with DD and I when she was younger). BD told her No... I never did that. I did not like the different colors but your mom insisted. Well you may be thinking what is the big deal? Well SM thinks that painting toes and finger nails is too old for little girls - in her house you have to be 16 to wear polish... So BD changed the story to make sure SM didn't know that he ever approved of something she wouldn't approve of. What bothers me about that is 1. DD is hearing stories of her childhood that are incorrect and she might be so confused one day she can't even remember anything - if it's true or not. And 2. DD knows her dad is lying and is seeing that in him and it hurts her. It hurts me too because I don't want that for her.

I just want to know how to help DD with these situations. Like how to still encourage a positive relationship between the three of them and not feel negative everytime I hear what they say about me. I try to say 'sticks and stones' but it's hard because this isn't office gossip or high school drama - this is my little girl and I just don't think she is old enough for some of the mistakes I have made ... And the sad thing is half of what she is told is not correct - it's mixed up because it is all hearsay. It started with me, Ex knows and he passed to SM who then feels it's free game. I think she wants to try to come between me and DD and I think she wants DD to see me as a horrible person so that DD won't feel that she can trust me or lean on me but I think DD and I have a bond that only I can break ... Like if I disappoint DD or if I let her down but I don't think their stories of me have much weight - it's mostly just uncomfortable.

I did talk to my attorney and there isn't much we can do about that. Except not react.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2011 at 8:35PM
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I haven't seen any website on the Divorce Poison book, but I have the book here and it doesn't target custodial mothers, it talks about parents, not mums or dads in particular roles. I wouldn't discard it too quickly, it's a really good book.

Just a couple of ideas/thoughts/observations:
"What bothers me about that is 1. DD is hearing stories of her childhood that are incorrect and she might be so confused one day she can't even remember anything - if it's true or not. And 2. DD knows her dad is lying and is seeing that in him and it hurts her. It hurts me too because I don't want that for her. "
I think it also bothers you personally, you let this affect yourself. And because of that you give some of your power to SM. Ask yourself how much this really affects DD and how much it affects you. Be honest with yourself. I get the feeling that your DD is doing ok, but it's you who's finding this really challenging. And that's understandable, don't get me wrong! I'm just saying it because it might help when looking for a solution, after all, you don't want this to consume you, right?

"I just want to know how to help DD with these situations. Like how to still encourage a positive relationship between the three of them and not feel negative everytime I hear what they say about me."
Maybe a bit of disengaging might help you. Why don't you leave the relationship between the three of them up to the three of them a bit more? I know that must be hard, but let ex and SM do their own bonding with DD and facilitate. It doesn't mean that you have to be uninterested, or discouraging, but you don't have to be all over it either, just give them some space to work it out for themselves. I hope you get my drift.

"this is my little girl and I just don't think she is old enough for some of the mistakes I have made ... "
This doesn't sound like polishing nails all different colours, but more serious. And if ex is going to spill the beans, nothing you can do.

"I think she (SM) wants to try to come between me and DD and I think she wants DD to see me as a horrible person so that DD won't feel that she can trust me or lean on me"
It sounds like SM has her own agenda, I agree. She is in competition with you, this is a battle. She's been wronged before (well, this is how she'd perceive it no doubt) and now she wants to 'expose' you for who you 'really are' (again: how she perceives the truth). This is not healthy of course, and certainly confusing for your DD. BUT...

"but I think DD and I have a bond that only I can break".
And there's the answer, you couldn't have said it any better! So why worry? Don't be insecure, there's no need.

"I did talk to my attorney and there isn't much we can do about that. Except not react."
You seem very engaged in all this, possibly consumed by it, and this is not a good thing. To be honest, I think you should really try and focus on yourself a bit more, and less on your ex and SM. You do what you do, let them do what they do. I've been very consumed myself by 'all stuff BM' and one day I realised BM doesn't have to live rent-free in my head any longer! Time to take my power back and do my own thing. Time to stop focusing so much on what she does, I can't change her. And constantly focusing on it only affected my mood in a negative way. In other words: I made myself miserable due to her influence/power over me. So I made a change, it took (and takes)a lot of practice, but I feel a lot better and I can now focus on my own life and on what I do.

