Many believe that when there is an estrangement between a parent and a child, even an adult child, it must be the parent’s fault. But that’s not always the case!
As I talked about last week, you should not deny your child visits with his/her father. But sadly, I’ve heard from a lot of women – at least once a week – who tell me they have been denied the right to see or speak to their child. Many times the story is complicated. Often the “child” is now an adult, making the choice to no longer see or speak to their own mother.
Being estranged from a child is another loss many of us have to mourn after divorce.
I believe there are many reasons this could happen. Of course, the most well-written reason is that the parent is toxic and/or violent, was a self-centered parent, and as an adult, the child decided fully on their own, after asserting healthy boundaries, trying to work through any conflict with respect, and still, the other parent refused to be kind and respectful.
But there also many other reasons for child estrangement after divorce.
Parental alienation happens when a child becomes enmeshed with one parent, strongly allying himself or herself with that parent, and rejects the other parent without legitimate justification. The children can fall prey to the alienating parent’s tactics as a means of escaping the conflict.
There’s no longer any sense of the parent as a human being with the ordinary nuances of the gray scale, or as a good-enough parent; the parent’s actions and statements are twisted, distorted, and massaged to “prove” that the parent is unworthy of contact.
Older children can be particularly eloquent and cutting in their reasons for rejecting a parent while simultaneously insisting that the parent has rejected them. A parent trying with the greatest love to effect rapprochement can find older children completely recalcitrant. (Source)
This is when one parent is actively working to cause separation or distance between a child and the other parent – which is triangulation. During or after the divorce one parent might run to the child and tell him/her lies blaming the other parent. Other toxic behaviors…
- Calling the other parent names (b**ch, controlling, crazy, etc.)
- Involving the child in a disagreement
- Using the child as a messenger or as a pawn in their game
- Offering to side with the child (the “good cop” without rules or restrictions) to disrespect the other parent (the “bad cop” who teaches responsibility and consequences)
- Involving the child in the parent-parent relationship or other relationships; needing to be rescued from problems they created but it forms an unhealthy bond between the parent and the child. (My dad/mom needs me to help him/her with these relationships.)
The toxic parent deliberately does or says things to cause the child discomfort and problems with the primary parent, then offers to rescue the child – look what your mother did, I know she’s so mean and controlling, or you can always come live with me. This parent is putting his needs before the child!
Dr. Phil calls this sweet poison when a parent is able to turn one child against the other parent. The parent is dumping poison into the child, hoping to hurt the other parent, when the only one being hurt in this situation is the child. A loving, caring parent only wants what is best for their child and their actions back that up by doing the best they can to keep the child out of the divorce and any disagreements after.
One parent is emotionally creating an allegiance. When the child gets sick of the poisons and games he or she will go live with or side with the toxic parent hoping the competition and conflict will stop – and it usually does because the loving parent refuses to fight over a child (he/she is not a piece of property).
This manipulation tactic works unless the child sees it for what it is – a game where they are the pawn. The toxic parent doesn’t really care about the child, he only cares about not paying child support to the other parent and winning the battle. He would rather see the mother alone without her children. An abuser’s need for power and control turns to retaliation once he no longer can control the victim. Taking the children away from the mother is the ultimate retaliation.
All parental relationships should be decided by the child without any influence from the other parent. That is not the case when there is parental alienation or domestic violence by proxy.
Children are taught to disrespect loving parents.
In a normal, healthy marriage each parent teaches the child to respect the other parent (as an authority AND as a human being). When doing this each parent realizes that the child has a higher chance of growing up to respect authority – ie. the laws, the government, and their bosses at a job. When one or both parents are teaching the child to disrespect the other parent, the child can easily be confused about who they’re supposed to listen to and who they can ignore. The child is being taught to disrespect all authority, even if the plan is just to hurt the other parent.
Fear of rejection from the toxic parent.
When money is involved, in toxic relationships, the person with the purse strings holds the control. When there are threats (even unspoken) to take this away for not giving the toxic parent what he wants, this parent wants the child to fear rejection. The parent hangs up on the child, screams at or calls them or the other parent vulgar names, the child internalizes that this parent is not someone to mess with. This parent will withhold love or money so the child learns to always please this parent first.
On the other hand, the healthier parent is easy to reject. Why? Because the child has learned that this parent will always love me and accept me when I need her. I can keep the healthy parent on the backburner while pleasing the toxic parent. Win-win for the child. Not so much for the loving mother who’s been rejected.
After my divorce, I feel like my children find reasons to be annoyed by me. I know they don’t respect me as a human being. I can’t do or say anything right without being criticized or analyzed for trying too hard or causing a problem when that is never what I intend to do. And because I’m not perfect, they find exactly what they’re looking for… my imperfections that are hard to accept – the definition of parental alienation above.
I also feel that my ex-husband wants the children to be proud of his affairs or other destructive or sinful behavior. He wants to be the fun parent which seems like the better parent to a child who doesn’t realize his or her love is being purchased.
My children can treat others with kindness to get what they want or need but for some reason have learned to treat me however they want yet are still entitled get anything they want from me. Maybe this is my fault for being such a caregiving parent or maybe it was because of the toxic poison they were being fed. Whatever the reason, I’m the estranged parent with no explanation to the real reasons why. I was never even given a chance. I feel as though I’ve been erased. And I know I’m not alone in this struggle!
Do you have a story to share? Feel free to do so in the comments below (real name not required). Someone will thank you for sharing, including me!
