For many dads out there who have gone through a divorce or separation, there is nothing more heartbreaking than watching your child be manipulated by their mother in hopes that she can make you look like a bad father. This emotional form of child abuse is so damaging to a child who, without having any choice in the matter, is now being forced to listen to fabricated stories about the dad who they love so much.
I have always taught my own boys that there are two ways a person can excel in life and stand out in the crowd:
- A person can choose to work hard, follow the path that they know in their heart is good, and simply to the best to become the man or women they have always wanted to be or
- A person can spend more time talking bad about others in an attempt to put those people down so he or she can hope people think they have become the person they know then cannot be
When parents alienate their children, they do so with the intention of trying to limit access to the other parent who, for reasons the alienating parent does not want to admit, seems to still have a strong bond with their children.
When a mother or father waste their quality time of possession with their child by filling their young mind with lies and guilt trips, they are effectively destroying the chance of their child enjoying his or her childhood.
Like most dads and step-moms (or soon to be step-moms), nothing compares to the excitement of having my children come back home to spend time with us during our days of possessions. While the kids are away we spend our time planning what we will do when they return. Where will we go? Which restaurant will we take them to? How much homework do they have? The questions and planning become second nature and the excitement we feel when we watch their expressions of laughter and happiness as we share our plans is like nothing I can describe. However, when children come back from a home where they were exposed to lies and guilt trips and hate filled conversations, that excitement can sometimes be short lived.
Inevitably the "guess what we are doing this weekend" and "want to go out to dinner" conversations come to an end and then all that is left is a child waiting to ask if what he or she heard was true? The problem is, most of the time the child has been told "don't tell your dad I said this" or "if you ask your dad he will lie and tell you this is not true", thus leaving this once playful and loving child to figure out all of this "adult" junk on their own.
I made one rule with my three boys, and I would encourage all of you to do the same thing. I have always told my sons that if they want to know the truth, and they want to make sure that what they are receiving is in fact the truth, they they are more than welcome to ask me whatever they want. In an effort to demonstrate my willingness to keep manipulation and bias feelings out of my answers, I explained to them that if they ask me a question and I do not have tangible proof to defend my answer, then I will not give an answer to begin with. I have explained to them that I will only answer those questions that can be substantiated with physical proof. I also encouraged them to ask the same of their mother in an effort to eliminate any doubt they may have about what she says or what I say.
Sure, it is not what kids should have to deal with but at the end of the day I need my kids to know that if someone tells them I never paid child support or I did not feel like showing up to a sporting event, I can say wait...here is the piece of paper that shows you what I have paid and here are my text messages and emails where I tried to reach you so that I could find out about your sporting event but your mom never got back with me.
Proof. That is the only thing I told my boys they need to base their thoughts and feelings on. 100% tangible proof and if their mother or other family member on their mother's side wants to make up stories, say "ok, but can I see proof"? You see, while I think it is down right disgusting to make any child a pawn or center piece of a fight between parents, I find it more deplorable to allow a child to go to bed thinking poorly of his or her other parent simply because he or she was exposed to negative comments, lies, and other damaging manipulative behavior.
If your ex is alienating your kids, you must do all that you can to remind your children that you love them. You must also not fire back with attacks about their mother because your children will begin to shift from trying to find peace to now seeing their father stoop just as low. It does not matter if what you are telling them is true. What mattes is that they are raised to see that their father did not disrespect their mother in order to make himself feel better. Let her be the one that reaches that low to "win".