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parental alienation

How do I deal with my child rejecting me?

It doesn’t make any sense, we used to be so close, what happened?

Children rejecting their parents goes against everything we know about attachment and parenting.  We are biologically programmed to NEED our parents for survival so when a child turns away from that, it’s a sign of deep emotional and psychological trauma.  

Having worked within Child Protection for many years, I have seen children who have been severely neglected by their parents (through substance misuse or mental health) cling to them like a lifeboat. That’s how parents feel to children.  In a scary world, their parents are (on a biological level) their protectors.

Sadly for many children the reality is that it is their parents who they cling to, who they see as their protector, who are really the ones who are putting them at risk.

But a child does not usually comprehend that.  In many cases they actually profess MORE love for the high risk parent because they need it more.  They have learnt that they need to work extra hard to get their needs met by that parent and so they do exactly that.  They become so eager to please that parent that they can be controlled and will surrender their own wants, needs, thoughts and feelings just so that they can get what they believe they need (attachment) from this parent.

Signs of an insecure ambivalent attachment:

A child’s anxiety and uncertainty are evident as when the incident becomes very upset at separation from the caregiver and both resists and seeks contact at reunion

parental alienation

So what happens when a child completely rejects a parent?

 

At the core of the rejection is the complete suppression of the child’s attachment bonding motivations towards you, a healthy and available parent. This occurs when the child is put in a loyalty conflict position where they have to align with the higher risk parent in order to retain a relationship with them. This is induced with subtle and covert behavioural manipulations.  The essence of which is a clear message to the child – “it is not safe to love this parent, I am the only parent who can love and protect you, if you show any affection for that parent you will not receive love from me”.

 

It’s important for you to understand this process as it will help you with dealing with the rejection.  It shows that you have done nothing wrong.  That your child is under enormous pressure and has no choice but to reject you.  

 

At this point many parents will realise the abusive nature of the behaviour of the other parent and go to Family Court to ensure they remain an active part in their child’s life.  Whilst I appreciate there is little option but to do this, I do feel it is important that you face the rejection and the emotions that brings up first so that you can present the as the healthy, available parent your child needs and remembers.

5 Stages of



  • Shattering – you are in shock, panic and bereft of life’s worth and meaning. Suicidal feelings are normal. You may also begin to feel old feelings of helplessness and dependency


  • Withdrawal – this is an addiction response where you crave the child, feel physical symptoms of withdrawal (unable to sleep, weight loss, anxiety and fatigue (physical and emotional)


  • Internalising – your self esteem suffers real damage, you begin to supress your anger and turn it on yourself or others (The Spring Effect). You may be pre-occupied with feelings of regret and play over in your mind what you might have done differently


  • Rage – as the anger begins to surface it can be used either positively or negatively (positive – regain self esteem and find a way forward/negatively – develop agitated depression and take your anger out on others who you feel responsible for making this better)


  • Lifting – the range has brought your emotions out and that can begin the process of feeling “normal” again. You are able to feel more positive about the sitation and feel stronger and hopeful

Whereever you are at in the process now, know that your feelings are normal and that you will move onto the next stage when you are ready.  



  • Do be kind to yourself


  • Do surround yourself with people who love you unconditionally


  • Do get professional support if you get stuck at any stage



  • Don’t blame yourself


  • Don’t underestimate the emotional toll this is taking


  • Don’t feel ashamed of what has happened (shame keeps you stuck)

Dealing With Anxiety

Part of our series of Free Webinars on Surviving Parental Alienation

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Why are my children rejecting me?

Why are my children rejecting me?

The 3 main reasons your children don’t want to see you

 

You were a loving parent.  Your kids came to you for comfort and you knew exactly how to make them better.  Your relationship with them was something you were so proud of.  

 

But now, they seem to have forgotten all of that.  They say they hate you and don’t want to see you. They blame you for everything and you don’t know why.

 

This is the reality of hundreds of thousands of parents across the UK and the world.  So how does it happen?

 

There’s three main ways:

 

  1. Estrangement
  2. Alienation
  3. A hybrid of the two

 

Alienation

 

This is when a child has been manipulated into rejecting you by a parent (could be step parent, grandparent or sibling).  

 

It is a process of behaviours designed to ensure you are seen as the bad parent and the alienating parent is all good. It is usually instigated by a Narcissistic or Borderline Personality Disordered parent.  

 

How do they do it?

