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Author Topic: 8.60 | The complex issue of alienated children  (Read 2145 times)
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« on: October 23, 2009, 12:37:57 PM »

This workshop will discuss the phenomenon of children who are alienated (or becoming alienated) from one parent, before, during, or after the divorce process.

We will discuss:

1.  The various definitions and descriptions of alienated children and parental alienation, and the history of the use of these terms.  There is controversy among the experts on this topic, so some descriptions of these problems and controversies are appropriate.

2.  Suggestions on how parents can recognize that alienation is starting or ongoing.

3.  Tools on how parents can attempt to defuse alienation with their children.

4.  Tools on how parents involved in the legal/divorce/custody process can help/work with alienation or alienated children.

5.  Writings or references on this topic... .anything else that fits this topic.

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« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2009, 03:16:01 AM »

When dealing with PAS, its important to understand the source.

Some PAS is driven by the child.  Some PAS by the other parent.  Some PAS by our own actions.  And then there are all the combinations of the above.


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« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2009, 10:26:54 AM »

Thanks JK for getting this started.

Sorry I don't have the resources from where this came from to reference, but thought it was some good tips.

Tips for Dealing With Alienation

Behave with integrity

Just because the other parent is not focused on the needs of the children doesn’t mean you have to reciprocate.  Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking that you are helpless. While you may not have control over the other parent’s actions you do have control over how you respond and how you process the situation with your children.

Don’t let the situation take over your life

Find some support for yourself and as much as possible limit the amount of emotional energy you are giving to the conflict.

Don’t blame your children for the rejection

In normal parenting situations it is reasonable to  hold your children accountable for inappropriate  and disrespectful behavior. These situations are not normal circumstances. Children are literally being placed in a situation where in order to be embraced by one parent they must reject the other.  If the relationship with your child is in jeopardy the first  and most important goal is to preserve your relationship and emotional connection with your child.  Accountability needs to take a backseat.

Make sure you are taking responsibility for your part

In some situations target parents may contribute or enhance the alienation by either trying to aggressively fight back or by becoming overly passive. Others may choose to completely withdraw from children’s lives because the rejection and persecution had become too   difficult to deal with.  

Be the most consistent loving parent you can be

When dealing with high conflict situations it can sometimes be hard to see how your actions are making a difference.  In some parent child relationships it may take years before you will   see  the results of your choices and effort.  Don’t make  the mistake of thinking you do not matter to your children, you do.  

Things That DO NOT WORK
When Treating Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)

As indicated before - WAITING - That means waiting for things to get better, waiting for the alienating parent to get over his or her upset or to become more reasonable, or waiting for the children to come around on their own.

NEGOTIATING - Alienating parents are not interested in negotiating because they will not consider anything that deviates from their own agenda.

MEDIATION - The process of mediation can only work if the parties involved enter into the process in good faith and with the purpose of finding a mutually agreeable solution based on compromise. The alienating parent is not interested in compromise anymore than he or she is interested in negotiations.

ATTEMPTS TO REASON WITH THE ALIENATING PARENT - Many targeted parents invest tremendous energy and time in attempts to convince the alienating parent that what they are doing is harmful and unfair to the children and themselves. This is a complete waste and in most cases, it actually makes things worse because it provides more opportunities to create conflict.

ATTEMPTS TO APPEASE THE ALIENATING PARENT - This can never happen since the alienating parent is driven by a desire to destroy the targeted parent.  

Things That May HELP ALLEVIATE The Effects of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)

MAINTAIN CLEAR EMOTIONAL AND PHYSICAL BOUNDARIES - This will help protect against the influences of the alienating parent.

FOCUS ON ALTERING ONE'S OWN BEHAVIOR AND NOT THAT OF THE ALIENATING PARENT - When the targeted parent makes small changes such as not accepting phone calls from the alienating parent, that in itself may help mediate some of their negatives influences.

STOP FEELING INTIMIDATED BY THE ALIENATING PARENT - The alienating parent gets their power from frightening, threatening and intimidating the targeted parent.

BECOME PROACTIVE RATHER THAN REACTIVE TO THE ALIENATING PARENT'S BEHAVIOR - Many targeted parents invest tremendous energy and time in attempts to convince the alienating parent that what they are doing is harmful and unfair to the children and themselves. This is a complete waste and in most cases, it actually makes things worse because it provides more opportunities to create conflict.