Don't get me wrong, but I think you might benefit from some therapy to work on your self esteem, you deserve to look after yourself and everyone will benefit, especially you and DD! Take your power back!
And hey, I know it's easier said then done, when BM attacks me I can still get my heart beating in my throat with indignity and frustration! And I'm not some saint who can just let it all slide off, but I can control what I do and say around the kids. Once they're gone I might vent, or I do it online, but I know not to take the bait and I don't engage anymore. My actions speak louder then her words. It's as simple as that. (And I am the SM so our relationship is more fragile than your natural bond with your daughter, so you really will be ok :-)

Hope this helps :-)

    Bookmark   January 14, 2011 at 3:53AM
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Yes your advice is very helpful! I will look into getting the book asap.

I am in therapy for how to deal with this situation and I am much better than I was but I am still working on it.

I am so engaged because we are in active lawsuit and we go to court once a month for follow up. SM, BD, DH and I are in conflict resolution although we haven't made any break throughs. SM has not been allowed around DD for the last 3 yrs for this same type of stuff and for an assault charge and child endangerment charge.

I don't ask DD any questions at all. When she tells me things, her therapist tells me to just say positive reinforcements about BD and SM to DD. Almost as if to make excuses for them to DD so that she will see me OK and feel ok about what she hears.

I used the polish as an example but that's just 1 example.
The things they tell her have concerned why we divorced and the mistakes I made before having DD like dropping out of college although they fail to inform her that I went back and finished.

Yes it hurts my self esteem because I do have insecurities about my past - they aren't awful - just personal.

I hope this gets better - but I don't think it will. Day by day.

Thanks again. Your advice is very much appreciated!!

    Bookmark   January 14, 2011 at 9:50PM
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Hugs to you!!!!

You are making such a big effort, good on you! I remember when we went back to court, that's when it consumed me too, how can it not!? From what you explain I understand it might sound impossible to try and disengage at the moment, when all this stuff is going on. But sometimes that's the thing that will help you get through, believe it or not.

When we were in the process of going back to court, it helped me to redirect my thoughts every now and then. To remind myself I can control my own thoughts, and I can now take half an hour in which I choose not to think about BM. Small steps you know. Like going for a walk with the dog and every time my mind wonders back to thoughts about court, redirect and focus on the breeze on my face, the dogs ears flopping in the wind. To take a brake emotionally makes it easier to hang in there. Recharge yourself.

Another way I find very helpful is by watching a funny movie. Or a sad movie when I'm alone so I can have a good cry. It's easy to forget about your own stuff when you get into the movie. It's not about 'running away' from your troubles, it's about giving yourself a break. You deserve it, and when you feel better you'll deal better.

Another thing that works for me is to keep a diary. Once I write something down I get a clearer picture, sometimes even a solution I didn't see before. And always it helps to process thoughts and events this way, because I can give it a rest after I've written it down. Another way of clearing my mind of unwanted 'BM occupation'.

"I don't ask DD any questions at all. When she tells me things, her therapist tells me to just say positive reinforcements about BD and SM to DD. Almost as if to make excuses for them to DD so that she will see me OK and feel ok about what she hears.

Well, I hope the therapist is not suggesting to make excuses for BD and SM? You don't need to say anything positive about them when she tells you this stuff, just don't say anything about them at all. I would address the info she just passed on, for example the dropping out of college. Since you finished it later on anyway, I'd probably say something like: "Well yes I did drop out of college, and I'm not proud of it, but that's why I went back and finished it :-) I did it the hard way DD, and I want things to be different for you. College is fun, and I hope you will go there yourself one day."
This way you don't comment on BD or SM at all, you 'un-confuse' DD about what she heard, you're honest, and you don't have to make excuses for BD and SM either.

