Archive for the ‘Mike Jeffries’ Category

Happy Endings

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

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.

 

Here’s to 2014!

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

Wishing all our A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation readers and fans a happy holidays surrounded by the people who mean the most to you. May 2014 be the year all targeted parents and alienated children reunite. And for those parents and children who have started rebuilding their previously normal, healthy relationships you have our sincere best wishes for continued success and a lifetime of happy memories ahead.

We will continue to offer support, resources and information in 2014 — doing our best to help parents and children avoid the heartbreak of parental alienation.

Sincerely,

mike jeffries and Dr. Joel Davies

Making the first move

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Baseball fans will remember that earlier this year All-Star free agent Prince Fielder signed a nine-year, $214 million contract to play for the Detroit Tigers. Tiger fans rejoiced, and Fielder was a key element in the Tigers’ run to the World Series this fall. 

Fielder is not the first member of his family to gain noteriety as a Detroit Tiger. Prince’s father Cecil was a slugging first baseman for the team in the 1980s and 1990s. When Prince was a boy, Tiger Stadium was his personal Field of Dreams.

When Prince signed with Cecil’s old team their complicated father/son relationship was highlighted in the media almost as often as Prince’s batting and home run records. According to reports the two had been estranged for years. Prince blamed Cecil for being an absent father. There was also a difficult divorce between Cecil and Prince’s Mom; and allegations that Dad had taken money from his son’s signing bonus to pay gambling debts.

In one story Cecil reported he had recently reached out to his son and the two were talking “a little bit.” When the reporter asked Cecil why he reached out to his son after so long the father responded, “Someone had to make the first move.” 

Parent/child relationships are complicated; even relationships untouched by parental alienation. Parents estranged from their children, however, should not dismiss the importance of “making the first move” — no matter how long it’s been since they spoke with their children. People change. Children grow up. While parents and children tend to think about each other as they remember them, both parties have lived a lifetime of experiences since the last time they spoke. These experiences are often reminders that past wrongs, both real and imaginary, aren’t always very important in the present.

The holidays are in full swing and at some point the media will report on the latest holiday miracle. Parents who make the first move with their estranged children, even after many years, might have their own miracles to report this holiday season.

Helping the victims of Hurricane Sandy

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Dear Friends:

Over the years I’ve tried to help as many people as possible through the horrors of parental alienation. I’ve provided advice, information, referrals and support to anyone who asked. I never asked to be paid for my time, and never accepted money if it was offered. I never required anyone to buy a book in return for my help. I never asked anyone for anything, until now.

Hurricane Sandy left behind horrors that defy description. The storm devastated much of the northeastern United States, but saved its worst destruction for the New Jersey shore — a place that creates wonderful memories for so many children and families. Federal aid and insurance money will fall far short of what these coastal towns and their residents need to survive and rebuild. Many towns, like Belmar, New Jersey (http://www.belmar.com/) are accepting donations to help with relief and rebuilding efforts. So I’m asking you — please contribute whatever you can so that these towns and their people can rebuild and once again provide the kind of enjoyment and memories that are such an important part of family life.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

mike jeffries
Author, A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation

Holiday miracle gives hope to alienated parents

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Whether you believe in the miracle of Christmas, Hanukkah or the Miracle on 34th Street, you hear the word “miracle” a lot this time of year. Many alienated parents pray for a very specific miracle during the holiday season – the miracle of reunion.

Zach White of Birmingham, Alabama knows a little something about miracles. Zach was alienated from his father when he was two years old. Nineteen years later, a holiday miracle brought father and son together. They’ve been together ever since, but in order to appreciate where Zach and his father are today, you should know where they’ve been.

In all honesty, their story isn’t unique. Zach’s Dad and Mom divorced. Mom interfered with Dad’s parenting time. Mom told Zach and Zach’s sister that Dad was mean and violent. Zach and his sister behaved badly when they were with Dad. The children were coached to say they wanted nothing to do with him. Dad sent presents and the presents were returned.  A court-ordered five weeks with Dad turned into a few days of drama before Zach and his sister forced their return to Mom’s house. Alienated parents could probably substitute their child’s name for Zach’s and insert his or her name instead of “Zach’s Dad.” As we said in A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation, the examples that define parental alienation are remarkably consistent.