KEEP BEING A PARENT - Do not succomb to pressures to overlook children's poor or inappropriate behavior. Be loving, consistent and firm in your expectations of your children.

FOCUS ON YOUR OWN BEHAVIOR AND NOT THAT OF THE ALIENATING PARENT - By making changes in how you respond or react to the alienating parent, this in turn will have a direct impact on the alienating parent. For example, if you limit contact with the alienating parent and reframe from responding to threats and criticisms, this will limit the power the alienating parent will have.  
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« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2009, 12:43:30 PM »

One of the issues of alienated children that isn't widely discussed is the issue that many parents are alienating before the family divorces or separates.  Many people here who divorced or are divorcing their spouse found that their children had been systematically alienated from them when the family was living together in the home.

Alienating behaviors while the family is together include:

1.  Alienating parent doesn't allow the other parent to eat with the children or doesn't cook for the other parent... only him/herself and the children.

2.  Alienating parent takes over all school/doctor functions and doesn't give the other parent any information, advance dates, etc. 

3.  Alienating parent engages in "you and me against the world" behavior with the kids.  The other parent is the odd person out.

4... Alienating parent is disrespectful or abusive to the other parent in front of the kids.

5.  Alienating parent often takes the child places without the other parent... .even if the other parent is available and wants to go.

6.  Alienating parent complains to the kids that the other parent isn't around ("See?  We can't count on him/her.  He/she's never around." even if the other parent is working and providing for the family.

7.  Alienating parent may sleep with the children and not with the spouse.

This is not a complete list, but it is more likely that these children will become increasingly alienated after separation/divorce proceedings start.

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« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2009, 01:40:42 PM »

Thanks for this important workshop. I thought it might be helpful to get a child's perspective on alienation. I experienced significant alienation in childhood and continuing on through adulthood.

There's a thread in which a number of adult children of BPD parents discuss their alienation experiences at https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=102617.10.

From that thread here's a summary of my experience:

My uBPD mother saw my father as evil and the source of all her pain for many years. He left her when we were small children. Some behaviors she displayed:

*Telling us whenever we didn't have something that it was because our father didn't support us.

*Saying "you're just like your father" whenever we did something she perceived as selfish or wrong.

*Refusing to make any effort to help us see him.

*Cowering in the house when he would come to pick us up and refusing to answer the door.

*Telling us she was afraid of him and needed us to protect her from him.

*Giving us specific "protection" tasks to keep her safe.

*Sharing every detail of their legal wranglings.

*Using us as intermediaries to carry information.

*Sneering when she spoke of him.

*Badgering us with questions about his lifestyle.

*Sending people she knew to spy on him and then tell us about what was discovered.

*Speaking about men in general as evil and disparaging my boyfriends.

Unfortunately, my father wasn't better, though he was different in his approach, more undermining of her worth as a human being.

The way I dealt with this, starting as a child and getting far firmer as an adult, was to seal off my relationships with them. I dealt with my father. I dealt with my mother. I did not deal with them in relation. Maintaining those walls took a lot of energy.


What they call you is one thing.
What you answer to is something else. ~ Lucille Clifton
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« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2009, 09:51:25 AM »

As I read through Blackandwhite's account of being raised in a family in which both parents were alienating, I wondered how many people here are in similar situations...   That is, while we know that the other parent is alienating, we don't see alienating behaviors in ourselves.

Signs of this might be:

1.  Tone of voice:  As mentioned above, just using the term "your father" or "your mother" with a particular tone of voice will indicate to your kids loudly and clearly that the other parent is somehow "not good".

2.  Anxiety if the other parent is picking up the kids or doing something with them:  Some here have had parents who have kidnapped their children or abused them.  But there are other parents who allow their anxiousness towards the other parent to color the way they react when the other parent is around or mentioned.  Children should feel free to mention the other parent in the other parent's presence.  Our own attitude towards the other parent needs to be monitored carefully so it doesn't come out in tone of voice, snide comments, or an agitated facial expression.  (This is very hard to do, even for those of us who are really working on not alienating our children.)     

