If you haven’t read this article and Karen’s work, I encourage you to look through it. It’s sobering, but deep work, focusing on the concept that Alienated kids are “splitting” — quite literally pushing their alienated parents out of their conscious mind. This actually makes a ton of sense.
Sorry to all the followers I’ve accumulated on this site. I’ve not written here for quite a while. A lot has changed since my last update in 2016. I’m re-married now, have the good fortune of having 3 step-daughters — all in their 20s and three grandchildren – 11, 9 and 4. What a joy that has been over the last few years, getting to know them and being a part of their life. I’m a Papa to three incredible kids.
Don’t get me wrong. All of that comes with its problems as well. Life is not unicorns and rainbows and bunnies.
I think that’s why I’m writing again. I’m thinking that a lot of us struggling through the problems inherent in Parental Alienation are thinking that if we could just get this one single problem fixed, our lives would be incredible again.
Maybe it’s because I’m getting old — I’ll be 50 this fall. But I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that all of our lives will always have some hope and some joy and some despair and frustration. I know we have this image of Bill Gates and rock stars like Bono and other people that have “made it,” and we think that their lives must be so extraordinary and so much better than ours.
Then we read stories of those caught up in the #MeToo movement and we wonder what happened to people like Matt Lauer, Kevin Spacey, and even Bill Hybels. These people were at the top of their game, but their lives must not have been the perfect world we imagine, otherwise, why would these things occur?
I’m sure the subtext on this is not lost on most of you. No, I haven’t heard from my kids. It’s been almost 5 years since the divorce was final. Almost six since the parental alienation began in a completely open, unapologetic, unrepentant way. I send out cards at birthdays and Christmas. Via amazon, because I don’t know their addresses. The last time I heard from my son was when I crashed his graduation (surprising the heck out of his mom and sister and him). They didn’t give me any heads up where he was graduating, and even switched schools on me mid-year (his mom had him attend 4 different high schools, his sister attended 4 different schools as well — believe me, not my plan — but it was part of her way of ensuring that they are attached to her, and no one else).
The beauty of having three step-daughters (two have lived with us, the other we live about 20 miles away from) is that there is new joy — and frustration and agony — involved with having somewhat of a father/daughter relationship again. There’s similar beauty and agony with the grandkids as well.
I think I’d dreamed that a future like this would be all big hugs, helping the kids grow in wisdom and life. I think I had a romantic, completely unrealistic view of the future.
It’s hard to be a step-dad. It’s hard to be a Papa. Even in the best of circumstances, each of these kids is struggling through their 20s (much like I did). There’s dramas with each of them that encompass all around them. Breakups where no one wants to go on. Money troubles where help is needed urgently. Housing issues (one of the reasons are new house has 3 guest rooms!!!). Anger at Mom, Step-Dad step-dads in to help, then there’s anger at Step-Dad AND Mom. Both of us overstep non-existent boundaries, both of us don’t help like we should in the eyes of the kids. It’s interesting to note that even where there is not parental alienation involved, life with children is hard. As we know all to well, the alternative, Life without children, is also very hard.
I suspect that many of you out there are clinging to the hope that there is a future with new kids or grandkids or your own kids coming back to you. Hope is not wrong. Hope is what keeps us going through the most difficult times. Without hope, we wallow in despair and can’t go on. So, please, Hope and pray for a different future. Hope and pray for reconciliation with your kids. Hope and pray for peace and joy right here, right now.
What I encourage you NOT to do is this: Don’t put your Joy on hold, waiting for the reconciliation. Don’t negate the places in your life where you can find friendship, love and happiness because you’re waiting for a future that won’t meet your expectations.
My new wife and I have talked a bit about what reconciliation may look like with my kids. The last couple of times I saw them, I was completely rebuffed by the changed way they acted in front of me. It was not real. They weren’t themselves. They were completely different in the way they acted, in the way they interacted. I felt like I was viewing a parallel universe. What if we finally do reconcile and this is the version of the kids that comes back? I’m not sure if I would want to even be around them.
Here’s the other side of that: There has been so much anger and pain and animus directed at me from them and their mom over the last five years, I’m not sure how easy it would be to forgive them immediately. The longer they don’t have anything to do with me, the harder that gets as well.
