Feeling Helpless Dealing with Parental Alienation? How I Can Help
Has your child been told that you don’t show up for them even though you do?
Has your child been told that you put a “new family” first?
Is your child being made to choose sides in a separation?
Has your ex-partner been saying negative things about you to your child?
Are any of these statements even remotely true?
If not, and you are in any way dealing with these situations for the first time, then I must say, I’m deeply sorry. You and your child may be the victim of parental alienation.
What is parental alienation?
There are several definitions that exist online, however the main explanation is that an ex-partner is alienating your children against you. Or, maybe you are the new partner of someone who has been dealing with this type of poisonous dynamic.
No one in my opinion ever should have to deal with this. Parental alienation can be severely damaging to you and most definitely your children. There’s even a study about it conducted in 2016 that recorded the emotional cause and effect this can have on a child.
Why this is so complicated
Parenting with a toxic ex-partner may possibly be one of the most challenging situations that you will have to deal with. That’s because there is no single underlying reason why a parent will alienate their child, only several factors in which the other parent will be alienated. Each behaviour such as deception, manipulation, narcissism, gaslighting, and selfishness can be connected to many wide and varied reasons, which makes the cause even more difficult to pinpoint. Maybe the alienator is driven by jealousy, anger, bitterness, or revenge.
Not only is it difficult to prove that parental alienation is possible, it gets worse. There is no law stating that it is illegal in Canada.
The most that is being done is that courts are at least starting to recognize the harmful effects of parental alienation:
“No person having charge of a child shall permit the child to suffer from a mental, emotional or developmental condition that, if not remedied, could seriously impair the child’s development.” – Ontario Child and Family Services Act, R.S.O. 1990, Chapter C.11 sec. 79 (2)(b)(ii). (Source)
Note that I said starting to recognize.
We have a long, long way to go before we can start seeing significant change in the way our judicial system views and handles these situations.
And it’s exactly why dealing with this sort of ex-partner takes some serious consideration, on several levels.
Why I’m addressing this in the first place
The truth of the matter is, not only have I been working with many clients dealing with this type of dynamic, but also I’ve had to deal with it as the support person myself.
While I cannot describe much from a legal stance, I can give you my own perspective. And to me, it is incredibly clear that any alienated parent is always in a lose/lose situation.
Children are in hypnosis until the age of about 12-14 yrs old. So, whatever the constant messaging has been up to that point, has a very significant impact on their belief system. The same is being said for the parent doing the alienating, which is INCREDIBLY damaging to a child’s mind, subconsciously and consciously.
What can be done?
All my research on this topic, aside from what resources I’ve already included in this article, has led me to understand that when dealing with a toxic ex-partner, the only two options are:
1) Best case scenario…NO CONTACT with the alienating parent
2) as minimal contact as possible if children are involved.
The truth is, however, even these solutions can feel like a Herculean task. To realize that an ex-partner is in fact toxic can be incredibly debilitating, and to be alienated on top of undergoing separation lends further hurt to the grieving process. After all, I’m not talking about someone you’re leaving who magically shifted into a vicious werewolf overnight. I’m talking about someone you have built a life with together.
There is no shame in admitting that you are only realizing the signs of your situation. Many of the aforementioned behaviours such as gaslighting are difficult to identify since it’s so interconnected to one’s mental health. That is not to say there is a mental health situation involved, only that it’s possible…and therefore increasingly difficult to prove.
How it impacts children
Put it this way: what if a teenage child has been told over and over that Daddy doesn’t love us, he doesn’t show up?
How do you think a child who loves an alienated parent feels hearing this?
Unfortunately, it’s very likely that if you have been the person alienated against, you may NEVER have a relationship with your children if the messages that were relayed to their subconscious and conscious minds were constant enough.
Children struggling from parental alienation are confused and they need support. Their confusion can lead to shutting down, substance abuse, self-harm, or even suicidal attempts just to name a few. Similar effects of parental alienation on the child have been recorded over the years, including in this recent study.
What can be done if I’m the “rejected” parent?
You absolutely need support if you are an alienated parent. If you are supporting a partner who is dealing with this toxic dynamic, you also need support.
Do you think you are the one going crazy? I’m going to tell you…it’s part of the toxic dynamic.
Do you think it’s your fault? I’m going to tell you…it’s part of the toxic dynamic.
Do you feel helpless? Yup, you may be still dealing with that feeling, too.
It is very important when dealing with this kind of toxic pattern that you work with someone who understands this kind of behaviour. A mental health expert can range from a therapist, to a counsellor, to even a hypnotherapist.
How to start healing
It wasn’t your fault.
I’m going to state it outright, and I’m sorry if it hurts to read, but it’s true:
You or your partner and the children are the victim of ABUSE.
It is very important to remember that the rejection from the children isn’t true rejection. They are as much victims from the alienator as the alienated parent.
Here are a few tips to deal with parental alienation:
- Directly address the untruths given to the child in a neutral way such as (for example) “I’m not sure why you think that but, I love you very much.”
- Set boundaries.
- Empathize with their confusion but remind them that you love them.
- Set boundaries.
- Speak to their heart about what they might be experiencing.
- Set boundaries.
- Keep showing up with as much distance and separation from the toxic parent.
- Set boundaries.
- Find the joy in your life, work hard not to get caught up in the sadness, loss and toxicity of the alienator.
- And if it wasn’t clear enough…
How I can help
If you as the parent need to work through underlying issues which prevent you from speaking truth or addressing these things, that is where hypnotherapy can help.
Hypnotherapy can help release the past trauma, rejection, and programming you may have experienced being in a relationship with a toxic partner.
Hypnotherapy can also help you as the support person for the alienated parent to be supportive but discerning at the same time. You may have to help your partner grieve the loss of their children.
As the support person for the alienated parent, here are a few tips:
- Lean into the relationship, create a dynamic of love, openness and honesty that is impenetrable.
- Accept that this was never your fault.
- Speak your truth to your partner in a kind way.
- Remind your partner that the behaviours of the children aren’t really how they feel.
- Find the joy between the two of you.
- SET. BOUNDARIES.
My final thoughts
I hope no one ever must deal with this dynamic, but sadly it’s quite common in separation and divorce court cases. This is especially true if the alienator struggles with mental health problems and/or toxic, narcissistic behaviours.
I hope, if you are the one alienating your partner, you are aware enough to recognize that what you are doing is toxic. Like all bad habits, toxicity can be changed, only so long as you are willing to make that change happen. To understand better what I mean, you can refer to my blog post Hypnotherapy is Not a Magic Wand.
And if you are the one who has been alienated…from one parent to another, I am so sorry you’re going through this.
You don’t need to struggle with this alone. I am here to help, and I understand how challenging this kind of dynamic can be.
Remember you are not alone, and this road isn’t an easy one to navigate.
Reach out to me and we can talk about how I can support you or your partner or your children.