The mother of my step-children is a big believer in the power of therapy. She had her five children in therapy, weekly, from the time they could talk if for no other reason than to make herself look like such a good mother.
But she’s also a dab hand at Parental Alienation. It only took a whisper in the ear, a suggestion, a hint and her children’s psychologists, without their knowledge, were manipulated. With the best possible intentions, they unwittingly validated her Parental Alienation and ‘that deadbeat dad’ got all the blame.
Don’t misconstrue me! They’re good psychologists, skilled therapists, well-meaning in every way. But they got played by Mrs. Machiavelli posing as Snow White.
Hearing only her highly fictional side of the story, they had no choice but to believe that her ex, my husband Rhys, was one of them. The typical deadbeat dad one hears about. The type that’s happy enough to spawn but doesn’t give two shits about his children and certainly doesn’t want to pay for the food in their mouths and the clothes on their backs.
But Mrs. Machiavelli left out the other side of the story. Her adultery. Her alcohol and drugs. Her decision to divorce Rhys. And all of Rhys efforts to see his children, having visitation with them and the thousands of pounds he paid, monthly, for child support.
She also conveniently ‘forgot’ to tell the mental health professionals that she refused to comply with visitation. Stole Rhys’ gifts to his children. Hid his letters. Curtailed mobile conversations. Worked overtime to keep Rhys from being the father he longed to be to his children. Hijacked his expressions of love by every means at her disposal. And in every way brainwashed her children and their therapists to believe that Da doesn’t care, Da doesn’t contact and Da doesn’t pay.
Righteously angered, the therapists told the children that a truly loving parent would never do all those things. That they themselves couldn’t imagine treating their own children that way.
And just like that, they became party to Parental Alienation.
Oh, they didn’t know it. They didn’t mean to but it happened anyways.
That’s when Rhys’ children’s mental health took a turn for the worse. Until then, they’d clung to the belief that Da loved them. Now a mental health professional with letters behind their name had dashed their last hope. It was official: Da doesn’t love me. Da never wanted me. I’m worthless.
Their worst fears were realised. Their mother’s claims were validated. They were unloved, unwanted, uncared for and unsupported exactly as Mam had always told them. The therapist told them so.
That’s when the suicide attempts started. The drug use. The self-harm.
They were good psychologists, good therapists. Well-meaning in every way. But they were out-manoevered by a woman who puts Machiavelli to shame. She played them and played them well. Unbeknown to these mental health professionals, they became party to Parental Alienation and never knew it.
Now, at long last, my step-children know the truth. The power of Parenal Alienation has been broken and Rhys is allowed to actually be the loving Da he always was. The damage is slowly being undone. The lies vanquished. But the memory of that pain will haunt my step-children for a lifetime.