Parental Alienation: Sometimes there is no clear path

Posted: March 13, 2018 in Blending, Communication, Consequences, Divorce, Kids, Loss, Parental Alienation, Parenting, Uncategorized

As I mentioned last August, it has been a while and I wanted to really have the “pull” of something to say rather than just sticking to a regular posting schedule with nothing going on.  I’ve come to the point when I feel some topics have arisen that can either be revisited with new episodes in my life or be addressed anew.  Not sure the best way to determine which is which for some, but in those cases I’ll just write and let you decide as you read if you feel it’s a new spin on a topic I’ve covered, something new or a blend.

We’ve had a major situation going on since early September last year (Labor Day for those familiar with the US holidays).  The kid in question is Peter but it spilled over in various way to all my wife’s kids, Jan and Bobbi, as Bert ratcheted up the crazy, to phrase it as my wife often does.    I’m going to provide the high level points you need for this post here and may go back in later posts to more details from the past.  If I tried to cover it all in one post you’d be here for hours to get through it all.

In case you had forgotten, Peter has diabetes and this comes with all sort of things that need to be monitored, administered and dealt with.  Peter’s situation has been a constant state of tension regarding Bert and my wife and Bert has been terrible at any sort of consistency, regularly choosing to disobey doctor’s recommendations and in general not doing what he should.  We speculate about the reasons why over the years but we really have no idea as we’re not in Bert’s head.  In this case the why is less important than the fact the results of those actions created the situation we are in the midst of.

Peter was sick around Labor Day with various symptoms and eventually things led to a couple hospitalizations in mid-October.  In the first visit they did a ton of GI (gastro-intestinal) testing and decided to place him on several medications to try to get things stabilized.  After going home for a little over a week and counting on the visitation schedule between our home and Bert’s, Peter’s condition deteriorated to the point where the doctor’s admitted him again.  It was during this visit that the current stream of events began.

In speaking with the social worker at the hospital my wife determined that while at Bert’s very few to none of his meds had been given.  She called me up at work distraught and asked if I could join her at the hospital for moral support and to figure out what to do.  She was extremely upset and as we talked through the details of what we had before us we decided to file an emergency motion because of the impact on Peter’s health.  We felt Peter needed to be with us until he was stable and also that Bert should have any medical decision-making authority revoked.  Our attorney recommended that Jan and Bobbi be included in the changed visitation being asked for, as he felt the court normally likes to keep all the kids together.  The ruling given to us very quickly was to have Peter with us full time until further notice, all medical decision making for all three kids to my wife, but the judge did not alter the visitation of Jan and Bobbi.  Jan is now over 18, so she’s not really under any court visitation any more and while Bobbi is not that old, the judge felt the situation was really about protecting Peter (which it was) and not the others.  Bert was first notified when he came to pick all the kids of for his normal visitation for a weekend and I just told him at the door that Peter was not going and handed him the executed court order.

Needless to say, Bert was not happy.  He loves to have control and this unexpected situation shattered that in an area he likes to portray himself as expert in.  Bert thinks he’s expert in everything, so perhaps trying to single this out from any other area is pointless.  He stood on the porch and read the order for a while and then asked me if this was our only attorney.  I shot back telling him yes and asking if he felt we needed an army of them.  His retort was that we likely would before he was done with us.  At this point all the kids were out so I shut the door and he went on his way after looking over the order for a few more seconds.  My wife and I laughed a bit about Bert’s comments but also realized the crazy train had left the station and that we were in for an interesting ride.

So with these initial points explained, I want to divert and explain the topic of parental alienation.  In brief, parental alienation is when one parent tries to impact how the children view the other parent in a negative way with the goal of driving the children to want to be hostile and/or to cease contact with the other parent.  Bert has always had this on his agenda but when pushed into a corner as we had just done, his attempts moved into overdrive.  You can find a much older post talking about some resources to help deal with parental alienation here.

Within a week, Bert began driving in some of the wedges to increase parental alienation.  When my wife went to pick up the kids after five days, Bert met her and handed her a motion of his own that indicated that the girls were staying by him because they feared for their safety at our house.  The motion was filed but the court had not ruled, so my wife asked to speak to the girls but Bert refused.  She called the police who arrived and demanded to speak to the girls who verbally shared various items that would be typical for any parent, that they would at times get yelled at etc.  In our state the police will not make a determination and send the kids with one parent or the other, they just note the call and let you deal with things in court, so the girls stayed as Peter went with my wife.  My wife at some point in the next few days checked the girl’s room and found all their drawers empty as they had taken most of their clothes to Bert.  There was a pre-trial session rather quickly and the court demanded that Bert abide by the order and that his motion was discarded and my wife went and got Bobbi but Jan insisted she wanted to remain with Bert.

This was when some decisions were made that are always hard in these situations.  For us it was very difficult and this situation is unique to blending.  I tried my best to be a supportive spouse, but I also understood that I needed to let my wife take the lead on where her heart and mind were leading her.  This is where I think a lot of tension can me introduced and I have no idea what is really the “right” way, I can only share my way.  My desire was to have my wife not let her heart override her mind where it did not make sense, and by sense I meant both financial and emotional sense.  In divorce the only people who win at these times are the lawyers and other professionals who get to bill us when emotions drive the process.  As the days went by, my wife did an excellent job of removing more and more of her emotions from the drivers of the decisions and settled on pursuing the process in a way that protected our blended family as well as doing what made general financial and emotional sense in regards to Peter’s situation.  I’m not sure if I’m explaining it in a way that is clear for the reader who was not in the middle of it, and putting it into words is hard, but one example might make some sense in that my wife indicated at one point that we were not going to jeopardize our overall long term savings or kids college funds to fight this battle with Bert.

