Parental Alienation: You fear your kids will always believe the lies and hate you forever. Then one magical day, the truth is revealed and you, Long Alienated ‘Deadbeat’ Parent, comes out smelling like the rose . Parental Alienation is built on lies. The truth destroys it.
That’s what happened for my husband, Rhys, several months ago. After years of alienation, he was reunited with this five children.
This is the update. This is what happened after ‘and they all lived happily ever after’.
Real life’s not that simple.
After the beauty and tears of Rhys’ initial joyous reunion with this children, the communication was constant. The kids were in and out of ours at all hours. Calling at all hours of the day and night.
You could almost smell the fear. The fear that Da would disappear. That he wasn’t here to stay. They couldn’t get enough of Rhys. There was so much catching up to do. Some of the phone conversations lasted four, five, even six hours at at time. Rhys was emotionally and physically exhausted.
At first, Rhys’ grief was for all the abuse his children had borne at the hands of the ‘good’ parent who had alienated him, the supposedly ‘bad’ parent. At pain of physical injury, his children had kept mum, never daring to tell Rhys just how bad home was with their mum and her man-of-the-moment threatening and beating them. I’ve never seen Rhys weep so hard nor be so angry.
Now Rhys has a new kind of grief. The pain of discovering that his young adult children are already involved in every life-destroying vice, even crime, leaving a trail of destruction and fatherless children in their wake. Now a second generation is growing up in broken homes, alienated from their fathers, Rhys’ sons.
As Rhys wife, I hadn’t expected just how accurately Rhys’ children would follow the pattern of the mother they claim to hate. It’s heartbreaking to watch the pattern of dysfunction repeat itself verbatim in the next generation. I also hadn’t expected just how much they would reminisce with Rhys about his past life. They think nothing of constantly bringing up Rhys’ ex-girlfriends, one of whom went on to marry Rhys’ son, a marriage his siblings consider incestuous. I was raised with a certain sensitivity, a delicacy that dictates one does not reminisce about exes in the presence of a current spouse. Rhys and his children have no such tact and seemed shocked, even confused, as to why it would upset me.
Now that a few months have passed since the big reunion, the dynamic has shifted. The children are more secure. They know Da isn’t going anywhere. They understand how their mother crafted Parental Alienation and they’re not buying her lies any longer. As they grew more secure, their visits slowed and their calls are shorter.
One child almost never calls anymore. There was no fight, no argument. Let’s just say that he embraces darkness while Rhys loves the light. He tried to force his beliefs down Rhys throat and when Rhys set a firm but respectful boundary, that was it. But this time, the onus is on him. If he chooses to distance himself from Rhys, that’s his choice at the moment.
If you’re hoping and planning to reconcile with your long-alienated children, I hope you are successful. But it won’t be as simple and joyous as you hope. It’ll be painful and complicated, even shocking. There will be no ‘happily ever after’. Your kids won’t be the sweet little children you remember. They’ll be hardened, jaded adults with adult problems.
There may not be a ‘happily ever after’ but at least your children will be in your arms once again, they’ll understand how Parental Alienation happened and know that you always loved them…and always will.
Photo by rakugo