Some of my greatest regrets come from trying to do what made other people happy instead of chasing my own happiness. Among those was the missed opportunity to see my oldest son play his tuba on the football field at the OSU Cowboy Stadium in 2005. This was an opportunity I would never have again, but it was taken away from me because of the selfishness and entitlement of other people.
Austen was an excellent student in High School and earned a scholarship playing in the OSU Cowboy Band. Being a single mother of four sons, working in a low paying job so I could have the flexibility to be where my sons needed me, and get them to where they needed to be, making ends meet was often difficult. But, somehow I was able to make it happen. However, once David and I began dating things kind of took a turn that I wasn’t real happy about with regard to the entitlement of his children. The parent method of behavior utilized regarding adult plans, was that the children ruled over dad. The problem that was apparent, was that the parents of this ten and five year old felt the children should be making the plans! I’ll explain that statement;
Austen invited me to an OSU Cowboy football game, and knowing his mom had a difficult time financially, he came up with a ticket for me so I could go see him in action on the field at half-time. I’d planned for weeks and was very excited for the opportunity. I’d seen him at the homecoming parade but seeing him on the field was something I’d longed to do so badly, and HE wanted his mom too also. David asked if he and the kids could come hang out with me on Saturday at my house and I told him sure, but that evening I was going to go to an OSU game to see Austen play his tuba with the Band. He was adamant that he and the kids would go too as getting a ticket would be easy to do outside the gate. I told him as long as they knew I was going and that was the plan then it would be fine for them to come over.
David, the kids and I, went somewhere the morning of the big game and all hell broke loose on the drive home. His daughter, aged ten, knew the plan to go to the game but had received a phone call from Mom while we were in the car. You could hear the conversation and the ex-wife getting into our business with the child. She asked the child “why would anyone want to go to an OSU football game? You will be so bored. It will be awful. Tell your dad you’re not going to go and he doesn’t need to go either. That’s it, just refuse to go. Pitch a fit until he changes his mind on going, you know he will!” And….that’s exactly what happened.
To make matters worse, the little girl started screaming in the car, throwing the temper tantrum ordered by her dysfunctional mother. It was horrible and unwarranted, but this was the manner in which this woman operated and that manner of operation only worsened over the years. It didn’t matter that she was setting her own child up for failure in life, it was a selfish act that was all consuming for this woman. The fit worsened the closer we got to my home in Glenpool. Once we arrived, David and I discussed our evening plans. He was attempting to change our plans simply because of the temper tantrums of a child, based on the instructions we had both heard come from her mother. “It is not her fault, mom has made her not want to go now.” He said. My response was, “David, the kid is ten, you’re the parent and children don’t have the right to change the plans made by adults simply because of their own whims and wishes.”
Now….that might seem to make sense to other adults, but that’s not the way these two parents operated. Mom had so engrained into these little children that dad should do only what the children wish to do, and that the children had been given a directive to make it happen by mom. David, being a puppet on a string to this woman for so many years, acted as if she still had control of the strings. In essence, she did, those string were the domination of her children in doing what she desired with regard to their father.
Keep in mind that Dad was the only parent at home with these children while mommy dearest was out playing with her boyfriend, the same man she claimed months earlier had “forced himself” on her. I should have had clearer vision at the time to see what a crazy situation I had allowed myself to get into. But, love makes you lose your vision and common sense at times.
Seeing I wasn’t changing David’s mind, and this child’s tantrum and fits getting louder and more out of control, I asked them to leave. David didn’t want to leave because we were in the middle of a disagreement. But, the daughter didn’t want to leave either and said so. I told her they needed to go because I was going to a football game. She said “NO! I don’t want to leave. I want to stay here with you.” I told her I was going to a football game and again, the child refused to leave and her father didn’t make her go. I was between a rock and a hard place with people at my home refusing to leave and me needing WANTING to see my oldest son do something he and I had planned me watching for weeks. It got to the point that I tried for so long to get them to leave without just being rude and insensitive to David’s situation with his child, that I ended up not going to the game. Austen and I lost something that day that we will never be able to share again and all because of this woman's selfishness and narcissistic behaviors. How horrible to use a child in that manner. I regret to this day that I didn't leave, telling them there was no alternative, and go to the game. That was a HUGE mistake on my part.
This is a decision I still kick myself over. I missed the opportunity to do something for my own son because of the mother-driven temper tantrum of a ten year old. Yet, I’m the bad guy. In every situation, so MANY situations just like this one which we’ve endured over the last ten years; I always come out the bad guy. Yet, it’s me who has had to miss some things that were so important not only to me, but also to my own children simply because of a crazy, dysfunctional ex-spouse who was selfish and driven to make her ex miserable. Well, she succeeded not only in misery for dad, but also for the new woman that dad was involved with. I was hated, maligned, lied about, had my friends and co-workers called and told horrendous, untruthful things about me, threatened, hit with bogus protective orders saying I was abusive to her children when it was just her abusing the legal justice system to her own means, and even called a “swinger” to my employer and people I worked with, had an acquaintance told at a rodeo that I was a “swinger” right there in front of the children, yet, I’m the bad guy.