3.  Making mountains out off molehills-- Picking on the other parent if he/she isn't perfect or if he/she does things that are "different" .  Being five or ten minutes late isn't the same as being consistently an hour or two late.  The other parent may not feed the children what you consider an acceptable diet... but there's really nothing wrong with macaroni and cheese or ramen noodles.  (The children may be gaining weight due to emotional overeating due to the stress between the parents and not because mom or dad feeds them occasional fast food.)  Make sure you aren't overreacting to things between you and the other parent that are just "different".  Commenting to the kids "You went to McDonald's again?" in a tone of voice that makes it clear that you disapprove is alienating--you are teaching the child that the other parent isn't "good".  If you have a legitimate concern about what the kids eat at the other parent's house, you need to discuss it calmly with the other parent... .But first decide if it is worth the aggravation. 

4.  Not encouraging visitation... .  There have been a few situations here in which visitation with the other parent might actually be dangerous.  But in most situations, even those involving an emotionally-challenged spouse, nothing bad is going to happen if the children visit with that parent.  It is up to the other parent to encourage friendly visitation, even if the kid doesn't want to go.  Twelve year olds should not be making decisions about whether or not they see the other parent.  Actually neither should 15 or 16 year olds.  If your teenager is hesitant to visit with the other parent, it is up to you to encourage that visit.           

I'm sure there are more.  But the point is that almost all of us who share children with an emotionally-challenged ex-spouse can probably clean up our acts and behave more positively towards our children's other parent.  Our children deserve to love both of their parents, no matter how useless we think the other one is. 


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« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2009, 10:33:57 AM »

Being able to identify the progression with parental alienation matters can help avoid it reaching the severe stage.  Seeing signs in stage one is when a parent must become proactive and diligent to cut it off then and take necessary action.   

The three stages of Pas:

Stage 1 - Mild

With the mild PAS parent, they may on the surface encourage involvement with the other parent, but their behavior typically tries to give them a perceived advantage to the child as in I’m better then him or her.

Stage 2 - Moderate

In the moderate PAS situation, the alienating parent will clearly interfere with the visitation of the other parent but on the surface support the other parent’s involvement. There are cases where the child’s time is completely filled by socially accepted activities, even enriching ones, but these of course prevent the child from being the other parent. When the other parent objects, well, he or she must not really care about the child because they want to interfere with the child’s activities!

Stage 3 - Severe

Finally, the severe PAS the children are brainwashed, programmed and redirected away from a parent they typically had a relationship with before. These children will frequently be vocal in telling anyone and everyone that do not want to be with, see or even talk to that parent.

Perhaps members here dealing with PAS can give some specific examples of what they experienced in each stage with the BPD parent?
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« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2009, 01:45:23 PM »

I consider myself very fortunate that PAS was stopped midway through the divorce. I can never know the reason for that. Perhaps it is because the things I did were effective or just that the BPD mom was able to see it wasn't right or maybe a family member of hers saw it and spoke up. I can never know what got it to stop, but it was headed in a very bad direction.

After we separated by way of RO (in my favor) and the temp custody order was tilted quite in my favor, she started her quest to get back custody. The kids were 2 and 4 yrs. She would make the kids cry when dropping them off to come home. She did this by acting as if it was goodbye forever, and not doing the right thing and highlighting that it is time to be with daddy and they'll see mommy again in a few days. Not, the way they were sent back to me it was clear she was working them up.

Then my daughter started asking wierd questions, like "Is Grandma mean?" I'd say, "no, why do you ask?" Her response would be "Because mommy said Grandma is mean and hits us". This referring of course to my mother, who testified against her at the RO hearing as a first-hand witness of her assaulting me. My daughter would basically question me abotu everything her mother had tried to put in her head. I woudl simply ask her "What do you think? You've spent time with grandma, is shew nice or mean?" She'd answer nice, then I'd ask "Has grandma ever hit you?" and she'd ansewr "no". I'd just help her reform her own perception based on her own personal experience with my mother. Then I'd ask if mommy said those things, and she'd tell me yes. I would tell her it isn't right that mommy says those things, and it is OK if you tell her to stop talking abotu your grandma that way.

Then she started coming back telling me the things mommy said about me... .that I hit and lock her in her room. Again, I'd just ask her questions to help her reform her own perception... .and she'd start asking eventually why mommy says these things, and I'd just tell her it isn't OK for her to say this and it IS OK for her to tell mommy to stop talking about my daddy that way.

Then of course eventually I got a GF, and my D started coming back with similar questions about her, and it would identify the things mommy was trying to plant in her mind. That she is mean, hits her, etc. Again, I woudl just ask her questions to help her refrom her own perception, but I didn't tell her it is OK to tell mommy to stop.