The last time Zach saw his Dad was 1991. Zach was 12 years old. During a court-ordered visit the children first refused to leave the airport, then locked themselves in a room at Dad’s house and wouldn’t come out. During the same visit, Zach’s Mom called the police and accused Zach’s Dad of abusing both children. A short time later, Mom and Dad were in court. The judge ruled that Dad didn’t have to pay child support and the children didn’t have to see him if they didn’t want to.

“My earliest memories of my Dad are him trying to visit me and my sister and my Mom not allowing us to have anything to do with him,” Zach remembers. “I was very confused. My Mom kept telling me he was mean and violent and I didn’t know enough about my Dad to know any better.”

All it took, however, was a couple of visits with his Dad for Zach to form a different opinion.

“I saw Dad was not the horrible person Mom said he was. At this point my life became very difficult. I wanted a relationship with him but knew I couldn’t let Mom know because she would be furious. I also felt a sense of loyalty to Mom. I knew she disliked Dad so I felt like if I liked him it would hurt her,” Zach also recalled. 

Zach’s sister complicated his life. She was three years older than Zach and he quickly realized that if he was too nice to Dad when they were together his sister would report back to Mom. “I felt like I couldn’t be myself around him,” Zach indicated. “I felt like I was walking a tightrope.”

Zach’s Mom promised Zach that he wasn’t going to have a relationship with his Dad and she was true to her word. Nine years passed. Zach and his father were living in different states, but for all the contact they had they could have been living on different planets. Mom, now separated from her second husband, moved away.  Zach was in college and returned to Mississippi for the Christmas holiday. Ironically, he was staying with his Step-Dad in the home they had shared when Zach’s Mom and Step-Dad were together. The date was December 31, 1999. While many people were worrying that the Y2K bug would stop the world in its tracks, an alienated Dad in North Carolina picked up a phone and placed a call that would jump-start a relationship that had been dead in its tracks for nine years.

Do you believe miracles can happen for alienated children and parents?  If you do, come back on December 22 and have your faith validated.  If you don’t, come back for a story that may change your mind.

Misplaced priorities dominate Penn State discussion and our lives

Friday, November 11th, 2011

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve heard about all I can stand on how allegations of sexual misconduct are tarnishing Penn State football’s formerly pristine reputation and the legacy of its iconic former coach, Joe Paterno. 

In fact, if we, as a society, spent half as much time talking about the affect abuse has on its victims and their families as we’re spending debating whether or not Paterno’s failure to “do more” wipes away his many accomplishments on and off the field, we could educate millions about the long-term affects of all forms of abuse.

As a society, our priorities are misplaced. We spend billions of dollars every year buying tickets to sporting events or jerseys promoting our favorite teams, but when it comes to financially supporting organizations that are working to help families avoid various forms of abuse, such as the Parental Alienation Awareness Organization (PAAO), we often turn away. We spend countless hours every weekend watching football games, but have no time to donate our skills and expertise to an organization like the PAAO.

So here’s what I propose. Instead of buying a new Penn State football jersey or tickets to watch Kobe Bryant or Michael Vick play their respective sports, donate the money to a non-profit organizaiton that is working to eliminate the type of abuse associated with these athletes and institutions. Purchase books, DVDs and informational materials on all forms of abuse and donate them to your local libraries, churches and community counseling agencies. If you are a writer, photographer, IT expert, Marketing professional, Public Relations pro, videographer or website expert, donate your time and expertise to an agency low on resources. And if you believe parental alienation is emotional abuse, donate to the PAAO — http://www.paawareness.org/

We’ve spent a lot of time this past week discussing all sorts of secondary issues that resulted after a football coach allegedly sexually abused young boys a decade ago. Isn’t it is about time we focused on the primary issue that led to all these other conversations?

Professional journal recommends A Family’s Heartbreak

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

The October issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry calls A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation, “insightful for the general reader but also for the mental health professional.”

The review of A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation was part of a parental alienation theme in the Journal’s latest edition. The Journal also reviewed the novel, The Look of Love by Jill Egizii, and Parental Alienation, DSM-5, and ICD-11 by Dr. Bill Bernet.

“I feel like we hit the parental alienation trifecta,” said Mike Jeffries, author of A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation. “For this very prestigous journal to review not one, but three, parental alienation books in the same issue just goes to show how important alienation has become for mental health professionals. We commend the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry for sharing resources with its membership that will help professionals identify and address alienation in their practices,” Jeffries added. 

