The Courage to Face the Truth in Parent Alienation

I believe that my father’s entire side of my family was given the same story line that I was, spoken or not:  My mother walked out on us.  She had an affair and then left us- and my sister and I were better off without her anyway, because what would happen to us in her care, living her  not-fit-to-be-a-parent lifestyle? My father stuck with us after the divorce. He was the hero. She was the abandoning parent. 

That she was a young woman attempting to escape a harmful marriage that she felt trapped in were never addressed. That she planned to take my sister and me with her if and when she got up the courage to leave was not mentioned. Most people may not have even known this.  The intimidation she felt being married to my father may not have been obvious to others, I don’t know. Or it could have been minimized, ignored, or simply accepted.  This was the 1960s after all.  Domestic abuse, emotional abuse, and certainly parent alienation were hardly on anyone’s radar.

The fact that my memories of her were good and loving and of a normal bond between child and mother, was something that was never acknowledged.

A loving bond between parent and child being violently, suddenly severed is wrong.

One man holding all the power he needs to do this is wrong.

Writing my memoir, and reconnecting with my mother, and my grandmother before her final days, are the best ways I know how to salvage this tragedy.

Recently, a family member from my father’s side told me that she remembers my mother as a kind person and a good mother.

The words rang true for me.  They were congruent with what I remember.  No one had ever said those words to me before.

I wonder what my sister would think if she heard those same words.  I wonder if, despite her lifelong rejection of our mother, she would recognize the truth. I don’t know. Probably not, because it is a painful thing to accept that you have swallowed a lie that altered your life. I don’t think she could handle that.

Why do some adult children come to recognize parent alienation and others don’t? I don’t know.

But  I have. It’s taken time and searching and questioning. It’s taken courage and the relentless desire for the truth.  I recognize the truth. And that is why I trusted my gut all these years.  I knew I held the truth.  I was just afraid to say it. I know all too well the power my father has held and the intimidation he can instill. It ends now.

Fear be damned. I am done with fear.

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25 thoughts on “The Courage to Face the Truth in Parent Alienation

  1. It takes a lot of courage to do what you are doing. It takes a lot to acknowledge that perhaps you judged too harshly and maybe with inaccurate or insufficient information. I am glad you are breaking out from those bonds of fear.

    Many children are blinded by fear of the parent they are with – fear of the consequences but they are also afraid that they might be rejected from the other parent – so its easier to live with the coat of arms that they wrap themselves with – convincing themselves that their parent was indeed not worthy of their love.

    You are older now and able to make independent choices. I hope you are able to find your mom but don’t ever give up.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You have no idea how glad that makes me. You and your mom have a difficult road ahead – navigating the should I’s and what ifs.. May I offer you a piece of wisdom Im trying hard to life by but find peaceful? Spend the time you do with your mother authentically, there is hurt on both sides – acknowledge it and address it. But do so with compassion and non-judgement. What is past is past but your future will depend on how well you lay the foundation now… so you can skim over everything and talk about puppies and butterflies or you can be honest with each other. It will be painful but with that will come release from fear and hurt and you will be glad. My best wishes for both of you.

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  2. Its been a while since I have caught up with your blog. I’m so glad you are now in contact with your mother. It must have been incredibly difficult & emotional for both of you. Emotional rollercoaster still ahead I imagine. Thanks for giving us rejected parents some insight & hope. Good luck with your book. I look forward to it.

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  3. Thanks for the blog. I am an attorney dealing with a case in which the mother has been totally banned from the children’s lives. Everything you started off this blog with is what is being told to the children by the father and the father’s family and the mother’s family. However, there is an element of religion that is very strong in the situation. The church backs the father and the mother has been shunned due to her “ungodly” ways. Everyone from the Judge to the “counselor” is promoting this religious argument. Did you ever have that going on in your situation? If so, would there have been anything that would have shown you differently? I fear she is fighting a losing battle. The children no longer want anything to do with her because of what they have been told. When she does get legal relief to visit with them, they probably will not want to see her. She is now contemplating what is best for everyone, asking, should she just walk away and hope they grow up and come back to her. Would you ever recommend that?

