At PMH we wish you to know that your children aren’t the enemy — even though it seems like it is their word against yours. Never stop loving them unconditionally.

Disclaimer: Partners in Men’s Health and TAR Tales.

You may have known that divorce was going to be difficult. You anticipated having to watch the dream of your family unit disintegrate. But you never dreamed divorce would include managing your children slowly fading away, possibly out of your life forever.

Now, you are experiencing a real-life horror movie.

At PMH we urge you that although your children say they don’t love you, they don’t want to be with you, they hate you, this isn’t the truth. Don’t believe the lie. Your children are only looking to reduce stress.

The Atomic Bomb of Parental Alienation

Many parents living in this scenario think, “What happened? How did I get here?” The answer is:

They are caught up in one of the most dangerous currents in high-conflict divorce. Parental alienation can be difficult to spot for anyone. Parents involved in challenging divorces can find themselves struggling against this powerful force pulling them further from the shores of where they used to nurture and hug their children. It seems as if the more they fight the further they have swept away into the open ocean, alone and wondering if they’ll ever get back to shore. Will they?

Some search frantically for a judge, the children’s counselor, even their own attorney — anyone— to help them. But often it’s a losing game.

The Constant Rejection

Your children cite mistakes you made in the past. Mistakes you thought other loving and imperfect parents also made: yelling, working too much, missing an important event, showing up late to pick them up from balllet, etc. Nothing you say or do helps!

Your children’s intense emotionality of fear and agony seems so disproportionate, and the “neglectful” incidents to process are filled with exaggerations — essentially reinventing family history. Their emotions are pitched.

You’re told you don’t listen; you just argue! But you believe orienting to facts and reality could help. The children may ask you to show them “empathy” and propose the unthinkable:

If you love them, you will leave them alone; walk away. You tell them you can’t do that, you love them too much. 

They answer back, “You don’t get it, you’re so selfish!” You remain the monster in the horror show you can’t escape from. Oh, how many times have I heard this? How many millions of parents have attempted suicide over this? After all, children are the most import thing in their lives.

At PMH we wish you to know that your children aren’t the enemy — even though it seems like it is their word against yours. Never stop loving them unconditionally. 

How do You Fight Against Parental Alienation?

You grow livid— angry at your ex-partner, angry at the counselors, and maybe even angry with your children. The hurt is too painful, the fear is too overwhelming.

In this surge of anger, you might begin to confront your children, the professionals, and even speak out of turn in court. And what happens? You unwittingly begin to follow the script of the antagonist — the monster you were cast as. No one is helping, so you turn into a warrior, fighting to win each battle so you can restore order, civility, and sanity back into your life and your children’s lives. You may even think, “This is crazy; since no one else will expose and speak the truth, I will.”

How Can PMH and CPTSD Foundation Help?

It’s jarring for loving parents to be faced with hatred and resistance to contact from their children. The longer your children marinate in the toxicity of false beliefs, irrational fears, and polarized ideations, the prognosis worsens for their recovery into wellness and restoring relationships.

You need professionals to help you respond smartly. We can:

  1. Help you understand the alienation process so you can have more compassion for your children and respond to their resist and refuse dynamics without unwittingly playing into them.
  2. Help you work and engage more effectively with the professionals involved in your case.
  3. Help you cope and deal with the alienation tactics your co-parent utilizes so you can better avoid traps and manipulations.
  4. Help you practice and maintain good and healthy self-care.

Don’t forget about self-care while fighting for your children. In a flight emergency, you’re told to put on your oxygen mask before assisting others. The same is true here.

Because alienated children need normality. They normality more than they need anything else. They need a parent who is not afraid of them, they need a parent who is loved and happy and whole and they need a place where they can go where stability is guaranteed and the world is a predictable place.

What Are We Recommending?

1. Parents should put the well-being of their children first and adopt co-parenting arrangements that allow for a full relationship between both parents.
2. A presumption of equal shared parenting should be made the law worldwide following a family breakup.
3. We must make available fathering programs that support dads undergoing a family break-up with resources and tools to maintain a healthy relationship with their child or children.

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