The one key to mastering this life is to learn to have hope amid the struggle –– Learning to rise from the murky depths of life’s issues and make progress in spite of them.
So what I decided to do waaaaay back (in the first several months of the separation and alienation), was to move on with my life, seeking truth and love and hope where I could find it, not demanding that my kids or ex-wife be the deliverers of any of that. The result was that I was able to move on and find hope and truth and love in this new life. I found an incredible, beautiful woman to love and believe in. We have our issues. Just had one today — something about my driving — imagine that, guys. But there’s a long term settledness within us. There’s a peace. There’s an honesty and joy we have with each other that I haven’t had before in my life.
And then, there’s all kinds of problems. Money issues (still dealing with Alimony), family issues, aches and pains of being almost 50, concern for our aging parents, lack of friends in the new area we moved to this Winter, Too many pets that don’t get along, job concerns. It’s funny how we can never get away from problems in our life.
And that’s the whole point of this. Don’t expect you’ll get through all your problems. More will creep in from somewhere. That is life. You’ll never be free from this until you take those steps into the hereafter. The one Key of mastering this life is to learn to have hope amid the struggle — Learning to rise from the murky depths of life’s issues and make progress in spite of them.
Here’s to you in your attempt to do just that.
You know the old yarn about how to woo a woman? There’s a list of 90 different things from flowers to cooking for her to poetry, etc. Then at the bottom it says how to woo a man… You know, Show up naked… and bring pizza? This came to mind the other night as I watched a sitcom where the characters were trying to explain the difference between making love and having sex to a couple of the other characters. There were suggestions about cuddling and about “making love without even taking their clothes off” through eye contact, etc.
I finished the show and thought that it was really pretty sad. A couple of the characters, who were all in their 30s, actually indicated that they’d never made love. And I listened to the strange explanations of how the “experts” said to do it and I got the distinct impression they were not speaking of anything real, either. So what is the difference? Are you in a relationship where there is true love being made or where sex is being had? How you can you change it if you are? Do you even want to change it?
An ex-girlfriend of mine used to say that no matter how bad it was, it was still better than no sex, right? It’s like pizza. Sometimes it’s incredible, other times it’s just meh, but hey, still pizza. So let’s go with her analogy.
Having sex is much like grabbing a pizza. You pull a frozen one out freezer, or a day old one out of the fridge, you warm it up a bit, throw it in the oven to get it all hot and enjoy. It’s a 20-30 minute experience. You feel good inside afterward, and everyone goes on with their lives or their day. Many people are pretty indiscriminate about how often they have pizza, and even who they have it with. Sometimes they grab a friend and enjoy one, sometimes they only eat it with their significant other. But, it’s just a pizza. Not that big a deal. Not gonna change your life. Sometimes you have one that’s a bit spicy. Sometimes it’s kinda boring. And some people just get sick of it – same old cardboard-tasting $3.99 brand from Kroger, same toppings, same old flavor. And they just aren’t into it anymore.
Sometimes you do something special and order a pizza for delivery, from Dominos or Papa John’s. Then you might get some hot wings along with it, maybe you order two, and eat them both the same night. That pizza can be great. And you even throw some in the fridge and pull it out the next morning for a before work snack as well. But, you can’t really order it that way all the time. Takes too much effort and money, but it’s good for a change up now and then and beats the frozen pizza.
Making love involves creation. You are making something. Let’s go with pizza again. Maybe you and your lover take the time to go to the store together – maybe you go to a special Italian deli. Maybe you get some authentic Italian sauce. You pick up true pepperonis, not just the Hormels in the Ziploc bag on the end of the aisle. But you get it in a white package wrapped by the deli guy. Then you go home and the two of you make the dough from scratch. You work it neatly into the pizza tray. You put the sauce on, maybe playfully dabbing your boyfriends’ nose with the sauce. You put each of the pepperonis on by hand, you slice the peppers while she slices the mushrooms. You get a good bottle of Cabernet Franc to compliment the pepperoni flavor. You get the nice glasses down from the top shelf and wash them first, because, you know, dust. You buy one of those special parmesan cheese graters and get the block of parmesan and grate it by hand. You place your masterpiece lovingly in the oven and sip the wine out on the back patio watching the sunset while waiting for it to cook. When it’s done, you serve at a linen table cloth table in the corner of the backyard with a cool breeze blowing. The fresh cheese glistening in the sunset and the smell of warm bread all around. This, O Grasshopper, this is Pizza.
