Laying Down the Right/Wrong Burden

One of the hardest things for a parent whose child has completely rejected them is to lay down the right/wrong burden.  This burden, which is placed upon the back of the rejected parent from the moment that the child begins to show the signs of alienation, is one which grows heavier over time if it is not understood and refused.

Refusing the right/wrong burden is something that not many rejected parents realise they have the right to do.  But they do have that right and they must choose to use it, if they are to survive whilst the child is underground at the mad hatters tea party.

The child who refuses, rejects and dismisses, is a child whose mind has been, temporarily at least, interfered with.  So that the lens that the child looks through distorts what they see in their memory, making objects in the mirror appear larger than they really are.  The child does not know this and is only aware that their internal sense of disconnection from a parent, is based upon their ‘true’ memory.  So that memory of when a parent did something unpleasant, which was mirrored back to them by the parent who they became aligned to, as being a great wrong to their being, became embedded as fact. And that ‘fact’ built upon others and eventually a wall in the mind of the child, prevented sight of the other side and perspective was lost.

When perspective is lost in the mind of a child and the immediate sense is that life is more easy to cope with, a sense that ‘memory’ is right and decisions have been properly made arrives. The child trusts that sense and because it is supported by the parent with whom they are now firmly aligned, a shared narrative emerges which says that this is the right way to be, the right way to think.  Parent and child now reflect back to each other their sense of completeness and the world feels cosy and safe.  Outside of that dyad, the disposable parent is expected to carry the burden of blame and rejection.  If only that parent would take it away, that bundle of negative thinking and deeds of wrongdoing which caused them to be summarily dismissed.

When the parent waits by the gate with that burden of darkness heaped on their back and is still there at sundown, waiting for someone to notice, to come and say hi, to help them to put down that burden, the child and the parent stand by the window and watch. Deep in the heart of the child is compassion and knowledge, that the reason their parent remains by the gate is the love which endures and will do so until the ends of all time.  The hand on their shoulder however, tells them not to allow those feelings to come.  By darkness the parent remains by the gate and the child goes to sleep with the guilt and the shame.  If only that parent would take it away, that burden of shadows they stand at the gate with.  At night the child dreams of being chased and of wolves with their fangs coming to bite.  By morning the parent is still there, what can be done to drive off the ghost of the past which is split off and denied?

So much of what happens in the mind of the psychologically split child is about metaphor not words.  A child who rejects, who splits two into one wholly good and one wholly bad, finds it hard to say it but so easy to feel the effects.  As the pushed away, blamed and denied parent tries to get closer, the child exponentially deepens rejection.  As this happens the burden of shame and of pain that the parent must carry grows heavy.  Torture this is, that the love and the missing should heap more and more weight for the parent to carry.  All the while the child, disappeared underground into black and white thinking, plays croquet, eats cakes and takes turns to pour tea with the queen.

For all that you love them and miss them and want them to wake up.  For all that you wish that a wand could be waved and the love could return to your life.  If you are that parent, waiting til sundown with somebody else’s bag on your back.  Put it down.  Put it down and leave it for a while by the gate.  Come with me to the fields where the cornflowers grow and the wind rustles the ears of the corn and the shshshshshsshshsh of the breeze on our faces brings peace to the mind.  Come with me to the place beyond right beyond wrong and learn that your shoulders have more of a purpose than carrying those shadows around.  It isn’t your story, it was never your script, you were there at the right time, to bring through the wonder of children. But this division of mind into right into wrong it is not your ending.  It is not theirs either, if they only but knew.

You will never abandon your duty I know that, they bank on it.   But you don’t have to carry their burden of wrong. It is not your responsibility, your role or their right that you should bear what is split off and denied in their hearts and minds.  What they do not know (but we do) is that one day the split will seem pointless to them and their missing will rush up from the depths of their being and make them appear in your life overnight.  When that happens the burden they gave you to bear must not have crushed you or beaten or broken you.  They relied on you to be there and be there you must and you will be.  But you don’t have to carry it day in day out and you don’t have to sit by the gate with it tied to your back til it breaks you.

Out beyond the right and wrong, out beyond the cruelty there just is.

And where there is, is peace of mind and rest.