What is the lawsuit about? Is BD trying to get more visitation? Sorry if I missed when you wrote about this before, I do remember everything you explained about the
assault and child endangerment case.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2011 at 3:06AM
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It is the same case. We felt that the supervised visitations were going well and that it was time to introduce DD back into their family but as soon as they started unsupervised they began playing the same games that started the drama to begin with. Basically DD told therapist things that seemed like when DD is with them, she is expected to erase the life she has with us. No talking about me when there, calling me by my first name instead of mom. Making comments to DD about our lifestyle and/or talking to DD about how it's better with them and she should move in with them. So their unsupervised visits were shortened to only a few hours at a time. They do wish to have more time like overnights etc but as long as DD shares things with the therapist that the therapist doesn't think is healthy BD will not ever get more time. It's not up to me at all. I could say let's drop this and let DD go and wish for the best, but the judge and therapsit are making all of the decisions on visitations.

This doesn't consume me on a 24 hr basis. I work fulltime and honestly right now I am so busy that it rarely pops into my thoughts at all while working. We really don't discuss anything at all when we are spending time as a family and I rarely think about it until DD visits with BD and comes home sad and disappointed and shares things with me or asks me questions. They spend their entire 4 hr visits grilling DD about our life or telling DD things. I am confident that 4 hrs once a week really isn't enough time for them to alienate her from me, I just feel awful for her because I know she would rather just spend time with them than go over details of things that she really doesn't care about.

It's so disappointing that BD has turned into this. And I hope he realizes that he is alienating himself from DD. And I think I have actually finally realized that too. We are each responsible for our relationship with DD and as long as I don't fall into those traps then we will be fine. I can't help but have a tad bit of sadness for DD because she has a dad and he is around unlike a lot of children in this same situation but he is so bent on ruining my 'reputation' with DD that he can't see he is ruining his own.

I do journal and I don't show my anger or irritation around DD and I am long past the days of crying over this. Now I just feel indifferent. I can't change it. I accept that I can't change it. Now I just want to make sure that DD doesn't grow up trying to replace her father in her life and go down a path that statistically she is already predisposed to go down.

Thanks for the advice!

    Bookmark   January 15, 2011 at 12:23PM
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Yes, for non-gender information on parental alienation you can visit

Sadly, neither mothers or fathers are immune from the long-standing emotional issues that lead one parent to pull a child into the adult conflict and force the child to choose sides. In fact, both mothers and fathers are the targeted parent and the alienating parent in equal numbers.

I'm confident you will find the information and resources on the site valuable. Good luck.

Here is a link that might be useful: A Family's Heartbreak: A Parent's Introduction to Parental Alienation

    Bookmark   January 16, 2011 at 8:57AM
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Noncustodial father and SM can do as much damage in few hours a week, few weeks a year etc as a custodial mother who sees kids every day. so I don't understand why there is so much stereotype against custodial mothers when in reality PAS could go both ways, it is just more subtle.

Kid talk about her mother-interrupt her and brag about yourself, kid brings something from home-make comments that she shouldn't have, kid calls you certain way-tell her it is wrong, make subtle negative comments about kids' mom, lie about reasons you don't see them etc

I think though that as kids get older they feel it, and don't want to see noncustodial parent as much, then guess what is all custodial parent's fault. Hmmm i bet you myfampg, if it continues DD would not want to see them, and it will be your fault. I just don't see any kid wanting to listen junk about their mothers, even if it is very subtle...Kids aren't dumb.

I hope therapist and judge do something about it...

    Bookmark   January 16, 2011 at 12:35PM
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Thanks PO1. And Mike for the info.

It's the subtle comments and DD comes home and days later after stewing on one little comment, asks me about it.