I can see your eyes rolling right now. So if I really want to make love I have to go to all the work to make the pizza like that? It’s an analogy people, not a description of a date. Stay with me. Making love is all about creation. It was ordained by the Creator, “Two become one.” We literally use it to MAKE a human being. So it is all about creation. So when you are making love. Create. Create an experience for your lover. Make it all about their senses, appealing to each. Smell good, touch with gentleness, with firmness, with different textures and patterns. Taste in a new way, in a different way. See her and allow her to see you in a beautiful, tender way. Listen to each other breathe, study her breathing, watch for when it changes, keep doing what made it change. Create an environment of openness, of love, of safety, of hope. Then Be in that. Make it last, take a long time to get there. That’s making love.
Again with the eye rolling. It sounds like so much work. Well, it is. But it is work that is well worth it. The dividends paid on the love making side are so much more valuable than the rewards from having sex.
A friend talks of a relationship he had with a girl where the only thing the girl wanted was to get off. It took her a long time to get there every time and having sex became this job he had to do. Needless to say, the relationship went nowhere. If you’re approaching making love with a “when is this pizza getting delivered…” mentality, you’ll never get there.
The intimacy that comes from truly making love expands to many other areas of your relationship. It’s really difficult to make love to someone and argue incessantly with them over stupid little things. I know there’s this idea out there that there are some relationships where people are really good at “gettin it on” but not great at being friends. Those people are having pretty wild pizzas, but they are not making their own with authentic Italian Herbs and Sauce. And the end result is always a frustrating relationship.
I’ve unfortunately had abundant experience in the Frozen pizza market. I think I went 20 years or so in a marriage without having a homemade Italian pizza. I’d forgotten they existed. I think I literally believed that there were only frozen pizza’s in the world. Frozen microwave pizzas. 3-5 minutes. Is it freakin done yet?
It took a divorce and a couple of follow on relationships to understand again that there was such a thing as making love. I had to wait till my 40s to figure it out. But I don’t want you to think that everytime you get naked you have to go to the Deli. Sometimes a frozen pizza is a great tension breaker, sometimes you both just need to get rid of the stress and a microwave quickie is perfect for the moment. You wink at each other after, because you know you’ll be back at the deli later.
One last thing. You don’t take everyone to the Italian Deli. You just take the one you love. The one you know you want to be with. The one who will create with you. Create this indescribable, unknowable thing called love.
So to be clear, I’m not saying I’m any kind of an expert on this matter. I just know what I’ve seen and experienced. But in some small way, I hope I was able to explain a bit of the differences between making love and just having sex. And challenge you all to do more of the former and less of the latter. Also, I do think it’s pretty cool that the next time someone wants to order pizza, you’ll smile knowingly.
I was always committed to allowing my wife to be a stay at home mom. It was our dream from before we got married. Sad that this fact was used against me by my ex before and during the divorce. “I haven’t had a job in 17 years — I need full support for the next 22 years.” And comments made to the kids while we were married. “Your dad just can’t be there for you like I can.” But not said in a way that made them realize it was because I was working to support our income, instead, it was a comment made with derision as if I didn’t want to be there for them.
I would have given my left arm for a letter like this from the wife.
If you saw the previous post, you know I was once again basically attacked and cast off by my 20 year old daughter because I got a notice about her healthcare and inquired how she was doing. I responded in the way I typically respond to these types of rude notes — with sort of a quiet measured loving response.
