‘Your ex wife wants your son dead,’ I told my husband, Rhys. ‘Terrwyn’s* death at his own hand would be you ex’s ultimate victory. She’s bullying him to death, but will blame it all on you if he succeeds in committing suicide’.

Parental Alienation is wrong. It’s evil. But battling exes wielding their children as weapons to wound each other? That’s even worse. You know all about it because, if you’re reading this article, you’ve experienced it either as a parent or as the child used as a pawn.

This dynamic was brought to mind by today’s article in the Independent about an American father who cut off his daughter’s hair after her mother gave her highlights for her birthday. After my initial shock, disgust and anger, I told Rhys, ‘This isn’t about hair at all. It’s about two battling exes using their daughter as a weapon against each other.’

Perhaps the father disapproved of hair coloring and had made his wishes clear. Perhaps the mother defied his wishes by taking her daughter to the salon. The details don’t matter. What matters is that an innocent seventeen-year-old girl will bear lifelong emotional scars because her parents used her as a weapon to attack each other. She was merely the catalyst, the pawn and probably has been since her parents divorced.

In Wales, we say ‘Gwyn y gwêl y frân ei chyw’. Translated it means ‘The crow sees its chick as white.’ A vindictive black-hearted parent will take advantage of their chick’s white innocence to attack their other parent.

Before becoming a step-mother, I was unaware of Parental Alienation and innocent to parents who wield their children against each other. It took a year before I wised up. A year of manipulations, lies, cheating and the chequebook coming up missing.

Left to their own devices, my step-children would never have pulled any of the shit they pulled. I’m convinced of that. At heart, they are wonderful people who felt loved by their father and loved him in return. He was good to them and they knew it.

Unfortunately, their birth mother and custodial parent convinced them, against their own instincts, that their father was a ‘deadbeat’ who ‘deserved’ any and every con game she dreamed up. If that wasn’t enough, being their mothers’ pawns was lucrative for my step-children. She used the child maintenance monies (Rhys supposedly never paid to her), not for good food and clothing, but rather to bribe her children and buy their loyalty.

As I mentioned, it all started when the chequebook came up missing after they visited only to suddenly and mysteriously reappear after their next visit.

Then a treasured antique sideboard was ruined when they ‘accidentally’ spilled a corrosive chemical on it.

From material damage, they moved on to gaslighting. Time and again, they told Rhys he had given them permission to do things he would never have sanctioned. Words were put in his mouth. The dance of lies, brainwashing and manipulation was afoot.

But when they tried to get Rhys to sign over the title of his property, I finally got wise not to the children, but to the scurvy spider pulling the strings, bribing them to do her evil bidding.

The clincher was when Terrwyn spilled the beans, revealing that since early childhood, his mother had been subtly and delicately driving him to self-harm and suicide. With her words, she planted the idea. With her ‘innocent’ forgetfulness, she made it possible. There was no shortage of drugs, sharp blades and alcohol easily accessible to Terrwyn. Long before Year 11, he bore hundreds of scars, had survived many overdoses and suicide attempts and was drowning his pain in alcohol.

But it was all ‘Rhys’ fault’. If he hadn’t abandoned them. If he hadn’t been a deadbeat. If he hadn’t married me. The list goes on and on. None of it was true. It hurt Rhys. It hurt me. But that doesn’t matter.

What does matter that it hurt the children. Untold pain, abuse, confusion. What their mother did by using them as weapons against their father was unconscionable, wicked and evil.

Children: They should never be used as weapons.

* In this article I refer to my transgender step-daughter, Tarren, by her original male name, Terrwyn. This is because all of the events in this article occurred before Tarren’s transition.

Photo by Aislinn Ritchie