One area of keen interest for divorced fathers is how alienated children reunite with the parent who was the target of the Parental Alienation campaign. Sadly, sometimes this reunification never occurs. Many times it does, but only years later.
A few years ago I did a His Side with Glenn Sacks show called Hope for the Holidays: Spontaneous Reunification, in which I discussed this issue. One of my guests was Allen Green, author of Blind Baseball: A Father’s War. Green has experienced PAS and reunification firsthand, and he had some interesting advice. I don’t have the exact quote, but he basically said, “Don’t destroy yourself. It’s very, very hard, but if you’re the target parent of Parental Alienation, play for the long haul. Remember you still have the kids as adults, plus you have grandchildren. Fight the best you can, but always keep the long-term in mind–sooner or later, the children usually come back.”
In Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome: Breaking the Ties that Bind, Amy J.L. Baker details many of the reunions between children and their alienated parents, and delineates some common scenarios under which this occurs.
One of Baker’s reunification scenarios is not a happy one–the adult child reunites with the alienated parent because they now themselves have experienced Parental Alienation as a parent, and see through the lies they were fed as a child. I’ve previously discussed the case of David, one of the adult children of Parental Alienation who Baker interviewed–David’s parents divorced when he was six, and he who was caught in his mother’s long-term alienation campaign against his father. (To learn more about David’s case, click here and here).
David only began to gain insight into the way he had been misled when, in his 20s, he himself divorced and his ex-wife turned his daughter against him. Of his divorce, David explains:
“Initially there was some problems with the parenting time but then I was always able to get things worked out. I started keeping pretty good notes so that if I had to go back to court I would be prepared. When we did go back to court they would slap my wife”s hand and I would see my daughter for a while until the next time. I noticed this from an adult perspective and I started to remember things that had happened to me and there started to become a number of similarities. For example, little instances would happen (between he and his daughter) and they would be blown up way out of proportion and out of context and then I wouldn”t be able to see my daughter. I started to see too many similarities. And actually my current wife started to say that I should get back in touch with my dad and then I called him up and made arrangements to get together.’ David had seen his mother employ the same tactics when he was a kid, and began to see that his negative feelings about his dad had largely been created by his mom. He contacted his father, for the first time in decades. He explains:“It went pretty well actually. I called him up and introduced myself and he said, ‘Fine. Great.” We talked for a while and made arrangements to meet for lunch and we went there and we sat and talked and ate lunch and really things couldn”t have gone smoother. We talked a little bit about that (the alienation) but never really in detail like maybe we could have because I never really felt like we had to.’Sadly, to date David has been unable to reunite with his own daughter, who is now 25, and who he has not seen in over 10 years. He says:
“While she was in high school I would go to ball games where she would be a participant and I would send her letters. I would go to parent-teacher conferences and I would go to the school once every couple of weeks and pick up classroom assignments and get copies of grade cards if they didn”t send them to me. When she got into college she went out of state several states away and about once a quarter I would send a big package. I would include some of her things that she left at the house and then I would include a check, a very respectable amount of money and the check would be cashed within a day or so without any thank you or anything. After about a dozen of those checks I guess when she was into her junior year at college I stopped doing that. I made some effort. I thought I tried to balance not being overbearing but yet still trying to let her know I loved her. I took a lot of photographs when she was little and I made duplicates of the photographs and I made a binder.
“At one time there must have been 20-30 pages of pictures and I sent that to her. In my case even though I was an adult it was still taboo to have any contact with my father and now I am seeing something similar with my daughter. I have taken a different approach than my dad took but it is not working either. My dad laid back and waited for the kids to come to him and in my case I am trying to reach out but not to the point of being intrusive; my intention is to reach out a bit but that is not working either. Nothing would please me more then for her to call or show up at the door or e-mail. That would tickle me to death.’