Never one to miss an opportunity to learn, I have this weekend been musing upon the way in which alienated parents have to cope with intolerable psychological pressure. This has been prompted by my understanding that the space that I occupy in the discourse around alienation in the UK, is coveted by others. This is parental alienation as a key market for business in the UK and not parental alienation as abuse of a child. This understanding explains for me the actions of those who write and act in ways that appear that they are holding the best interests of families at their heart, when in fact their agenda is something else entirely. A parallel which is so close to the experience of being an alienated parent that I feel as if my child (in the form of my work on parental alienation) has been subjected to an abduction attempt. This pushes me on to understand those keys things that hold true for alienated parents when the alienation process is underway.
The first and most powerful experience of being an alienated parent is that of feeling like a fish trapped in a net. The harder one struggles the more powerless one feels. The urge is to shout as loudly as possible, not for help but about the net which has closed in and which holds one firmly in its grip. The problem is that the louder one shouts in these circumstances, the more the eye is directed to the other person, the alienator, who sits in quiet self righteousness, denying that the casting of the net was their responsibility. This denial, often accompanied with repeated holding up of the trapped parent’s weaknesses and failings, ensures that the first stage of alienation is underway. The first stage being to convince the alienated parent of their own responsibility in the rejection process. This is called gas lighting and leads eventually to such self doubt that the parent being targeted succumbs to the erosion of their self esteem.
The second experience of being an alienated parent is being able to see what other people cannot see. This experience, in which the actions of the alienating parent are clear and obvious to the target parent but which are seen by others as being innocent and innocuous, leads targeted parents to spend inordinate amounts of time trying to explain to other people what is really going on. This, when taken to extreme, leads the target parent to fall into the trap of confirming for other people that they are indeed the architecht of their own downfall and the cause of the children’s rejection of them. This way madness lies and many alienated parents succumb at this stage.
The third experience as a targeted parent is to become convinced that nothing can be done. This occurs when the alienating parent enmeshes the professionals seeking to help the family in their own view of what is really going on. This is readily achieved when alienating parents are able to use professionals without any experience of working with alienated families, a common occurence in the UK but not so common in other countries where the platform for such work is more powerfully constructed.
This is why constructing the right foundations for this work is so important in the UK, this is why the underlying fight for the discource around parental alienation is so important to be aware of.
The battle around parental alienation is not simply for the child’s mind. It is most often a psychological battle between two parents, one of whom is highly skilled in manipulation of people and one of whom is not. The outer circles of this battle are the professionals configured around the family, here too the psychological battle rages, here too, coping skills are essential.
So how does one cope as a target parent? Here is a quick step guide to dealing with the psychological battle. It is a guide which we use with targeted parents at the Family Separation Clinic. It is also a quick step guide that I use in to deal with the psychology of fighting with fog, a metaphor which I use to describe the experience of upholding what is right in my work with alienated families against the myriad opposition to it.
1. When trapped in the net do not struggle, do not call attention to the net but continue to focus upon your own well being and the reality of what you know you are facing. Your time is better spent this way than trying to convince other people of the reality of who is casting the net or the net itself. If your children are rejecting you, focus upon what you can do to strengthen your own practice with your children and your understanding of what is happening to them. Work with your guide, coach or therapist to build your knowledge of how to work with alienated children.
2. When you can see what other people cannot see use that skill to strengthen your position instead of telling other people about it. Falling into the trap of telling people that the other parent is alienating you and listing all of the things they are doing that prove that, only ensures that they are able to step back and allow you to appear as the architecht of your own downfall. When you can see what others can’t, use that skill to build a strategy which will lead your children to liberation. Consult your legal team, consider the actions you need to take and reality test with your guide, coach or therapist, all of that which you can see which is harmful to the children and which you can use to demonstrate the danger that they are in. In short, strategise, focus and remain well and healthy.
3. Avoid becoming convinced that there is nothing you can do. When this happens you enter into a psychological place of weakness and acceptance. This learned helplessness can be increased by well meaning professionals who themselves are convinced that there is nothing to be done. To avoid entering this place, work with your guide, coach or therapist and a legal team who understand parental alienation. There are some wonderful legal people who understand parental alienation in the UK, avoid learned helplessness by contacting us at the Family Separation Clinic for their details.
The battle for your child begins with winning the battle against the enemy within. The psychological battle to stay healthy and well and strategise effectively is one which all targeted parents must win first if success in the outer battle is to be achieved. When you win this battle you stop focusing upon what is being done to you and focus instead on what can be done and how it can be done.
Which is what I will be doing today and everyday.