Over the years, I have supported a number of clients through divorce, custody, and co-parenting issues. One of the areas that I often deal with is the challenge of co-parenting and dealing with the variety of relationships that develop or change after separation.
A separation or divorce when kids are involved usually means that you will be in a variety of relationships that are not there by choice. Everything from the ex, to ex-in-laws, to you’re ex’s new partners. To often, this leads to a fight for the children. Not only in the courts and through finances, but there is also often a fight for the hearts and minds of the children themselves.
As parents, of course we want our kids to like us. We want them to enjoy spending time with us. If we are honest with ourselves, we likely get jealous about the possibility that our child may prefer our ex (after all, our ex is a horrible person, why would they like him or her?).
Parental Alienation is a term used to describe a state in which one parent (or caregiver) is undermined by the others. Regardless of if this is done intentionally or by accident, it can be incredibly damaging to the child. It is important to remember that your ex (and his or her family) is part of your child’s DNA. Your child loves and needs them as much as they need you. Both parents, both families are important. To tear down your child’s family, is to tear down your child.
What Would I Think, How Would I Act?
By Cindy L. Corsi
If I were this child and saw my stepmother had crossed off my mom’s name from my kindergarten folder what would I think…
If I was a small child at the age of three and my father was walking me up my driveway to mommy’s house saying “Just two more days here then you are back with us,” what would I think?
If I was a four years old and heard my father blame my mommy because I caught a cold at preschool, what would I think?
If I was this child who was put in the bathtub right after I was picked up from my mommy’s house, what would I think?
If I was this child that was told I could not bring my belongings to my mommy’s house because they would get dirty or ruined, what would I think?
If I was this child and heard my step mother tell a friend of the family that my mommy was dirty, what would I think?
If I was this child and was told that child support money should be spent on whatever I wanted, what would I think, how would I act?
If I was told to call my daddy and step mom while at my mommy’s house in the wintertime to ask them how I should dress to go outside and play, what would I think?
If I was in first grade and my daddy, step mom, and extended family told me at the age of 12 I can choose to live with them, what would I think? How would I act?
If I was this child and my daddy told me that if my mommy did not have me at the meeting place on time she would be arrested by the police, what would I think, how would I act?
If I was this child being mouthy to my mom and she squeezed me behind my neck, I told my dad and I heard my dad tell her that if she ever touched me again he would have me arrested, what would I think, how would I act?
If I was this small child and my mommy asked a neighborhood mom to watch me for a couple hours while taking a college class and my step mother told me she did not trust my mommy because she got a babysitter “all of the time,” what would I think, how would I act?
If I was this child and my daddy told me that my mommy did not attend my school play, did not care about me, even though when I asked mommy about it, she said she was there and even knew what I was wearing that night, what would I think, how would I act?
If I was this child who learned that complaining about my mommy pleased my daddy, step mom and their family and they all joined in with me, even rewarded me, what would I think, how would I act?
If my mommy and I had a special beauty day in the form of hair cuts, then my daddy and step mom told me my bangs were crooked, what would I think, how would I act?
If I was this child excited to show my father a Halloween costume my mommy made and he commented, “There is glue on the wing,” then bought me a different costume to wear, what would I think?
If I was a child and my father told me to call my mommy after a school function and lie to her about something the principal never said, what would I think, how would I act?
If I was this child and went to the store to pick out a new book bag with my mom, then went to my dad’s and they took me to buy another one, what would I think; how would I act?
If I was this child and my daddy and family bought me a new bedroom set, a TV, a phone, game boy, clothes, a mini bike and more for Christmas, what would I think, how would I act?
If I was this child and my daddy and step mom sent food and drinks with me to my mommy’s house, what would I think?
If I was a child and told my father that I went to a different church and he told me it was not a church, what would I think, how would I act? (even though he had never been brought up in faith as a child)
If I went to the dentist with my mommy and was the best little patient, getting my first tooth pulled but then my father and step mom took me to another dentist and told me that the dentist mom took me to did not know what he was doing, what would I think, how would I act?
If I was this child and my mom called my dad’s house to see how I was feeling and my step mom answered the phone and in a very angry voice said, “Your mother’s on the phone,” what would I think, how would I act?
If I was a teen told to cut the grass with mom’s supervisions and right before I did it my dad called and said my foot was going to get cut off, what would I think, how would I act?
If I was a teen asked to find out my mom’s income tax information right before a support hearing, and I did, what would I think, how would I act?
If I was this young teen and my dad took me to the court house for a child support meeting, what would I think, how would I act?
If I was this teen and was told that my mom made me change schools even though the conciliator made the decision after examining the facts, what would I think, how would I act?