Eventually my daughter came back telling me how mommy told her to call 911 and say I was hitting her... .I just asked her questions to take that mental programming away. By telling the D to call 911 WHEN I hit her, it is programming her THAT I DO hit her. So I just asked her ":)o I hit you?" She'd answer no. So I'd say, well then you don't need to call 911 because of that, do you?

And not long after that, CPS called me asking to interview me and my GF as my wife had launched formal allegations of abuse to our D by me and GF. I guess it came to a head that she felt maybe her programming was effective enough and it was time to make the move. I have to hand it to her, it was a very well coordinated and premeditated attack... .

The custody situation was that she had kids from 6pm sat through 6pm tues... .but I had started letting her have through 6pm thurs every other week to even the time out. That was a verbal agreement and the custody order wasn't modified to reflect that.

So, what she did is pick up the kids sat eve, then sometime on Sunday she called CPS and made the allegations. Probably hoping and expected an immediate response from CPS. She might have even caused marks herself to preare for this -- who knows. For whatever reason, CPS did not immediately respond. Probably because the kids weren't due to come back to me, the alleged abuser, for several days so the kids weren't at risk.

On monday morning I get a text from the person we agreed could communicate to me abotu matters having to do with the kids. I had no idea of the CPS allegations at this time, I wouldn't find out about that until later in the day. The text message said D was sick and couldn't go to school, and would need to stay out of school the entire week, and specifically told me I'd have to miss work and stay home with her. I responded saying I would assess the health of D on my own, and exercise my own judgement, and maybe yes I'd keep her out of school or perhaps not.

Later in the day I get a call from CPS saying they want to speak to me and GF as soon as possible, it will be simple and straightforward but they needed to speak to us to get this situation behind all of us... .I said, what situation? HE then backed up and explained the allegations and who made them (which he probably wasn't supposed to do).

OK, now I see her coordinated manuevers clearly. She programs D over the course of a couple months, decides to make her move, and tells me she is keeping D out of school due to illness. What she ewas really doing was keeping D out of school so that when CPS interviewed the school, whcih they would by procedure, the school woudl say "we can't say if we saw any marks or not because she wasn't here... .and oddly she was out the entire week". She was trying to set it up so that the school has doubt because my daughters absence from school aligns with the timing of the alleged abuse. And she was trying to get me to help by saying I'd keep D out of school the end of the week.

So Mon night we speak with CPS in my home, the interview us, check the kids rooms, look for evidence of drug/alcohol because she also put that in the allegation. CPS tells me they will complete their mandatory investigationa nd close it out, and that the next steps are to examine the child. I said, "You haven't already done that?" He said they were going to do it tues night.

Now I see the child exam by CPS is happenign in mothers presence, where she can influence the child, but technically tues night is my time. So I thought it might be a good idea to claim back my time. Then I realized if I did that, I could also get D back in school much sooner to alleviate that suspicion she was trying to brew up. So I texted the person that was our go between and said I expected the kids back Tues at 6pm as per the original court order with no explanation.

I didn't hear anything back. At 4:45pm I get a call form a judge in family court, where an emergent hearing is underway, on motion by my wife tro have the court order she keep the kids through the end of week on the basis that D is ill and cannot come home to me. No mention of the CPS stuff... .

I get sworn in and the judge (a lady) starts by asking if we can make this simple and I just agree to it... .and I said no. That didn't please the judge. The judhge asked "Can you explain why... ." So I said, first off, I can't even really assume the child is really sick and ask if the mother brought anything from the dr to substantiate the claim of this illness. Judge got torqued off, and yelled at me "If the mother says the kid is sick, the kid is sick! She came in here carrying a bag of vomit! Don't play Matlock in my courtroom!"

But then she turned toward my wife and asked ":)o you have anything from the doc... ." And teh answer was yes but she left it in the car. The judge yelled at her now because when you request a hearing you have to bring your proof, etc. When the judge was done admonishing her for that, and there was silence, I asked to speak and started to try to explain how the wife had the whole CPS thing going also, but I got about a half sentence out and the judge said "I'm done with you" and hung up.

I expected the shrriff to knock my door later that night to give me a copy of the order, but instead my wife pulled up around 7pm with the kids. She had still lost the motion and was told to return the kids. This was February in NJ and there was snow on the ground, and after all this crapping around in court claiming our D was so ill, she dropped the kids off later that night with no coats, in their PJ's, with no shoes. And since the RO prevented her from coming onto the property se pulled up and put them on the ground to walk across the yard with no shoes on.

