Encouragement for Victims of Parental Alienation

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big blended familyYou know what it’s like to feel unwanted. A diss or a brush-off is undeniably obvious, even when it’s subtle. The feeling that you don’t belong is a miserable one, and it’s natural to avoid people and situations that make us feel this way. If your children are part of an environment designed to exclude you, it is that much more painful. It’s tempting then to vacate the premises–whatever that may be. It could be your own home, your children’s school, the park where they play.

If you are a parent victimized by parental alienation, here are some words of encouragement:

1. You’re irreplaceable. No one else can be you, and your children need you. The love, wisdom and family history that you bring to the table is one-of-a-kind. So even if it is awkward, continue to show up whenever and wherever you can, within the bounds of appropriateness. Be dedicated even when there’s no obvious return on your investment.

2. Sometimes these things take years. Wait, is this supposed to be encouraging? Yes, it is. It is so important to remember that the way things look today may not be how they look 10 years from now. A good friend of mine told me a story about a devoted yet alienated dad who resolved his relationship with his daughter once she was in college, and he would be the first to say it was worth the wait.

3. A breakthrough is possible. Sometimes the alienating parent has a change of heart, against all odds. Whether it’s the exhaustion of the fight, a fresh perspective brought on by love, a new commitment to religious faith or an inability to deny the truth any longer, occasionally an alienating parent changes their tune and pulls back on their alienating behavior.

4. You don’t always have to be a hero. Yes, it does take heroic amounts of strength to handle being an alienated parent in a mature way. Give your self room to mess up. Don’t hate yourself if you lose your cool here and there. Even more important, make sure you have people with whom you don’t have to be a hero. Let down your hair, let off steam, be real and cry when you need to.