If you had told me, five years ago, that my alienated step-children would ‘come round’ I would’ve enquired what you were smoking. The hate was so tangible you could almost taste it. Yet now, the unimaginable has happened. My step-children, who were wracked with anger and spewing insults at their father, Rhys, and me are changing their tunes. Reaching out. Craving contact.
They can finally see who is the villain…and who is not.
Many a good man has kissed his child(ren), alienated and brainwashed by the vindictive other parent, goodbye with the words, ‘Well, if you hate me so much, I won’t force you to have visitation with me. But I’ll always be here. When you grow up and realise that I wasn’t the villain of this story, reach out. I’ll always be here’.
My husband, Rhys, found himself backed into that position by almost the worst case of Parental Alienation I’ve ever observed. It took a long time, but he finally realised that trying to be a very involved, attentive father where he wasn’t wanted at all by his children, was making the situation worse.
Having accomplished her ultimate goal of pushing Rhys into so-called ‘abandonment’, his ex-wife was quick to petition the courts for sole custody which they immediately granted. It was merely a gesture. She’d always had full custody in practise, though not on paper. Now she had all the power and control she craved in fact and in law. She was chuffed.
‘When the kids grow up’, Rhys sighed, ‘then they’ll figure out who she truly is’.
But it wasn’t looking too good. In fact, the older the kids got, the worse the hatred became. Vicious, brutal, vile lies and vituperation posted online and sent to our email inboxes. One of Rhys’ sons wished death upon him. Another wished pain and suffering on him. They continued to hate their father and worship their ‘saintly’ mother.
We held our silence. They were still young. Depending (or was it bribed) by her monetarily. Barely in their early twenties, a time I’m told when young men are hot-headed and impulsive.
Then something happened. Our patience was rewarded. Everyone is pretty tight-lipped, but from what we can deduce, there was something about Rhys’ ex wreaking alcohol-fuelled physical violence on her latest unlucky paramour. There were constables and handcuffs. Solicitors and ‘have your day in court’.
Suddenly, the children are whistling a different tune. Dear ol’ Da ain’t lookin’ quite as bad. In fact, the word ‘toxic’ is bandied about…but they’re not applying it to Rhys this time.
All Rhys can do is smile. ‘I knew they’d come round’ he says with a chuckle, ‘after they realised who she really is’.
Fathers, I know the years of Parental Alienation seem to stretch out beyond the horizon. Never-ending horror ending only in misery. But that may not actually be true. It may take years, even decades and your children may be in their twenties, thirties, even forties and experiencing their midlife crisis before they figure out that you aren’t, and never were, the villain of the story.
So be patient. Remain good, gentle and kind. Don’t try to force the issue nor insist on your goodness too loudly. Being on the defensive is never a persuasive position. Hold your peace and wait.
Time, that great Healer, may indeed play the trump card on Parental Alienation. Your children may be taller, greyer, but eventually they’ll figure out that Da wasn’t the problem all along.
Take a leaf from Rhys’ book and possess your soul of that most difficult virtue: patience. I believe you will be richly rewarded and, as Henry David Thoreau wrote, you will ‘meet with a success unexpected in common hours’.
Photo by left-hand