First thing I did was take D's temp with a digital in-the-ear type thermometer and it was absolutely normal. I asked if she wasn't feeling well, she said "no, fine daddy". I asked if she was sick... .she said no. She was playing and bouncing around the hosue just fine, ate a lot of dinner, so before bed I asked if she wanted to go to school tomorrow and she said "Yeah". So she went to school and we carried on with the week.

But looking at it, the coordination was impressive... .she wanted to coordinate the CPS allegations with a false illness, keep D out of school to create suspicion there, then get a judge to order her to keep the kids the remainder of the week -- there are two poitns to the court order: 1) so she can continue keeping D from school to create that suspicion, and also so she could show CPS the order and say "I went ot court to get an order to keep them from him temporarily because of this abuse! You see, the order woudl just state what the judge was ordering, not why... .she would use the order and position it with CPS that a judge determined abuse was substantiated and influence CPS with that order.

All that failed. During my own interview with CPS, I did tell CPS of the things my daughter told me that made it clear the mother was programming her, and told CPS that they might want to consider asking my wife about this. Maybe they did... .

In any event, after all that came to a head, and failed, it all stopped. Or at least there was a period of calm. A few weeks later we were back in court on a motion by her wanting to reverse the custody order. Claiimign the kids are unhappy, they need her, that I beat them and lock them in their room, etc. When I showed up for that hearing I cam armed with a JPA (joint parenting agreement). In that agreement I was proposing 50/50 time, with a better schedule for both of us to get better quality time with the kids, provisions for vacations and holidays, and a couple pages of terms & conditions -- within thise T&C's was that neither of us would speak of the other parent or theiur relatives in negative light, as that woudl be emotional abuse to teh children, and upon that occuring the agreement would be nullified. I also included a page from one of the national organization on PAS explaingin what PAS is and how it is bad for the kids. I sent this to her a few days before the hearing so she could review and be prepared.

She showed up at the hearing with an L, and the L went over it with me and reauested a few minor changes to some holiday's etc. And we made the changes and signed it and got in front of the judge to make it our new custody schedule and parenting agreement. The judge asked my wife if she agreed to the JPA and was withdrawing her motion, adn she said yes. Judge prasied us both for coming to a resolution and agreement because we the parents are the only ones that truly know what is in our kids best interests so we shoudl be the ones to figure it out and not have it handed down from a court.

After that, the temperature changed dramatically. Kids showed up happy, father's day came and she took the kids to buy a card and helped them draw on it, etc. The JPA also extended me the right to take the kids out of state as long as it was on my time, and she could see clearly that and the schedule and the provisions for vacation was so I could take the kids to see grandma and grandpa -- something she told the kids would never happen again.

It all sort of went away because her motivation was to try it as a tactic to win custody, and that didn't work. But what did work was a JPA. And probably her L, who was brand new representing her, probably had some time to explain that what she was doing was damaging to her position shoudl a custody battle come about.

I'm no expert in this PAS stuff, but logically it would seem to me that the far majority of PAS is really just about trying to win custody and not really push the other parent out of their kids lives. So my recommendation is when you see PAS, and it seems motivated by custody, quickly get a JPA in place and be objective and give the BPD reaonable time as is in the best interests of the kids. That very well might end all the BS. Even if the BPD has a temp custody order in place that favors the BPD, the BPD still might just be jocking so the other parent can't win custody completely.

In my experience, getting a 50/50 JPA in place pretty much ended the custody dispute AND all the nastiness around it, including but not limited to PAS. At the time it was a hard decision to extend her 50/50 when she was behaving as she was, but deep inside I had faith it woudl end the BS. And it did.

That isn't going to be the case for everyone. There are BPD's that truly are motivated at painting you black and poioning the kids that way to align the kids on their crusade to deem you the bad one. How do you know what their motivation is? I can't say. For me it was in my gut... .but also was helped by thinking that if we entered the JPA and the BS continued, I would petition the court to have the JPA nullified based on whatever BS she continued, and have the temp order restored. Not sure if that would have worked legally, but probably.

If you can possibly have some plan to protect yourself in the event you make the 50/50 offer and it turns out the BS doesn't stop, then that is best. Talk to your L on ways to possiblky do that. I was taking a huge risk. But it paid off because fom that day on my kids were never subject to PAS or any other BS again. That validated I made the right decision in taking that risk because the kids are better off with both parents in their lives after all -- and had I waited longer to get a JPA in place the BS would have just been prolonged.

