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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
You explain this so well. Also realised how important our own emotional health & strength was going to be after reading Thomas Moore’s book. Thanks for the reminder.
Have a good holiday Karen. Its keeping the area of control in your life, as you have made so clear.
When you have someone you had feeling for telling you that your wrong, you don’t have a right to your children, or in my case grandchild.
My son, has not spoken to me for several years, I went to see my grandchild. The total mess that had been made around a very small child, 10 years later, it remains that way.
Also, feed your soul that’s another good point, don’t feed your soul on bitterness or anger. It becomes ingrained and difficult to remove.
I wish you all a peaceful weekend.
Firstly Karen, I hope you have a fabulous holiday and get the strength to carry on the wonderful work you do! I know for you the children are the most important and rightly so, but you are a lifeline to survival for so many of us alienated parents! Mums and dads!!!
You do indeed have such an insight into how we will cope with the life that comes with losing a child/children! I’m not ashamed to say that as i was falling to my lowest point recently my doctor felt the need to refer me to a psychologist, I was a little bewildered by the thought, as I’m not the “loonie” in this madhouse in which I am forced to live on a daily basis!
My concern was, as you always say, for my children! I need to be a good mother for my 13yr old daughter who lives with me and for when the penny drops for my son now 17yrs old and I get more hugs when he comes back into my life!!
We started my treatment, and just now I smiled when I read your blog….. my treatment is called “Mindfulness” and is very much just what you have described!! I have to stop the unending struggle to make things right, because as you say I just get tangled up and am neither use nor ornament to myself or my children!!
You have such an insight into this world that we inhabit Karen, so go and enjoy! I wish you much peace and contentment on your sabbatical, but I’m selfish enough to be impatient for your return!!
Before you go, Karen, to your much deserved R and R, please could you bear in mind what you and your trained professionals would advise in the case where the now-non-resident parent is damagingly abusive behind closed doors during contact, resulting in the children not wanting to spend more than three days in that parent’s company, and therefore refusing to go for the court-ordered holiday time? The non-resident parent is shouting “parental alienation”, going to court for non-mol, Preventive Steps, reversal of residence, (third time) and Enforcement with Penal Notice applications. If a social worker were to procure re-reversal of residence on the grounds that the children are insisting they will not go to the non-resident parent and are therefore being alienated, immense harm would ensue.
Reblogged this on Parental Alienation.
This is the hardest thing in the world to do, to look after yourself when your children have been cut from your life before either of you are ready. It takes real tenacity and strength not to let it consume you particularly when those you turned to for help failed your children and you. It leaves you with a lot of frustration and anger as well as the unbearable sense of loss for your own children who are living, children who would benefit so much from having a loving dedicated mum in their lives – nonsensical and unneccessary
I spent 4 years trying to evidence what was happening and the family court did not do what was right for my children. I am glad to be finished with it. I found the process an absolute sham.It was nearly as mindboggling as the behaviour of the children’s dad.
I have tried to fill my life, live it in as meaningful a way as I can. I have a job I love, salt of the earth friends and hobbies and talents that I enjoy but I brought six kids into this world and the emptiness of them not being in my life is huge. I make a real effort to look after myself, its takes a conscious effort.
When the most natural thing in the world is taken away it leaves you feeling wobbled in the world – when your work colleagues ask about your children, when your friends child ask you to bring your children round to play with them or worse still when people stop asking like they never existed its an uncomfortable feeling because its so strange and unnatural and your dealing with their embarrassment and confusion too.
Every day I try to be the best version of myself I can be. I do what will keep me as healthy as I can be so that I will be strong when the kids come back.
I am living in Northern Ireland and would like to start a support group for anyone who is apart from their children because of alienation to counter the isolation it brings and work towards bringing awareness and expertise here.
I read your story and know exactly how you feel! I wish I had your strength but I’m working on that! I have the same outlook about being healthy for when my son returns but I fail frequently!
There’s a group called Families need Fathers that I saw once in a reply to one of Karen’s blogs, they are very open to mothers as well as far as I’m aware! Hope this is of some help!! You may have to Google!
Good luck and keep looking after yourself!!
Thank-you Frankie. My strength has come from trusting myself and looking after myself. It has come from surrounding myself with lovely caring people. It has meant cutting people out of my life that I thought had to be in it, people who were hurting me psychologically and emotionally. I have challenged and changed my beliefs and learned to love myself again. I do not give myself a hard time, well I try not to! I try my best and would help anyone I could. I would be happy for my kids to follow my example. I face what life throws at me and keep going, doing the next right thing and that’s enough. We all have strength within us which we don’t even know we have till we need to find it – and you will find yours too, keep going. It takes time to get strong again, just keep going.
I know there are several groups, there is one in Bristol. I will email someone I know today.
This is such a minefield, child access. I’ve written much on the subject after my grandson was failed and caught up in the continued court battles. There is also a lot being done for grandparents, very recently a petition. Another area, you might be interested in.
By the way, I’m the only member of his fathers family who sees him, a long story but not an easy journey!
Thanks Helen. In my case the grandparents are allowed contact with my children and their aunts, uncles and cousins if they agree not to contact me or let me know they have my children. My immediate family want to see my children and follow the conditions. It has created havoc as intended and more pain and separation. I have the support of extended family and good friends thankfullly.
The alienator knows no bounds in his revenge. My life shrunk considerably and slowly I have become stronger and calmer and want to work in the field to make a difference to the lives of children who are subject to this cruelty. I can’t seem to help my own children, could not get help from professionals who could have made a difference and the professionals who supported me were not listened to. There is so much work to be done to protect children from psychological and emotional abuse – instilling unnecessary fear in the young minds of children, distorting their reality and taking from them their right to live in the unconscious world of a child is wrong and there is great need for training for children get the help and protection they need.
Have a good summer flower Xx
There are things you can do, do what you feel is good for you.