Parental Alienation A Cautionary tale.
Let’s call her Lucy, she is soon to be thirteen years old and she is a family member of a friend of mine. But she could be anyone, anywhere.
Her mum Clara I know very well. The father of Lucy, I don’t know so much except they split up during the pregnancy.
Clara already had a wee boy called Frank she had when she was 17 years old and had split from Frank’s dad as well. Clara was pretty crap at relationships and had went through a phase of self-harming and lack of loving herself enough. She was a good mum though and doing her best in the worst of situations. Like any young mum she needed family to support her and had some but not always enough support to get her through. She had mental health issues and managed to cope despite this.
The father of Lucy — Paul was not registered as Lucy’s father but he was given access to her. She wanted Lucy to have a dad.
Most weekends when he got her though he demanded that Clara bring Lucy over at her own expense, often inconvenient and expensive and didn’t once pay a penny towards his daughter’s keep. He bought her clothes and stuff though that was kept at his mum’s house. Yet Clara never wanted to ostracise her daughter from her father.
His family were very good to the wee girl though and affectionate that goes without saying. They were just very judgemental verbally spiteful. Though they never had contact with Clara as they wanted her ‘out of their family circle’ so Lucy grew up seeing her dad’s family as a separate life and hearing that her mum Clara was a piece of shit as Paul’s family regularly demeaned the wee girl’s mother in front of the wee girl. Yet Clara never wanted to ostracise her daughter from her father and turned a blind eye to the snippets of stories wee Lucy blurted out.
Clara the single mum was “too untidy, badly dressed, messy house, too many tattoos’, too many piercings, too many nights out, too atheist, too organic foody, too skint, too slovenly” all of this constantly reinforced in front of the wee girl. Yet Clara never once put the daddy down in front of the wee girl as that would be hurtful to the child.
Clara met a man called Tom. She got pregnant and married Tom and finally found a safe loving life. Tom was and still is a brilliant step dad. Nobody denies this as its impossible to say it. They had a baby girl called Martha. The family was complete. They were poor despite Tom working a decent job, but he now had three kids to feed and clothe and he did it. They had camping holidays, they had days out, they had a second hand car, they had fun. They never went without food or toys. They got bikes, phones, computers and good things….Clara and Tom had debt — who didn’t? The got by though. They were both foodies and loved experimenting and Clara worked part time in an office to help buy the girls nice things. She stopped it after a while as she felt she neglecting the wee ones.
They had a lovely family with Tom’s parents who embraced the whole group of them and loved the wee family.
Frank their eldest hit turbulent teens and rebelled so much he ended up moving out at 15 and staying with his dad. The house felt empty but Lucy and Martha and mum and dad carried on. They had rabbits, cats, mice, fish and Halloween parties and Christmas parties and Lucy excelled at school as did wee Martha. The school was so pleased with their progress. Clara and Tom were proud.
As Lucy got older and went on holiday with her dad’s family she was bringing home stories of “Dad’s family don’t like you, why do I have to tidy my room? Why do I have to eat your weird food? Dad says I don’t have to clean up am not a slave” Eyebrows were raised, curfews were adhered to and cuddles were given when tempers got raised.
Clara served up fish dishes, fresh soups, hearty stews and was strict on sugary treats & overly processed food and tried to serve healthy fare.
Lucy liked chips and curry sauce, pizzas and the food her dad’s family preferred.
Lucy had the perfect anti dote to eating healthy food (Clara didn’t have an alternative menu she couldn’t afford it) she had the perfect answer to “hang up your clothes” she had her dad telling her she wasn’t a slave and if she wanted she could go live with him and his own girlfriend and step family.
Clara ignored the signs of Lucy complaining she didn’t like the school/the food/the cleaning up/the curfews and one day Lucy was late home from school at age 12 years old and sent a text to her mum that said
“I am going to stay with dad, I don’t want to see you again”.
Clara was aghast, could he do this? Could he just take her child?
Next day social workers were sent to Clara’s house to check she was not abusing wee Martha as ‘someone’ started using the social work department as a weapon of intimidation and threats. Clara was cleared by social work but when she said “My daughter has been taken without my permission by her dad and am worried sick” she was told “Lucy has went to live with her dad under Scottish law she can decide to go” Social work never checked on Lucy.
Clara explained she never gave permission, it didn’t matter the law was on the side of the father. Lucy’s dad then without warning moved her from her high school to another school without any written permission.
He can do this under Scottish law.
Lucy by this point was agreeing with everything her dad said.
“My mum has been mentally abusing me and I want to stay with my dad” she repeated like a mantra to everyone who would listen.
Wee Martha missed her sister, Christmas was such a strain, the family were in bits.
Frank who is now 19 years old came home to give support and love to his mum as they never lost contact despite him moving out. He was distraught as Lucy was such a personality, such a force in the family she left a gaping hole by leaving.
Lucy stood by her claim of years of mental abuse. She would only meet her mum the once in weeks after leaving . Her phone was recording the conversation and her dad’s mum sat close by to watch over every word being uttered in a public place.
