This work is tough stuff there is no denying it. Amidst chaotic emotional and psychological trauma patterns, parents and alienated children struggle to find peace of mind. Children, whose dependency upon their often unwell parent, renders them prey to the distortions of thinking which are forced upon them in the intra-psychic relationship, are often living highly anxious lives in covert care of a parent. Parents, who are prevented from seeing their children and giving them the care they are biologically driven to give, find themselves having to cope on a shoe string of emotional strength and psychological courage. Working in the midst of this, to restore children’s relationships with a rejected parent, takes its toll on anyone.
It takes its toll on me. And as I find myself entering a phase of work in which I will be training others to do what I do, I find myself having to cope with excessive stresses and anxieties which come with the territory of this work. These stresses, which as I have written about before, are often mirrors of the rejected parent’s journey, are sometimes enough to make me want to run away. What keeps me going are the children I work with and the way in which their lives are put back on track and their right to an unconscious childhood is restored to them by the work that I do.
During periods of great stress, I have always attempted to do three things.
- Find purpose in my daily life and a higher level of understanding of what is happening to me.
- Care well for my body, for without this safe container, all that I am would not and could not be.
- Take a longer view so that the tyrannical grip of anxiety is not in control of my day to day living.
For rejected parents, this is a strategy to adopt in order to cope with the longer term difficulties which come with the territory of being an alienated parent. When you are coping with court hearings, contact refusals and children’s outright rejection, anxiety and fear about the loss of the relationship brings a sense of loss of control over your life. When this experience becomes all encompassing, suffering is heightened and fear takes control.
Do not let it happen. When you are in the tightening net of alienation, perhaps with allegations being made and things being said which are untrue, stop struggling. If you continue to struggle you will simply tangle yourself up further into the alienation narrative which is being spun around the child and you will both fail to stop it and cause yourself more suffering. When you are in the midst of the pain, stop struggling and simply be. Take care of your body and feed your soul. If you have faith then place your trust in that, if you do not, relax into that which gives your life meaning. This too will pass and change will come.
Much suffering is caused unnecessarily by being focused upon the alienation dynamic which you can see but others can’t. In these circumstances you must approach your strategy to restore the relationship with your child, calmly and systematically. If you are taking care of yourself, you are taking care of your ability to fight for your alienated child and as a result, you are parenting your child in the only way available to you right now. Eat, rest, exercise and make sure you reconnect with what matters to you in your own heart. Whilst I know that your children matter the most, focus upon those things which keep you alive and vital and present in the world.
If you focus upon the fear and the what if, you will find yourself tangled back up in the net of anxiety. If you focus upon your strength and what is within your capacity to change, you will find yourself growing stronger and more able to withstand the challenges ahead.
The world of the rejected parent is filled with uncertainty. There is no end to the suffering and the psychological changes which come with bereavement cannot be followed. Instead what you must cope with is the repeated spikes of hope which is dashed and the injustice of the child’s damaged mindset. Additionally, around all of that, is the negatively bonded alienating parent who will, if they can, twist and jerk and turn the line to control you.
Do not let them. Retrieve the power of the alienating parent over you and relocate it within you. If you focus on their control and their power and the injustice of that, you will sink beneath the waves of their emotional chaos. If you focus upon what is within your control and your power to change, you will find yourself becoming more stable and more able to cope in the longer term.
I am going off shortly on my annual break from this work. I will be resting, recuperating and reflecting upon all that is done and all that must be done to bring greater change to the lives of parents and children affected by parental alienation. This year, we will begin a series of trainings with key people in Europe, travelling to Italy, Switzerland and then to Croatia, after which we finish in France. Change is coming in Europe. Change which will be properly located within the legislative frameworks. Later in the year we will be in the USA and Canada, to share our expertise and our practice with families at the PASG conference and then via our training group which is convening in Boston.
As I prepare for that I will be taking my own advice as set out above, in order to stay focused and well and healthy. Three things we have said so many times to parents facing rejection by their children.
In a world of parallel processes, at times, it pays to take the prescription one metes out to others.
Our leadership retreat in France will convene on September 15th through to 19th. We have one place left due to illness, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Our USA training group convenes in Boston USA in October and runs over two days followed by a year long practitioner group development programme. We have one place left on this training, please contact email@example.com for information.
Understanding Parental Alienation: Learning to Cope, Helping to Heal, will be published shortly by Charles C Thomas (Illinois). Based on a decade of work in the field of parental alienation, this is a handbook for parents and practitioners which assists in demystifying parental alienation and equipping parents with the necessary knowledge and information to assist children in the best way possible. The book gives details of how to manage the court system, how to ensure that the legal and mental health interlock works to your child’s best advantage and how to understand and help to heal your child’s alienation reactions.