I have asked to hear from you about your successes in overcoming severe alienation. I am now starting to hear your stories that I want to share. I am not publishing any story without permission and I am changing names to protect privacy. After the story, I have made some comments that may be helpful. I just hope the stories inspire you from quitting. Anyway, keep you stories coming.
I wrote to you several weeks ago sharing my story of how my ex has used parental alienation. It is amazing that your description of an "obsessed alienator" totally describes my ex husband. He has every one of your characteristics. It enrages me how court systems do not recognize this when dealing with children of divorce.
I have good news that I wanted to share with you. My sixteen-year old son that I told you about called me this past Sunday night. (Remember, I have not seen him for two years.) He told me that he wanted to come visit me. I was in total shock. I asked him why, and he explained that he has been doing a lot of thinking. He knows that he is very confused and not sure why he wants to come. He told me that he was scared to tell his father because he thought he would be mad. Jerry, my son, said that his daddy was all right with his decision. My ex-husband is not all right with the decision. I recently received papers from his attorney where they had filed contempt charges against me. In November when the last court order was entered, I was ordered to pay $2500 to my ex's attorney. (By the way, my ex was the one that
initially started the last court proceedings, stating that my husband and I are unfit, et. alcoholics, and drug addicts.) I, in turn, filed papers for custody because of the emotional abuse. Anyway, his attorney is trying to stop visitation because of the monies that I still owe him.
The reason that I am writing is to let you know that perseverance does pay off. I have continually, for the past seven years, always let my children know that I love and miss them. Over the past two years, I have also continued my correspondence and telephone calls to my 16-year old. I have spoken with him on his birthdays, holidays and almost every week. I never sent my other two children something without sending Jerry something. He has never been forgotten and he knows that I love him.
Jerry will be coming up to see me this April. I know that it is the beginning of the rebuilding of our relationship. I told him that I knew that his decision was a very difficult one, but that I was so proud of him for trying to discover his own answers to the questions he has. My ex used Jerry the most and I know, of my three children, he suffers the most.
Although my story is not what you might call a "Success story," to me, it is. Fighting the Georgia court systems is not only discouraging; but also, sickening. I can remember sitting in the Judge's chambers two years ago and being told by the Judge, "I don't care what you believe, Ms. Smith, your children DO NOT like you and do not want to visit you. "How is that for a Judge's professional opinion? Fortunately, I kept fighting and having hope. There were many times when I did not want to face another day and prayed to God to just let me die. With the help of a wonderful woman, (who, by the way, is my therapist) I have been strengthened by the pain I endured. It is a strange thing to have to experience such horrific pain, to enjoy the pleasures in life. Years ago, I would have been so happy just to have seen a good report card from Jerry. Now, I am ecstatic because I get to look at him and touch him. Yes, I do feel my story is a true success story, and, perhaps you will find it in a bookstore one day.
For now, I look forward to seeing my son walk off that airplane: but, I have learned to take one day at a time. And if, by chance, I find a day of sadness, I know, "This to shall pass." I hope you have a wonderful day, keep up the good work, and as always thanks for listening. Please feel free to share my story with any of your patients who feel that they cannot make it just one more day.
Jacki made some important points in her letter. First, she never gave up. This is important and the point Jacki was making. Many times, years later, kids realize how much they miss their other parent. Sometimes, they will contact the other parent just because they are curious. Regardless of the reasons, many alienated parents end up with loving relationships with their children after years the alienation. In fact, the alienation may backfire where the child feels bitter and resentful against the custodial parent for not being allowed to have a loving relationship with both parents. The second point Jacki made was the importance of acknowledging birthdays and Christmas, even if you don't see your children. Let them know you are alive and care. Don't disappear. If you think the custodial parent is not giving your children cards and gifts, sent them certified with a signed receipt or arrange for someone to make the deliveries. The last point I want to make is that Jacki's story is an example where the male or father is the alienator. Alienation is not something that only women do to men. Men too can alienate.
I have been involved with a PAS situation for the last 7 years. The alienation started with the birth of my child and my husband's decision to move back to Kansas to be closer his daughter. After the move, my stepdaughter's mother, her family, and even my husband's paternal grandmother began badmouthing us, including my daughter who is now four.
They did everything to alienates us including lying about me on court documents (indicating child abuse), showing up late or not being home when we were supposed to drop off my step daughter. It even escalated into a physical confrontation between the ex wife and myself. She filed charges that I had to fight. It has been a long exhausting trip. My husband and I have been close to divorce over it numerous times, yet she still continues to harass and lie.
