There are all sorts of official days on the calendar.
Every January 19th we’re asked to celebrate National Popcorn Day. April 16th is set aside for Stress Awareness Day. Mother Goose has her own day on May 1st. Even catfish, thanks to a proclamation signed by catfish-loving President Ronald Reagan in 1987, get June 25th to call their own.
At A Family’s Heartbreak we love popcorn, we’re opposed to stress of any kind, and we would never say a bad word about Mother Goose. We don’t even mind catfish having their own day, even though we’re more partial to salmon. I’m sure if we would have budgeted more than five minutes for research we would have discovered that there is a National Salmon Day too.
However there is one day that deserves to stand apart from days acknowledging snack foods, nursery rhymes and fresh water fish. Parental Alienation Awareness Day is April 25. This is the fifth consecutive year that parents, friends and family members will gather on April 25 and bring attention to parental alienation — a destructive family dynamic that is destroying countless loving, parent/child relationships all over the world. On April 25 from Boston to Brazil, London to Los Angeles, and Singapore to Sydney, people will light candles, blow bubbles and share their heartbreaking stories — all to educate elected officials, legal and mental health professionals about a mental health issue that should not be ignored or mischaracterized any longer.
Contrary to what many damaged people and zealous advocates on the web would have you believe, parental alienation is not another name for pedophilia. Parental alienation is also not a legal strategy designed to allow an abusive parent to continue beating up on the kids. Finally, parental alienation is not the latest get-rich-quick-scheme from consultants and authors who are often accused of trying make money off the backs of people who are at their most financially vulnerable.
Parental alienation is the unhealthy byproduct of one parent’s fear of abandonment. These fears often date back to childhood. When a parent with these fears faces divorce or separation they need a child to take over for the exiting spouse or partner and keep those abandonment fears away. The parent pulls the child into the adult conflict and makes his or her fears the child’s fears. It doesn’t take long for a child, looking for security in a world where his or her parents are no longer working together to take care of the child’s needs, to form a very unhealthy, co-dependent relationship with the alienating parent. There is little room for the previously-loved other parent in the child’s new world.
At its core, parental alienation is about the alienating parent and child’s fears, and the child’s loyalty to the alienating parent. That reminds me, Loyalty Day is also May 1st.