Parental Alienation – “Comfortably numb”
Letting Go: When Alienated Parents Give Up
November 20, 2011
When a parent endures parental alienation, various emotions materialize. Some are angry and others feel helpless. On the other hand, a number of rejected parents evolve into dedicated empowered advocates, but just as many are depleted both physically and financially. Some parents may ask, when do I let go? Clearly, alienated parents (also known as rejected parents) are grieving parents. In 2002 Dr. Richard Gardner wrote, “For some alienated parents the continuous heartache is similar to living death.” Sadly, for many rejected parents, the sorrow never ends.
Most are familiar with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ Five Stages of Grieving. First is Denial. Denial is not recognizing reality. As noted by Dr. Gardner (2002), denying reality is obviously a maladaptive way of dealing with a situation. In fact, denial is generally considered to be one of the defense mechanisms, mechanisms that are inappropriate, maladaptive, and pathological. Obviously, it is hard to deny that one is a rejected parent. However, at times, it may seem easier to deny that the situation is not real. To deal with the unreal, some parents may resign. Studies indicate that some rejected parents, similar to survivors of domestic violence, become passive. (Kopetski, 1998).
Anger is another stage of the grieving process. However, underlying anger is hurt and a loss of power and a loss of control over a situation or an event. Unquestionably, alienated parents become angry as their cases are dismissed and their cause is mocked. Third, is bargaining. As an example, a bargaining parent may believe if they try hard enough, or say the right thing, his or her child will suddenly have a change of heart. Fourth is depression. Self-blame, hopelessness, and despair consumes their thoughts. The fifth stage, is acceptance. Clearly, rejected parents do not happily accept their plight, but they may be forced to give up “the fight.” That is, some may cho0se to loosely let go.
Alienation a normal reaction? Maybe, after 1 year. What about 15 years?
As noted by Dr. Bernet, a Vanderbilt University psychiatrist, “We don’t want to label kids unnecessarily, but these kids are not reacting in a normal way.” “We’re talking about kids who have a false belief, a little like a delusion, that the other parent is an evil, dangerous person. To me that looks and sounds like a mental disorder.” Obviously, the alienating parent needs help. But, as pointed out by Jaffe et al. (2010) “a minority of parents who suffer from personality and mental disorders may ignore the court and spend their waking hours finding ways to exhaust the other parent emotionally and financially.” I do not imagine the parents noted by Jaffe et al. would voluntarily seek help nor do they care about stopping the denigration.
Sorry girls. It’s not what I have ever wished for, it’s what you have wanted.
The door will always be open if you ever wish to walk through it.
Dad’s “strong” but, when it comes to family life (or what was), you were his strength.
Those 5 signs are a perfect representation however and it may be something you wish to think long and hard about (or may not). After all “it happens all the time dad. Get over it!” (Incredible!)
It’s easier to be comfortably numb. But you taught me one thing – No matter how much one loves another, the other’s PREFERRED perception wins.
Luckily, I know myself. Far more than some others do! 😉