Of course all of it isn't a lie and can be just as harmful to a child who is too young to know facts about happened years ago. Now her mother repeats these stories to further degrade us. At this point, she did whatever she could to interfere and stop visits. Finally we ran out of money to pay for a lawyer, so we got rid of him and began putting paperwork together ourselves to enforce visitation. A year and half later, in fact just last week we finally succeeded and got a one week visit. Of course my husband had to drive the full six hours to pick her up because the mother will not assist in any way.
While my husband's daughter was with us, we had a long talk. We learned that his daughter is an intelligent nine-year-old and understood what is happening. We were not aware that for a long time my stepdaughter was not getting our mail and her mother would listened or taped our phone calls. This summer we are supposed to get four weeks visitation. We don't have it in writing yet from the judge so we aren't counting any eggs, but that is what is supposed to happen.
My husband himself was a child of severe alienation from his own grandmother (the same one who is doing it to his daughter now) against his mother. He always felt his mother didn't want him, which was so far from the truth. When his mother, who did not get custody, came to see the kids at the grandma's house (granddad was never home) she would turn off the lights and tell her that the kids weren't there. Or she would pack them up in the car and leave. After years of lies and betrayal his mother finally gave up. It had been 24 years since my husband had talked to his mother and I now, after I got a hold of her, they are talking. My husband's siblings still won't talk about her but his mother is now thankful that someone finally took the time to hear her. She loves being a grandma to my daughter and even though she and my husband aren't rehashing the past, they enjoy talking about the future.
So that is my story. It is a success because we are still fighting and will continue to do so. It is a success because my stepdaughter knows that after one and half years, we love her enough to fight to see her. It is a success because my four-year- old knows that if there is a wrong it is possible to correct it with enough persistence and determination. And finally it is a success because my nine-year-old stepdaughter can go to school and say; "hey my daddy is trying like hell to see me." Of course sending flowers to her school for her birthday made her feel very special.... It only cost $30... Thank you and you may add my email address for responses or whatever....
The point of Mary's story is that persistence can make a difference. I don't know all of the particulars about what went on between Mary, her husband and the ex-wife, but it sounds that her stepdaughter is happier having a relationship with her father and his new family.
In my own case, after rarely seeing my children for a period of 15+ months, which was preceded by six years of alienating behaviors, the court ordered my ex to let me see my children 50% of the time. This was the original court agreement: joint custody, 50-50 placement with both parents and no child support.
When the day came for my ex to turn them over he refused. The G.A.L. got involved and wanted me to not abide by the court agreement because the children were distressed over coming to live with me and suggested we try counseling first. By this time I was familiar with the research on PAS and I told him "NO! The children have been ordered to return to 50-50 placement and that's what's going to happen!"
The first day was hectic. They were 9 and 11 at that time. We planned a family barbecue and the children were fine until the guests left. They tried to sneak out of the house, told me that their dad said they didn't have to stay, didn't want to do anything, etc. I gave them a choice; either come into the kitchen and play cards with my new husband and me (whom they already new), or go to bed. After a few tears, pouts and bad words to us, they eventually came into the kitchen and played cards. We had a great evening and they went to bed nice, they even asked me to read them a story.
It has been nine months since that day and it hasn't been easy on me. But as I write this, I realize how the children and I and my new husband have settled into a nice routine. The children are still "brainwashed" and will tell the G.A.L. that they want to live with their dad, but when there here, we have fun, laugh, do family things, they get punished when they misbehave but the most important thing is even though they say they don't want to live with us, they are smiling while they are here.
The oldest is still the watchdog and reports everything we do to his father. Recently, I had overheard him telling his dad to talk to me about an issue, (Memorial Day), but I was never handed the phone. I can only assume that dad wouldn't talk with me and continued to try and convince his son to not go to mothers on Memorial Day. The Holiday schedule in place clearly stated that I had the kids on Memorial Day. My ex tried to convince the kids that he had Memorial Day. The kids told me that dad already made plans with them and that they had to go. I told the kids that if their dad had a problem he should talk with me about it and not them. The kids asked to see the Holiday schedule that I told them stated that I had them. After I showed them the schedule and explained Petitioner and Respondent I never heard another word about them going to their father's. I can only surmise from this story that my children are listening to me, I have repeatedly informed them not to get involved in matters between dad and mom, if their dad needs clarification he should talk with me not them.
