I spend a fair bit of time online trying to help alienated parents prevent and undo “parental alienation”. In my travels, I have seen a variety of responses to this question. The one that saddens me most is those who take a very harsh line and suggest giving up on trying to reconnect… “they’re adults responsible for their own lives now, and you need to hold them accountable for their actions.”
I, myself, have struggled with this in my own alienation story, but would like to share a different perspective for you to think about. There are two main steps to take that will get you closer than ever to reuniting with your adult child.
Step 1 – Take Responsibility
As a target parent, I now realize that I played a role in the alienation. I thought I was taking the high road, but realize now that I was taking the passive road. There were many opportunities for me to teach my child resilience and critical thinking, and…I failed miserably. Only now that I’ve taken responsibility for that do I feel that I am in a position to regain a healthy loving relationship with my child.
Step 2 – Be Compassionate About Your Child’s Perspective
Children in their 20’s are not adults. Sure…legally they are, but emotionally, especially when having lived through alienation, they are not. Their alienating parent has stunted the growth of their critical thinking skills. Their brains are still maturing. They really don’t have much life experience. Yet we, as parents, expect that they recognize the alienation…and then do something about it when we could not?
Can you imagine being the child and realizing that this parent that was meant to protect you, that you trusted wholly, had fabricated a bunch of lies about your other parent? …and for what reason? Because their feelings were hurt? That parent made you hate half of yourself for years. Caused you to reject a parent that has done nothing but fight to protect you in the best way they can. And after making this realization, which has completely turned your world upside down, you have to come to terms with the tremendous amount of guilt that comes with your actions of rejecting your accepting, loving parent, manipulated or not?
What Alienated Children Need
Assertive compassion, unconditional love and understanding is what ALL alienated children need…regardless of age. Remember…alienation took years for your ex to accomplish. Is fair to expect a young adult child of alienation to figure it out the moment he moves out on his own?
The next time your adult child spouts negativity at you, please do remember that they do still love you! Their harsh words (or actions) are a mere cry for help because they really are in that much pain and don’t know how else to express it.
This post was previously published on Pathwaysfamilycoaching.com and is republished on Medium.
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