A few days ago, I received a couple of rather “trolling” blog comments. At first, I figured I would ignore or delete them. I’m glad I didn’t, as I have since decided to address it directly, as a blog post.
I think it’s very important, as there are some critical points to raising children who are as emotionally stable as possible in an abusive environment. Personally, as an advocate against domestic abuse and child abuse, I feel it is a responsibility to take a stand on this.
First – I want to note a couple links which speak of how “Parental Alienation Syndrome” has been dispelled and rejected by the legal community and the American Psychological Association. My personal take from having read through the literature and posted on it previously is here and here.
So, are there parents who speak badly about the other parent, and who seek to destroy another parents relationship with the children? YES, certainly there are. HOWEVER… studies show that most often the personality disordered or the abusive individuals are the ones who are engaging this behavior. Unfortunately, I do think it can impact children and is quite harmful to them. Personally, my ex engages in behavior like this where he chastises me, degrades me and repeatedly speaks of how he hates me and wants to see me arrested & in jail… to our children. Recently, I am continually reassuring my children that I would have to do something illegal and that their father doesn’t have the power to put me in jail. I thank God that I have the time with my children to show them my goodness and love and who I truly am as a person – so they can use their own discernment to determine who I am as an individual vs. who their father says I am. I don’t need to speak badly about their dad, as they don’t need any more added to their plate than the bad things he does to them directly. They need me to help them cope with the situation as a neutral person, not to add more inflamed comments.
Now… onto the comments that “Brad Anonymous” left on this blog:
“I’ve been studying Hostile Aggressive Parenting and Parental Alienation Syndrome. To Natalia… I’m in no way taking the side of the ex, but your blogs comments tell me, objectively, that you have been programming these kids through subtleties to alienate their less than perfect father who is there, trying to be a part of their lives. It’s each CO-PARENTS job to try to make the other parent look good in the eyes of the child, no matter WHAT they ACTUALLY think. Bless this. Bless that. Pray this. Pray that. You’ve written him off and the kids see and hear that. It damages them long term to add your opinion to his mistakes. Think, MOM.
Also, Hostile Aggressive Parents tend to attempt to recruit others to their way of thinking. Kinda like what you’re doing here on this thread… Everyone cheer for mom when you haven’t heard dads side of the story. It’s entirely possible that he’s nowhere NEAR as much of a devil as you paint him. Children don’t hate a parent without programming from the other parent o we time… Read up on this before being so supportive to the accuser here.”
1- It is our job as PARENTS to be raise our children to be emotionally intelligent (great resource: Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child). If we try to make an abusive parent look good in the eyes of a child, we are denying them their truth. If the child says “Daddy hits me” and “Daddy calls me an asshold, but I don’t even know what an asshold is.”, and we tell them that certainly they are telling a lie and Daddy is wonderful… this will cause them to never trust what they see in the world, and they will likely wind up in abusive relationships repeatedly down the road. It is invalidating and disregarding of their feelings. It also shuts down communication between the child and the parent – why would a child bring any other events in their lives to a parent who tells them that they don’t know what they are talking about?
2- When a child reports abuse, we can listen with empath and reflect -without being further degrading to the parent. The conversation can be held honoring the truth of what happened and speaking factually/neutrally about the difference between healthy relationships and abusive relationships. The child can use that information to determine how each parental relationship (or friendship or any other type of relationship) is for them.
3- Personally, I believe in teaching my children to accept each of us as parents for our truths and who we are. I’m not perfect either. I teach them compassion for their dad when they complain about his screaming rages by telling them how he was raised as a child to communicate by screaming and yelling (a fact their dad shares himself). Perhaps my children and I can teach him or guide him by modeling loving ways to interact themselves, although it’s not my children’s burden as children to teach their parent.
4- “Children don’t hate a parent without programming from the other parent“. If I child is being abused by their parent - whether the parents are still married or divorced, and therefore hates their parent because they are raged at, cursed at, hit, physically harmed, or at the worse sexually abused… YES THEY MAY HATE THE PARENT WHO DOES THAT TO THEM. However, it is possible that they still love them (Stockholm Syndrome). Consider situations where the parents are still married in particular and the non-abusive parent stays in the relationship without badmouthing the other parent… the anger that the child may have at an abusive parent is completely valid and not because they’ve “been programmed”.
5- The purpose of my blog is to focus on how to remain positive in a difficult situation, and to connect with others who are trying to do the same. Yes, it sucks to have to deal with someone who is abusive and disordered. However, the world becomes much lighter when those of us in that situation can focus on ourselves, healing ourselves from any abuse that we have endured, and finding positive, healthy ways to deal with disordered individuals through being centered, grounded, healthy and using boundaries and effective communciation.
My conclusion to this long post is .. the best place to focus really is on ourselves. What can we do better? How can we be the best parent we can be? What do our children need from us? When I write articles like the one about my ex’s performance review – I write it not to degrade him, but to help those who may be trying to get out from the fog of being in a relationship with someone who is disordered and uses emotionally abusive behavior which attempts to have the person deny their reality (e.g. discounting/devaluing, crazy-making, gas lighting). It is helpful to validate that the behavior you’ve been told is “normal” (e.g. “all families scream at each other”… “but I didn’t mean what I said, you’re just being overly sensitive”) isn’t really normal or healthy at all. Recognizing this behavior for what it is is step 1 in recovering from an abusive relationship and taking back your own power. So, even in this instance – while I may highlight my ex’s behavior, the purpose is to look within at what is acceptable behavior and see that it is okay to set a boundary on what is unacceptable.
I encourage my commenter to do the same… look within. Instead of looking out and finding “syndromes”… look within yourself at what you are doing when PARENTING and what you can do best for your children.