Once Jan decided to remain with Bert my wife made it clear that certain privileges that come with being a part of our household then are no longer hers such as access to a car or a cell phone paid for by us.  Jan needed to return the car key and her cell phone.  Jan still has minimal contact and sends jumbled messages such as the reason she is away is she need to figure things out on her own, yet she does spend some time at Bert’s so even though she is claiming she is not involved with either parent, she seems to be exhibiting behavior that shows Bert is favored and my wife is the rejected parent from a parental alienation standpoint.

The situation escalated in January when Peter was again hospitalized.  It was determined that he had been self dosing and giving himself extra insulin and after getting him involved with a psychologist it was determined this was driven by his desire to see Bert and not have visitation withheld, so he acted out in this way and with lying and so we have been slowly working with the psychologist to have Peter understand he can spend more time with Bert but that comes with the responsibility of maintaining his health properly, which means taking all the meds the doctors want him to, logging what is happening and handling his insulin properly.  Initially we were told to lock things up for his safety until it was determined why he was doing these things, but at this point we are back to the situation prior to December and after another day in court the judge set visitation for everyone back to normal (which really only impacted Peter, but he was already doing that for the last two weeks as part of the process with the doctor) but my wife still maintains medical authority.
As we have navigated this situation there is no clear path.  When a parent is twisting everything and also not cooperating in any way it makes an already stressful situation worse.  While Bert bad mouths our household to everyone he can which at times is parroted through all the kids it is difficult.  It is very hard to know which way is the right way.  We do know certain behaviors we will not engage in even though Bert does, such as name calling, fabrication of events, and encouraging the kids to fight against things in an inappropriate way.  It is one thing to state what you want, but another to engage in manipulation and tactics to try to force something.  Guiding them in a way that we believe is right is the only thing we know to do though that may mean they buy into the propaganda and falsification of Bert.  This is the difficult situation my wife finds herself in at this time.  Having to balance that with the possibility of losing the desire of her children to maintain a relationship with her largely based on Bert’s web of lies.  I do the best I can to be supportive.  If I knew the path to take I would say it, but for everyone facing this you have to take it one step at a time and do what aligns with your beliefs, ethics and stances.  My brother is walking through a custody challenge that also have parental alienation involved.  It is another unique situation that is a fruit of divorce and the dynamics it places us in.

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Comments
  1. Gritty Momma says:

    Hey, I just want you to know I really, really appreciate you spreading the word about parental alienation and (what looks to me to be, in Bert’s case) narcissistic personality disorder. The exact same issue happened in my family, with my dad as the alienating narcissist; my parents divorced after 29 years, and though they have not remarried, so many of the dynamics are similar. It’s wretchedly hard for everyone and, honestly, makes my blood boil. But there is grace to carry on and let go in even this. I respect your struggle and really, really commend you for taking the approach you have. It’s the best one I know of. Blessings, and I will pray for your family–especially your wife and kids.

    • caracarn3 says:

      Thanks for the feedback and support!

      It is one of the most difficult things to deal with. Not sure if you had a chance to follow the link the in article over to the post I did in 2013 about a professional resource that offers a book and videos to deal with this. We purchased both and I could not recommend them more highly. Bert is a pro at conning people, but it is really sad to watch him manipulate his own kids. As they get older my wife and I just keep praying that they will see the truth, but them problem as we’ve heard from local professionals we’ve spoken with on the topic is that growing up with Bert they believe what he does is normal and the rest of us and the world are the weird ones and that makes it very difficult to gain enough wisdom to see past it and evaluate on your own. Our hope is as they get out of high school and start to try to make their own life and finally connect with myriads of “others” that they get some good role models and see the light.

    • willedare says:

      I agree. I just found your blog. BlendedDad, and don’t know any of the back story, but it sounds like you and your wife are moving through VERY challenging circumstances with grace and patience and wisdom. One of my nephews has a not-very-functional dad who — when he remembers to reach out to his son — spends much of his time trying to incite parental alienation. I am guessing my nephew and his mom (my sister) will be attempting to make sense out of (or just make their peace with?) this difficult dynamic for decades to come… So far their many interactions with the court system (such as when my sister filed for custody and permission to move back East to be closer to her family) have gone well. I hope YOUR family’s situation gradually heals/improves day by day!

  2. Gritty Momma says:

    “…but them problem as we’ve heard from local professionals we’ve spoken with on the topic is that growing up with Bert they believe what he does is normal and the rest of us and the world are the weird ones and that makes it very difficult to gain enough wisdom to see past it and evaluate on your own. Our hope is as they get out of high school and start to try to make their own life and finally connect with myriads of “others” that they get some good role models and see the light.” Oh man, yes yes yes, I see the exact same thing in my younger siblings… and hope for the exact same thing. It’s very, very hard. Solidarity, brother.

    Sorry it’s taken me so long to write back. Thank you for recommending those resources! I’ve happily flagged this page as something to come back to when I’m looking for help on these subjects.

    Btw, I wanted to let you know I nominated you for a blogging award. Feel free to participate or not, as you like, but mostly I just wanted to let more people know about the good stuff you have going on here because I think you have a lot to share. Here’s the post with the details: https://grittymomma.com/2018/03/21/the-liebster-award/

    Blessings–and Happy Easter!!

    • caracarn3 says:

      Thanks for the nomination. It is very much appreciated. I will see what I can do to participate but looks like it takes a bit of work to but everything together.

      • Gritty Momma says:

        Yes, it does take a little work, though you don’t have to make it as involved as I did. But don’t sweat it if it’s too much trouble. Just wanted to let you know you’re appreciated. 🙂

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