Hi there and welcome back. We’ve been talking about a very hard topic for divorcing parents to deal with – specifically, what not to do when your toxic ex is working to alienate you from your children. In the previous article we discussed why it’s so important to be strategic and careful in responding to these types of situations, because the emotionally charged reactions that come naturally at a time like this can actually make everything worse, not better.
As we discussed before, your children are victims in this as well. So while it may feel like the injustice is directed at you from them (after all, you’re the one being alienated!), they’re just the channels. The real villain here is your ex, who is poisoning them against you. It might seem like they’re the “bad guys” because they’re causing you so much pain, which can make punishing them seem like a perfectly normal reaction. But it’s not. They’re being damaged by this process just as much as you are, even if they can’t see it right now, so you’ve got to maintain control over your responses.
If you’re being alienated from your kids, DON’T do this:
- DON’T punish your children for their feelings!
It can be very tempting to punish your children when their reflected toxic behaviors get out of hand, or their terrible beliefs about you cause you heartbreak and grief. But the reality is, your kids are suffering just as much as you are in this situation. They are being poisoned against one of their parents, which means they’re losing a valuable relationship and being manipulated by someone who is supposed to love and care for them. It’s a terrible situation for them to be in, and they feel trapped and vulnerable already. Don’t make it worse for them by punishing them further.
Children who are being emotionally abused into alienating one of their own parents, walk a very fine line in their. The alienating parent has put them in a terrible position where they’re being required to push one relationship away in order to prove that they’re worthy of keeping another. It’s a horrible place to be, and they’re already struggling emotionally to balance their fear of rejection and loss. Although it’s very hard, remind yourself that they’re victims too, and that they don’t need any more anger directed their way.
- DON’T force your children to interact with you
This is probably the hardest one of them all. Why? Because not forcing a rude and disrespectful child to interact with you when they’re ignoring you feels so counter intuitive to everything you want right now. If you’re being alienated from your kids, it seems perfectly reasonable to make them acknowledge you. After all, if your kid is refusing to come out of their room while they’re at your house, or refusing to speak to you during your parenting time, what else can you do? You can’t sit around and let them ignore you, right? Well, that’s a tricky one…
On the one hand, while it’s important to point out to them in a calm and reasonable way that they are being disrespectful and that you don’t appreciate it, the truth is that you can’t force a child to speak to you, or to interact with you. Not without threatening them (which is a horrible idea because it just reinforces what their other parent is saying about you!) or physically forcing them, which can easily be construed as violence. So we recommend that you respect their struggle, remind them often that you love them even if right now they are being unreasonable or unkind, and try to give them space.
Make sure you get help to deal with this terrible situation!
Being alienated from your children by a vengeful ex is a tragedy, and can have life-long consequences for both you and your kids if it’s not handled properly. If you are caught up in a high conflict divorce, and feel that your children are being poisoned against you, we highly recommend that you seek out professional help to deal with that from a licensed therapist. They will be able to provide a safe place to discuss your emotional struggles, and also give you advice on how to best handle your children during this difficult time.
Here at The Kronzek Firm, our skilled family law attorneys have spent decades handing contentious divorces, and helping people navigate high conflict divorces. We understand what it means to disentangle yourself from a toxic or narcissistic spouse, and what parental alienation looks like. We can help you navigate this challenging time in life, and figure out how to prepare for your future. Call 866 766 5245 today, and get help from knowledgeable and hard working family law experts. We’re available round the clock to help.