May God bless your healing journey,
- When You’re Missing Your Children After Divorce
- “Parallel Parenting” When Co-Parenting Doesn’t Work With a Narcissist
- Narcissists Turn Everyone Against You (Even Your Own Family)
I am going through this with my daughter who is 15. It is killing me. I left my toxic spouse two months ago bringer with me but she refused to stay. It took him no time to move his mistress in our home. Completely erasing me. Living like I never exsisted. I hear from her every now and the. More bad phone calls then good. Attacking me verbally blaming me and so on. He is doing the silent treatment so I cannot arrange to even visit her. Of course when he was served divorce papers and my asking for custody She called me to ask me over and over why was I trying to take her away from her dad. I told her that I loved her but I wasn’t discussing it with her and she hung up. He always says I hate my daughter in front of her he always throws out how much harder I am on her then the boys. That if the boys did this u wouldn’t say anything. I’m sure u know the game. The boys are not his so he let me parent them- he didn’t care. When it comes to her she can do no wrong just like he seems to think he does nothing wrong either…. mmm verbal abuse emotional abuse he only had to put hands on me once. Manipulate lies affairs. Yet I am the one to blame. He is mad at me for fighting for myself. I have never stood up to him- not done what he wanted. So he is angry and shocked. Wish me luck as we start the divorce process cause I’m sure it is going to be ugly.
Jen Grice says
Thank you for sharing your story! I receive many emails from women sharing a story similar to yours. Sharing it here will help other women know that they are not alone. I know how difficult this is. But I also know once the divorce is final, things do settle down, and you can journey to a thriving life. I still breaks your heart not to have all your children in your life but you can always offer your love when they decide to come back. I often feel like the prodigal father… waiting for my children to come to the end of themselves and/or see the truth.
20 years later it has not settled down. My attorney said when dealing with narcissists and those with emotional and control issues, it doesn’t go away. The ex works very hard to alienate the children and grands.
Jen Grice says
Yeah, sadly I hear this too often. Narcissists only have two places for people in their life, either the enabling friend or the enemy. And any past enemies are deserving of retaliation that never ends. They just are never content. The one good consolation is knowing it’s not you! This is just how narcissists behave. It’s their character.
“The toxic parent doesn’t really care about the child, he only cares about not paying child support to the other parent and winning the battle. He would rather see the mother alone without her children”
Nice to see that the toxic parent is designated as a male!
Jen Grice says
Man, if you had read the other comments you’d see I write for women and I am a woman writing on MY BLOG, about my life. And I’m not going to write he/she or they over and over again when I can just write like I’m talking to my best girlfriends. BUT that doesn’t mean women can’t be toxic too. My mother didn’t allow me to see my father growing up. But I NEVER, EVER denied my children’s father the right to see them. I allow them to decide what they believe about both parents. It’s their life, their decisions.
Jocelyn Dunagin says
My daughter is also 15. The only difference is that, I’ve been divorced for almost 7 years now, and he remarried fairly quickly if you ask me…
Any-who my daughter and unfortunately my son too… Who is 19 , be 20 in June…. They go back and forth between loving me when they want something like things or money to totally hate my guts and I’m the biggest POS on the face of Earth. My I’ve missed ALL the once in a lifetime events with my kids from Zoey’s elementary school days to my son’s middle/high school days… It’s to the point I don’t pictures of my kids placed anywhere in my home. I shatter every single time I see their sweet faces, and it’s just another soul obliteration to myself by having them out.
I suffer from Complex PTSD, MAJOR DEPRESSIVE DISORDER AND ANXIETY.. My brain is already jello due to the horrendous childhood/lifelong trauma, physical & mental abuse I struggle with still today…
I had my son at 17… Those kids were my air, my heartbeat, my lifeline…. And Because I finally wanted a divorce he made me pay….
And I’m still laying to this day almost 8 year’s later…
My question is: DOES THE INDESCRIBABLE VOID OF COMPLETE EMPTINESS FROM NOT BEING THE MOTHER YOU WANT TO BE EVER EVER EVER GET ANY BETTER!?!!? 😭😭😭BECAUSE THE NARCISSISTIC FATHER OF YOUR BABIES IS STEALING MOTHERHOOD AWAY…. 🖤🖤🖤
HOPE TO HEAR BACK FROM YOU GUYS!
JOCELYN, middle of nowhere NC 😉🚨
So much of your comment resonated with me almost as if I had written it myself. My ex husband and his new wife are horrible narcissists. He left me and married her 1 month after the divorce was final…moved our kids in with her after knowing her for 6 months. My daughter, 14, won’t see me and wants to live with her dad. Fortunately we are in reunification therapy together so I get to see her some and we are trying to reconnect but ex and his wife don’t make it easy. They try to undercut everything and she’s taken over as her mom. I feel empty and sad and can’t look at pix and videos of when she was young and loved me. I love her so much and hope she comes back to me some day but it’s been 7 years since our divorce and she has 4 more in the house with them where I know they talk badly about me and do everything to make me look weak. I also have ptsd from him ongoing abuse. I hope it ends some day. Best to you,
Great article. You described so accurately the tactics the toxic parent will use and how it’s emotionally easier to just reject the innocent parent. My oldest is completely enmeshed with his father and has completely rejected me. It’s awful.
