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Children as chess pawns

Divorce plus children plus one former spouse who desires to exact revenge on the ex can create a drama and mental health disaster that goes on for years. Half of all American children will witness the breakup of a parent’s marriage. Of these children, close to half will also see the breakup of a parent’s second marriage. For the sake of the well-being of the children former spouses need to work together with civility and respect. However someone who employs parental alienation simply views their children as pawns to use and manipulate as a way of getting back at the former spouse. The techniques they use are cunning and varied.

Two popular ploys are brainwashing during visitation and digging for information about what the other parent is doing so they can use it later for sabotage or leverage. They will plant over and over again in their children’s heads statements like, “Mommy doesn’t love you.” “Daddy doesn’t know how to take care of you.” They will outright lie to their children to get them to hate the other parent. Their selfishness and manipulation is jaw dropping. One ex who was wealthy but refused to pay his court ordered child support told his ex-wife about all of the expensive, lavish gifts he had bought the kids for Christmas. However if she did not drop them off at his house on the day and time he designated he was returning all of them to the stores where they had been purchased. If the children tell Dad that Mom has a new boyfriend he might start stalking or threatening him. If the kids say that Mom has started a new job he may take her back to court to get his child support reduced.

Clothes and medication do not come back from visitation, or the parent refuses to give the child their medication during visitation. While at the other parent’s home the children are not required to do homework, are permitted to stay up until very late, and eat all the junk food they want. Even worse is the children leave the house healthy and are repeatedly brought back sick or injured: the croup, the flu, pneumonia, sports injuries, black eyes, deep cuts requiring stitches, severe sunburns. They get dropped off and the other parent is immediately loading them into the car to take to Urgent Care or the emergency room. The loving parent can easily become consumed with worry about what is happening to their children while in the “care” of the alienating parent. The best they can do is document with photos, police reports, records of doctor examinations, etc. and when enough evidence is amassed to return to court with the objective of sole custody and supervised visitations. If the judge goes this way often the ex does not see the children at all. They must win at all costs, and they view supervised visitations as losing the battle. It is never about what is best for the children. It is always about what is best for them.

One cannot co-parent with someone who wants to destroy you through your children. The best that can be done is parallel parenting. While in your care show your children the love, stability, discipline, and normalcy that is not happening at the other place. More often than not over time the children realize which parent really has their best interests in mind. As teens or later in life they often drop all contact with the using parent since there was no real love to begin with. With so much blackmail, manipulation, bribery, and outright lies being loosed on the children by the alienating parent therapy is often important to get the kids back on track with reality and to process the confusion. Here is a Web site of child and adolescent therapists in the Dayton area:

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