Parental Alienation – when one or both divorcing parents attempts to negatively influence their children about the other parent — is one of the most terrible outcomes of a divorce gone bad. It’s a difficult and complex subject, but the outcome is always the same. Children who are emotionally scarred.
When you mix two egos with dramatically differing perspectives, you’re bound to get an entanglement of emotions compounded by allegations, defensiveness and self-righteousness. Unfortunately, no one wins when parental alienation runs its course during and after a divorce. But it’s the children in particular who lose in a big way. Many of them are affected for life.
Behind parental alimentation are parents who feel totally justified in hating, resenting or otherwise distancing themselves from their former spouse. They fail to take into account how this might psychologically play out in an innocent child who naturally loves both parents. Backed by the strength of their convictions, these parents feel validated in negatively influencing their children’s attitude toward the other parent. Whether its overt put-downs, disparaging comments or more subtle nuances of distain, they make it clear that they do not like, respect or trust the other parent. The message to the children creates confusion mixed with anxiety, insecurity, guilt and fear.
What’s a child to do when one of their parents says the other parent, who is genetically a part of them, is bad, wrong, hateful, or not worthy of their love? How should a child handle the burden of learning “truths” about their other parent that only an adult can comprehend? Who can a child turn to when Mom is putting down Dad (or vice versa) and it makes them angry, frightened or resentful?
Parents need to think before they act. They need to look ahead to the consequences before they share secrets that no child should have to know – before they take the innocence of childhood from children who are totally powerless to fix their adult problems. They need seek the counsel of professionals who can dispassionately help them make the right decision on their children’s behalf. Then they need to work on healing themselves.
Psychotherapist, JoAnn Simmons, MA, LMHC, and a contributor to my new book, How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook™ Guide to Preparing Your Children – with Love!, offers some sound advice in her new book, Stop Looking … And Let True Love Find YOU! “There’s nothing that hurts more than a broken heart,” she notes. “Romantic love relationships are the toughest to release, especially if you feel wronged by your partner. A rocky romance often results in blaming the other person. Some people hold grudges for years. These grudges block the energy around your heart and tend to constrict giving and receiving love.”
This not only hurts your children, it hampers your ability to move on with your life in a healthy, productive way – and keeps you from attracting a happier, more successful new relationship into your life. “The longer we hold onto the past, the longer we stay stuck in negative feelings related to the past. You must let go of old resentments,” says Simmons.
The essential point here is that you don’t let go of those resentments in order to benefit your former spouse – or to let them off the hook. You let go so you can make a space for a better future for yourself. That better future will inevitably be better for your children, as well. So everyone wins.
Parental alienation is a sure way to risk alienating your children from you – if not today, in the years and decades ahead. When making decisions about your divorce, child custody issues, visitations, holiday celebrations and all the day-to-day activities that fill our busy lives, remember to be a parent first. Put aside your personal feelings about your former spouse. Stop – and see that other parent from your child’s perspective – as the Mom or Dad they deeply love.
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Rosalind Sedacca, CCT, is the author of the new ebook, How Do I Tell the Kids … about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook™ Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love! For more information, free articles on child-centered divorce and her free ezine, go to: //www.childcentereddivorce.com.
© Rosalind Sedacca 2007 All rights reserved.
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[…] Sedacca presents Parental Alienation – a Divorce Disaster Sure to Alienate Your Children posted at ChildCenteredDivorce.com – Rosalind Sedacca, […]
My name is Joe Goldberg. I am a Medical Legal Consultant
and the name of my firm is Goldberg & Associates.
We specialize in cases that involve psychological problems
defined in Medical literature as Parental Alienation or in a
more extreme condition Parental Alienation Syndrome.
You might not know that Parental Alienation Syndrome (P.A.S.)
is both a medical disorder & a recognized form of Child Abuse.
This problem, happens to be rooted in high conflict divorce.
To better understand what we do please visit our website at :
Goldberg & Associates–the Parental Alienation Specialists
If you’re the target of Parental Alienation, the Parental Alienation
specialists at Goldberg & Associates can help. They operate throughout
the U.S. and Canada and assist family law attorneys and targeted
parents needing medical-legal consulting services related to Parental
Alienation. Call them at 905.481.0367 or visit their website
Once again, thank you for your support in the prevention of child abuse.
Goldberg & Associates
My name is Lorna Solito, Founder of Jeremiah’s House of Hope Bay Area. We are an affiliation of National House of Hope, Orlando. Many of the children who come and live at these homes are children who are suffering from the affects of their parents divorce. As Rosalind states, “no one wins when parental alienation runs its course during and after a divorce. But it’s the children in particular who lose in a big way. Many of them are affected for life.”