Jen Grice says
Thank you, Sarah. Yes, it is awful to be rejected in this way knowing you did nothing to contribute to this problem. I pray God reveals the truth to all of these children!
Praying for our children and the path in life they take will help to ease the
suffering. I often need to remind myself I gave life and didn’t loan it to them! While we carry the burden, it has helped me to remember they are Gods children on loan to me! Holding my head high, not looking back at what shoulda, coulda, been has helped me……my children are now middle aged people with young adult children of their own. My personal goal as a senior citizen is to stay in the background of all their lives. God has blessed me with many wonderful opportunities to reach out to seniors who are in their 90’s for visitation and when I am feeling the loneliness of my fami,y being with their dad and his new fami,y for school breaks or vacations, I give myself a full on pity party with a fancy meal, dessert, social event, etc….and remember to share the quality silence with my Lord sharing with him my sorrow. My suggestion for embracing the journey into loving our kids thru their navigation of their lives and the circumstances they find themselves in is strengthening them for the days we are no longer on this earth. I want my kids and grandkids to remember me as having been their soft place to land and a lady who rose above the circumstances she found herself in…God bless your seeking Him for guidance.
Jen Grice says
Yes, I pray for all children who are changed by the maliciousness of a toxic parent. And thank you, RD for sharing your wisdom on this topic. I was thinking, I hope you share your story and encouragement with others because you even inspire me when we chat about this stuff. I love your idea of a “pity party.” You are a strong woman! I pray your children see the legacy you leave.
I’ve gone through this as well. My toxic ex convinced my older two I was completely at fault for leaving him, even though he admitted to being mean and addicted to porn. The most devastating day of my life was when they chose to live with their dad and not have anything to do with me. My youngest stayed however and has not been swayed. He went through a time where he didn’t like me, but after a youth conference, he asked me to forgive him and said he didn’t know why he’d feel that way. (I did.). Because my older two weren’t around, it seemed that my youngest was the “favorite.” Not true, but he was around. My older two did text when they needed support, but it was always in secret. They are now adults and things are getting better. Not great. But better. I do still feel I’m being “watched” and everything is a reason to pull away. But there’s finally light at the end of a very long tunnel. Keep holding on. Keep being patient. Keep praying. I just can’t believe this will last forever. If I did, I’m not sure I’d survive.
Jen Grice says
Yes, yes, that feeling of being “watched” for any sign that we as the mother are the toxic one when the dad is given all the grace and mercy in the world. The toxic person is always the victim, and they play it very well. Thanks for sharing your story, Gwen! It’s good for others to hear they are not alone.
I am a mother of 3 and this I too have “lost” my older two ( 17 yo girl and 14 yo boy) to parental alienation. Our youngest, she is 12 and we have shared care. She has appeared to be unaffected like my older two.
My older two refuse to talk to me, they refer to my as ‘your mother’ when they talk about me to my youngest. I feel that my ex also has his family supporting him but at the same time reinforcing that I’m not a good mother. I heard my oldest call her Aunty “mum” in front of me ( this was quite early after our separation). Obviously if I wasn’t being a good mum her Aunty would take over.
My ex husband has had significant financial gain from me not having a relationship with my child, he has his own business so therefore, I am the paying parent. I believe he worked this out very early on in our separation.
We have Court Orders but this are being manipulated by my ex husband, I think this is now his only way of continuing to control me.
People keep saying my older two will realise what he is doing, but it’s very hard just waiting for that to happen, missing some of their significant life events and their life in general.
Jen Grice says
I hear you! I know it’s hard. You’re not alone!
Kimberly H. says
I am completely heartbroken. I have 3 adult daughters. It wasn’t until my ex got engaged when it all became a psychological nightmare for me. When we separated the girls all lived with me. He’d see them twice a month for dinner. I continued to keep their life as normal as possible. Then around d 2020 I noticed my daughters attitudes change towards me. Like the sight of me disgusted them. Everything I did was scrutinized. They’d roll their eyes when I’d say anything. The anger was intense so intense. And my ex would not back me up. This has gone on for 2 years now. It got so bad at one point I attempted to take my life. I was living a real life nightmare. My kids were my life. And always my priority. My 2 oldest daughters won’t have anything to do with me. I reach out to them all the time no response. My youngest and I still have a relationship. This has left a huge hole in my heart. I regret ever getting divorce. Because it’s bad either way. I thought leaving life would get easier because my ex husband was so toxic. It’s harder. Because now I’m alone. I can’t seem to move on.
My heart goes out to all of you who suffer at the hands of an ex partner, who treats you with utter contempt. My family member went through a dreadful time, (and, 11yrs later,) is still at the mercy of this cruel, vile, manipulative example of humanity! The worst example!. As well as the audacious behaviour of this parent who is alienating their children, he thought, that to hurt her he would show her who was boss and take the thing she loved most in life, her children! He did not want the children, just didn’t want her to have them. He was a master of mind games. And manipulations. Let’s face it, anybody who can have a sticker on their office wall that stated.’ Anger is a gift’…..was never going to be mentally sound, and was always going to be a truly dreadful parent.
I wail with you at the injustice that you are all facing, and for my grandchildren and their mother, and if there was anything on earth I could do to right this horrific crime, I would do it. He needs to spend a lot of time being incarcerated for everybody’s sake.
Jen Grice says
Thank you for sharing your family’s story and joining the conversation!