I think there will be teenage yrs where I will be blamed for not letting DD go to BDs when the truth is I have never withheld visitation or access illegally... But I will be blamed some how. I think when DD is an adult she will understand it wasn't my fault. I dread the teenage yrs ...


    Bookmark   January 16, 2011 at 10:44PM
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it will be fine. you never prevented DD from having relationship with her father, you never violated judge's order. and you made sure your DD sees therapist and is not emotionally abused. that's your job as a mother.

teenage years are bad no matter what you do or don't do LOL, so I would not sweat too much, it shall pass too...:)

    Bookmark   January 17, 2011 at 10:41AM
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I went through this very thing that you are talking about. It began over 10 years ago when my daughter was 14 and my son was 12. I had been divoriced from their father since they were 3 and 1. I was also the custodial parent. This is not a custodial/non-custodial or male/female issue. This is an issue where one party is seriously disordered. The courts and psychologist are still a long way from getting what the problem is. Their father was difficult and contentious, even after he re-married and had two more children with his second marriage. I now no longer see or talk to my children and have very little to do with them and rarely see them. Prior to the alienation we had a very close relationship and my children were never behavior problems. Now there is nothing I can do but pray. I had no idea what I was dealing with (it started in 1990) Your best bet is prevention.

The following is what I consider the perfect storm for parental alienation:
-an ex who has a personality disorder, such as malignant narcissism or sociopath. If you are living with this it is not difficult to figure out. Just google it and you will know better than any psycholgist will tell you.
-an attachment disorder between the above parent and child (this is automatic and no need to figure out once you have figured out the above, because it is not possible for a malignant narccist or sociopath to bond properly with their child/ren.
-the above parent has never gotten over the divorice, and continues to seek revenge.
-you have little to no support system backing you up (e.g. she is only hearing your counter to the above parents attacks).
-the above parent is a permissive parent and willing to let the child do whatever they want or give them whatever they want.

You don't mention the age of your child/ren. This is critical too.

If this is the case get a good attorney who understands PAS, is well connected/respected in your court system, and seek supervised visitation immediately. It is not possible for your child to have a good relationship with this parent. Sorry for my spelling errors.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 4:26PM
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Thank you. I'm so sorry for what you have been through!! This is my fear.

I do have a great attorney and he has finally filed a restraining order this week. Crossing my fingers for a positive outcome. I have always been very pro- the father/daughter relationship with my DD. She is 9. But it's no longer in her best interest.

And you pinned it. SM has a personality disorder and she is a narcissist. However you spell that. Describes her to a T! So this is very good for us. Now just waiting for our hearing.

Wish us luck. For DD to have a chance at a normal childhood and adulthood- this is my only option. I have exhausted all other paths.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 2:03AM
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I'll pray for the best outcome for DD. I think the only option here is supervised visitations with dad on a neutral territory and no contact with SM.

But I understand your fear that dad would find a way to lie to DD that it is your fault he could not see her. Please keep us updated how your hearing will go. Fingers cross.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 9:53AM
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Just a side note: obviously there are a lot more details, but he began working on my children at 1 and 3. The results began at 12 and 14. His goal from the beginning was to destroy my relationship with my children. Because he is a malignant narcissist/sociopath (there are varying degrees of this) he has no concern for the well-being for his children. They are very good at deceiving everyone and rarely show their true colors to anyone. They project their faults/actions on to you. So whatever they accuse you of, is what they are doing. This is what makes them very convincing liars. They are telling the truth, only they are talking about themselves and inserting your name where their's should be.

I encouraged my children to respect and love their father. I am a Catholic/Christian and raised my children to be the same. I don't know if I would have or could have changed anything. It is very difficult to do battle with someone who has no boundries and has no concern for the children, because they are capable of anything. I couldn't and would never do the things he did. Even if I could do it all over again. I love my children too much. I love God too much. For that reason, it isn't a fair fight. I pray and know that God and His justice will triumph in the end. Good luck and God bless.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 11:11AM
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