Parental Alienation is when one parent tries to convince (or successfully convinces) the child that the other parent doesn’t care or love the child. Many times it’s a mother who doesn’t want her child’s father around, and will tell the child lies to keep him or her from desiring their father to be a part of their lives. I’ve known several women who have or continue to practice Parental Alienation, and how it effects the children.
I grew up without a dad, but knew that I technically had one. Looking back on it, I can say that I’m glad my mom didn’t talk freely about my biological father. I always felt like there was something missing in my life, and attributed it to living in a single parent home, raised only by my mother. When I’d ask about my father, I was simply told, “Well, it didn’t work out between him and me. He’s out there somewhere, but I don’t know where”. The truth was that my dad didn’t love his children, and didn’t want us. I have one sibling who biologically shares both mother and father with me.
When I was 15-years-old my father decided to come see us. It happened to be in response to him receiving a letter from the State, telling him he was required to pay child support to my mom. She knew nothing of this until she, too, received a letter. I remember her walking into the living room and saying, “Hey, I just got a letter saying that your dad has been contacted and told he has to pay child support”. She never requested it or filed any complaints, so we both thought it was strange. I didn’t think much of it. Two weeks later, however, lo and behold, my father came to see us. Weird, huh? I know it wasn’t a coincidence with the timing. It just so happened that he was living literally 5 minutes down the road with one of his ex-wives. Long story short, he just wanted to be relinquished of the child support debt. He came to get my brother and me to spend some time with him, and he told me that he just never wanted me. I wasn’t told that by someone else – he flat out said it. The relationship that started quickly faded away. I haven’t seen or heard from him in 11 years, and have no desire to ever see or hear from him again.
But there are men out there – fathers – who truly do love their children, and want to be a part of their lives. I credit my mom for not telling me how my dad just didn’t care. She allowed all of that to be a mystery to me. I believe it was best for me, emotionally, that I wasn’t aware of it. I understand how it feels to grow up without a dad, and when I see couples break up and marriages end in divorce, leaving children in the middle, I know how they must feel. I know of women who have actually paid off their ex-husbands to stay out of their lives, including the children, and end up trying to substitute that “father slot” with new boyfriends or getting remarried. Let me tell you, in most cases, no other man can replace a child’s father.
Let’s be real here. There are a lot of women who want babies but don’t want a man. Or, if they want a man, they want him to be someone other than the biological father of her baby. Why? In many cases it’s because once a woman can get the actual father of her child to leave their lives (or never know about the baby in the first place, i.e. one night stand), then every man becomes disposable, so to speak, and can never fight for rights to the child, even if he help raise and financially support the child. There isn’t really going to be a custody battle – the child belongs to his/her mother.
But I digressed…
Parental Alienation is harmful to children, and tends to eventually backfire on the parent who practices it. A child should never be led to believe that his or her father doesn’t love them. Even in cases where it’s true, it’s cruel to tell that to a child. It creates heartache and feelings of sadness and rejection. There are cases of teenage girls who always wanted a dad, and end up in dangerous situations with men because of it. Moms who practice Parental Alienation may think their children will see them as “Super Mom” – both mom and dad, 2-in-1 – and have a much higher respect and adoration for her. In reality, most children don’t feel that way. They see their mom as “mom” and an empty space where dad should be. If you’re a mom and you are practicing this, you’re only flattering yourself and hurting your child.
Did I mention that Parental Alienation is considered child abuse? Rightfully so, because of the emotional damage it causes. Never, never, ever tell your child that he or she is unloved by anyone, especially the other parent. It’s a very cruel and wicked thing to do to a child.
If you absolutely dislike or even hate your child’s father or mother, you still have no right to turn your child against that parent. Just because your relationship with your ex turned sour, doesn’t mean you should screw up your child’s relationship with them. If there’s a dangerous situation, and your child isn’t safe with the other parent, then it should be dealt with accordingly in court and all of the legal stuff worked out. Telling a child, “Your ____ is a worthless loser who doesn’t care about you; but don’t worry, sweetheart, I love you” is one of the worst things you could ever do.
You can be honest, of course, but not blatant about it. You can say, for example, if your child’s other parent really is a low-life who doesn’t give a crap, that things just didn’t work out between you two. Tell your child that he or she is very much loved, but don’t get into the nitty-gritty details that would otherwise hurt or traumatize your child.
The best thing to do is, regardless of your feelings, encourage your child’s other parent to be a part of the child’s life. Don’t worry about your current partner’s feelings – focus on your own child’s feelings, needs, and wants – and do what’s best for your child. A child needs a mother and a father – a real mom and dad – and personal issues or feelings should never interfere with this super important need that your child has.