Sadly this has also happened to me. My oldest son has been alienated from not just me but the whole of my family. I have tried everything, the courts don’t care, I have proof of alienation through text messages etc but because he’s 15 he is old enough to make up his own mind and court orders can’t be enforced. I’m left grieving and trying my best to protect my other children from alienation, without alienating them from their father.
This is all a sick game of power and control from an abusive person who isn’t interested in doing what’s best for their children & all I can hope it that one day they see the truth.
In my case the mother was the toxic parent I love how you say the children know the loving parent so they side with the toxic parent because they know the loving parent will always be there. My children are adults now and don’t want to see me I am holding onto to that hope that one day they will return but I won’t let them take my happiness away for now
Jen Grice says
I mainly write for and coach women, but yes for a very long time it was women alienating fathers from their children. I experienced it myself in the 70’s and 80’s when mothers were automaticially given custody. Mothers, like mine, were allowed to move states away without any consequences. I never saw my father again. It hurts that now my children treat me like I did that to them, when I’ve NEVER kept my children from knowing their father. Keep holding on to hope. I never blamed my father for his absence in my life!!
Taryn D. says
I have not seen my daughter for over 3 years when she was 11. Prior to that I was always the primary and at times only parent. Her father was violent and abusive, demonstrably so but it didn’t matter. The Judge in our case acknowledged his violence but still put my girl’s relationship with him above the abuse towards us both. I escaped when she was 5 and she never remembered, it was a dangerous time. At 11 I was considering moving half an hour away and the father lied to my girl and said I was trying to take her away from him and all family and friends and if she stayed with him I wouldn’t be able to. I hadn’t even moved anywhere I was just having an open conversation with my child about it and I never saw her again. 3 years in Family Court and I had to walk away or with my severe PTSD I would have killed myself, the judge granted him everything and I could have no access. The same judge 8 years prior who allowed a violent man access. The father had money and lawyers and I did not. I have survived but barely, I gave up everything for my daughter to help her after the violence. She even told the psych that she loves me and knew I loved her! A psychopath will never stop abusing and if you share a child they will be able to and our society will allow it. When I first walked out of Court (he took me back 3 times) I said he will never stop and he never did.
Jen Grice says
I’m so sorry. So hard!
Feel this on so many levels, my 15 year old daughter has been taken recently with false accusations of abuse and now over time cant even bring herself to speak to me. My ex has completely turned her against the relationship she knew would always have her back no matter what, and step mom was a big part in it. I hurt but also realize I will always love her that wont change, our relationship will however be different. Just recently I decided I didnt want her back in my home in fear of other accusations and how she would treat her sister after this. I had to let go in order to begin healing. Not sure when I will see her again. I will however get through this and make the best of this new reality of just my SO, and youngest child.
Jen Grice says
So hard when your own children lie or twist the truth about your character. It does hurt very much. And then to have to put up boundaries to protect yourself and your other children. It’s very hard! I’m with you!
Jody W. says
My story, not unlike the others, has left me longing to share my love and have a relationship with my children, for nearly 4 years. It’s CRUSHING!! While I often have short bursts of strength, (vowing to do what I can to make change and bring awareness to PARENTAL ALIENATION), the emotion and pain quickly strangle my thoughts. I am a very happy person, by nature. I find that, most days, I must lie to myself. I tell myself that nothing or no one has the power to “steal” my happiness. That I can chose to be happy, or I can chose to be sad. What I chose, ultimately, is to survive. Some days, my strategies for survival require delicate precision. My children, 19 and 16, are now young adults. The more I try to show them my love, the more they resist and look for faults and weaknesses. I will remain hopeful. As HOPE, is what I believe to be the key to MY survival.
I, too, feel “ERASED”. But, my hope and persistence, shall keep me searching for another PENCIL in which to be able to write a happy ending.
DENA P. says
I lost one child to a homicide and the other 4 in a divorce. My kids literally hate me and last time i heard from them they told me to kill myself. I made mistakes, sure, but i don’t deserve to be erased from my childrens lifes. Im confused, I just can’t comprehend how this has happened and why my ex who isn’t even their biological father is the angel in the story. It hurts so bad. I love my kids so much and I miss them everyday.
Erased. It’s unbelievable to me still to this day the power behind this evil. Everyday I am still amazed at the power evil and manipulation carries. There is a satanic power (a working) behind it and I see that so clearly but I know that has something to do with my gifting in the Lord. I will be so joyous one day when all this evil is completely separated from us. You say.. “is this my inheritance?” This unbelievable nightmare invited into my life and you’re actually floored that God isn’t stopping it. It rocked my faith. I still wonder if what will be left in the end will be anything that resembles Him. I am completely different, yet I do notice that there is a remnant of tender things inside of me. Things I’ve held dear, even as a child, that God is putting in its perspective places. It’s really strange, it’s like I’m watching this new person being created that is just different. It’s not me. I know one thing for sure it has taught me who we really are. Without Christ… some days I know at the core of my being… He is the only thing that restrains my soul into becoming something evil and bitter (toward Him) and that will walk away from Him. I say that as a person who walked so closely with the Lord before and delighted in His everything, even the painful lessons. But this.. it’s changed me. I know that the Lord is shaping me. Amoung all these challenging thoughts I share with you these to let you know your not alone, God is doing a great eternal work in us and if you ask Him He will reveal that to you as it’s taking place so then you do have something to thank Him for. Mine are just quite heart moments where He knows and I know He’s doing something good. Thank God He’s keeping us.