 

But eventually the long term plan is that the child rejects you, because they’re literally left with no choice by the controlling, alienating parent. And I’ve been through descriptions of that, I’m not going to go into any more great detail, but ultimately, the motivation of the alienating parent is to destroy your relationship, put you out of their life, prove that you are at fault. They’re the hero and they are protecting their child and most importantly, is that they get the child to do that rejecting themselves. They manipulate the child into believing that you’re this awful person, this abusive parent partner, everything perfect. And so the child will basically parrot a script given to them this narrative that’s created by usually a personality disordered parent in the milk. Most of these cases of alienation tend to have a personality disorder, usually with either borderline personality disorder or narcissistic personality disorder. And the child will tell anyone that will listen that they hate you and that you’re mean and that they are afraid of you.  They put on this grand performance, but what’s going on behind the scenes is actually they’re not feeling that at all.  These are not their authentic feelings.

 

They’re being given no choice, they’ve been manipulated to believe this. They’ve been given this role to play under the guise of protection. The child knows that if they don’t do as they’re told, then they will lose that parent.  That if they won’t ignore you, they may lose their sibling, they may lose a dog. There’s lots of different ways that it can be done (see our free download for the exact process) but the result is the same.  In order for the child to survive and retain a relationship with the alienating parent, they must reject you.

 

Estrangement

 

Estrangement, however, is an authentic experience by the child. It’s where something’s happened (you may have had an affair and left or you may have lashed out at some point, you may have been baited to so in front of the child so you get angry, or perhaps you were stressed so drinking more), you may have done something that led a child under any normal circumstances to be upset or maybe not feel safe in your company at the moment. And so they don’t want to see you right now. And the difference with estrangement is that the child’s feelings are authentic.  It’s okay for them to feel like that and with the right support, and encouragement from the other parent, that relationship can get back on track. It’s an immediate response to feeling anger or feeling the fear or feeling unsafe. And it is easily remedied. It’s not long term.  There’s no there’s behind the scenes manipulation. Again, it’s just a genuine authentic response from the child to something has happened.  Usually an apology and explanation (age appropriate) and time is enough to restore the relationship providing your ex supports your relationship.

 

Hybrid

 

A hybrid can start off as estrangement and you may have done something (as described above) which provides the catalyst for the other parent to realise that life would be easier without you around.

 

Mistakes happen in relationships.  Sometimes you can lash out and make a mistake but from the child’s point of view, they saw a different side to you.  They saw something happen and they’re angry or upset. But without the support of the other parent, the relationship doesn’t get mended. In fact, what happens is the relationship is then turned into an alienation process. Because the alienating parent will use it as a trampoline to spring other ideas off of, to really ramp up. So they’ll take something that you’ve done and it will be continuously talked about. It’ll be exaggerated, it can be manipulated, it will be twisted. And so the child takes what was their authentic feeling (they were feeling angry, they were scared) and it becomes their entire memory of your relationship. And so that’s why it’s quite difficult in these cases, they have this real memory of something that’s happened, but it’s been so distorted that it’s become enough for them to reject you themselves. In these cases it is important the original fracture is acknowledged and then repaired whilst not allowing additional misdemeanours to be assigned to you. 

 

I understand that if you are not seeing your children, it feels like alienation.  There are lots of support groups which talk about alienation and so everyone assumes that theirs is alienation.  It’s easy to get angry when you start taking on board everyone else’s experiences and anger with the system. But the truth is that not all cases are pure alienation.  Some will be cases where a child has genuinely felt upset with a parent but due to the strained relationship with the ex and all the peer pressure in groups, the “targeted parent” may be lead to believe that it’s the exes fault and so start to blame them which the child doesn’t respond well it because that genuinely isn’t their truth.   And you can sometimes come on too strong, you can become pushy, and you can start saying, “well, this is your mum/dad’s fault, they are stopping you from seeing me” when actually, that wasn’t what was going on. But because you’ve said it, they then genuinely become fearful. They don’t want to see because you’re acting a bit crazy or saying things that they don’t like. And so you take it down that alienation path, and like I say, that might be really hard to acknowledge, and I’m not here to lay blame, what I mean to do is try and help you to see that sometimes our own behaviours can impact these situations. In fact, in all the cases our behaviours impact these situations because we change, we allow that frustration, we allow those natural feelings of sadness or guilt or remorse or frustration, anger to take over and to a child that can appear quite scary and they become afraid of you. And so what starts out as estrangement, could have been fixed if you had taken a moment to reflect on what had happened and listened to the children.

 

Sometimes our own behaviours become so fixated on it potentially being alienation that you become fixated on it when what you perhaps should be thinking is “how are the kids seeing this? What are the kids’ point of view of what’s going on? How am I helping them through this process?” 

 

I appreciate that this is probably quite difficult to hear, and it’s certainly not about blame, or that you’ve done anything wrong. It’s just about being aware of how our behaviours can impact our children.  Keeping your children at the centre and always considering how they might be feeling, what can you do to make them feel safe, secure while still fighting? Then keep that as your focal point and your relationship at its core will stay protected.

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