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Anyone out there who suffered from parental alienation as a child? Can you give me some advice?

(14 Posts)
anothernamechangeyawn Tue 14-Jul-09 23:54:39

Well, here I am again. Another problem, another name change (in case I accidentally outed myself on a previous one).

Very quick background. I have a DH, a son and two grown up SDDs. The mother (who married years again years before I met DH) has been increasingly hostile for a number of years now. It has become clear that she has been discussing the financial arrangements between her and DH with her children (when they were children in fact).

Recently DH has started receiving hate mail from his youngest (who's 17) asking why he didn't love her enough to pay what he should have. Now the fact is that the ex received what she was due via the CSA (her choice to use them, she didn't have to) and anything we had spare (of which there wasn't much) was spent directly on the children.

Relations with her have been very bad for years - contact being restricted, no information about the kids, etc, presents to the kids being sold, etc. But the difficult financial arrangements between her and DH had absolutely nothing whatsover to do with his feelings towards his children, and I can't believe a mother would put that idea in their heads.

How the hell does DH even start to explain this to his grown up children. Is it even possible to try? If you were them would you have wanted to hear it, or do you think the mother's influence will have gone too deep?

Any thoughts would be appreciated, but I don't necessarily expect any replies. It's always useful to put this stuff down in writing. DH is pretty ill by the way and I am increasingly worried about the effects of all this on him.

FabBakerGirlIsBack Wed 15-Jul-09 11:19:01

Can you prove that you paid maintenance? Bank statements, etc.

anothernamechangeyawn Wed 15-Jul-09 23:27:45

Actually, I don't think that's the point here. It's not for him to prove himself to his children, this goes a lot deeper than that. I think the ex's motivation with the kids is that she didn't receive what she considers to be enough. IMO it is absolutely appalling that she even discussed the issue with them.

Anyhow, I'm not sure why I even started the thread tbh. I know the answer. Sit tight, and wait for the children to come around of their own accord. Engaging in a tit for tat, his word against hers, is never ever going to work.

BitOfFun Wed 15-Jul-09 23:44:28

I think that ignoring it won't necessarily help tbh. I would write a short kind note back saying that he paid what the csa considered appropriate, always tried to spend more on them directly, and hopes that eventually they will be able to have a relationship which isn't coloured by the sadness that he and their mother felt at their marriage ending. All the best, you always know where I am, etc etc.

FenellaFudge Wed 15-Jul-09 23:49:26

I think that if the girls felt their father loved them and made an effort with the relationship with them then the whole financial side of things wouldn't really be an issue no matter what the mother said.

anothernamechangeyawn Wed 15-Jul-09 23:57:14

I completely disagree Fenella, and I don't appreciate the implication.

Anyhow, I've thought better of it and I'm not getting drawn into this topic on here again. Thanks all.

BitOfFun Thu 16-Jul-09 00:05:52

Okeydoke- hope it works out for you.

dittany Thu 16-Jul-09 00:49:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

anothernamechangeyawn Thu 16-Jul-09 23:49:03

Stepmothers generally "insert" themselves because

1) they care deeply about their husbands and can't stand to see them hurt
2) they're one step removed from the situation so have some perspective
3) they're generally more inclined to see things from the mother's point of view as well so their input can actually be helpful
4) blardy men can be their own worst enemy, especially when hurt and upset

I've been married to DH for 10 years, so I have developed a relationship with his children myself as well. This is not new to me. Also, parental alienation is a well known and sadly common phenomenon (Google it) which is why I wondered if there were any Mumsnetters who might have suffered themselves.

I actually emailed Mumsnet last night to get this thread deleted as I thought it was going to kick off into a stepmum/NRP slagging off fest. I'm glad that isn't the case.

FenellaFudge Fri 17-Jul-09 00:21:58

"How the hell does DH even start to explain this to his grown up children. Is it even possible to try? If you were them would you have wanted to hear it, or do you think the mother's influence will have gone too deep?"

Depends, because although you are adamant this is simply an issue about money I still dont understand why they would turn so badly against their father if the relationship was a good one.

Completely taking the finances out of the equation , how was the relationship between father and daughters before they got upset with him? Did they see each other regularly? Were they welcome in your home etc?

Are you and your DH really listening to what they are saying?

Honestly, does it make sense to you that two young women would turn on ther father, to the extent of sending hate mail, based on things their mother told them years ago (you say these things were said when they were children)about the financial arrangements? That doesn't make sense to me.