My ex will not talk to me. He outright refuses. If I call him, his answering machine is always on. He never calls back. The only time I have ever spoken to him is if I happen to pick up the phone and he is looking for one of the kids.
Because my ex wouldn't let me see the children, and we initiated contempt of court proceedings nine months ago, the court stuff is still dragging on.... My ex wants me to have nothing to do with the children and has filed for sole custody. Through these past nine months he has kept me as uninformed about everything that he has become privy to.
Life with an alienating ex is very frustrating. With my own experience with PAS, I can attest to the fact that at one point my daughter was hiding from me under her bed at her father's and now she is smiling and asks me to fix her hair, the abrupt transfer the "Ma Kettle" way worked!
We've all come a long way because I knew what I was dealing with, PAS.
Anne's story is another example of how a mother can be a victim of PAS. He has had to persist while trying to keep the kids out of the issues between her and her ex. Kids don't want to be caught in the middle and be a conduit for the parent's communication.
I did something unusual and am garnering information to back up what I did and why I did it. My ex is homeless; he cannot and will not pay child support. In frustration I wrote a letter to the prosecuting attorney demanding action. In response to my letter he said he could do something and that something was having him locked up in the federal prison for five years. WOW! Needless to say I closed my child support case and assumed complete financial responsibility for my kids. Why did I do this? Believe me I have been asked this. In layman terms - my children have a relationship with their father. He is a constant in their lives. They love him unconditionally. He balances their lives. I am not a humorous person, he is. I am not musical he is. I am consistent he isn't. I get carried away when the kids do something morally wrong - he doesn't. The best example of this is when our son got in trouble at school. I was ready to hang him by his proverbial toes, take away every privilege, ground him to his room, lock up him up and throw away the key. When my son told me what he did, I said "that's it I am calling your dad." Together we doled out the appropriate discipline. Dad is not a villain. He just doesn't pay child support. The kids are aware of this fact because I told them. How did they handle being told this? Well now dad and the kids "pay child support." I needed a bookcase and dad and our son found one for me. So I am the recipient of gifts purchased at garage sales or pawnshops. Sometimes when I come home I find more groceries in the refrigerator than what I had when I left for work. I explained to the kids that child support isn't just financial. It is also being supportive and understanding and trying to do something to help ease the burden. So I have a neat bookcase, extra groceries once in a while, and a new to me CD player. My daughter has a French horn, my son a saxophone. But more important they have two people in their lives that love them. Two people, that despite our differences, try to achieve and bring to their children balance.
Thanks for the article, thanks for listening. Remember children are our greatest assets.
This isn't a typical success story but I thought Elizabeth expressed a mother's view that is very powerful and reflects her unselfish understanding that the children need their father.
My husband's ex-wife fits the profile of an obsessed alienator almost exactly.
The good news is that after almost 14 years of lies, manipulation and brainwashing, two of his three children (both boys) have come around. One has a very close relationship with us, and the other has just recently moved in with us.
The key is to force visitation no matter what. My husband had to really fight to keep any contact with his kids after his wife moved them nearly1800 miles away from us. He made a big stink about bringing them up at least twice per year (Christmas week and 2 or 3 weeks in the summer). We also NEVER and I mean NEVER said anything bad about my husband's ex. This was extremely hard to do, but we decided that taking the high road would be a refreshing change of pace for them and that they would eventually appreciate it. In fact, my youngest stepson, who recently moved in with us, actually said on several occasions, "You never said anything bad about my mother." He seemed relieved and mystified at the same time. The bad news is that my stepdaughter remains totally enmeshed with her mother. I think the psychological term is called "folie a deux." We're still hoping, but she's almost 18 and still shows no interest in having anything to do with us.
At any rate, there is hope. Take the high road and get the kids with you as much as possible. I'm delighted to see organizations popping up that are taking the non-custodial fathers' side. It's high time.
Erica's point is never give up. I agree. Many times the children will come around when they get older.
However, some parents question: "How much do we put the
children through when success is unlikely and the children continue to be hurt,
many times by the system that is trying to help?" and frequently, parents
ask, "when should I quit trying?" I have thought a lot about this
issue and have come up with some criteria to consider in deciding when to quit.
If you can e-mail me your thoughts about this list, this would be most
appreciated. I have proposed certain
criterion in my web article "Debate" for when parents might consider
stopping forced visitation.
We would like to hear from you but please remember that your e-mail should be brief and our response, if any, does not constitute therapy or consultation. Thank you. Send e-mail to email@example.com Or, call my office at: 1-330-759-2310.
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