Come with me and put that burden down.  We will find grace in our doing and being and peace in our hearts and survival.

We might even find joy.

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32 thoughts on “Laying Down the Right/Wrong Burden

  1. Tears….this brings me so many tears. I do hope that, that one day will come and will come soon. I am waiting by the gate. It is comforting to hear that you think they know I am there for them.


    1. leave that burden by the gate for a while LoH and come with us to the fields and let your shoulders rest. There is hope, always hope and they know, deep down they know. Some on here thought never to hear the words ‘I love you dad’ again and they have. You deserve life and rest and peace in your heart and mind. Let the tears flow but come with us, I am going on a journey to find some peaceful places on here for parents this year, come with us and leave that burden by the gate, they will know you are still there. xx


    1. lots of love Yvie, sometimes I just think that anyone who carries this burden has to be simply loved from the bottom of our hearts xx


  2. Somehow, my husband never really took on the burden of being wrong. He knew from the beginning that he was being vilified and labeled as the reason for the problems when he wasn’t. Since his son has done very poorly in school since being alienated entirely, he can see even further that he wasn’t the problem he was labeled to be. And I think he’s done a good job of moving away from waiting at the gate (more like banging on the gate) and finding peace of mind. He did struggle a lot with why the schools/courts/therapists could not see what was going on, but he’s let that go, too.

    The hard part is wondering if the mad hatter has damaged the child so completely that there will be no positive future for the child, whether his father is in it or not.


    1. That is the situation with some of the most severe cases Cara, that the madness underground winds around the mind of the child to the point where reality is no longer a possibility. But. I have to say. Even in the cases of absolute stark raving madness that I have worked in, when the child is separated/liberated, the healing begins immediately. It is as if the transfusion of love into the veins that comes from the reunification, brings the child to their senses. I am always stunned by how it repeats itself. When a healthy parent is there to receive, love flows and health grows.


  3. Beautiful. You always capture the raw emotions so perfectly. And ‘underground at the Mad Hatter’s tea party playing croquet’…that’s a brilliant description!
    Thank you, Karen.
    Keep building your army x


    1. we will keep on keeping on Ally, I just want to bring some love into this life as well as the knowing and coping, the love is so much deserved by everyone who waits by the gate xxx


  4. What I timely message. Your article is about a child, does that apply to when the child is now an adult? When will they emerge from that state of mind? Waiting for a trigger to happen so they can emerge or a learning moment? The burdens have gotten so laden and heavy and they are haunting. It is increasing difficult to live in the two different spectrums. If you let go it feels like yo are leaving the children behind, but you know you can’t continue on this path. It seems like it is hard either path, burdens or waiting. It is very difficult to not think about the children and leave them behind. You go in life and you see and experience others and you yearn for your own.



    1. And that horrible double burden is what I want to find a way to work with for parents this year anonymous because the paradox is that in order to live you have to let go for a while and to let go means you are terrified to live and the horrible cycle continues. Some of this is about permission giving, letting parents know that it is ok to put that burden down and leave it there by the gate for a while. Your children will never be left behind and you NEED to live, in fact they need you to live so that when they are free and find you you are there and well and able to give them what they desperately need which is the love which breathes life back into them. So this year I am finding ways to help parents to live and be and put it down for a while. It applies here just as much to adult children as those who are still children. I know adult alienated children as well as I know those who are still children and I know that they too need you to live. You can live and still think of them. Rest and still bless them in your heart and mind. You can have peace and life and even joy and never let your children go completely. We are going to do more of this here this year, come and be with us as we try out different things together x


    2. It took my husband a long time to accept and believe that “letting go” and “giving up” are not the same thing. He took a leap and “let go” and life is so much better for it. But he’s never given up. It makes sense now, what Karen says, that if/when the child returns, he/she needs to find a healthy, happy lost parent – not one that has been broken by what the child “chose” to do by rejecting them.


  5. “You can live and still think of them. Rest and still bless them in your heart and mind. You can have peace and life and even joy and never let your children go completely.”

    Such wonderful wise words. I have been listening to your compassionate advice for some time now Karen and truth is, without it I don’t know what kind of a twisted, bitter, broken human being I might have become. Instead I’m taking your advice, putting it into practice and re-finding a life for myself. Your big heart and soul emanates from your blog like a warm blanket. What value to bring to others lives. Bless you.