Also, that time we were in court agreeing to the JPA and the judge commended us, that was the first time my ex had ever been in court woithout getting her ass handed to her by that very same judge. That act by that judge was probably very powerful because my ex saw for the first time "if I do the right thing, I get what I want and don't get in trouble or embarrased in court." The amount of pain she had endured in court up to that point was significant, so this was probably a factor in ending the BS too.
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« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2009, 01:50:42 PM »

I believe I have been the object of PAS for some time.  My STBxuBPDw practices some more subversive types of alienation in addition to using those described above.  I think alienation is a natural, almost instinctive, thing for a BPD parent to use.  It’s similar to targeting in that as the alienating parent, she is trying to make herself look better by convincing unsuspecting children that the other parent is inferior in many respects. 

Some of what I’ve experienced:

•   Invalidating/trivializing my ideas and thoughts in front of the kids, constantly asking, “why, why did you do that”;

•   Triangulating conversation via the kids, “Come on S5, Daddy’s going to take you upstairs and give you a bath,” without talking directly to me before;

•   Arguing to “win” in front of the kids;

•   Undermining my directives to the kids, “S5, it’s almost dinner time so we can’t have another milky,” then she proceeds to go get him a milk, completely overlooking the value in what I’m trying to achieve.  This happens constantly;

•   If I’m talking to one of the children, and he’s non responsive, STBx will jump in and “coach” S2.5 or S5 to “talk to daddy” as if he can only speak if she gives him permission;

•   Stealing my thunder, if I’m doing an activity with S2.5/S5, she jumps into the dialogue to give praise – so I can’t, when she was not even involved in the activity;

•   Asking me for money in front of the kids;

•   Chastising me if I refuse, or don’t act quickly enough, in doing something for the kids, “COME ON, GET UP AND GET HIM ANOTHER PIECE OF CORN!”;

•   Constantly interrupting my conversations with the kids, eavesdropping on my every word with the kids;

•   Demonstrating my “neglect and selfishness” to the kids when I express a desire to do something for myself.  “I’d like to go fishing on Saturday…………... WHAT ABOUT S5, ARE YOU TAKING HIM? WHAT ABOUT HIM?”;

•   Constant use of sarcastic, condescending, trivialized, disapproving, demanding tones in front of the kids toward me.  Very poor communication process;

•   Saying damaging things, “There goes daddy again, ruining our family,” or, “Daddy hates mommy,” in front of the kids. 

•   Constant use of “we” as in, “me, S2.5 and S5 – NOT YOU!”  Saying things like, “’We’ don’t like how you’re acting.”

•   There has been a bit of co-sleeping – even after I’ve expressed and documented in e-mail my concerns;

•   Many occasions of me being conveniently left out of activities.  Silent treatment at social gatherings has been a popular tactic;

•   Advertising false accusations to the kids, “Daddy pushed me.”

I probably have more, but this is what I can add off the top of my head.  I don’t know what stage my experience is in, but I should get a handle on that prior to my first custody hearing within the next few weeks.

I can also attest to being in the category that can improve myself.  I’ve found it very difficult to not succumb to the tactics created by the BPD and entering the FOG.  It really takes discipline and the toxic environment only makes it more challenging. 


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« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2009, 12:38:15 PM »

Some other observations of alienating behavior.

•   The bit about scheduling activities such as Dr. appts. without giving me notice, or conveniently giving me last minute notice;

•   Openly rejecting clothes I pick out for the kids, rationalizing the kids NOT wearing the clothes I pick out for them – in front of them;

•   There have been a few cases (technically I guess this is not alienation) where STBx has done the complete opposite of what I request regarding the children, in some cases putting the child in danger to simply not give me the satisfaction of hearing my request.  For instance, leaving S2.5 outside in the morning – after I requested he stay inside while I get dressed upstairs – while she drives out of the driveway to go to work.  She had left him outside by himself with no one around.  I’m beginning to think possibly this was to enstill some sense of wanting in S2.5 as mommy drove off to work;

•   Also, the alienation has been applied to my parents.  At the same time that I filed, S5 would become hostile and upset about seeing his grandparents.  I know this can happen with little kids, but this was a little strange.  He has always looked forward to seeing his grandparents especially my dad.  On one occasion we were walking up to their house and he started running the other way.  Preparing for one visit, I had heard STBx telling S5, “It’s OK if you don’t want to go, if you get there and you want to come home just call mommy,” just putting some sense of doubt in his little head;

•   STBx resists any efforts I make to “parent” or develop good habits and routines – like allowing eating dinner in front of the TV or allowing S5 to fall asleep every night in front of the TV instead of in his bed.

