Dear Aspire Too,
I am reaching out because I am not too sure what to do. I feel like I’ve tried everything to try to repair the relationship with my kids. We have already tried counselling a few times, but it didn’t work or have any lasting results, it feels like my own kids hate me. I don’t know what to do! I had a nasty divorce from my wife and I know it took a toll out the them, but I feel like my ex has gone out of her way to manipulate them into thinking I am a bad person. I haven’t seen them in over a year now and it breaks my heart. Can you help me?
Dear Devastated Parent,
There are a number of things to consider and there could be a number of things happening when looking at a situation such as this. Based on your limited description of the current circumstances, it could potentially be parental alienation.
Parental alienation is a complex process that generally occurs in high conflict divorce cases where, over time, a pattern of severe psychological abuse is bestowed on the children, who have no choice but to participate in the event. I am not saying that this is the case for you (I would need more information to make a complete assessment) but it sounds like it could potentially be that serious. Parental alienation impacts children and families in a negative way because the behaviour of one parent causes psychological harm to the children involved.
Notably, if before the divorce you enjoyed a loving relationship with your child and there has not been any situations that may merit this type of behavior, then I would recommend you seek the services of a professional who has experience and specialized training in this area. Until recently, parental alienation has been largely ignored within the legal system and helping professions so, after working for 35 years with families from all different backgrounds, I decided to become certified in the Family Bridges™ program to help families that find themselves in these unfortunate circumstances.
Researchers have identified certain behaviours and indicators that are directly linked to children exposed to parental alienation. Family Bridges™ is designed to help families dealing with severe conflict where children are displaying significant indicators of being exposed to parental alienation. Children may seem empowered as if by their own choice, to reject their other parent and may work to sever other relationships with the family and friends of the targeted parent. Despite these hostile and hate filled behaviours exhibited by your child, they do still love you. Children are not mentally or emotionally equipped to withstand the manipulation of an alienating parent and eventually succumb to the alienating parents campaign of denigration.
It is important for parents to not give up on children exposed to alienation and whose behaviour is so hurtful. Your child loves you and is in desperate need of a protective parent. The road to protecting your child from parental alienation is challenging and can be daunting. There will be times where you want to give up, but parents who have experienced and surpassed the detrimental impact of parental alienation will tell you to never to give up on your child.
Although Saskatchewan is still in its infancy in both recognizing and treating this form of child abuse, Aspire Too leaders are trained to assist you. We can help you determine if your child has been exposed to parental alienation and to see if they are eligible to participate in the Family Bridges intervention program.
Contact Aspire Too today for a consultation to see if your family is a good candidate for the program.
Connie Lupichuk, MSW, RSW, CLC