By: Susan Shofer
The most devastating and challenging part of being alienated from your child or children is making the decision to give up. Sometimes alienated parents go days, weeks, months and even years without a word from their child. Phone calls to their child go unanswered. Cards and letters get returned. The question becomes —
How long do you let this go one before you decide you have had enough rejection?
When I was alienated from my child, several of my friends, relatives, and attorneys painfully witnessed the constant rejection that I received from my child and believed that I was creating more angst for myself by making what appeared to be consistent futile efforts to communicate with my child. They believed that it was in my best interest to discontinue the failed contacts; that my child knew where I was and could contact me when they were ready, whatever that meant. Their belief was that eventually my child would miss me and reach out to me. There were times when I wondered if there was some logic to their words. Maybe if I just stopped reaching out to my child, they would come back to be unsolicited.
One day I was sadder than I could have imagined as my child refused to speak with me. The pain of no communication was so severe that I thought maybe it was time for me to focus on me, my other child, my job, my friends and stop making my attempts to force a relationship which became obvious that my child did not want. Suddenly, I realized that as much as I loved and missed my child, my child must have loved and missed me. Sure, my calls were not answered nor were any of my emails. Invitations to see me were also denied. Despite my pain, I recognized that my child had to be in pain too. In the case of parental alienation, children become completely brainwashed by the alienating parent. Whatever that parent tells them, no matter how false it is, the stories told become their reality. Trying to negate that reality becomes harder and harder for the rejected parent to do.
A Parental Alienation Story
Sadly, Parental Alienation is a story that is personally near and dear to my heart; a sad story that ultimately had a happy outcome for my child and me. When I was doing research for this workbook, I spoke with many people who had been alienated by their children. Most of the stories had a similar theme and that was that the parents gave up trying to stay connected to their alienated child. After having letters returned, texts blocked, no answered phone calls, many parents found their efforts not only frustrating but futile. The resounding belief is that one day when the child got older, he or she would try to make contact with their long-lost alienated parent. This sounds good in theory. In practice, it happens with little frequency. Once children are alienated, whatever horrors have been told to them about the targeted parent become their truth; a very solid truth.
One story of how a parent and child reaped the rewards by a parent who never gave up trying to contact her daughter is so powerful that it stuck with me to this day. The story is of a girl named Rachel whose father alienated her from her mother when Rachel was six years old. The divorce was very nasty, as most are when there is alienation involved. Rachel’s mother, Stacy, had been a wonderful mother. She worked a part-time job at a local dress store so that she could be home most of the time with her only child, Rachel. The father (whose name I have chosen to omit) was a very powerful businessman.
Stacy found out that her husband had an affair when Rachel was five years old.
Stacy chose to dissolve the marriage. Her husband did not want her to pursue the divorce since his girlfriend broke up with him before the actual divorce took place. He pleaded with Stacy to work on their marriage. Since her trust in her husband was shattered beyond repair, she did not acquiesce to his requests. Still, he made several attempts to no avail and they were divorced a month after Rachel turned six years old.
Very soon after the divorce, Stacy’s relationship with Rachel became strained. Rachel began to avoid her mother. When Rachel was with Stacy she was rude and disrespectful. Rachel began to refuse visits with Stacy. Rachel accused her mother of being a terrible mother claiming that she denied the child food and toys. None of this made any sense to Stacy. Each visitation with Rachel became more difficult and eventually, Rachel refused to see Stacy. Stacy went to court to try and have her visitation with Rachel enforced.
Sadly, the alienation was so entrenched that even a court forced visitation was impossible because Rachel would not budge. In fact, Rachel began to campaign heavily to not have to see her mother at all. One day Rachel told Stacy that if she really loved her she would leave her alone. During this time, Rachel’s father told her that Stacy was someone that Rachel should fear, that Stacy did not love Rachel because if she did she never would have divorced him. He said the reason she divorced him was to get away from her daughter.
The years went by and Stacy and Rachel’s relationship became completely severed.
Stacy made attempts to contact her daughter via letters and cards. Stacy never forgot a holiday or birthday and sent several cards a year to her daughter. In addition, she wrote her daughter a letter on the first day of every month. Each letter began with the following preamble, “I continue to write to you one letter a month on the first day of the month as well as send you cards throughout the year. I don’t know if you get them or not. This is my letter for this month (and the month and year were always noted).” Stacy continued these correspondence attempts for eleven years.
Stacy never received returned cards or letters, so she had no clue whether or not Rachel ever read them. Rachel’s father, for fear that a letter from Stacy would ever reach his daughter, opened a post office box where he collected all his mail. This made him able to circumvent Stacy’s correspondences so that Rachel never saw any of them.
When Rachel was seventeen years old, her father went on a business trip for five days. On the day of his return, Rachel wanted to surprise her father. She cleaned up the house nicely and made sure all the laundry was done. Rachel also cooked him a nice dinner the night he came home. On the way to the supermarket, she stopped at the post office to get his mail for him. Rachel had never done this before but saw the post office box key on his bedroom dresser and thought it would be nice to collect his mail for him.
In the stack of mail was a letter addressed to her by Stacy. Rachel opened it and read the first sentences. Rachel began to cry.
She had no idea that Stacy had been trying to reach out to her all those years.
In fact, she asked her father every so often if her mother ever asked for her. He told Rachel that her mother never wanted to ever see Stacy again and had moved on with a new life. Rachel sat in her car and sobbed as she read her mother’s letter. Despite the sweet words written on the page of that letter, Stacy’s pain was palpable to her daughter.
When Rachel’s father returned home that evening, Rachel confronted him about the letter and all the past correspondences from her mother that she never received. After he realized that he could not hold onto the falsehoods he had told Rachel over the years, he said the only reason he told her the things about her mother was because he thought it was better for Rachel to not have to move between two homes. As he pleaded for Rachel’s forgiveness for doing such an awful thing, she packed her bags, loaded up her car and left her father’s house. Since Stacy provided her address and phone number on every correspondence to her daughter, Rachel had no problem reaching her mother. Needless to say, there was a happy reunion between mother and daughter.
At the time of this writing, the reunion of Stacy and Rachel took place six years ago.
Rachel has graduated from college and lives two miles from her mother’s house. They are the best of friends. Rachel has not seen her father since the day she left his home.
I share this story with you because it confirms my strong suggestions to never give up trying to connect with your child – never. It also sheds light on what happens to the parent who does the alienating. Although they may be successful at the time they are immersing the child in the venom, ultimately, they stand to possibly lose their child forever.
For more information about Parental Alienation and Parental Alienation Syndrome:
Check out my recent Webinar or the Divorce Recovery Ladder Workbook
The Divorce Recovery Ladder Workbook and Program were inspired by Susan’s own
contentious divorce and triumph battling severe Parental Alienation.
Susan began her professional career in the financial industry working for an International Investment Firm.
After that, she was an agency licensed private investigator for two decades where she amassed thousands of court testifying hours.
Topics covered include: Realization of the situation | Attorneys | Finances | Children | Parental Alienation | Courts & Evidence | Recognizing Retaliation | Dating Again