through raising awareness.
Fighting Parental Alienation
Advice to targeted parents
(most of these tips are for parents who are still seeing their children)
1. Take care of yourself. Don't sit at home lamenting what you have lost. Build a robust life around you.
2. Develop exceptional parenting skills. Read books, take classes, and/or work with a counselor. All eyes are on you now, and they are waiting for you to make a mistake.
3. Your ex will try to turn your mistakes into the whole of your identity. Remind yourself that you are not the person your ex-spouse says you are.
4. Don’t stop being a parent. Set boundaries. Demand respect.
5. Remind your kids of the way things used to be. Tell your kids funny stories from the past. Show your kids old family photos. Put them on the screensaver of your family computer.
6. When your kids falsely accuse you of something, resist the temptation to argue. You are not going to win over your child with logic or a well-reasoned argument. Empathize with the emotion they are expressing, and then state your point of view, without being accusatory. For example, "You really seem angry/hurt/disappointed over this issue. Unfortunately it doesn't look like we are going to agree with each other over what happened, but I hope we can still work through it." If the false claim against you is wildly inaccurate, it's okay to express incredulity. "Do you really believe I would do something so outrageous? That’s just silly."
7. Parental alienation can be excruciating. Find healthy outlets for your emotions. Share them with a trusted friend or family member, or with a counselor. At the same time, resolve to develop a thicker skin. This will make you less likely to overreact.
8. When you are attacked by your child, remind yourself that your child has been brainwashed. Don't take things too personally.
9. Encourage your child to be an independent thinker. Alienating parents often have a cult-like grip on their child. Having your child learn to think for herself will go a long way toward loosening that grip. When your child expresses her own opinion on a topic, reinforce it. Tell her, "You really have a good head on your shoulders," or, "You came up with that all on your own. That's great!"
10. Give your child a picture of you to keep with them when they are away.
11. Tell your kids you love them. This is a simple one.
12. A child wants to feel safe. Address this issue directly. Ask them if they ever feel unsafe with you. If the answer is yes, ask them why. Reinforce to them how important it is to you that they alwaysfeel secure when they are with you, and then ask them how to make things better.
13. Don't jump to conclusions. Ask questions first. Not every drama you experience with your child is secondary to Parental Alienation. Every parent-child relationship has conflict. Before you react, find out the whole story.
14. Use reflective listening. Everybody loves to be heard and understood. Even if the issue at hand is not resolved, you will have gained ground in the relationship. It can be as simple as, "What I hear you saying is, such and such... Did I get that right?" I resisted doing this at first, because I thought it sounded cheesy. It was not the way I normally talked. But eventually I found ways to make it come out more naturally. It really works.
15. If your child says something obviously intended to hurt you, like, "You're the worst parent ever," or, "I hate you!" admit to them they are causing you pain. It is because you love them that they are able to hurt you. But then make it clear to them that, though your love for them is not limited, their power to inflict pain on you is limited. They can only cut you so deep. There is a core to your identity they cannot reach. Your sense of well-being is not dependent upon them. If you are able to communicate this to them, and, more importantly, if you are actually able to live it out, it will be a great lesson for your kids. It is the exact opposite of what they are learning from your ex.
16. If your child passes along to you a hateful comment from your ex-spouse, don't "take the high road" and ignore it. Call it out. Say something like, "I'm disappointed your mom/dad would say something like that about me, especially in front of you. If I were in your shoes that might make me feel like I had to choose between one parent or the other. I hope you never feel like you have to choose. You can love us both the same."
17. Don't miss your parenting time. Make it a priority.
18. Do not appear desperate for your children's affections. Alienated children already have limited respect for the targeted parent. Appearing desperate only makes it worse. Show them a quiet self-confidence.
19. Draw strength from God. My Christian faith has been invaluable to me. It helps me keep my own little life and my momentary troubles in perspective. Life is not about me. At the same time, my faith connects me with a power infinitely greater than my own. It is a source of joy and hope. If you are a person of faith, live it out in front of your kids. Pray for your kids, and yes, pray for your ex-spouse.
20. Although there may be a time to let go, never give up. In the words of Winston Churchill, "Never, never, never—never give up."