Olihan Fri 17-Jul-09 00:42:46

Fenella, I think the OP means that the mother has been doing it continually since the daughters were children.

ANCY, I can see this from your dsd's point of view. My parents split up when I was 13 (my dad left to live with my mum's frind after a 9 month affair) and my mum was, kind of understandably, bitter and twisted about it all. She took every opportunity to show me how devastated she was, bad mouth my dad to me and generally try to sabotage my relationship with him.

She succeeded to a point and I had very little to do with him for many years. I wrote him terrible letters, blaming him for all sorts of things, which he replied to with his pov and explanation but it couldn't override the continuous poisoning from my mum. When you live with a parent who is hellbent on turning you against the absent parent it is impossible to either recognise what they are doing or to see beyond that as you have been supplied with a counter-argument to anything they may say in their defense.

It wasn't until I left home at 21 and met my (now) DH that I started to see what she was doing and began to build more of a relationship with him again.

These days, at 32, I have a better relationship with him and my stepmum than I do with my mum.

While I understand to some extent why she did what she did, I also feel a LOT of resentment towards my mum for ruining my relationship with my dad for so long.

All I can really suggest is that your dh lets them know (without criticising their mum) his side, reassure them that he loves them and have hope that once they are away from her influence they will be able to rebuild a relationship.

As my dsm was directly involved in my parents' break up she didn't become involved at all but if you previously had a good relationship with the girls then it may be that you could talk to them.

anothernamechangeyawn Fri 17-Jul-09 22:57:13

Fenella - until a few years ago we believed the relationship with the girls was very good. They couldn't have been more welcome in our home and we had some really good times. But all along, DH was made to feel a complete outsider in his own family - she married and basically didn't want the inconvenience of the "old" father hanging around. Then they moved to the other side of the country, DH could hardly ever see them any more and I suppose we all drifted apart as her influence took over entirely.

Thanks Olihan - you've understood my OP perfectly. Our situation is very similar to what you went through, and I don't blame my SDD's, I really don't. DH and their mum split well over 15 years ago, and they've grown up by all accounts not hearing a single good word about him from her. It's no wonder that her influence and opinions are so strong in their minds even now. I take heart from your own experience. smile

CarGirl Fri 17-Jul-09 23:11:38

Sadly I have witnessed parental alienation to this degree.

The parents split up, the mother dissed their father at every opportunity brain washed her eldest dc into believing that her father did not pay any maintenance at all - this was despite the cafcass worker telling her that she could prove that her father paid maintenance, the cafcass officer said she had never seen a child so brain washed. The dd made demands all the time and got hystercial when her Dad did give her/do what her Mum had told her to get her Dad to give/do etc.

In this instance the Mum did have ongoing mental health issues (and still does) which I'm sure meant she wasn't able to put her dcs wellbeing before her own IYSWIM.

The dc were being emotionally destroyed so their Dad stopped forcing the contact on them, the Mum had a new husband and baby and was hell bent on making her ex disappear. It was really tragic as their Dad had brought them up more than 50% of the time as Mum was often in a very bad way either in hospital or just not up to looking after them.

anothernamechangeyawn Fri 17-Jul-09 23:34:16

CarGirl - that sounds dreadful. sad

I have to be honest and say that the financial situation hasn't been great. Using the CSA on the old system with a highly variable income has been a complete and utter nightmare, and it led to massive problems. This is why the alternative of private payments was offered, which would have been manageable and regular. She rejected this, preferring to subject DH to the unpredictable rollercoaster that was the CSA in the old days. Unsurprisingly, mistakes and maladministration followed, leaving arrears. She knows very well how and why this happened - she also knows that in recent years, when DH was on a stable, if low, income he has not missed a single payment.

She has turned the whole situation to her own advantage - she didn't receive as much as she would have liked, and has managed to use this to persuade the children that he wasn't meeting his responsibilities. That is patently unfair given the circumstances.

We both really resent having to explain any of this to the children, although of course we will if they ever want to know DH's side of things. How anyone can equate the amount of money paid - according to an means-tested assessment by a third party - with how much a parent loves their child, God only knows. If DH didn't care about his kids it would have been very easy to make himself scarce, as so many fathers do, and he'd have never had to pay a bean. Shouldn't it be the case that the children are kept well out of the financial issues, because nothing is ever so black and white?

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