Clara was distraught but agreed as she wanted to see Lucy. The meeting was a disaster as Lucy repeatedly tried to get Clara to verbally admit to being abusive so her dad’s family had it recorded that Clara was mentally abusive to her child. Clara kept saying “I am sorry you feel that way” and the poor kid was struggling to fulfil the request to get evidence for her father to listen to later.
Social work was called again and this time they went to the school and checked on Martha who is wonderfully happy, well adjusted, well fed and never had a day’s bother. Social work cleared them all again admitting privately they felt they were being used as an official weapon. Clara felt under siege.
Lucy’s dad and family are making all the rules now and it dawned on Clara what parental alienation is.
One parent slowly and steadily wears the child down over the years by demeaning the other parent and undermining their love. You need to bear in mind Lucy has at least 7 adults ever day who tell her that her mum Clara is a piece of shit and they have been doing this for years. To me that is child abuse. Yet they don’t see that, they think reinforcing any quibbles wee Lucy has with her mum is good for her.
Lucy won’t see her mum as her dad has refused contact citing “Lucy is traumatised’ but when recently pressed about what the ‘years of abuse’ actually means , there was no further information forthcoming.
Clara has been wrought with worry wondering what she had done to her beloved child. She never hit her, never left her hungry or alone, never sent her to school without the right equipment, never emotionally berated her, never unreasonably constricted her life. They are a loving, affectionate and openly tactile family. The words “I love you” are heard every day.
The beloved child who for years thrived at school and was an incredibly bright straight A student who was confident enough to take part in many school and amateur plays and was so outgoing and verbally opinionated.
What on earth had Clara done to this child to ostracise her so much?
Was having a sometimes messy house, a rabbit, a cat, a dog, a mouse, wonky goldfish, jigsaw puzzles, kite flying, museum days, eating healthy food and often being skint some weekends really tantamount to child abuse?
Lucy finally explained to her step dad Tom the root cause of the abuse- she didn’t like the food or being told to clean her room.
That was it. Being told to eat less sugar and pick up her own clothes.
Not cleaning anyone else’s mess or taking on babysitting duties or washing floors, just eating her dinner and picking up dirty socks. The horror of it all.
Tom was horrified and tried to reason with her. She was adamant and told him she wanted to stay with her dad. Goodness knows what will happen the day they tell her to make her bed or eat up her chips and sausage rolls.
The father has full custody and Clara can’t see her daughter as Lucy is too far down the line with her dad to turn round now and say “I miss my mum”.
She went from a brilliant happy settled kid, to a surly teenager to a girl who moved out and agrees with everything her dad says and nothing her mum says. The parental alienation is complete.
She knows her dad hates her mum and that he refuses to speak to her.
Paul also has banned his partner from having physical contact with Clara, they could text regards Lucy’s drop off and pick up in the past.
This came to light after Clara had her round to tea once when she dropped Lucy off, she hesitantly agreed to come in and on reflection the woman text Clara and begged her not to mention having been in her house. As far as it’s known Paul has no knowledge of his girlfriend being in Clara’s house.
The woman sounded pretty upset in the text, so the secret remains.
This would upset Paul, she explained.
He likes to keep everyone apart and fearful.
Clara has a folder with all the cards and letters from Lucy that say “Best mum ever” and “Thanks for being a great mum and putting us first” now Lucy sits amongst a group of adults who think that ripping the character of a mother to a child is acceptable behaviour .
Lucy is now more than ever committed to agreeing with that family for fear of upsetting her dad.
They all rallied round her when she complained about the organic soup and lack of money to go fancy holidays. The poor kid doesn’t know she is being conditioned to hate.
That is what parental alienation is. Paul has put so much energy into hating Clara and his own family have all taken part in ostracising her, she has never been allowed to set foot in their house or speak to them.
Paul has made Lucy believe her mum is worthless. I feel Lucy cant defy him now, he has put all this into place and her acquiescence is required, any backing down from Lucy would be seen as rejecting him.
Lucy cant reject him, he doesn’t take that well. She has to stick to this now as her dad has went to all this trouble.
One day Lucy is going to say “Why didn’t you do anything Mum?” and Clara did, she got legal advice and was told the father who has no name on birth certificate or legal right can keep Lucy as Lucy agreed to it.
She doesn’t want to force her to come back, as it might really upset her.
They never fought, they never swore at each other they never used the word hate.
Clara can’t win. She can’t make Lucy come home. Martha misses her sister, Frank misses his sister and step dad Tom cries going to work in the car as he doesn’t know how to fix it and misses her.
Clara thinks making a child eat pumpkin soup is now illegal.
Am sure Paul and his family have a very different version of this tale, but am not apt to believe anyone who slags off the mother of a child to that child. I refuse to accept that a fully grown adult grandmother can perpetuate that kind of hatred and not know that that is in fact mental abuse, so her opinion doesn’t count.
Since publishing this I have had tweets from people saying
“Thanks for posting this, I too had trouble with a family like this, they started trolling us on twitter and had to delete their accounts when I call the cops”
Take note. Be warned. Here is a link about parental alienationhttp://www.parental-alienation.info/publications/24-sigofparalisynandhowtocouitseff.htm