Jen Grice says
I’m sorry you are going through this too. I know it’s hard. You are NOT alone! Thank you for sharing and joining the discussion.
I believed it was just me who had this happen – after a 28 year marriage my 3 adult children thought they were now in control and could treat me as they had seen their father treat me. I stood my ground and lost my middle child(26)and now have a strained relationship with my oldest (27). My youngest (22) was the most grounded through out the divorce and the last 3 years since.
My ex and his new wife (whom he had affair with and married Days after divorce) have manipulated my middle child -this child is the most loving compassionate with the purest heart of anyone I have ever known- who had a Love of the Lord unlike any I’d every witnessed. We were incredible close- had a wonderful relationship that went to no relationship within a few months. During this time this child has had many personal struggles, lost faith and basically isolated herself from our family and Always choosing her “new” family (dad-new wife and her adult children) over her family (mom and siblings). Its beyond hurtful but my greatest heartache is knowing my child will be betrayed one day and her heartache will be much greater than mine own.
Thank you for all the stories of confirmation that I am not alone. It is truly heartbreaking to lose a child in this manner unless you experience it -one can not comprehend what your heart feels and the lose you endure every minute of every day.
Keep sharing -and I will keep praying for all the lost children and isolated parents.
Jen Grice says
I’m sorry it has happened to you too, KK. And thank you for sharing so that others see that it’s not just happening to a few parents, but actually quite a lot!
How Would you recommend we rectify this situation? My oldest is in her mid-thirties. She seems dissatisfied & angry a majority of the time. (Keep in mind our separation/divorce is five years old) yet she allows me very limited time together w/her children, always supervised. Her younger brother has gone as long as 2 1/2 years without seeing me & only once has initiated communication/contact with me. They’ve all, as adults, lived in his newly constructed home. Could elaborate but choose to be concise. . How can I get a printed copy of this article “Child Estrangement After Divorce ( mother erased)” ? Would you have a means by which I can e-mail this to someone without them receiving automatically generated e-mails afterward?
Jen Grice says
I would NOT suggest you email or print this article to send to your children. This is written for erased or estranged parents, not their children. Furthermore, as hard as it may be to hear, you cannot rectify this situation! That would be you trying to control the situation which will only make you look worse. You can’t counter control with control. Instead, we all had to learn to let go. God will fight for you, if you will be still (Exodus 14:14) and trust Him. When we try to put our hands on things that are outside of our control, it only makes things worse. The only person you can control is yourself! You can keep working on your own emotional health. 🙂
Thank you for giving us a voice. After 27 years of abuse my ex finally left when another woman tempted him. He has denied everything and very quickly my children turned on me, blaming me and saying I was at fault and treating him badly. My kids are 22 and 26 and have very little to do with me. My son criticises me when we are at family events, which is the only time I see either of them. We were loving and close and this has been my life for 2 years now. My ex trained them to disrespect me when we were married but I didn’t understand the extent of the manipulation. I did not believe it was possible to experience this much grief and I wonder if my life will ever find meaning again. My children were everything to me and I gave up my career to raise them. I feel lost and forgotten by God who has allowed this to happen.
Jen Grice says
You’re welcome! I know it feels like God “allows” bad things like this to happen but actually He doesn’t control this. Free will and sin causes pain and suffering. Although, God does redeem these bad situations when both party’s hearts are in the right place. And we as mothers can just pray for our children’s hearts and for God to work everything out for good as He promises in Romans 8:28.
Tricia H. says
you sound as if a mother should do nothing. she can ask to go to counseling with her children. she can tell them they cannot abuse her.
Jen Grice says
You CANNOT force another adult to do anything they don’t want to do. Furthermore, when an adult says do not contact me ever again, and you do, you are the boundary pusher and could get served with a PPO. I don’t want to teach anyone to act like or behave like a narcissist. Leave room for healing but you can never FORCE it. So, we leave things in God’s hands as much as possible.
You describe exactly how I feel. I’ve been divorced from a covert, passive-aggressive narcissist for 18 months. Married 18 years, I left after discovering three affairs.
My then-nine-year-old son was the one who found the inappropriate pictures and text messages indicating an affair.
Now, he’s nearly 12 and wants to live with his father all but four days a month.
This child has been used as a surrogate spouse for years! They are too enmeshed. In fact, he shared a bed with his father until recently. (Now he’s on the couch without a bed of his own.)
He’s convinced that my house is too quiet, I’m too weird, I don’t have the “right” foods, etc.
At first, I thought much of this had to do with hormones. But on Mother’s Day, I learned he wants to live with his father.
My oldest son, who is nearly 15, is more mature and sees the relationships more clearly. He wants to continue seeing me per our regular schedule.
I’m devastated about my youngest son’s desire. He’s so young and impressionable.
I”m in a no-win situation.
