Long before this wretched social virus spread as fast and as far as it has to infect virtually every family I know, a member of my extended family wiped her ex from her children’s life.
None of the family really took her to task about it as we were either obsessed with our own trials and tribulations or simply too embarrassed by it all and reluctant to engage. When we saw her we focused on the children, felt a bit sorry for them and tolerated her obsessive and negative ranting.
But something always struck me about this otherwise unexceptional relative, someone who had not excelled at anything, by her own admission, yet had become a mother in her late teens, twice:
- she suddenly became obsessed and passionate about something to the extent that parenting defined her
- her support network of so-called friends shared techniques for frustrating every attempt the children’s other parent made to be a parent
- her resolution to “single parent” was absolute and unswerving
- her partner had not done anything abusive or harmful, he was just struggling to adapt
- she had the full support of her mother, in particular who seemed regenerated herself by getting hands on with babies, again
- she was above criticism
The last point is partly explained by the second paragraph. But the rest is altogether more complex and yet fairly simple.
People imply that alienators are egotistical and/or narcissistic.
My experience of this deadly social disease is that it’s something largely perpetrated by people with low not high self-esteem. They seem to be triggered by the obsession with having given life to something wonderful and they then lose sight of parenting being life’s greatest collaboration. They want it all for themselves. That may be where the narcissism and personality disorder comes in, the inability to share and empathise?
Their pride comes from selfishness not selflessness, what they have taken not what they have given.
But I’ve seen very few alienators who are confident, proud people. Because proud people wouldn’t want to be seen as a failure either as a partner or as a parent. Alienators operate to a different set of rules. Their pride comes from selfishness not selflessness, what they have taken not what they have given.
Secondly, I recall the impact of this alienator’s network, the people who advised:
- making “him” use a contact centre
- meeting up in car parks not houses
- over-booking activities so he has to keep cancelling
- painting a picture of him as a “deadbeat”
- making him leave presents outside and criticising them until the kids join in with the game and start to mock him
- blocking his extended family’s communication, destroying mail etc
- laughing at the clothes he or his family buy
- making him go to court and pay a lawyer to get “contact” and constantly using the term
- making all the decisions about the kids from schools to doctors but not consulting him
As well all now know, the list goes on. But you’ll notice there’s never any thought for the impact these outrageous tactics have on….the children. Its obsessed with hurting the adult and yet they are damaged the most.
I remember thinking, “It’s like there’s a handbook for this stuff,”
And now on social media there is.
Lastly, and possibly the worst from my perspective, was the fact that so many of my relatives were complicit.
I get that “blood is thicker” etc. But the point of the family elders is that you’re supposed to do what’s right by the children first, the little people, not just your grown up children.
As I confessed at the start, I too was too self-obsessed to help much. I should have drawn a line and sorted the issue out. I will always regret not having done so. Those children would have been all the better for seeing their Dad more. What my family did was wrong.
I can take responsibility for their reconciliation, however, I’m relieved to say.
When I eventually started spending more time with them, I drove up from London and took the two children to a sports tournament as they had been let down by others increasingly obsessed with their new partners. They were in their early teens.
While watching them on the field, I was distracted for a moment and noticed a face I sort of recognised the other side of the park.
he maintained contact with the schools and sometimes came to watch them at events etc. Nobody knew or at least nobody told that side of the story.
It was their Dad.
He was clearly uncomfortable seeing me but I chose to wander over and shook him by the hand. In the small talk I discovered that he had re-married and had two more kids. But, it turns out, he maintained contact with the schools and sometimes came to watch them at events etc. Nobody knew or at least nobody told that side of the story.
We then shared a beer and had a great, unscheduled afternoon with him and his kids.
It was odd as they were like strangers, but you could feel the warmth coming back.
Sadly, all hell broke loose when they relayed the tale upon their return.
I was also verbally assaulted and I left under a cloud. Nothing was ever really the same between me and the children after that.
But the moral of this story, I guess, is that parent alienation is more prevalent than any of us think.
I didn’t learn a valuable lesson despite first hand experience.
None of us are immune, even those of us with our eyes wide open.
But if we’re to combat it, we ALL need to make a stand now, because, in the words of the song “If you tolerate this then YOUR children could be next”.