And I sat for two days knowing it was not right. It is never right for a parent to give and to give and to be completely insulted and belittled by their children. I would never allow my kids to treat their mom in this way (and quite literally never did — when I was married there were consequences and discipline when they treated their mom disrespectfully). For me to sit back and let them continue to treat me with disrespect while I pay for their insurance is both silly and I think causes me to be the butt of further ridicule and anger. I’m their patsy. They can get away with treating me however they want and I’ll keep feeding the engine that gets them healthcare, alimony and (in the past at least) child support. The alimony I have no control over — though I have filed for removal of alimony because the ex is living with her boyfriend — but the healthcare — now that is. I looked at this issue during these two days and discovered that, you know what? It is now under my control. The kids are graduated from High School and over 18. The divorce decree states that I must cover them with healthcare until then. So the last two years for my daughter and the future for my son are all purely at my whim.
In my research, I discovered that it cost me $783 per month to furnish healthcare for the kids. Add to this the fact that the ex testified in court last month that she “pays for their healthcare,” and the fact that I don’t have to pay for their healthcare legally at all and their attitude and treatment of me over the last three years and I knew what had
I talked it over with my Dad and brother and girlfriend and other friends first. Didn’t make the decision rashly, and sent a letter to my daughter first explaining that I didn’t want to do this, but that she had made it very clear that she didn’t want any ties to me, so I was finally saying…. heavy sigh….OK. It was written with Love in it, but also with clear $$ as to how much I’ve paid in Child support and alimony — something I don’t think the kids were ever told. And with a heavy emphasis on following their wishes.
The key point my father made was that he would have probably done this a long time ago. He said, “Taking away money or support has an interesting way of changing the dynamic.”
I got a pretty quick response from the daughter.
“Ok that’s fine. It doesn’t matter if you do or don’t cancel. And please Don’t bring xxxx into this tho. It has nothing to do with him. “
That was it. And with that the battle of 3 years ends in a whimper. The saying goes that hate isn’t the opposite of love, apathy is. That’s what I’m getting now.
I sent a similar letter out to her brother the next day and have had no response. Truth was, he had been consistently ruder and more demanding than his sister. I’d at least had some actual conversations with her in the past two years.
Haven’t slept very well over the last week. Keep waking up at 2-3 am and then finally getting back to bed at 5-6 am. Feeling it in my back, neck, daily headaches and with a mysterious cough. My girlfriend said she thinks its because of the finality of all of it. There’s no connection with them from my side at all. Every hope of reconciliation is basically in their hands.
Am I feeling the physical affects of that despair? Maybe. But in a sense, I also feel like I finally stood up to the bullying of the ex for good. I will not be walked on any longer. I will be alone if I have to be, but I will not be anyone’s patsy, and I will not let anyone — especially my kids — treat me with utter contempt and disrespect. I do not need anyone like that in my life. Ever. Never again.
That sounds empowering. And it is. I guess. It’s also reality. And it’s life. And I’m basically a father without kids. By their choice. And that. Is hard.
Those of you reading this blog have seen my ongoing odyssey with my alienated children. You’ve heard of the attempts to get them to counseling, and to visitation (all basically failures), you’ve heard of my attempts to create a blog for them of the things a dad wants his kids to know. I’ve got over 60 entries on the blog and still don’t really know if the kids have ever looked at it. If they have it’s had no impact that I can see.
They are 18 and 20 now. It’s been 3 1/2 years since the initial separation where they initially declined to see me. It’s been a month longer than that since I had a meaningful conversation with my son. My daughter (she’s the 20 year old), has had a couple of phone conversations with me that were actually pretty positive. Then 2-5 days later, calls me up screaming about some completely fabricated (by her mom) issue. I’ve not had similar meaningful conversations with my son, but do get calls and emails from him chastising me for ever wanting a relationship with him.
So I now have 2 adult kids. 2 kids who act like they don’t have a father (at best) or at worst, as my son once said, that he has a father who’s worse than Satan. Now I get that many teenagers overexaggerate and hate their parents at times. I get that many teens can be rude and unloving. I worked with teens for over 10 years in a previous life, so the difficulties teens have with their parents is not an unknown for me. That said, I never saw anything like what I’m dealing with in anyone I’d ever come across in my life — until it hit me. Then, suddenly, I’ve got 5-6 friends who all have bizarre issues with one or two kids (usually not all of them).
I’m writing this today because I just got an email back from my daugher to “stay out of my life.” The occasion? Oh, I got a notice from the insurance company that she’d been approved for a special drug to treat a condition she has. So I dropped her a quick note to let her know and tell her I was concerned about her condition and would love to hear how she’s coping with it. To which I got the “stay out” email.