I could also add my observations and changes in S5’s demeanor toward me over the 13 months since I field for divorce.

Coincident with my filing, I was no longer able to read bedtime stories to S5.  I don’t know what happened, what STBx was doing – granted, if anything, but it is very suspicious with the timing.  He would at times almost get violent, screaming at me, “I WANT MOMMY TO READ TO ME!  I DON’T WANT YOU!”  I would say, “What’s wrong, why?  Daddy wants to read to you too.”  He would respond, “IT’S YOU!”

S5 can quickly become bored with activities with me. 

S5 has also showed a lack of interest in trying new things and becomes quickly frustrated and gives up.  An example is ice skating.  Resistance to trying new things. 

There was a period where S5 was regularly waking up in the middle of the night asking for “mommy.”  Mommy had started this conditioning by sleeping with S5 when he asked. 

I wish I could offer others advice on how to correct similar things, but it is very difficult to make changes with a BPD presiding over your ever move.  I just tell both children I love them, all the time, no matter what and hope that helps.  In addition to just keeping my cool in the house. 


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« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2009, 01:38:08 PM »

My partner's BPD ex wife has engaged in a PS campaign since their divorce.  My partner has dealt with this with great bravery, and now has 50/50 custody and a great relationship with the kids. 

BPDx is very manipulative and effective in alienating in ways that are not very obvious to the kids.  The first 6 months, the kids (then 2.5 and 6) would cry and be very upset when leaving mama.  He discovered that she would tell them that he wanted to take them away from her forever.  Then, at transitions, she hugs and kisses the kids A LOT and says stuff like "I don't know what I will do without you" and "I know, I do not want you to go either, but daddy is making you be away from me!"  Daddy was good about never speaking in a negative way about his ex, so the kids did not have any of her behavior explained.  Appropriate, of course. 

She did instigate this campaign before the divorce, asking the kids who they loved most, not letting daddy be alone with them even when she was drunk and incapable of parenting safely, and never allowing bbsitters.  So she was the kids ONLY reliable parent.  In their marriage, she would constantly criticize any parenting my partner did, and because he was 5 years younger than her and had a difficult childhood, he came to believe that he was not a good parent.  Hos love for the kids and his awareness that she was too drunk to be a good parent alone made him willing to have 50% custody, despite her rage over this, and he began to develop his own parenting style.  Three years later, he has become a very confident parent.

I think the factors that made the shift from the kids' distrust to their trusting him as the rock, include:

1. That he stuck with 50% custody no matter what. 

2. That he never took long trips (more than 10 days) away from the kids, while BPD ex took long trips w/o kids and left precipitously with little notice, making her less stable seeming. 

3. That he almost never judged or got mad at the kids for missing mama, just loved them in their hard moods.

4.  That I came into the picture not very long (9 months) after the kids parents split, and complimented the kids dad as a really good dad, and tried hard to empower his parenting as much as possible.  I know he could do it without me, but I really saw how hearing one other perspective on their dad when mom bashes him so often helped them to see him thorugh their own eyes.  Also, mom got a new target for her rage, so she could at least switch between dad and me, rather than always bashing him. 

5. That he is very open to the kids grief over divorce, clear that he is not getting back together with mom, but able to really get that it is hard for them and not take that personally.

6. That the kids witnessed significant physical violence done by mom to dad, so especially SD9 understands why he left.  He would do anything to have prevented her from seeing that, and it is one of the major reasons he left, but it is the think SD9 refers to when she tells her dad she knows why he left, and feels okay about his choice.  It is one thing that mom cannot convince her is daddy's fault. 

The ongoing PAS campaign results mainly in the kids telling mom one thing and dad another, and protectiveness of mom in transitions. 

Here are some of the things mom currently does:

Volunteer in kids class during daddy's days.

Tell the kids moms and dads should stay together no matter what (she does not mention she was the one who left him initially). 

Tell the kids all men are stupid, and daddy is the stupidest. 

