Most targeted parents can describe their "a-ha moment" when they realized that what they were experiencing had a name, was supported by a plethora of research and battled by both parents and professionals around the globe. The moment they felt validated and no longer alone, and the moment they simultaneously filled with rage that parental alienation is allowed to rage unchecked.
Take a moment to think who in your life may be desperate for their a-ha moment, and reach out to them. You won't be overstepping, you will be delivering validation and hope and community to a fellow parent living with a broken heart.
Now to a blog on one parent's "a-ha moment".
In Parent Deleted, Simply Parent founder Michelle Darné identifies the moment when she found out that parental alienation was “a thing”:
"During one of our prep sessions, [my attorney] Ann looked me in the eye….”Unfortunately, what I believe X is doing is called ‘parental alienation.’ It is a controversial area of family law in part because if it very difficult to prove; this is a nascent area of psychiatric and legal study. But I do believe that X has been systematically removing you, both physically and emotionally, from the lives of your children.”
No kiddin’… thank god… of course… I couldn’t believe that there was a term and a whole field of study on this behavior."
I describe this as the “a-ha” moment, that moment in time when it dawns on the targeted parent that he or she is not alone, that others are experiencing the same rejection, that there is a label for the phenomenon, and that there are professionals trying to solve the problem. “A-ha, so that’s what I’m experiencing!”
Unfortunately, Michelle’s experience likely mirrors most of the targeted parent community: these revelations usually come too late – or at least not early enough in the struggle. Even worse, many targeted parents stumble into this information on their own. The professionals that are supposed to provide help are generally ignorant about parental alienation and unable to conduct the proper assessment, which would lead to an accurate diagnosis, and ultimately to an effective treatment. Michelle was lucky; her attorney at least knew about parental alienation and was able to provide her with some information about it.
In my case, I remember feeling elation when my lawyer told me that the court was going to appoint a certain counselor to dig into the situation. He told me that she was very experienced in the family court system. “Great,” I thought, “we’ll finally get to the bottom of this problem.” After individual sessions, a joint session with my children was scheduled – and it was a disaster. I called the counselor after she was unable to persuade my ex to get the children back in for another session (surprise). I asked her whether she knew what was happening. Her response: “No, do you?”
I was devastated. The mental health professional – the veteran of the family court system who surely had seen her fair share of high conflict divorce – didn’t know what was going on. Months later, I read an article that described what I was experiencing – and I learned that there was a name for it and that there are solutions. I learned that I wasn’t alone and that there was hope. I learned that how I was reacting to my children was likely making the situation worse.
Knowledge is part of the solution. The more you know and understand about parental alienation, the better chance you will have of recovering the relationship with your children. At the very least, knowledge and understanding will help to bring peace to your wounded soul.
Note from Simply Parent: Part of the mission of Simply Parent is to help disseminate information about parental alienation. We want to provide resources to legal and mental health professionals about the issue so that these professionals can quickly and effectively intervene. We also want to spread the message to other first responders such as schools and the faith community – particularly given the often counterintuitive presentation of the problem. We want the targeted parent to experience the “a-ha” moment as early in the divorce process as possible since early intervention is often the key to a successful resolution.