Pain is the point of parental alienation. It's the whole point. It's the reason parental alienation exists. You could say its parental alienation's raison-d'etre, its reason for being, because that's exactly what it is. Intense pain aimed at parents like us who love our children more than anything in the world by turning our children against us is the aim of the alienating parent.
It has nothing to do with protecting our children from us or because we aren't good parents or caring parents or loving parents. Instead, it's because we are good, caring, and loving parents that our children are tricked into thinking we are evil, forced to reject us, and made to believe they are supposed to hate us.
Making us suffer in the worst way possible is the entire mission of the alienating parent, and yet this would never be possible if we weren't passionate about our children and didn't have wonderful relationships with them. Poor parents, even mediocre parents, are seldom targets of parental alienation because they can't be made to suffer enough to make it worth the time, trouble, or risk for an alienating parent to force such a sick twisting-of-mind onto trusting and loving children.
You can't make a child reject a parent they don't like and you can't make a parent suffer the loss of a child they don't care about.
And so, by definition, we are targeted parents because we are awesome parents and the pain we suffer from losing our children is precisely what the alienating parent wants. And that's sick.
When we lose a child to parental alienation; that is, when we lose a child to the heinous manipulating, pillaging, and plundering of an innocent mind for the sole purpose of causing us pain, to say our world "changes" doesn't quite say it all. It doesn't quite get at the experience of being dropped onto a different planet as different people with very, very different children. It can't describe this experience because our world doesn't change so much as it vanishes and the world we suddenly find ourselves in is nothing like the one we used to know.
We're cut off from that world and trapped in an eerily different one similar only in that it still holds echos of the children we used to know who lived in that world with us. But they're only echoes.
Because, even though it may seem as though our children are still with us in our world, they're not. They're not the same children anymore. Something has happened to them. Something terrible. And in a manner that can only be described as nightmarish and surreal the children we cradled, read to, sat up with, walked to school, drove to games, and gave everything in our lives for so we could be part of everything in their lives, are gone from our world, and we're now alone in a deserted and desolate world that seems to grow more deserted and desolate each day.
But only to us. Not to anyone else.
No one else sees this nightmare we're living. To the people around us nothing seems different or wrong or strange.
And nothing we do seems to make any difference.
The world of the targeted parent is a lonely and heartbroken world, which, while remaining lonely and heartbroken for us seems to remain unknown and invisible to almost everyone else. And this crisis we're now living of being cut off from our children while also being cut off from the people we thought would help us through our crisis, becomes even more heartbreaking when it's our own family that doesn't get what's happening in our lives – that doesn't understand the hardship we're facing of having to watch our children change before our eyes while falling away from our lives.
And yet, as painful and as heartbreaking as this rejection seems to be it's not an uncommon reaction from people who have never lost children to the heartbreak and rejection that are so much a part of parental alienation. Not at all. In fact it's pretty much the norm, even if it's family.
The macabre reality of being rejected by our children while also being rejected and abandoned by those people closest to us – the people we call family – at a time when we need our family most, is an impossibly cruel reality to have to live with and yet it's an understandable one considering how difficult parental alienation is to understand, on the surface.
Because on the surface it makes no sense that a loving child would reject a loving parent and that they would do this in such a shockingly short amount of time ... and ... that they would do this in the absence of anything that parent has done to cause this rejection. And it makes even less sense that this child could be manipulated or programmed to do this, as we claim to be the case.
And yet that's exactly what's happening, hard as that is to believe. Because that's exactly what parental alienation is, hard as that is to understand.
And so I get that this is a lot for people to accept, especially people who have never experienced the chaos and confusion that are so much a part of this family catastrophe. I get that it makes no sense that loving children would turn against loving parents almost overnight and leave their lives completely. And I get the skepticism and doubt surrounding the claim that something as severe as the loss of a child can be explained by something as simple as some overzealous character assassination or mean-spirited criticism.
I get that none of this makes any sense because it didn't make any sense to me either, at first, and for the longest time I too thought I had done something to my two youngest daughters to make them turn away from me so suddenly and leave my life so permanently. I too thought I had hurt them in some way and just couldn't remember what it was I had done – which is a very unsettling thought to have to live with. And yet it was the only one that made sense to me, at the time.
Because at the time I also believed that only something severe a parent had done to a child could make a child turn away from a parent in this way. And I had a difficult time imagining how anything less than this could account for a child hating a parent so viciously and rejecting that parent so callously. And yet, try as I may, I couldn't think of a single thing I had done to either of my daughters, ever, to even remotely cause them to act this way toward me. Instead, and as is the case with most alienated parents, just the opposite is true: I've always been a very good parent to my children, I've always been very involved in their lives, we've always had very open communication between us, and we've always been very, very close.
And so this was all very, very puzzling and I was very, very confused and none of it was making any sense to me, at all.
That is, until I read about parental alienation. And then it made sense. Exact sense. Feature-by-feature sense. Symptom-by-symptom exact sense as if the authors I was reading were writing about the lives my daughters and I were leading. Because at that point our lives had become mirror images of the lives described by the parental alienation authors in the parental alienation books. In fact we fit the model exactly once you began looking under the surface
Because under the surface ... underneath what we normally understand as the dynamics of the parent-child bond was not the behavior of a child who had been hurt by a parent but was instead the behavior of a child who was made to believe their parent is worthy of hate. Which is something different. Something much worse. And something much less obvious.
