Posts Tagged ‘Stress’

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.

Alienated parents champions, not victims

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

If you’ve read A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation, you probably remember that we consider driving a car one of those simple daily activities that can turn an alienated parent’s day upside down. 

For most people, driving a car is a way to go from Point A to Point B. But alienated parents have their eyes on the road and their brains in the past. The longer the drive, the more an alienated parent’s thoughts can drift back to the relationship that was wrongfully stolen away. By the time an alienated parent arrives at his or her destination the anger, sadness, hopelessness, frustration and unfairness of parental alienation can potentially turn the parent’s mood and outlook from sunny and bright to dark and bleak.

Yesterday I was driving and thinking about my alienated son. Another year has passed without any change in our relationship. But before I could take that destructive stroll down parental alienation memory lane, We are the Champions by Queen, came on the radio. For the first time I listened to the lyrics not as an anthem for a championship team, but as an anthem for alienated parents:

I’ve paid my dues
Time after time
I’ve done my sentence
But committed no crime
And bad mistakes
I’ve made a few
I’ve had my share of sand kicked in my face
But I’ve come through
 
We are the champions, my friends
And we’ll keep on fighting – till the end
We are the champions
We are the champions
No time for losers
Cause we are the champions – of the world.

Alienated parents are champions, not victims. Keep on fighting for your alienated children. You are the champions of parental alienation and the world.

Happy holidays from A Family’s Heartbreak, LLC.

Accept the gift of support this holiday season

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

The holidays are an especially difficult time for alienated parents. Despite all the holiday cheer, alienated parents can’t help but focus on the children who won’t visit, call or say thank you for a gift. In these emotionally challenging times, support from other parents who understand the pain and heartbreak of parental alienation is especially important.

Two online Yahoo groups, PASParents and Parents Against Parental Alienation (PAPA), provide alienated parents with a virtual community of support and empathy. There are also countless Facebook groups devoted to parental alienation support. Yet for some parents, nothing takes the place of old fashioned face-to-face communication with people who have walked in their shoes. There are some face-to-face parental alienation support groups listed on the Resources page of this site.

If you don’t have a parental alienation support group in your area and would like to start one, here are a few tips we believe you’ll find useful:

  1. Attracting Members — You want to attract people with shared experiences and a common goal. A good way to do this is to advertise your group’s purpose in a local newspaper, public place, or on a local Internet site. Many radio and television stations will run community service commercials for free during non-peak listening and viewing times. The goal is to attract people who share similar parental alienation experiences.
  2. Screening Potential Members — It is important to make sure participants are appropriate for the group. A short interview where you review the group’ goals and ask the individual questions about his or her expectations of the group process should help you decide if the person is a good fit.
  3. Setting up the Group — A good size for a group is between 10 and 15 people. At this size everyone should have an opportunity to participate in a 60 or 90 minute session.
  4. Establishing Rules — Who talks when? Any topic off limits? What is the procedure for asking someone to leave the group? While you can’t possibly address every potential scenario in advance, it is important to establish group rules up front and clearly communicate the rules to all members before the first session.
  5. Selecting a Moderator — You may have started your group, but you may not be the best person to act as moderator. An effective group will need someone who is a skilled facilitator. The moderator is the person to enforce group rules objectively, keep everyone moving in the right direction, manage the time, and make sure all group members have a chance to benefit. The moderator should also be a little detached from the rest of the group — someone who has accepted and moved on from the initial pain of his or her situation and can keep the focus on members who need lots of support, empathy or suggestions. 
  6. Building in Feedback Mechanisms — Feedback mechanisms are essential for improving the group process and ensuring the best possible outcomes. Whether the feedback consists of periodic informal conversations or an anonymous survey, be sure to have a process in place so group members can share their perspectives on how things are going and you can determine whether or not the group is meeting its goals.
  7. Notifying A Family’s Heartbreak.com — Once you form your group, be sure to let us know so we can add it to the Resources page of this site.

You talkin to me?

Monday, March 8th, 2010

Here at the A Family’s Heartbreak blog we direct most of our words to the parents, legal and mental health professionals who deal with the disruptive and unhealthy actions of the alienating parent. However today’s post is directed at alienating parents. You know who you are. You believe that you are acting in the children’s best interests when you involve them in your battles with the other parent.

The American Psychological Association (APA) reports in its latest Stress in America research that parents typically misjudge the amount of stress on their children. Twenty percent of children ages 8 to 17 reported that they worry a great deal, while only 3 percent of parents rated their children’s stress levels as extreme. Further, while only 13 percent of parents thought their children suffered from stress headaches, 36 percent of the kids reported stress headaches. Thirteen percent of parents thought their children have difficulty sleeping, while 45 percent of children reported trouble sleeping. While 18 percent of parents thought their children worry about the family’s financial situation, the kids reported that 30 percent of them are worried about the family finances.

Some alienating parents believe their children have the right to know what the other parent “is really like.” Other alienating parents believe that their children are “mature enough” to make decisions that force them to choose sides in their parents’ conflict. Adult conflicts are stressful enough for adults. Now the research shows that all parents underestimate the amount of stress children feel on a day-to-day basis. There is no good reason to further stress out your children by pulling them into conflicts that make them choose between Mom and Dad.

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