I’ve had people tell me they know just how I feel that they have been through this with their husband’s children. However, I’m yet to see their names on legal records showing they had to fight constantly to prove they were not child abusers or horrible human beings. You see, my parents, unlike my husband’s ex, taught me to be fair to all people. They taught me that rules apply to everyone, not just everyone else. My parents also taught me to live by the Golden Rule, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
I vividly remember the little boy climbing up into my lap and kissing me. It made me very uncomfortable as he said “I have two daddies and two mommies.” I quickly stopped him and told him, “you have ONE mom and ONE dad, I’m not your mom and Mike is not your dad.” Why can’t all parents do their children a favor and not confuse them by trying to eliminate the parent’s role in the children’s lives? Why can’t they see that children need and DESERVE the freedom to love both sides of their families which may include step-parents? It takes an EXTREMELY SELFISH person to demand loyalty only to one parent, and demands their child be totally against their other parent.
That parent’s behavior is classic Parental Alienation. Parental Alienation is abuse, but this type of abuse isn’t clearly seen as illegal. How can that be? Judges who are responsible to make decisions about the welfare of children have failed to educate themselves on Parental Alienation. Sharie Tines, Psy.D., fives a great description in “Children with Narcissistic Parental Alienation Syndrome”;
Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is the unhealthy coalition between a narcissistic parent and his or her children against the targeted, non-narcissistic, non-abusive parent. The innocent or targeted parent receives hostility and rejection from his or her children in this system. The psychological health of the children is used as arsenal in the narcissist’s twisted world.
Parental Alienation Syndrome is a family systems pathologyinvolving the triangulation of children into the abusive, narcissistic parental relationship. In the case of PAS the cross-generational coalition exists between the narcissist and the child or children, and is a covert type of narcissistic abuse. In typical family systems therapy there would most likely be cooperation with the offending parent to break the coalition with the child and stand united with the other parent. With a narcissist this will not happen. Narcissists have limited insight so they will be unwilling or unable to see their unhealthy union, believing it to be occurring because he or she happens to be the superior parent, deserving of loyalty, deeming the innocent parent as “bad.” In addition to this, narcissists are unwilling to collaborate on anything; even in therapy. Going to therapy with a narcissistic partner will usually backfire on the targeted partner.
The symptoms of PAS are: (1) The children sit in judgment of the targeted parent’s adequacy and competency as a parent. (2) The narcissistic parent covertly encourages, empowers, and rewards the children for this behavior. (3) The narcissistic parent feigns innocence in this process. (4) The children believe they are acting independently (that is, they believe they are not being influenced by the alienating parent.)
The system is created as the alienating parent rewards the children when they say hostile or angry things about the targeted parent by encouraging and displaying “understanding” for the children’s negative feelings, when what should really be occurring is the children should be taught to respect the other parent. In essence, the children are gaining acceptance from the narcissistic parent as they complain about the target parent.
For instance, suppose the targeted parent tells the child to do a chore and the child resists as is so often the case with children being told to do something they don’t want to do. Now, suppose the child goes to the narcissist and complains about the “mean” other parent. The narcissist will then sympathize with the child, encouraging him or her to feel victimized by the “outrageous” expectations of the targeted parent, and will excuse the child from having to do the chore. Thus, the child is getting sucked into the web of PAS. The targeted parent is outraged, bewildered, hurt, and betrayed. The child has been covertly empowered to disrespect the one parent who is actually trying to develop a decent human being. The narcissist sits back, effortlessly creating the destructive coalition with his or her child.
In essence, the children are empowered to disobey, disrespect, and disregard the non-narcissistic parent. On the surface, the children feel and believe they are benefiting and winning, but in reality they are playing a sordid part in the narcissist’s perverse mind games. There are some detrimental effects to the children because of this:
1. Children’s sense of value is diminished because they believe the targeted parent is unworthy of being identified with. If the children have any interests or traits similar to the rejected parent then the children will be forced to reject those aspects of themselves as well.
2. A child’s character is damaged as he or she is covertly rewarded to be disrespectful, entitled, rude, judgmental, condescending, ungrateful, parentified, and hateful.
3. The children develop atoxic-bond to the alienating parent, as he or she manipulates them into fearing a lack of acceptance from him or her.
Realize that you are dealing with a form of psychological manipulation of your children in which they have been brainwashed to respond toward you in hateful ways because they are being psychologically rewarded by having a pseudo-interpersonal relationship with the other parent, whom the children perceive as more powerful.
Parental Alienation Syndrome is a form of brainwashing. Think of this – members of cults become brainwashed to the point where they will give up everyone they love, all for allegiance to a charismatic and manipulative leader. Some even give up their lives. “
As long as I live I will never forget the day I was doing some legal work from home on my telephone. It was a requirement that I record such calls and as such I’d forgotten to turn off my tape recorder. Later that night I saw the tape recorder was running so I rewound it and what I heard was heartbreaking. “Have you pitched fits today every chance you got? “said the Mom. The daughter responded “Yes mom, just like you and Mike told me to do.” Mom replied, “Are you making them as miserable as humanly possible for me?” to which daughter responded “yes mom, I’m doing what you told me to do.” The response from mom was exactly what you would expect from a narcissistic, abusive, disrespectful person, “that’s my girl, that’s my good girl!”