What became increasingly frustrating about this entire situation with my daughter was that the courts do not consider Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) a real thing. The attorneys said that although they all know it does exist, they are not allowed to talk about it in the courts. She said they will often use code words to describe this syndrome instead. There is an ongoing debate about PAS in the court system. It sounds as if it has become a tool in the court that can be abused by either the father or mother
First, let me say that I believe Parental Alienation is a real thing. During my childhood, I was a victim of Parental Alienation by my father who was constantly tearing down my mother. I will never know how much his comments factored into my anger as I became a teenager. Not only did this anger affect my mother, but it also helped influence some very poor decisions that would affect my life for years to come.
Now, my father’s criticism of my mother backfired for several reasons. My mother was not the awful person my father tried to describe. Also, as a young girl, his criticism of my mother eventually led me to internalize his comments. I had actually made many of the same mistakes that made my mother so awful in his eyes. To this day, my father will still say hateful things about my mother and his behavior has factored into my decisions to limit the amount of contact with him.
My abusive ex-husband has spent years talking negatively about myself and my husband to our daughter. I had truly thought I was doing a good job of countering these comments, but once she became a teenager she began to become more openly defiant. She absolutely refused the follow the rules and even claimed our rules were extreme. There are differences between my ex-husband and my father. My father’s verbal assaults on my mother were very direct and he would flat out say she was promiscuous or refer to her as satan. My ex-husband is very subtle and passive aggressive in his comments.
During the years, my abusive ex-husband and his wife were very good and coming across as the supportive and understanding parents. My ex-husband managed to convince our daughter that I am the one who won’t leave her dad alone. Over the years I sent my ex-husband several emails, asking for him to stop talking negatively about myself and my husband. We also requested that he contact myself or my husband if he had any questions instead of asking our daughter.
Even if the courts considered PAS a real thing, I do not know how you would prove such a thing. My daughter thinks I am a awful mother and my ex-husband ‘hung the moon’. Her memory of events has been altered to fit a plausible narrative that paints me as the bad guy. So now, at the age of seventeen, we agreed to let her go live with her father. He has offered a house with few rules and consequences. Plus, he has promised her a car. Moving to live with my ex-husband sounds like a teenager’s dream come true.
Now, I accept that I was not always perfect and at times I definitely ‘reacted’ instead of ‘responding’. However, I always tried to teach our daughter right from wrong and it included apologies whenever I reacted in a way I shouldn’t. It was very difficult hearing my teenager talk to me like my ex-husband would speak to me and I should have done a better job of not taking it personally. Teenagers are also pretty good at playing both parents, even in the best of circumstances. My advice to anyone else, is hold your tongue and wait until you can ‘respond’ and avoid ‘reacting’. Easier said than done I know.
We will see over time if my daughter gains a different understanding living with her father full time. I was only 21 when I met my ex-husband and it took me the longest time to figure out our relationship was one of emotionally and psychologically abuse.