The Journal concluded its review of A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation by calling the book, “… a resource for mental health professionals and the general public alike. The reader is left not only with an education about parental alienation but also an appreciation of its significant impact on families.”

Keeping alienation in perspective on 9/11

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

Some days, parental alienation isn’t that big a deal.

Tomorrow is one of those days.

In A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation, I borrowed President Franklin Roosevelt’s famous quote about “a day that will live in infamy” to describe the day my relationship with my young son went from hugs to heartbreak. In reality, our worst days as alienated parents can’t compare to days that really live in infamy — like September 11, 2001. We don’t even need to say the entire date to communicate a shared sense of grief and empathy for the people we lost.  Saying “9/11” is all it takes.

We saw the worst of the human race on 9/11, but we also saw the best of it that day. First responders ran into burning buildings. Heroes in the sky brought down a plane over a field in Pennsylvania. And within minutes of the attacks people from all over the world joined together in an outpouring of unity for those whose lives were forever altered by the actions of a few.

Tomorrow is the tenth anniversary of 9/11. In New York City the typical excitement and enthusiasm of the tourists in midtown will be replaced by the solemn dignity of the families gathering downtown. In New York, Washington D.C. and across the United States there will be signs and references to “Never Forget.” It’s true. We must never forget 9/11. We must also never forget the dead and injured in Norway earlier this year, the students at school in Beslan, Russia in 2004, the passengers of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie Scotland in 1988, and too many more to mention.

Ten years is a long time. Ten years has turned Ground Zero into both a final resting place and a construction site. Ten years has helped families replace searing pain with a more manageable ache. Above all, ten years has given us back our ability to look to the future with cautious optimism.

Perhaps there is a lesson for alienated parents in all the 9/11 remembrances. People are resilient no matter how tragic the event. We never forget, but we do move on – hopefully stronger, more determined and cautiously optimistic about the future.

Moms, Dads, Sons, Daughters — who reunites more?

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

We’ve been wondering about something. Maybe you’ve been wondering about the same thing.

We’ve heard many stories of alienated children reuniting with their targeted parents. These feel good tales often spread through the parental alienation community like germs in a pre-school. We’ve also heard, more often than we like, about children who remain alienated from their parents for years — with no end to the estrangement in sight.

While each situation is different, we were wondering who alienated children reunite with more often when they do reunite with a parent. Is it Mom or Dad? Further, do alienated daughters reunite more often, or do sons reunite more often? Out of all the possible reunification scenarios — son/dad, daughter/dad, son/mom, daughter/mom — who reunites the most?

Welcome to the A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation Unofficial Reunification Survey. We’re interested in who you think reunites the most and why. Please leave your comments below.

Adult children of parental alienation

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Imagine cutting yourself off from the outside world on July 15, 2000. You’d never know:

  • The Twin Towers are missing from the New York City skyline.
  • George Bush isn’t President of the United States and an African American is.
  • The Dow Jones is 1,300 points higher yet people talk about a recession.
  • The internet is on your cell phone.
  • Kodak no longer makes film for your 35mm camera.
  • There are more Harry Potter movies than books.
  • You could follow a stranger’s thoughts — as long as he or she communicated in 140 characters or less.

Severely alienated children who remain cut off from their targeted parents and extended families years after the alienating parent selfishly pulled the child into the adult conflict are just as in the dark as someone who knows nothing about September 11th or Twitter.   

These now alienated adults refuse the love and attention of their targeted parents and take a pass on meaningful relationships with their aging grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and formerly close family friends. These grown up children intentionally skip making memories that most people cherish.

There are countless adults still alienated from a parent years after everyone else in the family drama moved on with their lives. Perhaps it is easier for them to stay alienated rather than deal with the guilt of accepting a parent who never did anything to warrant the estrangement. Maybe it is easier for them to stay away rather than run the risk of disappointing their alienating parent. Perhaps these alienated adult children are simply too proud to admit that turning away every time the targeted parent tried to heal the rift between them was wrong.

Whatever their reason, these alienated adult children remain in the dark. They don’t know anything about the events and celebrations that define close-knit, loving families. They don’t know anything about the things that comprise one half of who they are. And saddest of all, they don’t even know that they remain stuck in the past while their targeted parents and extended families move forward making more cherished memories.

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