Heather K. says
This is a very heartfelt subject. Mothers who have put everything aside to strive for the best for their children, even while being manipulated, painted as something your not, and destroyed mentally. Four years and seven months later I can tell you that if you are a follower of Christ He will lead you out into an acceptance and healthy lifestyle that will only come through His loving touch and guidance. For me, so I could still be here today healthy and sane, He showed me how to lay my children back down at the cross. Now physical needs and schedules and convictions on right and wrong I am not talking about. With the children my husband had successfully indoctrinated against me, I had no part in their life because of his isolation techniques and brainwashing. So literally laying my two oldest girls back into the arms of Jesus was all I could do. I was at the end. I could either torment myself with the narrative that would never change, go literally crazy, or release them. I did just that. I counsel myself that I can be a better mother this way because it’s a much less self gratifying type of mothering than you had ever bargained for. But when my girls need me, they now call. Is it a continuous fruitful relationship. No. But I praise God cause they call me when it matters, every time. And guess what… it’s not him they call when they need someone who will: truly help, truly understand, and truly walk through fire to get to them. Praise God for that. Just a little helpful encouragement. It is not what we expected but with God’s help and peace, I can except that maybe just maybe Jesus is trying to: spare me, help me, give me peace. Even when the unthinkable happens. Love and hugs, Heather. 🙂
Kris W. says
I am just now coming into this phase… I had hoped to avoid it but my ex is a very covert narcissist… lying in waiting to sting like a scorpion. Parent alienation is a real thing and it’s abuse. My children and I have always been close b/c he traveled. It is grieves me so much they find such fault with me when The breakdown of our marriage was b/c of his consistent infidelities and manipulating behaviors. It’s very scary new territory. I feel super helpless and just want the best for my children and try my hardest to not involve them in anything. But I am attacked by the ex, attacked my children and feel like I need a support group b/c it’s isolating to be the only adult trying to make mature decisions. I’m exhausted and beaten down. Just trying to release my kids to Jesus and pray for protection and sound minds… entering this phase. 😰
My ex husband threatened me during divorce: if someone had taken the boys away from him he would have made a killing. He said he had money and time enough yo ruin my life. I had had to get away from our home when I left him because I felt he could kill me. My two children stayed with him in that big isolated country house. I decided not to fight for them in a court to help them all the psychological pain and pressure from their abusing father. I could just wait for them yo realise about everything…
My youngest son has finally come to live with me this year (he had became the scapegoat in that house because he refused to attack me), after three years apart. This has been my greatest joy!
But I’ve lost my eldest son, who now is 19. Even if he had witnessed abuses for all his life, he has chosen his father view and stopped all contact with me when his brother left. Last time I heard him on the phone he insulted me. Everybody tells me to wait but I’m aware it’s going to be long…
It devastates me to know that there are so many other people in my situation. This article has been a revelation for me, I’m writing to give you the strength we all need!
No matter how often I look, I never find a scenario like mine.
When I met my very sweet, romantic narcissist, he did a real number on me. Oh, how he loved me. No, we certainly could not get married, because he wasn’t the marrying kind, he insisted. But on and on and on, and yes, eventually I realized this was one very selfish person. I gave him an ultimatum: become the marrying kind, or I’d end the relationship because I had a child from a prior marriage who was very VERY attached to him. Of course—that was part of his modus operandi , to spoil her rotten, and to poison her against me. I was so naive, that in spite of all this, I kept trying.
Before the time was up (6 months) for me to make good on the ultimatum, I was pregnant. It sounds insane, I know, but he did this intentionally. I did not know the condom had come off—and he later admitted he had done it on purpose because, as he said, in gods eyes, I was his wife, and he had to have a child with me. Great, just great. I was absolutely furious, already a single mom, no support from her father, and working my way through college. I just would not consent to making my life harder, no, just no.
I let him know, this will not happen. Leave the money for an abortion and take your things and get out—forever. Oh, my, what an actor, the tears, the wailing, the begging: please don’t murder my child. I was naive, and I still believed that people told the truth. He said he’d marry me, we’d buy a home, and the crazy moving around would stop.
Well, three moves later, with a middle school,aged girl, and an infant son, he flatly told me if I wanted a permanent home, I needed to move around with him. He had moved 5 times in 2.5 years for work, with me doing all the work. He never lifted a finger. That was it—I thought. I somehow, with all that chaos, managed to get myself and those two kids moved, with no help from him of course—he was busy, He’s always busy.and tired. I’ve never bet a time so tired. and I was a lazy, whining bitch. I was shocked. But having been the child of a narcissistic mother, I deep down believed it. My classmates didnt—they’d voted me most generous in my graduating class, but I believed him. I feel so incredibly stupid.
Well, that was years ago. Add one more child to the mix. She’s now 16, and he has custody of her. Why? Well, there is no domestic justice in this country when you aren’t the one with the money. He and his family have money. I have a worthless, useless family, who wouldn’t even help me when I ran completely out of of money. Him? Oh, there are buckets and buckets of money. And they view my children (his children) as their property. My other child is just a thing to be exploited for their purposes and then discarded.
Not only did he have money, to “win” custody of the two children who were his, he had my older daughter—who had, to my horror, I had found out had a long standing incestuous affair going on beginning in her teenage years, right under my nose. How she hated me. How she adored him. Of course—what’s not to love when you’ve got a boyfriend who hates your mother as much as you do, who has sex with you in your mothers bed when she’s not home, who supplies you with marijuana, booze, and cash, and the only price you pay is to hate your mother and pretend like you’re the mother of the two younger children? She showed up in court three times to tell the court that I was abusive, a drunk, a lazy person who just lay around all day drinking. I guess the cooking, cleaning, moving (15 in 17 years) all just took care of themselves. I must have hallucinated all that work I did for my family. According to her, in all her proud glory in court, I was such a bad mother, she’d not ever let me watch her own child. Hogwash. I had reams of emails with her demanding that I be home so she could drop off her child with me. I did not abuse any children—except for being stupid and gullible.
