Today we are working on putting some finer details down for the book and we have been thinking about the complexities of reconnection. However your child eventually reconnects, you have challenges ahead of you. One of the biggest is when your child returns and wants to reconnect whilst still in relationship with the alienating parent. This is a difficult one but ultimately, if you can help your child to do that you are serving them well because you are supporting the reintegration of their split thinking and helping to normalise their understanding of themselves in a world where people are both good and bad all at the same time. Here is a snippet from our Healing section in the book.
The child who is still in relationship to the alienating parent must be helped to achieve the psychological tasks of reframing the past into a healthy future. In this respect as the parent of an alienated child you are charged with a most difficult task of helping the child to go through stages of healing without separation from the parent causing the problem in the first place. Here is a stage by stage approach to doing this.
|Stage||Psychological task for the child||How to help the child achieve it|
|One||Disconnection from the alienation||Help the child to see themselves as separate from the alienating parent through discussion and affirmation of their ability to reconnect to you.|
|Two||Retrieval of their ability to think their own thoughts.||Help the child to reality test by making statements and asking questions. Am I the person you thought I was going to be? Am I still here and helping you?|
|Three||Suspension of disbelief that the target parent is dangerous.||Set and keep boundaries, do what you say you will do, let the child challenge without being aggressive but hold the boundaries firmly.|
|Four||Reframing of their understanding of the past, in which they begin to see that their behaviours were not based on fact but on what they had been lead to believe were facts.||Be who you are not what the alienating parent has told the child you are. If the alienating parent has said you are aggressive tone down your behaviours and be calm and relaxed. Understand what the child has been told and be other than that consistently.|
|Five||Rebuilding of trust in the once targeted parent which takes time and which requires that the child is given the forgiveness they seek when they seek it. A child who has been alienated knows that their behaviour has been damaging and they do need to feel that they can ask for and be given forgiveness.||If the child asks for forgiveness give it. If the child asks you to acknowledge things that happened acknowledge them but if the child asks you to acknowledge things that didn’t happen begin the process of helping them to understand that their memories may not be as real as they think they are. Some exercises to help with this are at the back of this book.|
|Six||Reframing of the relationship with the alienating parent in which the child must learn how to relate to the alienating parent in ways that are safe for them. This can involve helping the child to understand which of the behaviours that the child encountered in the parent were those which lead to them behaving as they did when they were alienated.||When the child begins to speak about the alienating parent confirm that which you know to be true but do not allow the child to continue bad mouthing behaviour by turning their rejection onto the alienating parent. This only prolongs the split thinking and creates a guilt reaction which can provoke the child to bounce back to the alienating parent.|
|Seven||Learning how to live an integrated internal life in which people are seen as both good AND bad and learning how to disappoint people without feeling that the world is going to fall apart. This is a very important task for all children who have faced having their psychological self split into seeing the world as good and bad and can take longer than any of the other tasks above.||Help your child to learn that everyone is good AND bad and that she doesn’t have to split her feelings into all good and all bad. Speak well of the things that the alienating parent has done which have been good for the child and encourage her to see this and acknowledge it. Recognise the things that have not been good and name them. Help the child to understand that it is not their role to care for the parent’s needs.|
This work with your child may be sporadic or it may be intense, it all depends upon whether or not your child is able to withstand the influence of the alienating parent or whether they are still strongly affected by them. However your child comes back into your life, whether it is a one off event which does not repeat itself for several months or whether it is a rapid reconnection in which the child reappears and does not go away, when a child is prompted into a reconnection process it is rare that it simply stops and is not completed. The level of involvement that you may have with your child will vary, some will want to be very involved in your life from now on, others will be more distanced as they try to work out a balanced way of relating to you. This will reveal itself over time as your child seeks to achieve those psychological tasks that help them to build an independent sense of self. Working it out alongside your child requires you to have patience and understanding as well as knowledge and willingness to act to provide for your child what he has been missing for many years, a stable and consistent relationship with a parent which is predictable and healthy.