I watched my son suffer at the demise of our family, and it is my desire to help others not make the same mistakes we did. I urge all parents facing divorce to think through the steps before taking action, and use the resources and tools made available to you to assure your child gets what they need during this turbulent time – making sure they’re free to love and be loved by both of their parents.
You can contact Lorna at: [email protected] or for information regarding House of Hope visit us at http://www.jeremiahshouseofhopebayarea.org
Thank you, Lorna, for your passionate plea to parents experiencing divorce. It is vital that parents think about the consequences of their actions before making any decisions regarding parenting and divorce. The effects on children are life-long. Keep up the good work with the children in your program. I appreciate your support of my child-centered divorce communications and invite you to add your commentary on a regular basis.
Rosalind Sedacca, CCT
Sorry folks, please see the change in address
Your website and blog are both excellent resources for joint custody families where children are being raised by co-parents. I would like to introduce your readers to my new book: “School Days and the Divorce Maze: A Complete Guide for Joint Custody Parents in Managing Your Child’s Successful School Career” by Dr. Renae Lapin, LMFT.
Any parent, child or professional who wishes to explore Parent Alienation Syndrome can read 64 compelling true stories directly taken from the experiences of traumatized children receiving therapy. As one therapist/mediator commented: “If those stories brought tears to my eyes, they will certainly influence parents who unwittingly are inflicting trauma on their precious children.”
In addition to the 64 short stories from the child’s perspective, 32 school issues are presented with simple, direct, no-nonsense advice on how to increase the protective factors and decrease the risk factors for promoting happiness and success in children being raised by joint custody parents.
Thank you, Renae, for your comments. I appreciate your support and am very enthusiastic about recommending your new book. We share a strong focus on bringing to light the injustices that too many children must endure as the result of parental decisions not based on their children’s best emotional and psychological needs.
If parents could put themselves in their children’s mindset and try to experience the pain of being torn between two parents out to hurt one another, they would better understand the burden they place on their innocent children’s shoulders.
Thank you for making such a positive difference in so many lives through your teachings and counseling.
I welcome your commentary at any time on this website and blog.
Rosalind Sedacca, CCT
I watched my sister go through a nasty divorce. Their oldest daughter has been affected the most. She is very successful financially but struggles with her identity. Keep up the good work helping families through this trying time.
Many thanks, Mark, for your comments. I appreciate your support and kind words. It is never too late to undo errors we’ve made regarding parenting and divorce if we share with our children sincere words of apology — or new directions we want to take — even if our children are adults.
There are no easy answers, especially to nasty divorces from the past, but by being as authentic as we can in owning our own actions we can open the door to healing within our children — young or grown.
Best wishes to you — and I encourage everyone to keep up the dialog.
Rosalind Sedacca, CCT
The Voice of Child-Centered Divorce
The more articles about parental alienation posted on the net the better. Education is an important component in bringing about change.
Thank you for your well written article.
Thank you for your comments, Dr. Sommer. I appreciate your support and agree with you that parental alienation must be uncovered and understood for all its negative repercussions.
July is National Child-Centered Divorce Month and I hope you will join me and others across the nation in spreading the word about successful divorce strategies that every parent can implement for a brighter future.
Rosalind Sedacca, CCT
I just found your site tonight and notice that you have an interesting perspective on a familiar situation. So far it looks very helpful!
However, I need a little advice…I have been to a parenting counselor to discuss my intuitions and he thinks that I’m on the right track. This has been burning at me for sometime! Please tell me what you think. Thanks
We’ve been separated for 4 years and our twin daughters are now 6. The girls think everything is normal and that the reason Daddy doesn’t stay or live here is because I work far away (which is true). I see them on most weekends, pretty much have an open door policy and our relationship (Mom & Dad) is OK! Yes, we still do some things as a family. But, if we got divorced then everything would change from her stand point.
I think as parents setting the example for their future, we are failing for not being honest to them. I don’t want them to think this normal! We (as parents) have not explained your reasoning for this situation and in her opinion mums the word!
Your site will help me down the road but she doesn’t what to say anything to rock the boat. I think we should. I have talked to her about a family pow-wow with good intentions but get nowhere.
My question is I know we need to tell them (before it’s too late), but how can I convince her it’s the right thing to do? Or is she right?
Thanks for your time
Thanks for your kind words. Let me suggest this in response to your question.
I believe your wife might be afraid to rock the boat and hurt your children — and I know you both are very concerned about this.
I understand the need to protect your children and, at the same time, you want them to understand the power of honesty. When they grow older they will resent their parents living a lie through them.
I sincerely suggest that you purchase my ebook, How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love? Read it first and absorb the messages from the six psychotherapists who contribute their expertise. Then email it to your wife to read.