    1. and after what has been done to you Sadsam that is so important to hear. You deserve life and love and the deepest care. You will always be there and you can live your life too and you must. This year I am going on a journey to find love and peace and the deepest places of being, for us all xxx


  6. This piece also made me cry, and is very timely. One of the hardest things for me as a partner of an alienated parent has been to see the inhumane treatment he has received. Not only from his ex-wife and children, but by professionals: teachers, headteacher, school counsellor, student welfare officer, social workers, even the NYAS case-worker. Thank you for reminding me that there is kindness out there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. the inhumanity is what I find so despairing Ali. I once witnessed a social worker treat a mother who had been judged entirely without blame, as if she were the cause of the child’s vile behaviour towards her. I was open mouthed at the complete lack of compassion for what this mother had been through to stay in her child’s life – if only that were the only time I had witnessed that – it is appalling to me. Which is why giving love, care and understanding is so very important to me. Lots of love to you and your partner xxxx


      1. Ali, I too have watched and listened to unbelievably cruel and ignorant comments directed at my husband, who only ever wanted to love and protect his child. And been so humbled and so proud by how strong, and even, and fair, and honest he has been, by and large, in return. He has behaved admirably in the face of bigotry. I only hope that one day his son will return to him.


      2. CG, it is both heartbreaking and heartening to know that others are in the same position. Sending love and support to you both. X


      3. Ali, there are a few of us here sadly. It is however a support to read and hear how others cope. It stops me thinking ‘it’s just me!’. My love and support to you and your partner too xx


    2. Ali, I have just looked at your blog, it is beautiful, would you write something on here about mindful gardening? I think readers would really enjoy it. This year, as we move towards much more self help and self care work, I want to bring life and hope and joy into the world for and with alienated parents, to help everyone to survive this and those just recognising what is happening, to understand that living like this doesn’t have to be a death sentence. I want to keep people alive and full of hope, I would love to publish a piece or if you write one on yours, reblog it. Such beautiful pictures which keep us all in touch with the natural world. x


      1. well you could write it on your blog and I could reblog it depends on how much exposure you want for your blog really – it is so lovely, I think people would really enjoy it xx


  7. Timely…this was posted the day after my birthday, the day that none of my 4 precious daughters contacted me in any form. By discovering this site, I have been able to be far less hurt by these actions, instead, I hurt for them in their tortured minds that caused this split. Thanks for the good work you continue to do. HOPE!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Michael, I am sad to hear this but I hope that you will find some peace and solace here. I have had a bad dose of flu since last week so am behind on my responses to emails but I will read and respond for sure. K x


  8. We are very down right now. A year of preparing for court to try and keep regular time with child – and then told – the other parent will never change – this will keep on happening throughout the child’s life through to adulthood. How can we protect a child from that? You can’t – you keep seeing them and trying to give them a normal loving home time, but the child is still being pressured and even punished for enjoying the time with you. This worries me almost more than complete absence and being immersed with the other parent.


  9. Karen,

    I went through 10+ years of custody battles against an attorney ex-husband whose sport is court. I am alienated (in varying degrees) from all 4 of my now- adult children. However, once I came to the point of acceptance that there was nothing I could do except to reach out occasionally (see Ryan Thomas’ videos for the “How”) and pray they will eventually see the light, I changed what I had the power to change: me.

    I exercise, socialize, and am pursuing my dream of getting a Masters’ degree and loving my job. I stopped dwelling on the sadness of it all.

    As my college econ teacher said, “Living well is the best revenge.”

    I’m not really seeking revenge, but as I become the best “me” I can be, I have much more to offer my children, Lord willing, they DO come back But, if they never do, I’ve still made the best of the hand dealt to me.


    1. Helen, your strength and determination sing out loud and clear from your post. In some ways to crumble under such circumstances is the easy route……to hold one’s head up high, to value one’s own individuality, and seek to thrive not just survive, is a monumental task. You say you are ‘socializing’………I wonder if you have any tips for overcoming the social stigma that can arise from losing one’s kids?


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