One of the biggest tasks for a rejected parent is learning how to stay sane in a space which appears conflicted but which in reality is filled to the brim with the machinations of the influencing parent. Staying out of this space can be extraordinarily difficult, especially when onlookers repeatedly assume and assert that the problems seen are about conflict between two people, when in actual fact the conflicted space is created by attacks from the influencing parent.
The attacks from the influencing or alienating parent, are designed to draw the rejected parent into the conflict but they are made to seem as if they are responses to something that the rejected parent is doing. In reality, the only thing the rejected parent is doing is existing and by existing, is challenging the reality which the alienating parent is creating for the children. Drawing the rejected parent into the conflict in order to ‘prove’ how bad that parent is to the children, is a key goal for alienating parents.
When the alienating parent is making assertions and creating a false reality for children, it is very important that the rejected parent remains calm and outside of this dynamic. Rejected parents who find themselves drawn into the conflict, perhaps by attempting to defend themselves, will soon discover that their efforts are wasted as the alienating parent twists and distorts the reality further, using the efforts that the rejected parent has made to defend themselves, to further build the evidence base for their false reality.
Alienating parents will assert that they know the truth about what is happening and that they and only they can tell what their children are thinking and feeling. They will tell others that the silence of the rejected parent is because they are guilty of the wide range of accusations which have been made against them and they will offer ‘proof’ in the shape of their formulations and opinions about the reasons why the rejection of a parent is justified.
Rejected parents in the face of all this must remain calm and collected and completely outside of the whirlpool which is the conflicted space which appears to the outside world. When you do you will find yourself able to cope and think and strategise, which is what your children need you to do most as their healthy parent.
Alienating parents can be consciously alienating or unconsciously alienating, the difference being that the first is a deliberate strategy to eradicate you and the second arises from the patterns of behaviour which have arisen in the decompensation (break down of defences) which is a reaction to the crisis of family separation. Working out whether the parent is doing this deliberately as an ongoing pattern of aggressive and coercive control (in my experience most often seen used by alienating fathers) or unconsciously as a response to the breakdown of the defences which allow the hidden personality issues to break through and take control (in my experience most often seen in alienating mothers). In truth, the impact of either of these patterns is the same, the children become terrorised by the behaviour of the parent who has most control and become afraid to go against the covert wishes which are being conveyed in the intra-psychic world (the communications between children and parents which are unspoken but nevertheless powerfully influencing).
Children in these circumstances become like little robots, following their leader slavishly and worshipping everything their leader says to them as if it were the only truth which exists in the world. There is a reason why we use the term ‘brain washing’ when we talk about parental alienation, it is because the behaviours of the children mimic the behaviours seen in cults. When we look closer at how an alienator alienates, it becomes easy to understand how this happens.
An alienator alienates using exactly the same process as a cult leader. It goes like this.
1. Take a vulnerable person who has been hurt and harmed and who feels misunderstood, or a vulnerable person without much power and tell them that they have been hurt and harmed and misunderstood.
2. Reflect to that person your deep understanding of their hurt and harm and show them that they are understood.
3. Love bomb them with lots and lots of understanding and care, share knowledge and help that person to feel that there IS an answer to their suffering.
4. Focus upon the ‘truth’ which only the cult leader possesses and instruct the person regularly on how this truth will set them free.
5. Strip the person of all of their connections to others in the world with different perspectives.
6. Tell the person that the outside world is harmful and does not understand them and will only ever wish to hurt them.
7. Instruct the person regularly on how to think and act and then eventually, prepare them to go out into the world to spread the word that the cult leader is the person who holds ‘the truth’ in their hands.
8. Punish detractors who think for themselves with vengeful attack and shunning.
9. Love bomb the followers to keep them in line.
10. Use the followers as conduits to proselytise on behalf of the cult leader.
Alienating people is as easy as ABC when one knows how. Many have done it to their children, others have done it to adults with catastrophic consequences (think Charles Manson). As a rejected parent who is hurt and harmed and misunderstood by the outside world, you are vulnerable to being preyed upon. Keep that in mind first in order to stay sane in the conflicted space.
This is your life and your children are being influenced in a situation which is unique to them. Taking your situation into your own hands and applying the knowledge and self understanding that comes with taking control of what happens to you, it becomes easier, much much easier to stay on track with a strategy for creating change. Even if all you do is come to a place where you recognise that for now there is not much else that you can do, your sanity and your self awareness are the most precious things you can carry forward in life. You need to be sane and safe and well because the alienating parent is not and your children, in order to get through this, need at least one healthy parent to show them the way.
The checklist for staying sane looks like this –
1. Understand the way in which your children were alienated by their other parent, know it clearly.
2. Understand the power you have and the power you do not currently have.
3. Work out whether you can obtain more power, if you can, use it, if you cannot, wait.
4. Observe what is happening. Make sure your children know you are still there.
5. Choose your battles wisely. Do not randomly respond to any attack from the other parent, even if lies are being told. Think carefully about every response you make.
6. When you do respond. Observe the reaction, this tells you much about the personality of the other parent and how you must adapt your behaviours to manage this.
7. Keep signalling to the children that you are still there.
8. Remind yourself that being healthy and well is the right way forward.
9. Do not be seduced by people who seek to sell you off the peg quick fixes to your problem.
10. Remember, this is your life and these are your children, choose wisely who you trust to guide you through this.
Parents who have reunited with their children will tell you that the journey they took when their children came back was unexpectedly challenging as well as a wonderful experience. This is because, no matter how children return, when they do they continue to be half of the parent who alienated them and those influences remain even if they never see that parent again.
Parenting a once alienated child is an art form which is perfected by healthy parents who understand the way in which the child was alienated in the first place and who can guide and help the child to manifest the healing which takes places when the psychologically split self is healed. There are many parents in the UK who have reunited with their children assisted by the Family Separation Clinic. Many are very willing to speak about their experience in order to help others. None will say that it was easy, all will say that their children were severely harmed by the experience, all will talk about the challenges of reunification and healing as well as the pleasure.
Stay sane in the conflicted space and guard your mind ferociously as a rejected parent. This is your life and your journey and your children depend upon you to stay healthy and well and independent of spirit so that when they do reunite with you, you are you, not a shadow of you or a follower of someone else. Doing this takes guts and it takes courage but it pays dividends beyond compare when you achieve it because it changes not only your own experience and that of your children but that of the next generations who will be parented by the children who are alienated now.
Staying sane means concentrating upon becoming the transformative character in your story, the one who changes the path for future generations so that when your children and their children look back they can point and say – there – it stopped there.
It may not be the role you wanted when you became a parent but it is the role that life has assigned to you now.
Be your own leader and follow no-one.
Your children and your children’s children depend on you to do so.