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    1. Hello. Religion never came into play in my case, but an alienator will use whatever methods are available and will cleverly gain the support of people around him. It sounds like this father has a church community that is convinced (perhaps fairly easily) that the mother is ‘unfit’. She needs mental health professionals on her side. If professionals assessed the situation according to their professional obligations, they would likely need to file for psychological child abuse (the father is alienating the children from their mother). There is a clear method for doing this; specific criteria is spelled out for them. Dr. Craig Childress spells out exactly what needs to happen, on his blog (see his latest entry, just this week) http://drcraigchildressblog.com/ and also in his book, Foundations. It is important that she not give up on the children. They need to be rescued from HIS psychological abuse, and she will need support. The only way the children are going to reconnect w/. their mother in a natural, bonding way (and stop rejecting her) is to be removed from the father, temporarily. As long as they spend any time with him, they will remain under his psychological control. They will vehemently deny that he is “making them” reject her, but that is part of this terrible dynamic/pathology. Please see Dr. Childress blog asap. All the answers are there. http://drcraigchildressblog.com/

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      1. I am a father that is dealing with this now. My ex hasn’t spoken to her father in 25 years. After she filed for divorce she accused me of molesting, beating and abusing my kids and her. I never did any of that. I have and always will be an involved father. After all these allegations and a fake cps claim 2 months into the divorce that went no where. I realized that every man that was divorce from the mother, my ex or he sister. Were all accused of these same things including her dad.
        I went I round each one of these man and found out that non of the accusation were true. Including the one with the father. the mother set the daughters up to try to frame the dad for molestation. My ex and her sister continued to see the dad after the divorce till they were 23. Which at that time they told the dad if he wanted to continue to have a relationship with them he needed to pay them each $300 a month or they wouldn’t take to him anymore. He should me the letters, the divorce decree Everything. I was shocked. My kids now see the grandfather and have a good relationship with him. I get my gets 198 days out of the year and drive them to and from school everyday. My ex continues to try to work the kids against me it is a lot of work to keep the kids level at 6 and 8. It is sad wait some people will do I don’t get it. I wish you luck on your journey it is a long hard road. I can’t imagine being a child that went through this. Your are smart enough to see through on the brain washing. My ex isn’t her mother is trying to continue your alienation drama.

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    2. Hi Daisy,
      I am a mom of two kids now almost 18 and 15. My children were alienated when they were 13 and 10 and as much as the court tried – it is hard to manage. The court orders say one thing but the fact is the implementation is another story and very expensive.

      At the end of the day I had custody of one the older was too old to warrant being told what to do and where to live. But as a parent, how do you manage the constant underhandedness of the other parent – you cant. Realistically, neither can the courts.

      As parents our role is to be models, caregivers, nurturers. So I decided to make sure in any form possible that my children knew I loved them and cared for them and my door was open to them.

      And no – logically and emotionally, it doesn’t make sense to agree to walk away and give up the fight. But the truth of the matter is that its the kids that are in a hard place – What child should decide which of their parents are good or not. So they decide what is easy for them. I dont know what age these kids are but psychologically it makes a difference as to how they respond.

      I was always told by my lawyer ( who is amazing and very pragmatic) told me that in his experience at some point in time the children begin to understand things better, question things and make their own choices.

      Is it ideal? No its not.. but would you rather have your child cut in half you so you could have your piece or would you rather wait till they find their way back to you.

      In the interim, do your best to stay in touch even when it feels you are being rejected and not heard. They are hearing you but just aren’t strong to acknowledge it yet.

      I wish your client strength, tenacity, courage and love.

      Piglet’s mom

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    3. Hello, my name is Coral Anika Theill, I appreciate this post and your comment, Daisy. I lost custody of my eight children, including my nursing infant in 1996 while seeking safety and a divorce in Dallas, Oregon. I lost visitation privileges in 1998. In 1999, I legally changed my name and went under a state address protection program. My ex-husband is a fundamental, legalistic Christian and has been involved in eight extreme cults. He has legally stalked me for 20 years – 45 court hearings to date. Due to poverty from ongoing court abuse, I lived out of my car for three years. His abuse and the crimes of domestic violence, rape, child abuse/molestation was supported and condoned by Baptist, Evangelical pastors, elders, church members, Christian teachers and family members. My ex-husband wrote me several letters after the divorce stating that I was not allowed to see or have contact with my children due to the fact that I did hot have the same religious beliefs as they did, (cult teachings, ideology, spiritual & ritual abuse, violence). Sadly, my children were brainwashed to hate and further abuse me. They are now all adults. Several of them have written me hate letters throughout the years. They do not want any contact with me. Since 2001, In-laws have joined in their ‘huddled fear’ including writing hateful letters and attending court in support of my abuser/rapist even though I have never met or talked to them. You are welcome to read a copy of my 2013 published memoir, BONSHEA Making Light of the Dark, at my website. I write extensively about how patriarchal religion is very much a part of our patriarchal judicial system. In 2003 Judge Paula Brownhill sided with my ex-husband and signed court orders suing me for more child support while I was homeless and destitute. The court order prohibited me from writing my children, phoning them, sending them gifts or having any contact with my children through a third party. Sincerely, Coral Anika Theill, Author, Advocate, Mother of Lost Children, Speaker & Reporter, http://www.coralanikatheill.com “A victim’s first scream is for help; a victim’s second scream is for justice.”

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  4. “Forcibly taking a mother’s children, and then controlling her emotionally by withholding contact must be publicly recognized as one of the greatest forms of ‘mis-use’ of the American justice system and one of the greatest hidden vehicles for wide-spread socially approved physical and emotional abuse and control.

