I posted this a few weeks ago, then took it down as it felt too contentious. I don't presume to have all the answers, but maybe there are some words here that will speak to others:
Let’s talk parental alienation. The very topic is powerfully emotion-inducing for me and maybe for you too. To be alienated from your own child, or your own parent. Or to have so much distaste built up inside that it can feel preferable to wish to cut out the other parent that you previously coupled with, from your own child’s life. These are complicated matters and I don’t intend to minimize anyone’s unique experience on this. However I thought I would bring some insights from my own life’s travels.
I’ve written before about how my beloved Gran was cut off from her own mother after seven years of my Great-Gran being her primary care-giver, throughout which time it seemed to me that they formed a close bond, sharing a love for nature and animals that I feel was passed down through the generations from there. My Great-Gran, Gertie was admitted into a mental institution near Newcastle, for reasons unknown. Family tales tell of depressive tendencies, of being a bit ‘fae’, perhaps anorexia, that she would ‘take to the sea’, stories that her daughter’s clothes weren’t kept clean and maybe even other men ‘visiting’ her residence in the 1920s whilst my Gran’s father worked away at sea. Gran was sent to live with her father’s mother a few hundred miles away back in Glasgow. Pictures of Gertie in her younger years to me, show her beauty and speak of her innocence. However, she never saw my Gran again, even though she was still alive years after my own Mum was born. The skeletons in the family closet concealed far too much deeply buried shame for my Gran to open them up until after Gertie had departed this life.
Fast forward forty to fifty years later. My family was again plagued by parental alienation through various family break-ups culminating with my brother having contact extremely limited and cancelled completely during the covid years with his young daughter. As I mentioned, these matters are complex. In such cases, both parents can be pretty feisty characters, and I don’t say feisty to chastise. I know myself how motherhood can rouse up that ‘tiger-mother’ archetype purposefully in protection, alongside the ‘my child’ ownership template both parents exhibit.
Spiritually, we are gifted guardianship when we bring life to these sparkling souls.
In my own life, having ‘un-coupled’ with my daughter’s Dad very early on in her life. Co-parenting has had its challenges, yet we chose to reside within five minutes of one-another until I felt the soul-impetus to move further away from my old life, as Keira approached aged ten. Not in any way wishing to leave Keira behind, but endeavoring to preserve the relationship she had built with her Dad as we discussed between the three of us, some kind of compromise, resolution for the time she spent with both her Mum and Dad. In gifted guardianship, I see my promise to Keira is to help her navigate the complicated personality factions that myself and her Dad can display, striving to maintain an open heart and encourage her to do the same, even in the face of all of our own imperfections.
Naturally, of course, the bond between a mother and a child is so strong, so powerful. Connected through the time shared within the womb; the birthing process a collaborative effort; the nurture of growing our baby inside and then through breast milk. In reality, there are no other human relationships that can compare in terms of energetic melding. Biologically, we see this transit down through the generations through mitochondrial DNA, in my mind, all the way back to our connection with mother Gaia herself. And yet, the father gifts life too. His traits and tenacity evident perhaps from the strong kicks within the womb space and more obvious through similarity in looks and personality as our baby grows. The good and the bad from both, there’s no escaping those facts even if the couple shift, change or perhaps separate.
The biggest challenge for me began when Keira was two and her Dad and I began to live separately. Keira was still co-sleeping with me for comfort and the changes meant that three nights of the week, she would now reside at her Dad’s house. I was in another relationship and didn’t want to live with her Dad any longer. However, looking back, in order to satisfy the ‘co-parenting’ template, I somewhat suppressed my gut instinct in having Keira stay away from me over-nights with such a dramatic shift. Feeling ashamed and guilty over the relationship break-down was a key driver of me stifling my motherly instincts, and of course a necessity to work in order to survive. Nowadays, a savvy eleven year old, I’m able to have conversations with Keira about attachment injuries and triggers to help her cope with any internal turmoil that can surface through her friendships or family dynamics.
That’s not to say I hope the reader can realize, that I wished to disconnect Keira from her Dad or her paternal family. At times, we can have very different approaches to parenting and opposing views that can cause discord, on topics such as public health mandates and schooling. Emotionally we can be deeply triggered by one another and react at times in ways that are not always very ‘adult’. The same can be said, I’m sure, for any parents that stay together. However, staying open hearted means I try to see matters from both perspectives and I remain personally responsible for finding my way back to my own internal balance, with some tricks of the trade I have had to learn over the years. Finding the middle path is the guidance that makes most spiritual sense to me.
Over the last few months, I worked with two male clients of now grown up children who have experienced long lasting and painful parental alienation from their kids. From what I have noticed, this pain can be deeply suppressed alongside the shame of not being able to have a relationship with their children. The topic is difficult to talk about, difficult to open up about and there have been strong defense mechanisms put in place as protection, naturally. Complex and expensive court processes proving unhelpful verging into traumatic seem not to be uncommon. There must be another way… a better way.
Life can be complicated, but in navigating our way through these types of issues, learning techniques that support our own mental and physical health are essential. It’s likely, that through what we learn, we will be able to help others entering into uncharted territory of such complex dynamics so we all do in time, level up.
If these are issues that impact you or your family, reach out to me, I have some tools that can help you.