I replied with a simple explanation:
“Since you’re on my insurance, I get a notice when you are approved for things like this. I truly hope someday you will realize you have a father who loves you more than you could imagine and would love nothing more than to just spend time with you.
I will always love you and could never stay out of your life. It’s not something a real dad can ever do.”
…as per usual, but I don’t normally get replies to these responses. This happens maybe 1/3 of the time I email or text them something. The other 2/3 of the time, there’s no response at all. I see that they’ve opened the email (I have a tracker on them for this reason), but there’s no indication back to me of any kind. I sometimes take a little solace in the fact that they do open and re-read many of these notes multiple times. One time I think my son read a note I sent him 12 times. I really don’t know what that means. Unless he’s reading it to his mom, then to his grandma, then his sister, a friend or two, etc. All to just mock me? I really don’t get it.
And at this point, I don’t know what else to do. They both live in other parts of the state, I’d hoped that my daughter living 3 hours from her mom would change the dynamics a bit and make her see that maybe mom’s not right about everything about her dad. But it doesn’t seem to have happened yet and its been a year. I’m strongly considering moving a long way away. I have family with niece and nephew on the west coast and assuming everything comes together over the next few months, I may find myself there by this time next year. It’s good to be around family. I miss that.
But I really don’t know what else to do to reach out to the kids. I’ve prayed and prayed, I’ve had huge numbers of people praying for me as well. I’ve written a ton and thought a ton and talked it over a ton with really smart people, counselors, family, friends, pastors, etc. I don’t have any answers.
It feels like I’m just being pitiful and puppy-dog-like in my response to my daughter up above. But I honestly don’t know what else to do. I don’t know if I can “stay out of her life.” I’m not the kind of dad that could do that and sleep at night. But I also don’t know if it is helping us build any kind of relationship, by reaching out to her periodically.
I’m curious if and when any of you have just stopped reaching out. At what point do you just go — “Hey, you’re an adult. If you don’t want a relationship with me, I’m past the point of being able to do anything about that — it’s now up to you.” My thought is if I do that, then I’m essentially just telling them I’m done with them. Which I will never be. Done. With my kids.
So is there a change in tactic I should consider? Is there something else I can do? I’m kinda at wits end here. I just don’t have any answers.
I’d created this blog in an attempt to share the experience with many of you. To share the successes as well as the failures. The “how to survive” in the middle along with the way to get to a point of reconciliation. I have to apologize at this point — I don’t see paths to that point right now.
Not trying to be a downer, just coming to the sad realization that there’s very little I can do.
This is a fascinating article that gets to the point of a great deal of the frustration with Women’s rights/Men’s Rights.
Almost immediately after the separation from my ex-wife I saw the verse in Proverbs 4:23 that I knew to be very important to my future.
“Guard your heart more than anything else,
because the source of your life flows from it.”
Proverbs 4:23 (God’s Word Translation)
Over the last few years I’ve thought about this verse regularly and have seen some success over the last 6 months in actually applying this to my dating life. So as a warning — this is not a theological inductive study of this passage. It’s just a simple walk through my experience with trying to apply it to my life.
The first couple of relationships after the breakup of my marriage were very quick and emotional and full of poetry and song-writing and undying love and they were sort of a parabola of Start from nothing build to this huge emotional high and then dropped off into nothing again. I think the longest was a month or six weeks and then there was the 21 day “relationship.” I was clearly not guarding my heart here. I was learning though.
By the time the third relationship came around, I took it slower — and by that I mean I didn’t tell her of my undying love for her until a month or two into the relationship. I’ll pause for you all to finish laughing.
I’m a pretty emotional guy and I tend to have this all-in approach to relationships. This third relationship lasted much longer (almost two years), so there was success in the longevity, but I think I was still learning what it means to guard your heart. I definitely ignored a lot of red flags and warning signs from friends and even directly from my girlfriend and kept trudging on with the “love conquers all” approach. While highly romantic, the tendency with banking on love to get you through everything breaks down when only one is in love. It’s not realistic. It’s not adult. It’s a film-clip style romance that when battered by the winds of reality, breaks down.