Tell the kids daddy will take them away from her if the kids tell him anything about what happens at mommy's house.

Tell the kids I am trying to steal the kids from her because I do not have kids of my own (by choice, mind you).

Tell the kids if they ever miss daddy or me, they cannot stay with her and she will drop them off with us and they cannot be with her. 

Explode in rage at any expression of love the kids make toward daddy and especially me, throwing a fit and crying and threatening suicide at strong expressions of love. 

Reacting negatively to any happy times kids talk about at our house, reacting with love and attention and joy at any "bad" things that happen, insinuating that everything from a bee-sting to tree-climbing bruise happened because daddy is not a good parent. 

And so forth. 

This stuff seems effective at mom's house.  They do not say they miss us, do not talk about happy things that happen here, do not express love for us.  They lie.  But at our house, they still express love, say they love daddy as much as mommy and want to be with both parents, and me too.  They say "mommy is kind of mean sometimes", but also do express love for her and miss her and are supported in their love. 

Based on reading lots on these boards and talking to divorced friends, a key factor obviously is how much time kids spend with each parent.  If mama is always there for them, and dadddy is not, and mom requires hating dad to be happy and open to kids, kids will be alienated effectively until older.  If daddy is there for them as much or more than mommy, and is safe and helpful, alienation just does not work so well, though it still seems to impact the child in a painful way, it seems that the kid is less likely to reject the parent who is the subject of the attempted alienation.  Hurts the kid, not the relationship with the other parent. 

Also interesting is the way that attempts to alienate a non-parent, or "step-parent" can work.  I assumed her attempts to alienate the kids from me would be more effective, but now see that the kids know deep down they do not have to choose one or the other.  They know they can love everyone, and have done it despite lots of pressure.  They just do not talk about loving me to mama as much as they did at first.  I see now that for the kids, her attempts to make them not love me are experienced as less attacks on me than as pressure on them, which they reject.  They would choose mama over me if they had too, of course, but they have figured out that that is not the game I am playing. 

I worry about long term impacts on them from having two separate realities, one in which mama is the only star and all others are bad, and the other reality in which they get to love who they want.  They lie a lot to mom, make up stories, and lie to us about mom.  It is hard to see.  That is the biggest impact at this point I see of the alienation campaign, that the kids have become accustomed to lying about who they are to make mom happy or to cover for mom. 


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« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2010, 06:50:04 AM »

It is worth staying watchful after the divorce in particular with smaller children.

My divorced father was very loving and well behaved with us until we became teenagers. Only then he shared his distortions and of course they were so horrible that we could not share it with our mother. Us being teenagers probably triggered some form of abandonment in him. His distortions forced us to deal with a lot of different realities in our heads. The need to integrate them may have lead to a strong sense of self in myself and the exact opposite in my BPD sister.

The environment in my fathers extended family was very warm and validating. My mother and her family were not really capable of validation. As kids we felt the warmth of my father very clearly while my non mother was quite remote. The importance of validation also post break-up on the non side can not be overestimated.

  Writing is self validation. Writing on bpdfamily is self validation squared!
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« Reply #12 on: January 03, 2012, 04:15:25 PM »

I have just read this workshop with interest and can relate to much of it. I was alienated as a 12/13yr old by my uBPD/NPDm.  I got back in touch with my dad after 20+yrs. i get an email every couple of months - after about a yar of this i asked for his phone number, but he told me i was rushing things... .that was 4 yrs ago!  Some people just dont want to be found i guess.

My concern now when you read around PAS is that it is recognised that adults who were alienated as children, are at risk of alienating their own children. So in theory i am at risk of alinating my children from their uBPD/NPD dad, tho in reality the risk is the other way. I am wanting to protect them yes, but alienate them no... .how can i show that to the custody power people of the court?
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« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2015, 04:45:06 PM »

This is pretty interesting--

My uBPDh has worked successfully to alienate our grown daughter and her husband from me. I realize they had to be open to this, and I've seen them take sides before about other issues (very black and white thinking.) They also live in another country so they haven't been around to see how his treatment of me has deteriorated over the years. The grown children who live closer seem to "get" why I left, and have only dealt with the usual issues of what to do when their family isn't intact as before with mom and dad living in the same house.

It's pretty fascinating to see how this alienation process can work on people even in their late 30s, at least if there's something for them to also get out of it. It's the most attention they've received from him in years!
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