This is my first post to this blog in two years. It will most likely be my last. I can’t think of a better way to end my parental alienation blogging career than by giving readers of A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation, and all visitors to this site, the gift of hope this holiday season.
We wrote A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation and created this site to help other alienated parents and children avoid what my family went through. Please note the past tense, “went.” I haven’t been an alienated parent for some time. I also haven’t talked publicly about reconnecting with my formerly alienated son — until now.
I’ll keep the details of how we reconnected, as well as my theories on why we were able to reconnect, private. But if you read A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation, you know the alienation was severe. My son and I didn’t see each other or communicate in any meaningful way for 12 years. I missed all of his teen years, part of his 20s, and countless events. He missed plenty of family gatherings and all the father/son experiences that I missed.
The important thing to remember, however, is we did reconnect; and the past few years have been incredible. My son and I have a wonderful relationship. We may be closer than we would have been if we didn’t lose all that time.
I’m sure you have plenty of questions you would like answered. Please allow me to leave you with some suggestions instead:
- If you are an alienated parent or family member, never give up hope. Never lose your faith that one day you will reconnect with the child. If you believe you will reconnect, you will.
- Never stop reaching out, even though your efforts may go unacknowledged for a long time. Most days you’ll feel like you are pouring your time, money and mental health into a black hole. If your emails, cards, invitations, gifts and other efforts never reach the child you will at least feel better for having tried. If your attempts to reach the child do get through, I guarantee you the child will remember your attempts. The fact you always tried will make it easier for him or her to reconnect with you one day.
- Let go of the anger. This point is a key to reconnecting. The child wants to see he or she is getting back the same happy, emotionally secure parent the child remembers from before the hostilities — not some angry person who resembles the parent the child used to know. The child may also still feel loyal to the alienating parent. Showing the child you are no longer angry at the other parent removes a huge weight from the child’s shoulders.
- Reconnecting is not about validation. Don’t expect the formerly alienated child to be interested in your pain, admit you were right, or apologize for years of rude and inconsiderate behavior. When the child is ready to reconnect, keep the focus on the child’s life and check your need for validation at the door. The fact that the child is letting you into his or her life is all the validation you need.
- Don’t stand on ceremony. If your formerly alienated child initially calls you by your first name, bite your tongue. If the child forgets your birthday, let it go. Keep your eye on the prize standing in front of you and don’t sweat the small stuff.
- Come to the grips with the fact that your child may never want to discuss parental alienation or the lost years. In fact, the child may pretend those years never happened. That’s okay. Stay focused on a present and future that includes the child with whom you dreamed about reconnecting.
Happy holidays and Happy New Year. We hope 2016 is the year you experience the joy of reconnecting with your child.