By Julie Garrison
Special to DadsDivorce.com
One would like to think that when a divorce proceeding has wrapped up, everyone is finally able to move on with their lives and stop looking back. Maybe this happens in Fantasy Land, but it almost never happens in the real world.
An ex-wife will often vent anger to her children by berating their dad at every juncture. The children end up with an exponentially skewed impression of their father.
In her book “The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce,” Judith S. Wallerstein writes about about the effects of divorce when an ex-wife vents to the children about the real or imagined shortcomings of their father.
“This is the kind of rage that can last for decades after divorce and it is the kind of anger that leaves lasting residue on a child’s personality,” Wallerstein writes.
Here are some common untruths that an angry ex-spouse will vent:
- “Your dad is nothing more than ‘Half-a-Daddy.'”
- “You kids aren’t going to get what you want for Christmas this year because your dad refuses to pay for it.”
- “Your dad doesn’t really want you.”
So what can a dad do when his ex-wife is filling his children’s impressionable minds with boatloads of nonsense?
Document the Children’s Statements
A good first step for a dad is to buy a spiral notebook and start documenting the lies that the children are reporting to him. This is very important for proving a case down the line.
Of course, a mother may go so far as threatening her children to prevent them from reporting the truth of her statements to a social worker or court-appointed psychologist. But mental health professionals have other ways of deducing the truth from children.
The behavior of lying to the children about an ex-spouse is called “parental alienation” and is considered by the courts to be a serious offense.
If a parent becomes entrenched in the behavior of alienating her ex-spouse from their children – even just mentally – there can be serious consequences beginning with a strong admonishment by a family law judge against continuing in this pattern of slander.
Correcting the Lies
When the children of a divorced dad treat him with a lack of respect or relay negative statements about him that have been dished out by their mother, it is in the dad’s best interests to continue as a strong male role model.
Some untruths can simply be countered with the truth, i.e., “I am so happy to spend time with you,” followed by a strong hug and a tussle of the child’s hair. This type of Kodak moment is the best antidote to blame and vitriol.
There is no need to volley the erroneous charges back to their mother’s side of the court or to behave defensively. A dad can also try to reason with his ex –wife, but this rarely does any good.
The Nuclear Option
No ex-husband is required to always take the high ground. If a dad has filled a notebook with a pattern of entries that illustrate bona fide parental alienation, he can help his children (and himself) by meeting with a family law attorney to go over all available options.
These may include a change of custody, a better equalized parenting plan, and continued court scrutiny.
“Any attempt at alienating the children from the other parent should be seen as a direct and willful violation of one of the prime duties of parenthood,” writes Michael Bone and Michael Walsh in their article “Parental Alienation Syndrome: How To Detect It and What To Do About It.”
Every father has the right to be portrayed as having integral importance in the lives of his children – whether he is still married to the mother of his children or not.
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Julie Garrison has been writing articles and short stories for the past 10 years and has appeared in several magazines and e-zines.
20 comments on “Parental Alienation: My Ex Is Filling My Kids’ Minds With Lies”
I am only beginning to discover the kinds of horrible things my son and daughter were told. They are now grown, but I would love to hear of any strategies for bringing the truth out in a way that will bring about some form of justice. The family court system is a joke, and many of the judges are idiots. From what I have seen, women who exploit this system usually get a free ride. “Admonished by a judge?” Big deal. Means nothing to someone so low they will treat a parent like a leper in front of his own children.
My parents have helped my sister raise her son from the time he was about two, and the child’s father hasn’t tried to prevent his grandparents from seeing him except when it suits him. Although the child’s grandparents have been active participants in his upbringing, as soon as my sister died, the child’s father immediately took him out of his school and out of the family that he has known for years. He has, and is still, brainwashing the child into believing that the child’s aunt and grandparents are bad people, and that he is not safe with them. Despite the fact that the child has been with his grandparents, his aunt and his mother for the majority of his life, he is now against us due to his father’s lies. His father does not want what’s best for him; he simply wants to use the child as a pawn to try to influence him. This is, obviously, extremely detrimental to the child’s wellbeing, and clearly cause for concern, yet it is an impossible endeavor that I cannot fix. I don’t feel like there are any options for me at this point.
