My daughter is 13 right now and it amazes me of how many years my abusive ex-husband has been trying to use her as a pawn, weapon or any way to hurt me. I came across an email I sent to my attorney 7 years ago regarding a bizarre reaction my 6 year old had when returning home from a visit to her father’s house.
I almost have an image of that day in my head because the reaction she had was so strange and unwarranted. I cannot remember what we were doing in the kitchen, maybe making dinner, but that is where the situation took place. We were in the kitchen and she suddenly reeled back from me, like she was scared and said, “You scare me mommy!” I was caught completely off guard because there was no reason for her to say something like that. It seemed like her father must have said something to her before she came home. Dealing with Parental Alienation Syndrome is probably one of the most challenging situations to deal with.
I never knew what he said to make her react like that. She was so young at the time and I may never know what was said to her.
My email to my attorney on March 20, 2005:
Well obviously something was said at his house.
We made PB&J for her then went to the park. Then we snuggled on the couch and I said, “You said earlier that I scared you, what do I do that scares you.” She shrugged her shoulders. I said, “If I do anything that scares you, I need to know about it so I do not do it anymore. What is it I do that scares you?” She said, “I don’t want to talk about it.”
Can he do this? This is obviously not healthy for our daughter.
How do you combat mental abuse with your children when your ex-husband is constantly saying negative, untrue or unhealthy comments?
- Negative or Untrue Comments: One thing I have taught my daughter is ‘Actions Speak Louder Than Words’. I truly believe even though he says really untrue things his actions or my actions can prove the truth. For instance, many of the comments he has said I have simply overcome by consistency with my actions.
- Disney Dad: One thing I have done regarding the no rules ‘Disney Dad’ visitations is teach her that we have rules because I love her. If I did not love her I would let her eat whatever she wants, not worry about where she goes or care for her.
- Buying Love: In dealing with the showering her with gifts to buy her love which was beginning to work. I have taught my daughter that money cannot buy love. The things most important in life are things that cannot be bought. She understands this more as she gets older and has a real relationship with me when compared to a very superficial relationship with her father. He has not spent the quality time with her to help establish a real bond.
- Putting Her In the Middle: this is an extremely challenging situation to deal with. It is very difficult to deal with her being put in the middle of my ex-husband’s personal war against me. I have learned not to go to him for anything regarding our daughter. I mean when she returns home and has repeated something he said that was just out-of-line it did more harm if he knew I got the message. It only caused more harm for our daughter. So instead I have tried to give her things to say, “I don’t know, ask my mom.” “Dad, I really don’t want to be in the middle.” “These topics make me uncomfortable.” Etc….
I am not going to say I have the perfect answers but this has been hard raising her and dealing with the constant attack coming from my ex-husband. It is terrible that he uses her like that and it legally should not be allowed. It is truly a shame that the courts do not get involved in parenting. So many children are put in the middle of negative divorces.
In one of the books I read, Joint Custody with a Jerk, it described our situation as the worse type of divorce. Obviously divorce is never good for a child but living in a bad marriage is certainly not healthy either.
- Ideal Divorce Scenario – where both parents work together for the best interest of the child. They try to create similar household structures so the child can go back and forth with the least disruption.
- Indifferent Divorce Scenario – where both parents maybe are really working with each other but continue with their own lives. They may not be truly working with each other but they are not trying to work against the other parent. I believe in this situation the child would be less in the middle than the next one I am about to describe.
- Absentee Parent Divorce Scenario – I am not as familiar with this but I have witnessed this with other people I have known throughout my life. It seems like this can be better than the Parental Warfare Divorce but can be negative depending on the single parenting style. I guess it depends if they say negative things about the ex-husband or if they do their best to discourage the absentee parent from visiting their children. Or if they try to make the child/children dislike the other parent to the point the absentee parent gives up all contact. I have seen children deal with abandonment issues and have trouble with trusting people in their lives. As I said, I personally have not encountered this but when you deal with an ex-spouse waging war I would rather they just go away then stay.
- Ongoing Parental Warfare Divorce Scenario – where one or both parents continue an ongoing battle and work against each other. One or both parents may try to put the child in the middle, use the child against other parent and create opposite households environments. One or both parents may say negative comments about the other parent that creates a very unhealthy situation for the child. The best case for this scenario is for one parent to try to not to respond or engage in this parental warfare. In this scenario if only one parent can create a healthy environment for the child it is the best that can be done especially if the other parent refuses to let go of their hatred for years to come.
My divorce falls under the category of Ongoing Parental Warfare Divorce Scenario. This makes me so sad because there is absolutely nothing I can say to appeal to my ex-husband to discontinue this private war he is determined to continue. The best I can do is try to teach my daughter right from wrong and encourage her to say what is on her mind.
Unfortunately my daughter has had to learn things she should not know at an early age. I guess the things I am teaching her are really life lessons. My ex-husband encourages her to go against my rules when she is not near me. He exposes her to things he should not, like alcohol at the age of 12. He tells her that I am not a good mother or I overreact. His house is so loose with rules it makes our house seem extremely strict. Honestly, this is not so unlike peer pressure in some regards. What she has to learn is she knows right from wrong and try to do the next right thing.
Are you a parent
Or a soldier at war
Attention on deck !
Clear the floor
Major parent is here
You know the intention
Not to relate and show affection
Sights are set
Both hands are full
Projections at you
Eyes steadfast for
Objects in motion
Propelled by emotion
Were you trained in parental warfare
I’ve got deep battle scars
Do you even care
A prisoner of war
I’ve survived under these conditions
Just another day
Just another mission
By Robert Wilkom
Poet: Robert Wilkom