Before discussing this question, please allow me to put this into context for those readers that may not be familiar with this blog.
I am what is known as an alienated parent. Following the breakdown of my marriage my ex has ‘successfully’ prevented me from having any contact with my three beautiful young children for what is now a year. She has ‘brainwashed‘ them against me, and openly defies numerous Court Orders advocating direct contact me, with no legal consequence for her actions. She is in fact, as confirmed by the authorities involved, inflicting emotional abuse on my children on a daily basis.
This is the sad and tragic nature of parental alienation, for a more in-depth definition see here. I am one of an incalculable number of alienated parents out there. We all have our own story, but ultimately we are all fighting the same battle.
An alienated parent will invariably find themselves being dragged through a multitude of emotions. Personal reflection is somewhat of a double-edged sword as one attempts to process and manage the associated thoughts and feelings.
One particular emotion that I myself find difficult to manage is guilt. The Oxford English dictionary defines guilt as a feeling of having committed wrong or failed in an obligation. Within the context of psychology guilt is viewed as a cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person believes or realises (accurately or not) that he or she has compromised his or her own standards of conduct.
“However as a loving parent this advice presents itself to me as somewhat of a paradox.”
During the last twelve months and on the advice of several healthcare professionals, I have tried numerous coping mechanisms in an attempt to keep myself mentally well. Some were effective, some were ineffective. Ultimately the advice is to distract myself from the thoughts that bring me down, namely thinking about my children. However as a loving parent this advice presents itself to me as somewhat of a paradox. And this is where the feeling of guilt comes in.
I am a mental health nurse, so I am all too aware of the importance of distraction techniques and keeping myself mentally and physically well. However, regardless of how much I reflect on it and how irrational it sounds, thinking less about my children makes me feel that I am failing some way in my obligation as a loving father. The feeling that creeps up on me is that I have somehow compromised my own standards as a loving parent.
So, does thinking about your children less, mean you love them less?
Perhaps the answer can be found from Ayn Rand, the American-Russian novelist, philosopher and playwright who once said “the worst guilt is to accept an unearned guilt.“