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Hope and Empowerment For Alienated Parents and Their Children

When I was almost four years old, my father threw my mother out of our home, quite literally. In the months that followed, when he had to tear me off of my mother after our scheduled visits, he repeatedly told her that I was better off without her.
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Mother and Child Holding Hands.
Mother and Child Holding Hands.

When I was almost four years old, my father threw my mother out of our home, quite literally. It was late at night. It was loud and volatile, my father full of rage. She had betrayed him.

We lived upstairs from my paternal grandparents, and my father quickly gathered his allies in casting my mother out. His family, friends, neighbors, and teachers all saw him as the "favored parent," the "good parent." After all, it was my mother who had abandoned me.

In the months that followed, when he had to tear me off of my mother after our scheduled visits, he repeatedly told her that I was better off without her. He told her she was hurting me by making me have these painful goodbyes. Broken and intimidated, she began to believe him. She showed up to see me on my fifth birthday and my father had remarried. His pacing and clenched jaw told us all that my mother was not welcome there. I wasn't supposed to love her anymore. I wasn't allowed to.

Not all alienation cases are this dramatic. Many alienating parents use subtle tactics, especially if the children are older. But the results are the same: the child-parent bond is disrupted, causing trauma to the child and the rejected parent.

My mother was essentially bullied out of my life, eventually only sending cards and letters that I never received. I was helpless to change the situation. I couldn't ask for her. I couldn't even grieve. I associated her name with my father's rage and it did not take me long to learn- to know- that my father's love was contingent upon me rejecting her.

And this is what all alienated parents need to be clear on: your children are being forced to reject you. Alienation is an extremely sophisticated and cruel pathology inflicted by the alienating, narcissistic parent. Your child is essentially held hostage by a psychological threat. They need to be rescued from this. It is up to you to acquire the tools you will need to do this. You cannot afford to stay stuck in victim mode.

I urge you to educate and empower yourself by gathering the information that you need. Dr. Craig Childress is a leading expert in this field and has written a brilliant and powerful book, An Attachment- Based Model of Parent Alienation: Foundations. This book is a tool that will make rescuing your child possible: http://www.amazon.com/Attachment-Based-Model-Parental-Alienation-Foundations/dp/0996114505

I also highly recommend watching his videos. Most are directed at the alienated parent, but Childress also has a series of videos in which he speaks to the child. Each of his videos holds valuable information. This information will be a great source of power in combating the pathology that has overtaken your child.

We must expose the psychopathology of parental alienation and break through the ignorance. Ignorance and secrecy make this trauma pathogen possible. The alienating parent depends on the ignorance of their allies. The allies may include stepparents, family members, the mental health system, and even the legal system. The children themselves have become allies as well, believing that the rejected parent is the source of their angst. But it is the disrupted bond with the "bad" parent that is the source of their misery and anger.

Childress, as well as other experts on this subject, are doing their part in exposing parent alienation. They are breaking through the ignorance in the mental health field and the legal system as best they can. But it is an enormous task, and alienated parents must do their part in reclaiming their children.

Adult alienated children, such as myself, have a responsibility as well. We must face the truth, figure out how to heal, and when we are ready, reach out to our alienated parent. Then we must do our part in shedding light on this psychological and emotional abuse. Doing nothing feels like allowing it.

I have told my story at a Boston Moth Story Slam and placed first. I have published excerpts from my memoir-in-progress. I am speaking at a support group for alienated parents next month. I don't do this for sympathy, or simply to share the drama of my childhood loss. I don't do it out of any sense of vengefulness either. I forgave long ago. I forgave my father for pushing my mother out of my life, even though he feels justified in doing so. I forgave my mother for giving up too easily, for not standing up to my father because she sensed he would 'win' at all costs. I know what happened was born out of wounds and human flaws.

But forgiveness does not mean I won't tell my story. It doesn't mean I won't speak of the truth of my experience. I will not allow ignorance to rest in its ugly place while innocent children are victimized.

I share my story to shed light on this terrible syndrome that affects so many children and parents, both mothers and fathers. I do this because it is my responsibility to break through the ignorance in order to reunite parents and children with each other. I will speak and write tirelessly, because it is my turn to do so.

Even when I heard hushed words about my mother being inadequate, the "bad one", the one who must not have loved me enough to stay, I knew that wasn't the truth. I knew because I remembered her love. To all estranged parents, your child remembers your love. I promise they do.

I can be reached at dana@danalaquidara.com