I didn’t sleep that night, I paced the house walking circles. This was absolutely awful; for a child to (almost?) hate her father. Hating a parent, is hating a part of themselves. No child is going to grow up emotionally healthy when they hate a parent. This was not good.
Where had I gone wrong? What could I do to change this? My mind raced. The kids are free to love Dad, to talk about him, to have him as a part of their lives while with me. There are pictures of Dad in their rooms. When they were younger, I would dial the phone for them, I make sure the phone is easily accessible for them when Dad calls. We bought Dad presents for his birthday/valentine/Christmas/Father’s Day.
Young kids need to idolize their parents, teenagers however, will think differently. In a teenager’s eyes the parents can do no good. That is building their own identity.
But not young kids.
The words of the expert during trial ran through my head; “If this behavior continues, the children will hate their father”. I didn’t and don’t want the kids to hate their father, but how could I ‘fix’ this?
For Dad’s birthday Sweet Bee decided she wanted to give him a hunting shirt. We went to great lengths, and various shops, to find *just the right one*. She was beyond excited, she was beaming and glowing. When they returned from Dad’s Sweet Bee started crying. Dad had given the gift she so carefully had chosen, to the teenage son of his then girl friend. Sweet Bee was devastated.
Subsequent gifts didn’t fare much different. Sweet Bee pulled the Christmas gift out of the trash and brought it to Mom’s. The motivation and excitement for future gifts diminished rapidly. The ‘why’ he did it doesn’t matter, whether it was to ‘eliminate all that came from me’, or that he is just insensitive and doesn’t care, it is how it made Sweet Bee feel.
Sweet Bee runs to Dad, he immediately towers over her and his voice is loud and angry. I can’t hear the words, but I see her shrink and Muppet halts in her tracks. I gently put my hand on Muppet’s back and kiss her cheek. With a slight push I tell her “Off you go sweetheart” and she cautiously walks on. As I drive away I ponder how I’ve never seen Ex hug or kiss the kids at a custody exchange. Never.
During the custody evaluation both Ex and I had to take the MMPI. At trial testimony was given by the expert that Ex scored 80 on Parental Alienation which was about the average for Alienating Parents, I on the other hand scored 52, which was the average for a normal/target parent.
“They never ask to call their Mom” Ex testified at trial. A textbook answer from an alienating parent. Any article or book about Parental Alienation will tell you an alienating parent will prevent contact and then justify it by blaming the child. “He doesn’t want to call Mom/Dad, I can’t make him”, “It is his own choice”.
Truth is Ex makes them leave the cellphone I bought for the kids in the garage, he admitted in his testimony that they have to leave all their stuff in the garage and are not allowed to go into the garage. The one time they went and got the phone, he took it away and put it on top of the refrigerator. They know better than to ask to call Mom. Sweet Bee has gone to the school counselor to ask if she could call Mom, because ‘Dad won’t let her’. A sad reality.
“Thank you for being such good helpers! I’m one lucky Mommy with such good helper kids!” Silence. Muppet mumbles “Dad doesn’t want you to be my Mom”. I hug her and tell her that I will always be her Mom and Dad will always be her Dad, that is how it will always be. “Can I call you Mama (Mom in my native language), because Dad won’t let me call you Mom”. A 3-year-old is navigating the perils of her parents divorce, by pleasing Dad by changing the language of the word Mom, without losing the meaning of Mom.
I contacted a PAS expert to help me with the situation. I’m not above criticism and if I could help the kids with their relationship with their father, I am all for it. First thing he did is correct me, and say that Parental Alienation is when one parent actively prevents the children to have a relationship with the other parent. When a child resents a parent for no apparent good reason.
There can be really good reasons a child resents a parent; physical/sexual or psychological abuse. Parental Alienation is psychological abuse and almost always backfires. If an alienating parent actively campaigns against a target parent and the children realize that, they will turn against that alienating parent. In the end the Alienator will alienate themselves. Each parent has to forge their own relationship with the child.
I realized this was true, but at the same time I wanted to ‘fix it’. I can’t control Ex or his behavior, but how could I improve the situation?
And then I saw last weeks ‘dr Phil Show‘. I felt incredibly sorry for the mother who had not seen or spoken to her children for 5 years. As the show went on, it became clearer and clearer that the mother had alienated herself from her children, she wasn’t alienated, it was her own behavior that turned the children away from the mother.
The heartbreaking moment the daughter told on national television that she had been cutting herself, she was sending out cries for help and wanted the mother to acknowledge her pain. And the mother denied it, the mother was more concerned with protecting her own ego. The father got up and hugged his child. The mother could show no empathy. It was clear that the mother was at her own fault for not having a relationship with her children, but she could not acknowledge it, instead she blamed everybody, and I mean everybody. The list dr Phil showed was enormous, slide after slide.
I realized I can’t make the children love their father, nor am I responsible for his behavior towards them. He needs to forge the bonds between him and his children himself. He is responsible for that. It is that externalization of internal problems within the cluster B personality disordered. Put the blame of his strained relationship with the children on others without looking at his own behavior and contribution to the problem.
I can, and will, continue to create a safe environment for the kids where they are free to love Dad. I can validate the importance of Dad in their lives. I want the kids to be happy. Happy kids make a happy mommy. That also includes having good times with and loving Dad.
Their relationship with their father is not a thread to me. How can I possible object to anything that completes the kids?