This child of mine has no father. She was so vulnerable to him. But at some point, she had to make these decisions to be purely evil. And that’s just the cliffs notes. She also beat the holy daylights out of me more than once. And did he love playing good cop, bad cop. He’d whisper one thing in her ear (“your moms gone, let’s get high, she’s still a bitch), and another to me (“she’s a bad seed; let’s get rid of her”). I am NOT exaggerating. I have this in writing from her—not that I could get it admitted as evidence. I’ll repeat—there is no justice in this country if you’re not the one with the money.
This insanity drove me to insanity, truly I was a god awful, suicidal wreck. I’d finally gotten him out of the house )another apartment because he couldn’t decide where to build his dream home in his, not mine, but his ten acres of land) that last time, with him finally gone, my older daughter forced her way into my home, after being told not to come to my home with her rage—I’d seen and physically felt this rage more than once—but she did it, forced her way in and screamed at the top of her lungs, “I hate you. I’ve hated you my whole live life, you f#&king c**t!” Over and over again. She threw a table at me, had her own husband block the door so I couldn’t escape, and she beat me up again. I completely lost my mind. Rather than call the police, which I should have, I turned on myself after my son, who at that time had a warm relationship with me, I thought, actually said he saw nothing wrong with how she had just treated me. Nothing wrong with that? My god. This evil runs deep. That night, utterly devastated at the cruelty I was experiencing from those who were supposed to love me, I did try to end my life. Guess what? That’s not unusual after the PTSD I’d been living with for years, and to be beaten up, again, by this young woman who was my daughter—beaten up again—I did lose my mind. I should have called the police.
She has since been charged and convicted of felony breaking and entering. You’d think that would make people see this just a little differently, since not only did she feloniously break into my home, held me imprisoned there —home invasion—and beaten me up, but no, I was once again told I was a very very bad and selfish person.
I lost my youngest in a child custody battle that I now wish I’d just walked away from. I just couldn’t, though. She was only six years old. She had still been sleeping with me when his family refused to send her home after Xmas that year. But I was naive, I was devastated, and I just wanted to have one, just one child, to raise without that monster and his girlfriend—my own daughter.
I have had years now of parental alienation with all three of them. I no longer acknowledge that older daughter as even a relative. I hate her, and I’m not ashamed of that. She walked into a courtroom on more than one occasion and lied and lied, the most disgusting lies about me. She made things worse, and she loved every minute of it. Of course, when the custody battle was over, she came crawling back—oh mom, I need you now more than ever, won’t you please …. and like a fool, I did it. I still loved her. I knew what it was like to run out of money, and I opened my wallet to her. And the incestuous games began again. I really think her problems are caused by her dead father (a drug addict), my own family so unsupportive, and there being only me—so she tested me and tested me and tested me, and raged and raged and became a vile, lying piece of human scum. Nobody can love that unconditionally. No one. This woman is anti social, as in sociopathy. She’s even killed dogs.
This past holiday season, I sent her a gentle, kind, carefully worded email, to let her know I was thinking of her. She’d contacted me last summer. I thought maybe giving (what a dumb person I am) her some kind of written kindness and wishes for good will would be the right thing to do. No go. I got more hatred in reply.
My youngest daughter, with whom I finally had a reconciliation with, has just let me know that I’m an abusive, horrible mother, and she’s very happy to have her “real mom” come to live with her and her dad. That’s right, once again, the older daughter is now living with my ex and my younger daughter, and my youngest is thrilled. I am devastated. I am so far beyond devastated.
I’ve left out a lot. I did lose my mind. I am still reeling from this news—this “girl” (37 years old now, 21 years after she first beat me up) has now lost custody of her own child, who has told my youngest that her mother is crazy and a drunk and out of control, and that she does not see her, because “mommy” is always shacked up with the latest love of her life. It never works out, of course, because she’s that insane that deranged, that she can’t see what she does to other people, including the many many boyfriends who’ve told her, “get out.” Her child is being raised by her father, and I haven’t seen her in four years. But that oldest daughter of mine might not be allowed unsupervised visits with her own child, but she is now living with my child and carrying in her campaign of hatred for me—and her sexual affair with my ex. In a home with unsupervised time with my daughter—she’s not even allowed to see her own child. But she’s a mommy again. Once again, she’s taken my child from me. All with the help and encouragement of the ex.
There is absolutely nothing I can do, nothing. I’ve gone for years for therapy, and I can’t get over this heartache. It’s worse than heartache. I’m constantly told how rotten and selfish I am, unless someone wants money or attention. (I’ve left out my formerly sweetheart of a son who has also become a narcissist—the lies, the gas lighting, and always….mom, can you give me about $1000….).
I am a completely broken, destroyed human being, with no support system, no family, living a nightmare of a life.
And I never ever see a scenario like this, ever, while searching online. Who makes a perverted step mother out of a young girl, poisons the well, and still has the audacity to say he loves me? There are a dozen roses he sent for valentines. I want these? No. I’d give anything, I swear, anything, to go back in time and do it all differently. I don’t want these roses. I’m angry, bitter, sick of life, sick of living a loveless existence and used and lied about. It just won’t stop. I’m now considering changing my name and moving many miles away just to try to get out of this poison group. I cannot go on like this. And please, believe me, Ive done 10 years of therapy. You cannot talk your way out of this kind of hell. I live in hell.