And the only way to get to these less-obvious explanations for an alienated child's behavior is to get beyond settling for answers based on hunches and guesses and personal opinions and instead make a genuine effort to look beyond the surface for facts which accurately describe that behavior.
Which is something we do anyway with things that are important to us, such as, say, an untreatable child illness that isn't given a hopeful outcome. And in cases like this we don't think twice about getting second opinions, doing more research, and looking further and deeper until we find the answers.
And we don't stop until we find them, especially when so much is at stake.
And so it only makes sense that we would do the same thing with something as purposely deceiving as parental alienation, where a child's well-being is also at stake, and where the parents who are losing their children are pleading with us to take a closer look at what's happening to their family. Because what's happening to their family is not what it looks like on the surface. And if there's one thing we know about parental alienation it's that it's not what it looks like on the surface.
In fact, much of the history of science is essentially a history of the pitfalls of embracing misconceptions and myths about the world and the successes of embracing facts and truth gathered from going beyond superficial observations and speculations in order to determine actual causes responsible for effects we're witnessing.
And once I began doing this – once I began looking at the facts and truth about parental alienation and was able to match the behaviors described in the literature to the behaviors I was witnessing in my children, I was finally able to understand what was causing their strange and irrational behavior toward me.
And then things finally started to make sense.
Which was very comforting and quite a relief, at first, to know I wasn't losing my mind and that I didn't have to keep grasping in the dark for answers. But it was frightening as well because the answers I found only predicted a dark outcome, especially for a family like ours which fit the parental alienation model perfectly.
The cold hard facts about parental alienation are that a parent's chances of ever reconciling with a child who has been brainwashed and manipulated as profoundly as severely alienated children have are very, very slim. In fact they're worse than if the parent had actually done something to the child.
Which is not a very comforting thing to hear if you're a parent still trying to figure out why your child left you in the first place.
And so, knowing this I almost wished I hadn't found the answers, at least these answers, and that I was still in the dark like I had been and like my friends and family still were. Or I hoped the experts might be wrong or that my family might be an exception, or that maybe, just maybe, I could reconnect with my children despite the slim chances the experts gave of ever doing this.
But these were simply not the case, and it was looking more and more like our family was instead a textbook case of the type of family were severe alienation could happen, most likely would happen, and by all measures was happening. We even fit the manner in how it was happening right down to the uncanny and frightening details: All eight manifestations of parental alienation were spot-on as were the warning signs that could lead to alienation such as a long and contentious custody battle and a history of one parent bad-mouthing the other parent in front of the children.
All of which are definite dangerous warning signs as well as being definitely us. But what was even more us, and an even more dangerous warning sign, was that of a parent sharing custody with an ex-spouse who has undying passion to take your children away from you.
And that we had in spades.
Because – and like with most alienated parents – ever since our divorce, my ex has had nothing less than an insatiable quest to exclude me from my children's lives no matter what it took, no matter who got in her way, and no matter whether she had grounds to do this or not. And even though she never had the grounds to do this and was therefore never successful, it still never stopped her from trying.
In fact, her need to to control our children and control me (a need which seemed to control her) by trying to control which parent our children should live with and which parent they should have in their lives and which parent they should be able to love, had only grown during that long period since our separation. And unfortunately for the girls and me we seemed to have gotten used to this. Which was a mistake – a big mistake. Because this warning sign was not only considered the one most likely to lead to alienation and not only did it seem to be lifted right out of our family, but it was also the one I had ignored all those years thinking nothing could ever come of it, because nothing could ever come between me and my children.
It was unthinkable.
I was sure of this.
But then I was in denial. Even when the poisoning was so bad that my daughters began hating me and wanting me out of their lives, and I began reading about parental alienation and studying the reasons for their hatred as well as seeing the overwhelming symptoms and undeniable similarities between our family and the casebook families, I still denied that parental alienation could be happening to us.
Maybe to other families, but not us, was my thinking at the time. Because we were different, we were close. I was a good parent and my kids were good kids and this was absolutely impossible and completely unthinkable and could never ever happen to us.
So very wrong. I was so wrong about this and I don't today know how I could have been or how I could have ignored all these warning signs for so long, except for the fact that never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine something like this happening to my family.
It was an impossible thing to imagine.
Which probably explains why parental alienation is so difficult to understand and why it happens so often and goes undetected almost always. Because, on the surface, it's seldom obvious that something this sinister is happening to a family, and it's almost impossible to imagine that it could be happening especially to parents who are so loving and caring and involved in their children's lives.
But then, that's the point.
It's because we are good, caring, and loving parents that we become targets of someone who is trying to hurt us in this way. Which is the great irony and therefore the great stumbling block for so many who are trying to understand this strange family dynamic.
Parental alienation doesn't happen to bad parents or even mediocre parents. It happens to the best parents. And you don't have to do anything to cause it except be a good parent. Because good parents are the kind of parents who will suffer the most when their children are gone from their lives. Because turning our children against us by turning us into despicable monsters in their eyes and erasing us from their lives is guaranteed to cause us unthinkable amounts of pain.
Which is the point, and which took me a while to grasp, and is still unthinkable to comprehend and impossible for my friends and family to make any sense of. But mostly, it's just plain horrible to have live with every day. Because it's not living.
There's no other way to say it: pain is the point of parental alienation. You could say it's parental alienation's raison-d'etre, its reason for being. Because that's exactly what it is.