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Image by Bjorn Snelders




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.