Parental alienation can feel like a hopeless situation. When you find yourself cut off from your child because of your ex's manipluation, you can't help but wonder: "Will I ever reunite with my 'lost' child?"
Don't despair. You can regain a loving relationship with your child. In this second installment of my exclusive firstwiveswordseries on parental alienation, you'll get tools to navigate this challenging process.
Your patience and understanding will help your child see what is going on — eventually. In the meantime, you have to be strong and persistent. That doesn't mean simply waiting for that magical "a-ha" moment. Instead, take these important steps:
1. Don't take the bait.Your child may often come to you filled with accusations and anger. If you try to debate every petty flare up, you will only fuel the contentious flames. Avoid small battles and focus on building memorable moments together. If your child levels serious charges that you can counter — proof, for example, that you didn't steal the college fund — offer to show him documentation, but ONLY if you are asked.
2. Hold yourself to the highest standard of conduct.Manage your anger. Pay your bills. And follow the law. Don't give your ex anything that can be used against you by either your kids or the courts. Imagine that you are being videotaped and behave accordingly. Sure, it's unfair that your ex gets to bend — even break — the rules and still receive your child's glowing praises. But you need to focus on your ultimate goal: A loving and healthy relationship with your child.
3. Don't blame your kid.S/he is a victim too. Children who become detached from a parent because of parental alienation are affected into adulthood. It might feel convenient, for the moment, to channel your rage and frustration at your child. After all, s/he is contributing to your unhappiness. But remind yourself that your ex is really the one to blame. Your child is caught in the middle of a terrible struggle and doesn't really mean the terrible things s/he is saying about you or doing to you.
4. Show that you're different from your ex's portrayal.Is your ex implying that you are unsafe, unavailable, and unloving? Contradict him by your actions and be safe, loving, and available. This is a perfect example of the old maxim, "Actions speak louder than words."
5. Stick to your schedule. Carry out the plans you've made with your child, even if you think s/he will not be made available. The one time you are late or don't show up will be when your kids are waiting or your ex can have "proof" of your apparent lack of interest in the children.
6. Assemble a team. Legal and mental health professionals who understand your situation need to be at the ready. Be sure they are well versed in parental alienation and can advocate for the best interests of you and your child.
7. Say "I love you." As often as possible, let your children know you care about them. They need to hear you say that you want them in your life. And they need constant assurances that your love is unconditional. Text, e-mail, IM, or leave voice messages on a regular basis. It may help to think of your children as lost in a forest of alienation. Your little messages of love are the trail of bread crumbs leading them back to you. They need to know that you will love and forgive them — no matter what.
Check out Part One of the series:5 signs Your Ex is Turning Your Child Against You
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