Can’t speak for Mother’s, and don’t believe Fathers are exclusively affected by Parental Alienation. However, this is a message to Fathers from a Father who’s Children have succumbed to decades of programming from their maternal family. In my case, the kids are young Adults, at least one with a young Family of their own. At some point, one has to “let go” and understand that these offspring WILL make their own decisions, however affected by their programming, and unfortunately they WILL have to deal with whatever consequences occur. I am now in a frame of mind to protect myself and my household from further insult, damage, and threat, which means I will not risk reaching out again to be further mauled. I will also forego any relationship with Grandchildren (so far as I know, there are 2), as I will not allow the opportunity for them to be used as weapons of hate as well.
Yes , you have to go on with your life . The kids become toxic after years of brainwashing and are abusive and mean. I know because my kids are in the same boat . No father chooses to abandon his kids he is just forced to in going on with his life.
I represented myself in my divorce and did very well until it came to the kids. I was railroaded. The decree states this”” father is not to interfere w relationship between mom and kids and is to cooperate w counslers that are to reunify the mom and kids”. That’s all decree states. Two weeks after decree was in place he discontinued counseling and anytime I set up for me and kids to go through a different counsler my ex won’t return their calls. I haven’t seen my kids in 2 years almost. And I still can’t afford a lawyer so if I were to file enforcement of visits I’d be doing it still representing myself. What do I do?
I am a mother of 3 children, girls. I have been falsely accused of domestic violence. This has impacted my ability to earn a good living since it is considered a domestic violence offense, For the first year of our separation, my ex barely saw the kids 60 days our of 365, his choice. He found a way to get the girls. He nearly put me in jail for 15-60 years. It has been one fight after another. he is punishing me for not wanting to stay, yet it is our innocent girls who bear the brunt of his hate and spite. I have been one of few women who have fought for a Father’s rights, and ironically have found myself being persecuted. My life is an open book, I invite scrutiny. This nightmare has been going on since 2010. Where I wanted to share custody, he sued for full custody with supervised visitation. I must say the main reasons I chose to separate at first was his inability to stop taking prescription pills given him by his brother and sister-in-law and that he wanted me to kick out my pregnant daughter, who was 23 at the time with few resources available to her, because in his words, “If I have your daughter then I have to have my daughters here. (his daughters were 23 and 21).
Our girls are now 18, 13, & 11. Our 18 has a son who is one and a half years old (he allowed the man to live in the house with him and our daughter when she was 15 years old). So much has happened. I haven’t had the luxury of competent, moral legal representation as it has always been how much money can I pay. My children have been irrevocably scarred due to this nightmare. What recourse do I have? Can I sue him for alienation of affection (our children)? How do I find someone to help?
