Parental Alienation: When alienated children remain alienated into their forties, what should the targeted parent do? Walk away because it’s too late? Reach for a relationship more assertively? Acknowledge birthdays and holidays while continuing to wait for them to have an epiphany?
In this instance, the bond between the children and the alienating parent was so strong that their loyalty to that parent’s agenda has continued 4 1/2 yrs. beyond the parent’s passing.
Nothing the target has done or not done has made a difference. But, now that over 28 yrs. have passed and this alienated parent is aging fast, there needs to be one last attempt to repair this damage and rebuild some kind of relationship with the alienated parent. These children have been through hell and are living in a kind of hell, but don’t know it. They’re still so focused on hanging onto the disdain in their hearts that they seem completely unaware of the damage that’s been done to them. If they were asked why they’re doing this, I’m not so sure they’d be able to answer.
They may believe that it’s all about the alienated parent’s mistakes….as if none of the other parties involved ever made a mistake. But, as noted above, no mistake justifies anyone interfering with, and destroying, any parent-child bond and relationship. And no one has the right to define someone by their worst moment. If a parent is a serious jerk or bad guy, aside from physical, sexual and/or serious psychological abuse that endangers the children, they have the right to make their own decisions regarding that parent.
And don’t think for a moment that this parent isn’t aware of what these children have been put through, the kinds of painful things they were expected to do, the compromising of their values and principles in order to mistreat a parent. It’s the same pain a parent experiences when unable to control what’s happening to a child that’s been kidnapped, because, in the case of alienation, these children’s minds have been kidnapped. And our language doesn’t have a word to describe that kind of pain.
The son has said that his parent is too well-liked, so he couldn’t do bad things. His logic fails miserably in light of how well-liked Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy were. But, that’s how desperate he is to believe this parent did right by him. Since they can’t face the truth about the alienating parent’s actions, they’ll parrot what the alienating parent has said or they will use any fabrication they can create no matter how ridiculous or impossible it sounds in order to justify their mistreatment of the other parent.
The opposite of love is indifference….a place the alienating parent never reached. But, the children have never made the connection that this parent was expecting them to reject a person that was still loved by that parent.
This is not a tear in a relationship between friends or siblings. This is a parent who has one set of rights and responsibilities and children who have a different set of rights and responsibilities. What is the best perspective for the targeted parent to have and what are the best actions to take? What’s the perspective of the children. Are these children waiting for the parent they’ve lied to and betrayed to do something in particular, even though they haven’t responded to previous gestures?
If so, what might it be? Is it up to the parent to increase efforts to parent, despite the rejection and negative responses, because their actions indicate that emotionally they’re still more like children than adults? Or, does their physical age make it too late because, if they haven’t had an epiphany by now, they never will? And what does the son mean when he says, upon seeing a parent after ten years, that he was planning to visit in two weeks when he’d be “ready,” which actually sounded more like the old “telling-people-what-they-want-to-hear” routine…a son who, in the past, has written in letters what a great parent this person is.
Should the parent reach out to them and pretend their other parent didn’t make them part of the alienation campaign, even though it requires that 1) this parent pretend to accept blame for everything and 2) this parent joins the children in living a lie? This parent has avoided denigrating the alienating parent this whole time but, though seriously tempted, has to admit it’s probably not a good idea to direct the kids toward looking at what was done to the them, and that pretending nothing happened and all is well (despite the 14 yrs. of PTSD and 15 yrs. of Fibromyalgia this experience has caused, along with so many unproductive, painful, very alone years), even though such performances are not something this parent is very good at pulling off. Periodic calls are being made to the son nearby, but there’s never a response, except when he chose to answer the phone on his birthday last fall (Nov., 2014). Do this daughter and son bear any responsibility at all for the negativity they choose to continue keeping in their lives, for the disdain they continue to harbor in their hearts?