So how am I learning to guard my heart? I am using my brain as a gate keeper. Some translations of this passage don’t even mention “heart” they just say “keep close watch on your thoughts…” or some derivative of this. I am seeing the more women I date that it is easy to choose to fall in love. If she’s beautiful to me, if she’s into me, if we can chat about anything, if she is affectionate, if she’s smart, if she treats me with respect, if she speaks kind words, if she’s fun, it’s not difficult for me to fall in love. I’m a hopeless romantic. I believe in love. I believe that I will find someone who will be a best friend, a lover and someone to grow old with me right by my side. I’m looking earnestly for that. So when a woman comes by that hits that criteria, it’s easy to lose any kind of thought process, begin the poetry writing and the wooing and fall head over heels.
What I’m seeing here in the last six months is there are a lot of women out there with which this is possible. I’m not saying I’ve been a playa over the last year or anything, just that I’ve had a lot of first dates and even several ongoing multiple date relationships that showed me that there are great women out there who are actually hitting all those criteria for me. Yet, here I am, not in a relationship. Why? I think it’s because of heart-guarding.
But guarding my heart means choosing
very deliberately the woman I want to love.
Maybe you could argue that this is taking
some of the romance out of it.
This is undoubtedly true.
I’m working hard at seeing the big picture. Two of the women I could have easily fallen for lived 45 minutes away from me. One lives on the other side of the country. Reason suggests that none of these conditions are optimal and they probably would eventually end in frustration for both of us. To be clear, both 45 min away ladies ended our dating for that reason, but I didn’t fight it or argue. I knew they were right and it was only a matter of time. Another relationship ended after 4 dates because all of the criteria above was in place but she really just wanted a homebody. I’m not that. I saw it quickly and ended it.
In addition over the last several months I’ve also met a lot of great women that have become good friends. Every one of them would make someone a great wife. They’re Godly women, they’re fun, they’re beautiful. I think some of them would probably go out on a date with me (and some of them actually have), but I think this whole Guard Your Heart thing as also evolved into a place that some would call “being picky.” I’ve actually been called that very frequently by several of my buddies. But I think I’ve shown in the past that I have not made good decisions about who I fall in love with. My ex-wife and even the 2 year relationship recently are good examples of this. I dove in too quickly, didn’t understand what I was getting into and fell hopelessly in love with a woman who wouldn’t be a good fit for me long-term. Both times.
Again — I could’ve worked really hard to make all of these relationships work. Indeed, I wrote poetry for a couple of these ladies and felt some very strong attraction and infatuation with them. But guarding my heart means choosing very deliberately the woman I want to love. Maybe you could argue that this is taking some of the romance out of it. This is undoubtedly true. Everyone dreams of being swept off their feet and immersed in a whirlwind romance with a perfect woman. I’ve had that experience. It’s intoxicating. It’s exhilarating. It’s not love though it feels like it. It’s passion. It’s infatuation. It can develop into love, or it can fall apart in a spectacular fireworks show.
(Hint: It’s most frequently the latter of those two options)
So when faced with an initial blast of feelings of passion and infatuation, what is my response? Well, for me, it’s sitting down at my blog and working through it on paper. It’s talking with a couple of key friends to get some coordinated wisdom. It’s making sure I’m not wooing at warp speed. I’m not calling her 4 times a day, I’m not talking to her for 2 hours every time we chat. All of those things feed a fast and furious passionate rush to decision and to fall in love.
Here’s the scary thought for me. I’m not sure if this is the right approach, but I do know that I’ve never lived like this before. Every other girlfriend in the past 25-30 years I’ve fallen completely in love with before I really even knew them. Including the ex-wife. So maybe I’m trying to not expect different results from the same action any longer. Maybe I am working hard to Guard My Heart now.
So here’s my challenge to you. As you are seeking out your soulmate — are you careful about who you let tug on your heartstrings? I see a lot of guys out there who are more than willing to jump at a woman who is kind to them or smiles their way or gives them any kind of attention. I don’t think that is anywhere close to guarding your heart. I definitely have been there and get why it happens, but I would caution you (and the ladies who have similar attention-desires). Guard Your Heart. Step slowly into that great ocean of love. Step carefully.
