The Pain of Parental Alienation

An ongoing series on parental alienation authored by an anonymous CAFE volunteer

It occupies every second, minute and hour of your mind. It can feel as though your soul and heart is being ripped from you. It can make you edgy, angry, depressed and anxious. It can ruin your career and even any prospects of moving on in your love and social life. These are the direct results of parental alienation.

You can argue about whether this is a true syndrome in the medical sense. However, what you can’t argue is that this is very real and happening. Dr. Amy Baker defines parental alienation as:

….children being encouraged by one parent — the favored parent — to unjustly reject the other parent – the targeted parent.

Over the last six months I have had the privilege of speaking with many parents in the United Kingdom, United States and Canada. Many of them are alienated fathers.

The parents described heartbreaking stories where they have not been able to see or hear from their children for months or even years.

Alienated parents describe how they long to hold their children. More importantly, how they are intentionally excluded from significant events in their child’s life such as birthdays, Holidays, ballet recitals, soccer games and school events. Furthermore, how they miss out on significant milestones in the lives of their children such as their first words, first steps or when they learned to ride a bike.

The most devastating are the cases where children are led to believe false allegations and downright lies about the alienated parent.

“Daddy, abandoned you, because he hates you.”

“Daddy does not love you, don’t ever mention him.”

These statements pale in comparison to some of the really cruel stories I have heard. Since the custodial parent controls when the alienated parent can and cannot see the child the alienated parent is left with few opportunities to redeem themselves and with very little time.

Equally, sad are the situations where the child actually wants to maintain a relationship with the alienated parent but is not permitted.

There are also long term devastating effects for the child, the parent and society as a whole. In many situations the emotional damage to the child is so deep that the relationship with the alienated parent cannot be repaired.