“I couldn’t love my mom and my dad at the same time. I felt bad. It shocked me how quickly and dramatically I changed my opinion of him. I would have nothing to do with him. He hadn’t done anything to hurt me…I still, to this day, have to live with the mean things I said to him. The letters that I wrote to him. There are things I did purposely to hurt him.”–Michelle Martin, an adult child of divorce, describing her alienation from her father on the CBS Early Show, 9/14/06
“Dear Judge, Whichever parent I am with wants me to be loyal. I can only prove my loyalty by saying I don’t want to be with the other parent…It’s like sixth grade when two of my girlfriends made me crazy trying to force me to pick one of them to be my best friend.
“I remember when I was sad sometimes. Now I have trouble remembering when I wasn’t sad.”–from preteen Bailey A., in Charlotte Hardwick’s Dear Judge–Kids’ Letters to the Judge
“[W]hen a child grows up believing his father thought he was unimportant and expendable, it can negatively affect his sense of self-worth.”–Dear Abby, 11/3/08
“I don’t want to vote.”–6-year-old Jason, a child caught between warring parents, on PBS’ Kids & Divorce: For Better or Worse, 9/14/09
“A 13-year-old Ontario boy whose domineering father systematically brainwashed him into hating his mother can be flown against his will to a U.S. facility that deprograms children who suffer from parental alienation, an Ontario Superior Court judge has ruled.
“Mr. Justice James Turnbull ordered the boy – identified only as LS – into the custody of his mother. He said that the boy urgently needs professional intervention to reverse the father’s attempt to poison his mind toward his mother and, in all probability, to women in general.
“‘There will probably be future significant problems experienced by LS if the court does not intervene – including significant personal guilt for his part in the rejection of his mother, anger towards women, and dysfunctional relationships with women,’ Judge Turnbull said…
“Judge Turnbull observed that the father, 54, has repeatedly breached court orders granting the mother limited access to her son. He said that the boy has come to perceive himself and his father as ‘intertwined and unable to distinguish one’s thoughts from the other.’
“As part of his campaign of absolute control over LS, the father dictated toxic e-mails for the boy to send to his mother. He also removed photographs of the mother from her son’s bedroom.”–Toronto Globe & Mail, 5/15/08
“We videotaped one such heartbreaking [Parental Alienation] scene. A divorced father went to see his five kids for what he thought would be a full-day visit. He was entitled to that, under court order, and the court also ordered the mother not to discourage the children from spending time with their father. But she clearly had poisoned his children’s minds against him. The father just stood outside his ex-wife’s house and begged his children, ‘would you like to go out with me today?’ ‘No,’ said one kid after another. Then the mother ordered the kids back into her house. What comes through on the tape is the unbridled satisfaction of the mother and the helplessness of the father.”–ABC’s John Stossel, in Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity
“An old friend of mine was caught for years in a [contentious] divorce…where they fought over everything. Part of their agreement, like his, was that he got to call his daughters every day at an appointed time. And at that time, every day, he would stop whatever he was doing, hang up on whomever he was talking to, leave any meeting he was in, to call the girls — who were never there. Then he’d call back every 10 minutes for the next 30, and they still wouldn’t be there…”–feminist law professor/media commentator Susan Estrich
“My dad and mom separated when I was 3 years old…my mother and grandmother didn’t make it easy for my dad to see me. I remember asking myself all these questions: Where is he? Why doesn’t he come pick me up? Doesn’t he know where we are?
“My grandmother made her opinions clear. She didn’t like my father. ‘Your daddy ain’t never done nothing for you,’ she would say whenever I mentioned his name. Well, he didn’t give me anything for my birthday, I thought. Maybe she was right.
“What I didn’t know then is that I would come to understand my father when I became a dad. My longtime girlfriend and I had a baby when we were young: I was 21 years old. A few years later, we separated. I went from kissing my daughter goodnight and being woken by her jumping on me in the morning, to dropping her off at her mom’s house and giving her goodnight kisses over the phone.
“My daughter’s mother seems to resent me the same way my grandmother resented my father. When I started noticing my daughter developing a bad attitude toward me, I heard my grandmother’s voice in my ear: ‘Your daddy ain’t never done nothing for you.’