Question for Parents dealing with PAS:
In seeing this article about PAS, I’m seeking some advice from the community here. At what point do you explain to your children what PAS is, show them an article like this, and explain that this is what’s happening to them and to your relationship to them?
I have resisted doing this even thought my kids are 18 and 20 because I have felt like telling them there mom is doing this is in affect, blaming her for the the problems and sort of trying to alienate them from her as well, if that makes sense. I imagine that there response will be something conditioned from Mom like, “there’s Dad blaming Mom for all of his faults again” (ironic, because I’ve worked very hard to never do that to her, and she’s done that even in the years prior to divorce and ever since, yet I’ve heard the kids say this directly to me).
I feel like they need to know the insidious and subtle nature of how their mom is twisting their world, but then again, don’t know if they will ever be able to hear that from me. If I could just get a Psych 101 teacher to talk about this in their class at school, or a trusted friend to share this with them, I think it would be much more effective, but I don’t have anyone that could do that (that I am aware of at this point at least).
When and how have you shared the concept of PAS with your alienated kids? How did it go.
I have written before about the struggles that I have had in my prayer life and with God regarding the parental alienation situation with my two children, now 18 and 20. My struggle has been to continue to believe that God will change the situation. I know that he can change it and I think I believe that he eventually will change it, but I’m very resigned to the reality that it may take 20 years. This, I am beginning to realize, is kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. If I think it’s going to take that long I’m essentially giving up.
That said, I haven’t given in completely to that thinking. I continue to email and call the kids periodically (usually a couple of times per month) — and I track the views of my email (via a program called hubspot sales — google it if you need something like this). I see through that tracking that each kid usually opens and reads these emails an average of 4-8 times. That is somewhat encouraging. I choose to believe it’s the kids that are reading this and not their mom that is repeatedly opening and viewing the emails. No way to really tell for sure, but that’s the way I choose to look at it. And I’m also putting together the website with memories and letters and notes and poetry and videos from me in it that I hope will be something they can come to and see that their Daddy really wanted a relationship with them the whole time and he was not the man their mom made him out to be.
All that said, I’ve had a hard time praying about them, I’ve struggled with talking much about it to friends and family and I’ve even gotten angrier about it over the last several months. I’m not a very angry guy, so that comes out in snide comments to friends about the ex, typically.
My church is doing what they call a “Brave” Journey this Spring where you get in a small group for 6 weekly sessions, the message is about the journey and there’s some individual work as well. It’s actually pretty cool and I’m leading a group at my house with about 10 friends, some of which are brand new friends for this particular journey. It’s a great group and as each of us embark on our journey, there’s a support team for us. Originally, I was going with a “heading” about my finances and getting out of debt. But then in yesterday’s individual work, there was a line about picking a direction for your journey that you really need God to show up for you to be able to get there. I realized my financial heading (though needed), was really something I could do on my own — and pray for and involve God, but that there was one really significant thing that I needed his help to resolve: My relationship with my kids. THAT was the real Brave Journey.
Please understand. I don’t have any idea about how to change what I am doing to improve the relationship, but I’m going to follow the process in this Journey, I’m going to aggressively pray for God to change this; I’ve asked about 12 of my closest friends and family to pray every day at noon for this; and I’m praying for God to actually help me believe this can change and will change by the end of 2016.
Some of you will appreciate the level of Miracle that this would be for me. I’m not trying to diminish the pain and struggle of the terminally ill, but it feels to me like this is akin to praying for someone in Stage 4 cancer to not die and be healed. It really does feel that drastic to me.
I’m putting this on the blog, because I think it will help me be bolder in this process and I think maybe others of you may need to take a similar coordinated, planned, definite step like this and work hard on your unbelief. I’m reminded of Jarius, the man who wanted Jesus to heal his daughter. To paraphrase, Jesus asks him if he believes that Jesus can heal his daughter. His response feels exactly like where I am at this moment.
“I Believe, but help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)
So I step out in day one of this journey, with no idea where my feet will land, but expecting God to do something miraculous in the next 8 months.