One or both of you can put together the personal family “storybook” to share with your twins. Reading the book will give your wife a lot to think about. She will see that your twins needn’t be scarred by the divorce if you both commit to continuing the loving parenting you are doing. By creating a “child-centered” divorce, you will give your children the best possible outcome while giving you and your wife a new start in life, as well.
The honesty will free you both and your twins will one day thank you for being honest and role modeling positive post-divorce parenting.
You can find my book at http://www.howdoitellthekids.com. You’ll also see the many endorsements I’ve received by therapists, mediators, attorneys, educators and clergy through out the U.S. and beyond.
Best wishes to your entire family.
Rosalind Sedacca, CCT
The Voice of Child-Centered Divorce
P.S. One of the bonuses that comes with my ebook is a complimentary 20-minute telephone coaching call with Amy Sherman, LMHC, one of the contributors to my book. In addition, I also offer private telephone coaching if you are interested.
Just wanted to stop by and tell you how much I admire all you do to help parents and children. You have made a difference in the lives of many. I am glad we are friends.
Heidi Richards Mooney, Publisher ~ WE magazine for Women
Balance is a good thing. I have a friend and she recently married a guy who lives a block away from his ex. He has several kids, teenagers on down. Lots of adjustments going on. My friend is realizing the impact divorce has on a family with kids. She has her work cut out for her, and working on moving to a house further away and the kids house hop to avoids chores and responsibilities.
Thanks for your comments, Heidi. Yes, balance is crucial in our lives, especially during and after divorce. It’s always a challenge, but it’s the direction we all seek for more harmony for ourselves and our children.
One of the most useful, elementary pieces of wisdom in situations where one of the spouses is heading into the emotional “red zone” is the rough equivalent of the old aphorism: if you’re in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.
At the very least, someone trying to be healthy should recognize, and get out from under participating in, a crazy dynamic which allows him or herself to be constantly sideswiped, and turned inside out by an “ex” fueled – at least in part – by their apparent success at pulling it off.
Of course, it’s easier said than done, and it’s so wrong that kids don’t just witness it, but are so often manipulated, squeezed emotionally, and even made to feel the need to protect or align with the least healthy spouse.
Fortunately, over time, children usually perceive accurately which adult is truly most able to consistently “be there” for them.
Which is why being classy and emotionally healthy – while effectively defending oneself – is the way to go.
I like your site very much. Well done.
Shaun Kieran, LCSW
Your comments are excellent and should be heeded by anyone in a tense emotional battle with their former spouse. And your reminder that the children will ultimately pick up on manipulation or deceit is well-taken. Thanks for sharing your expertise with us — and do visit us again.
One of the things that can help families of divorce is a set of new traditions and rituals that help the kids feel like they are still a family, still close to each parent, and secure.
I have started a blog with many practical suggestions for making kids feel secure during and after divorce: Five Ways to Still “Be There” at Bedtime; How to Transition from Dad’s House to Mom’s House etc. I ask for additional suggestions and will cross link to this blog.
Thanks for your great work, Rosalind.
Thanks for commenting and adding your insights about setting family traditions. I strongly agree with that. What is your blog address. Would love to cross-link.
Great article and valuable information! Thanks Elisa
I appreciate your feedback, Elisa. Glad you’re visiting my blog as well.
About the mother concerned about Dad’s expensive gifts, how old are the children? Children more often than not understand and can see that Mum is struggling; they do not need gifts for love.
Another issue is focus on giving the best to the children, appreciate the good gifts from your ex as an addition to the struggles you are going through. Take them positively and if it contributes to routine expenditure then you earn a saving.
Remember, look more at yours and the children’s happiness. Work on ignoring the ex/the strife you had with the ex, and Be Happy!
Thanks for the sane advice, Harriet. I believe you are right that keeping your perspective on your own relationship with your children will help them recognize your value in their lives. They will do less comparing and more appreciating of your relationship.
I love the contents of the email. It’s relevant and, if followed, will create, locate and possibly motivate the ‘seeker’ to a new and abundant life.
I’d like to make a suggestion that ‘one who has experienced a significant loss consider working thru the attendant emotions on their path to new beginnings’. Having been a divorce therapist for a 1/4 of a century, failure to acknowledge and work thru these feelings most often will act as land mines that often disrupt and, at best, create painful and unnecessary delays.
Thanks again for your comments, Bob. I value your insight and contributions always.
I am looking for people to fill out a survey related to Children of Divorce. If your parents divorced before you turned age 18, please take a couple of minutes to fill out this 8 question online survey. Your answers to this anonymous survey will help us to better serve current children of divorce. Thanks for your help! You can find the survey at: //www.kidmin1124.com/divorce/