“Standing in my father’s shoes, I was able to see things more clearly. My grandmother’s opinion about my dad was just that — her opinion…I know [my father] was thinking about me all those years we were apart. I no longer see a man who did nothing for me my whole life, but a man who has always loved me.”–Youth Radio’s Jordan Monroe on NPR’s All Things Considered, 6/19/09.
“[O]ne daughter would hug her father and warn: ‘Don’t tell mommy I did this.'”–Edmonton Sun columnist Mindy Jacobs, describing a Canadian Parental Alienation case, 6/12/09
“From an early age, Anne was taught by her mother to fear her father. Behind his back, her mom warned that he was unpredictable and dangerous; any time he’d invite her to do anything–a walk in the woods, a trip to the art store–she would craft an excuse not to go. ‘I was under the impression that he was crazy, that at any moment he could just pop and do something violent to hurt me,’ says Anne…
“Typical of a phenomenon some mental-health experts now label ‘parental alienation,’ her view of him became so negative, she says, that her mother persuaded her to lie during a custody hearing when the couple divorced. Then 14, she told the judge that her dad was physically abusive. Was he? ‘No,’ she says. ‘But I was convinced that he would [be].’ After her mother won custody, Anne all but severed contact with her father for years.
“Now 23, divorced, and a parent herself, Anne has recognized only recently that she was manipulated, that her long-held view of her father isn’t accurate. They live 2,000 miles apart but now try to speak daily. ‘I’ve missed out on a great friendship with my dad,’ she says. ‘It hurts.'”–U.S. News & World Report, 11/2/09
“Hate doesn’t grow in children normally. It is usually taught to them.”–Pennsylvania Superior Court, in Ermel v. Ermel, a 1983 Parental Alienation case
“Decent fathers are left powerless to see their estranged children if vengeful mothers are determined to prevent access”–Lord Justice Ward, Daily Telegraph (UK), 5/1/08
“My parents have been divorced for nearly a decade, and both have remarried. The problem is, even after all this time, my mother is still mad at my father and can’t stand to be around him…mom makes me feel like I can’t love them both at the same time…I don’t know what to do about Mom anymore, and I don’t think it’s right for my brother to have to deal with her antics on his [wedding] day.”–Enough
“Dear Enough: It’s a shame your mother is still so bitter that she will not let go of her anger. It hurts her more than anyone else. You do not have to succumb to this kind of emotional blackmail. Your mother’s attempts to guilt you into repudiating your father should be ignored. When she says unpleasant things, smile with kindness and pity, and reply, ‘I’m sorry you feel that way.’ Then walk away. When she truly believes you will no longer respond to her rancor, she may stop subjecting you to it.”–Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, Annie’s Mailbox’s co-authors
“My ex-husband asked my 10-year-old daughter to take me off of her Christmas list last year. He said that this was all he wanted from her for Christmas.”–Leslie, a Fathers and Families member
Bill Veeck was a 1940/50s baseball owner known for his important role in desegregating baseball, as well as his flamboyant publicity stunts. In Veeck’s 1962 autobiography Veeck as in Wreck, he explains that his wife divorced him in part because she “didn’t like the people Veeck associated with”–baseball men and journalists. Always a fan favorite, in 1948 Veeck was the toast of Cleveland as his Indians had won the American League pennant for the first time in three decades.
Veeck’s Indians had a 3-1 lead in the World Series, and played the deciding game 5 in Cleveland. There were 86,288 paid in attendance–at that point the largest crowd in the history of organized baseball. Veeck’s oldest son, Will Jr., was 11 years-old and lived with his mother and two siblings, but Bill Veeck brought him to the park to watch the game.
At the game Bill turned to his son and said “Isn’t this great? Did you ever see such a tremendous crowd? Did you ever see anything in your life like this?”
Bill Veeck’s 11 year-old son replied:
“How come you couldn’t have been a scientist or something I could have been proud of?”
In the LaMusga case decided by the California Supreme Court in 2004, Gary LaMusga’s son’s kindergarten teacher testified that his kindergarten son told her “my dad lies in court,” and said that his mother had told him this. The teacher explained:
“I finally sat down with him and told him that it was OK for him to love his daddy. I basically gave him permission to love his father. And he seemed brightened by that…I’m not sure that he was aware that he could do that.”
“Parental alienation as a fundamental wrong. The greatest human tragedy is when any parent loses a child, whether it be to death, or to divorce.”–Canadian Senator Anne Cools