    “Two hundred years ago a system of legal slavery allowed for the ownership of human beings as if they were livestock. Children were ripped away from their mothers with as little consideration as separating a calf from a cow. In this country today, extreme forms of paternalistic religion promote an institutional form of slavery where a woman must be totally obedient to a husband who has absolute control of her life. The wife’s lot is to obey and bear children. If she rebels and chooses to save herself by escaping from this life, the father—supported by the church community and often by the court system, can forcibly strip a child away from the mother.

    “On March 10, 1996, I was forced, by an Order of the Court, and by my ex-husband, Marty Warner, his attorney, his family and religious supporters, to do something that raged against my good conscience, my common sense and against all my motherly instincts. After a temporary custody hearing, a Court Order signed by Judge Albin Norblad forcibly removed my nursing baby and two youngest children from me. I obeyed the Court Order and gave my children over to my ex-husband. I drove to the hospital, rented a breast-pump and later collapsed and went into shock. I could not understand what had happened and why. I have not yet recovered from the shock; perhaps I never will….

    “The price for my own safety and freedom in 1996 was an imposed, unnatural and unwanted separation from my eight children. The injustice committed against me is not just the physical separation from my children, but the willful desecration of the mother-child relationship and bond, a sacred spiritual and emotional entity.” – Coral Anika Theill, http://www.coralanikatheill.com

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    1. I have some idea of the shock that you speak of, Coral Anika. When mothers and children are suddenly separated, I think there is shock for both. Your story and book deserve so much attention. I am so glad you have taken action. Thank you for writing.

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    2. Yes, both parent and child are in “shock” when they are separated. Often the separation becomes permanent. I know many non-custodial mothers who have been separated from their children for 20 years or more.

      Many mothers who seek safety from abuse are routinely prohibited from having even the most basic contact with their own children, not because they were unfit parents, but because they were outspent, out represented, and out-maneuvered in a court atmosphere not prepared to understand the needs of families dealing with domestic violence.

      To unnecessarily and violently separate a woman and her young children can represent the gravest form of abuse, with major social ramifications in generations to come.

      When a court orders the removal of a child from a parent it can have the same emotional wounding effect on the deprived mother (or father) as if that child has been kidnapped or murdered. When the deprived parent has been the protective parent, and the court gives custody and decision-making power to the abusive parent under the guise of “Best Interests of the Child” statutes, the loss to the severed parent is deeply damaging.

      In addition to trying to recover from the abuse of a spouse and the profound grief at being separated from your children, there is an overwhelming guilt at not having fought successfully to protect your children. The fact is that sometimes the courts get it wrong. Prolonged custody fights require a tremendous amount of stamina and money for lawyers. A domineering and abusive spouse with access to funds can easily manipulate the court system to his (or her) advantage and drag the fight out for years. One day you wake up to discover that the children you love and cherish and have been aching for have grown up, been told for years that you abandoned them and taught to hate you.

      Many children who have no contact with their protective parent have clear functional amnesia. They have no memories other than those created and re-created by the controlling parent. These children successfully re-program who and what they are outside as well as within.

      Although my children have erased me from their life, I am not dead, I am very much alive, and I have a face, and a name.

      I have been and will always be very involved in their life, even if it is only through prayer. I am praying that someday my children will choose to become “aware, awake and conscious” concerning details of their past and present. Their lack of awareness regarding their own life will greatly affect those around them. I pray my children will find good role models and mentors. I also pray that someday my children find the courage to walk through the unpleasant details of their past.

      Many of the Christians my children have chosen to socialize and worship with, embrace and support their father, a man who has committed criminal acts against his former wife and children. In short, these pastors, elders and Christians CONDONE crimes against children and women.

      This does not support my children’s well being, only their delusion of themselves and their family.

      You will never know where you are going unless you truly understand where you came from. It is important to take care of the “contamination of the past.”

      While many people focus their outrage on the judicial system alone, it’s easy to lose sight of broader problems that assist in the culture of abuse—like churches, pastors, family members and the local community. These elements, too, played a role in the corruption and silence that has allowed a man like my ex-husband, and others like him, to operate untouched for so long.

      What I learned through these past few decades is that domestic violence, rape, child abuse and child sexual molestation is socially acceptable in our society and often in many church settings. This needs to change! http://www.coralanikatheill.com/#!read-bonshea-making-light-of-the-dark-/c22am

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  5. Thank you so much for this powerful and beautifully written blog. My husband has two adult daughters (20 and 22) that now haven’t spoken to him for nearly a year, after years of six years of cruel behavior. It’s so very painful to be a part of this in a family. I wish there were a way for them to read your words before it is too late for them. I look forward to your book with anticipation!

    Liked by 1 person

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