They all seem happy enough. And they all still blame me and tell twisted stories about me. I guess that’s fun for them? They’re all quite happy, except for my youngest who told me again last month, before her perverted step mother moved back in, that she’s cutting herself again. But she’s happy she says, happy that she will never have to see me again.
I love that I found this. My 20yr old daughter has been struggling with depression and states that I am to blame for her problems because I was such a terrible mom after my divorce. Her dad and I divorced when my 3 kids were in middle school. The boys seem to have adjusted, at the time of the divorce she seemed most ok with it. She had lots of friends and seemed very happy. Now at age 20, kind of lost in her life I am the one to blame. My kids all lived with me for 4 years post divorce since their dad left town. Then he came back as what I called the fun guy. I got little financial help and worked a lot of overtime as a nurse so my kids could continue their travel sports, stay in a house with a yard and a pool and keep their pets.
Now I’m the enemy, I wasn’t around enough, I was tired a lot, I was frustrated easily. I’m sad for her but I can only say I’m sorry for my past shortcomings so many times. I wasn’t perfect, but I was there everyday and always did my best. When I couldn’t be home, I had my parents who adore them around for support. I don’t understand why she is so hateful to me, it came on suddenly. After the divorce I started dating and after being with this man for 7 years, we got married. When we told her we were getting married, she seemed happy for us. When I was alone with her, she said, “so I guess this means you and dad are never getting back together?”, I couldn’t believe she thought that was still a possibility. Her dad remarried 2 years ago.I think I’ve realized her real anger comes from the fact that I couldn’t hold our family together, that I left the family home, which was being sold and brought them somewhere else. She now only talks to me when she needs $ or wants to be hateful and it makes me sad and angry.
Pam R. says
After almost 20 years my adult children are still being controlled by their father and his family. My daughter is 31 and her husband and my 2 grand daughters live with my ex in a very big 2 story home. They share expenses and my ex always buys stuff for them as well. I have a 25 year old son who lives on his own with a girlfriend but he is controlled by not only my ex but my daughter. I decided to divorce my ex when the kids were 11 and 5. I made lot’s of mistakes during that time but I never abandoned my kids. I met my now husband right away and we are almost married 20 years and very happy. He did a lot for my kids as they grew up and they were in my life ….visitation etc. Fast forward to now…..I am always disrespected…..my daughter and son put their father first in all things and I have been supervised with my grandchildren. I have had enough. I have decided to walk away. I love them all very much but I just can’t do it anymore. I feel bad doing this to my grandchildren…..its not their fault. I have been sending them gifts through the mail for bdays and Christmas….should i stop doing this too?
Rachel Anne P. says
I have been apart from my ex-husband for seven years. When we split, his business had recently failed and so we were at our lowest point financially. Even though I had been a stay-at-home mother, he tried to say that he should look after the children and I should pay him 100% support. Today, he is an anti-vaxer and a conspiracy theorist who is distrustful of the world. He remained in the matrimonial home, where – of course – the children feel most comfortable. I have been unable to secure full time employment and my rent is $3000 a month because it is so expensive where I live. Meanwhile, my youngest daughter has decided to live with him 100% of the time and one of my twins doesn’t want to live with me either. I’ve given up my life for these children and they want nothing to do with me. And I’m 100% certain that he is behind it. If I had treated my mother the way that my children treat me, my father would never have stood for it. It’s unreal what children of divorce are allowed to get away with. Unreal.
Pray Melinda pray to the only one who can give you the victory, God and then give Him all the honor and all the Glory, ask for whatever you need, in the name of Jesus and give thanks as if it was already done. I
Same scenario here. Heart wrenching and lonely
I am going through this exact situation right now I was married to a narcissistic controlling cheating emotionally and mentally abusing man. When I could not take it anymore after 30 years of being with him I served him with divorce papers in August 2020. All of a sudden this man came out of the woodwork cool then started to take my daughters on lavish shopping spree‘s vacations to Florida the drive-ins all the time the boyfriend being allowed to come over whenever he wanted even without parental supervision and then all of a sudden I became the bad person they didn’t want to be around me they were lying to me for him he had a girlfriend and she would bring my daughters to her home with them and he would tell them to lie to me where they were going he then took my daughters out of Florida trip and told me that they were staying with him at his sisters house when in fact he had brought his girlfriend and her daughters with them to Florida he told the court that I was an alcoholic I did drugs I abused my children some of the most vile accusations anyone could ever make. I cannot believe that this person that I was married to he’s a complete vile disgusting human being he starts arguments with the girls and tells them that he hates when they are with me she hates when they are at my house with me he hates that they stay with me. To make things easier they will go with him because they know if they don’t take his side he will ignore them he will withhold things from them he will whine to them he will ignore them for days. They are starting to see what is going on and they have told their attorney that they do not want to live like this anymore as they live with him more than me. I am heartbroken because I did not raise my children like this guy I’m a great mom and I pride myself on the mom that I am and they know no matter what they do to me no matter white they always know that my doors always open and I love them unconditionally. He knows that I could care less that our marriage is over so the only way he can hurt me is through my children. This seems like it has been going on forever and I don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel and I’m starting to lose steam I’m starting to lose hope and I’m starting to think just go away and stay away from them. He started fights with them at Thanksgiving time for them spending time with me and now Christmas week is here and I feel heartbroken because I know they don’t wanna be there and I know that he will make things miserable for him for them. I just wish the court could see through him I wish someone would listen I wish someone would save my daughters