So the holidays are around the corner, and your parenting time with your alienated children still has not been settled. You are amazed by how much had changed since last year when your children jumped in your arms when they came home from work. They looked to you affectionately when they had nightmares or skinned knees.

Are You a Heartbroken Alienated ParentSo what happened? Why do your children hate you, look down on you, and say they never want to see you after ending the relationship with the other parent? Likely, you already know that your ex’s goal is to destroy your relationship with your child.  There are many reasons why a parent chooses to manipulate the children to reject you – anger, hurt, and revenge, to name a few. One thing for sure is that alienating behavior is a severe form of psychological abuse and family violence. 

As a counselor, custody access assessor, mediator, and trial consultant, I know that alienated parents have to work much harder to parent their children. Child protection authorities typically defer responsibility to the lawyers/courts, and alienating parents often manipulate these professionals into siding with them. The courts often reward the alienating parent in three very damaging ways.  The first is by not imposing sanctions when the alienating parent disregards court orders. The second is by ordering archaic visitation schedules,  and the third is by allowing lengthy, protracted litigation to occur. Alienating parents also incorporate a multitude of strategies to indoctrinate children. By the time an alienated parent notices the change in their child’s attitude toward them, the damage to the relationship has already been done and everything is stacked in favor of the alienating parent.

So how do alienated parents navigate this issue without making things worse for themselves or the children? How do alienated parents feel excited about holiday time with children when they tell you they hate you?

Alienated parents need to understand that what is happening in their family is traumatic and they may need to seek treatment for post-traumatic stress. Additionally, watching your children pull away from you and reject you will cause a grief response. Given the devastating impact parental alienation causes, you might wish to:

  • Work with  a skilled counsellor who has expertise in trauma-related injuries.
  • Hire a divorce coach whose expertise includes parental alienation.
  • Immerse yourself in the research regarding parental alienation.
  • Employ a lawyer with experience in high conflict divorce including parental alienation.
  • Once the court sets a trial date contract, hire a trial consultant with expertise in high conflict divorce and parental alienation.
  • Get involved in every aspect of your child’s life and do not expect your ex to keep you up to date with respect to your child’s extracurricular activities, school, or doctor appointments, etc.
  • Be creative in finding ways to stay in contact with your children, because a number one strategy of the alienator is to interfere with you and your child’s communication. 

If your child is spending time with you over the holidays, here are a few ideas:

  • Make your home as festive as possible
  • Start new traditions
  • Invite family members
  • Invite other people your child has not rejected
  • Do not talk about the divorce or any adult issues
  • Do not make negative comments about your ex
  • Do not share your painful feelings with the children

If your child will not be spending time with you over the holidays:

Mail a  Christmas card and gift to your child. Tell your child that if your ex doesn’t give it to them, it will be at your house when they visit. Mail these letters and gifts so your children can see them when they visit, especially if you don’t see them often.

  • Spend time with family or close friends – do not be alone
  • Do not try to numb your grief through alcohol or drugs
  • Connect with other parents who are in similar situations
  • Remember that your child loves you but can’t show it yet.
  • Talk to other parents who recovered their alienated children

Be kind to yourself and remember you’re human, so if you make a mistake, let it go and try again.

Connie is a co-owner and Senior Consultant at Incentive Counselling and is accepting new clients. Email connie@incentivecounselling. ca, or book an appointment online at incentivecounselling.ca.