If I was a child, when with my father, ignored my mom (at stores, soccer games,) but then when at her house had friends over, bonfires, etc… , how would this affect me, what would I think?
If I was a teen and got in trouble at school and my dad supported my harassing behavior toward another teen girl by taking my side and joining in on the name calling, what would I think, how would I act?
If I was a teen mouthing off and swearing and my step mom told my father not to scold me because she said, “that is how she was raised,” what would I think, how would I act?
If I was a teen and every time I did not get my way I complained about my mom and I then was allowed to hear him call her and yell at her, what would I think, how would I act?
If I complained to my father and stepmom that there was not the right kind of cereal at HER house and they brought me a bag of groceries for her house, what would I think?
If I was this teen and witnessed the stepmother back her body into my mom then accuse my mom of hitting her, what would I think, how would I act?
If I was driving age and about to enter college and in order to have my car I had to live at my dad’s house, how would I act?
If I was this child, no doubt I would put in my mind to mistrust, even hate my mom because my dad and step mom and their family must know what they are talking about, for they love me. I would eventually succeed at pulling away from my mom because I know that some day I will not have a relationship with her for I have been told that I will be able to choose not to and the courts feel I am old enough to run away from what I have been brainwashed not to like. I would build walls to protect me from the hurt when this happens and I would remain loyal to the ones who give me everything and remain in my court no matter what I do or say. .
If I was this child I would create conflict with my mom so she would want to give up and let me go live where I am suppose to live. I would set the stage as often as I could and even go as far as bump into her and then call the police to say she hit me to prove that she is no good like they say. For I would help them prove it.
If I was this child I would tell my mom” you deserve to be arrested,” after knowing my dad called to threaten her. Why not feel this way; it is exactly how my dad’s mom feels about her, my paternal grandmother.
If I was this child, when my mom picked me up for her time with me I would not sit in the front with her, nor would I walk beside her if I saw my dad and stepmother in public.
If I was this child, I would demand material items from her because my dad gives her money. I have even been to the court house and even though the time I was there my mom cut the support in half, I still think she is nasty. I would have an un-grateful heart for the things she buys because none of it is from her anyway. I would continue to receive but never give, including special occasions. It is all about what I get. The universe revolves around me at my dad’s house and always will.
If I was this child, I would not allow my mom to hug me and I would never tell her I love her again. Loving her would mean I am disloyal to my dad and stepmother. I would also not share anything fun or special that happens at my mom’s because that is not what I have been trained to do or say.
If I was this child, I would not try not to touch things at my mom’s house, I would put toilet paper on the seat, wipes my hands if I accidentally touched her and not sleep on the sheets that are on the bed that once belonged to her.
If I was this child I would not receive calls from my mom at my dad’s in a welcome manner. I would be snide and nasty, and say, “What do you want and why are you calling here, you are wasting my time!” then understand that she does not care because she does not call while I am at my dad’s very often. And when I call her I will not refer to her as “mom.”
If I was this child, I would block out any joyful, happy memories from the past and prevent any in the present, for that would be a violation. I would limit extra information to her, including school, getting my period, friends, dances and more.
If I was this child, I would resent my mom for making me change schools, because my dad and family told me it was her fault. I would have a hard time truly enjoying my school experience because deep down I would be holding onto resentment that has been planted there.
If I was this child it would be to my benefit to keep feeding my dad and step mom what they want to hear. It would become natural to me to do this because of their feedback, similar to Pavlov’s dog experiments.
If I was this child I would often deny that my mom is my mom. I would not acknowledge Mother’s Day, her birthday, Christmas or any other day that offers a chance to care. I would take from her and her family but never give in return.
If I was this child the message that she does not provide for me would come in loud and clear.
If I was this child, I would begin to hate the rest of my mom’s family, even my older brother and my grandmother who took care of me and loved me all throughout my life. For when I have mentioned them in the past, my paternal family knows that they are also no good. Pushing them away in a hateful manner will only make the separation easier in the future. No real loss for me.
If I was this child I would feel empowered but then feel confused. The confusion could lead to drugs or promiscuity, obsessive behaviors or even violence. I would not understand why I felt so much conflict inside. I would spend a large portion of my life depressed.
If I was this child, I would hang onto hate and un-forgiveness, for that is what I have been taught through words and actions by people who are suppose to love and guide me in the right direction.
If I was this child, their antics would in fact work on me but it would cost me a lot because it would be based on emotional abuse and until I sought help to understand why people that are suppose to love me acted this way, and until they admitted they were wrong, I will struggle with relationships with myself and others.
If I was this child, even though I witnessed my stepmother trying to set my mother up, I would find a way to blame my mom for the incident, for my truth is truth