Perhaps I should just publish a book outlining everything that has gone on and leave in the court of public opinion. My heart is broken in so many places. He has given me back one of our daughters on 3 separate occasions, since she is the “difficult one” in his words. She was living with me full-time, someone picked a fight and she got beat up. He agreed that she should be homeschooled. I went ahead and withdrew her so that I could enroll her in Florida Virtual as per her request and his ok. He came a few days later, said he was going to take her for a visit (here I screwed up, I never had the custody papers updated. Me being a dumbass, cause I didn’t want him to say no. He kept her and enrolled her in school where he lives. Anyhow, I really would appreciate some insight and direction regarding this. Please. JC
This is my story. Despite everything I’m trying to do for my sons, 9 12, 13, my ex wife has turned them against me. It hurts because I volunteered the home, nice car, and I’m paying child support. Against my attorney’s advice, (because my ex tried to attack her in the court hallway) I had all the evidence that documented my ex’s affair undocked so that my sons, who adores her wouldn’t find it and be devastated when they’re older. She also home schools them so she has them all the time. I’ve heard on the the phone berating me with lies to her friends and family in the earshot of my sons. I failed because I was a push over – a nice guy. As i was getting confidence, walking with head up, she said, right in front of my sons as they sat at the table, “I don’t know who you think you are walking with your check out, you’re still a loser.” My boys laughed, I ignored her. Now that divorce is final, my boys, who once adored their dad, who read to them and even made up bedtime stories, and made toy movies with them, and soccer in the backyard, don’t even want to sit on my side of the both in restaurants. They hate me. They have no respect. Despite my ex’s utra religious teaching, they feel its okay to lie to me – i’m nobody, they mocked me when I got laid off, asking “so dad, who’s work”. Then I have to correct this, and to them, this confirms the opinion their mother establishes with them. She has called me the worse names in their presence. I have it all recorded, as instructed by my attorney. This hurts so bad, I almost feel like giving up some days, but I refuse to let her win. I admit, I feel like walking away her and them at time. They utter disrespect.
Hey the Just Me, how has this turned out now, I am going through the same
Omgosh.ues its happening to more women now bcuz of the stigma of the 80-90s. Automatically court officials say the wife brain washes children. I have 2 boys artificially not even my x blood and 2 bio kids. 3 boys one girl. 25,I 15 ,14 my boys all lying. When he brain washes the older boys is wbat sold the courts in bad. Why else would they side with him. Helllllo. Brain washing. It’s horrible. Kidnapped. My 14 yr old who was close as a twin to his 15 yr old sister. They have one sister and shes the only one telling the tejth5. Hates her dad on her own. I’m blamed and now must accept 2 yrs without my son. How I m told I must accept he too hates us. 14 ur old told 3 people dad tazzered him he wants to come home. They ignored him and made to be with dad..in survival mode he will never admit again. So I’m told if he didn’t come forth I have to accept
This is horrible. I’m sorry idk how to undo the damage. And need a aggressive Texas attorney
Does anyone know a “mad dog” lawyer in California, that is FOR father’s rights? A woman who has bashed their father (who is a kind and good man); harasses him and threatens him. And has 100% turned the kids against him. In fact, they straight up hate him and actually go so far to ask him if they are in the “WILL” and what do the they “get” when he dies. He’s a healthy 45 years old. Absurd! He has faithfully paid $4500 a month for 9 years, but she is still harassing him and is now turning his older 22 year old and teenage (18+) year old’s to harass him as well. There are still 2 minor children (17 and 16) but he still pays $4500 a month for only two children, though he (for himself) puts of dental appointments because he is a 1099 and can’t afford any major dental work, along with tax burdens, $850 monthly health insurance and $10,000 deductible. The $4500 a month seems steep for two kids, especially when none of the kids are doing very well in her custody, poor grades, barely graduating, parental grade warnings, and Saturday school regularly.
Please a good lawyer in California?!?!?!
Father friendly lawyer in California???
We were married 20 years we have a 20 and 18 year old but when she divorced me she because very dramatic telling her family that I had abused her physically and emotionally and of course she made them believe all these lies and they took her side.She brain washed my old daughter so bad that my daughter doesn’t talk to me and changed her last name because she believed everything my ex-wive and family got in her head.My 18 year old is not taking sides but she is the only reason I have been around,but she has been told by her mom and family not to talk to me or spend time with me and this is killing me.At least I still have my little one left but her mother is forcing them to move away so I don’t have to see them and punish me by doing so but my little one wants to stay with me.But I still don’t understand all of this and why she is doing it.Maybe she is retaliating I don’t understand this evil person.
This also happens to moms.
My narrsasist ex has brain washed my daughter since birth.
Manipulates..lies.. she is now 13. At one point she refused to see or speak to me for 6 months.
12 years divorced and he to this day he abuses me.
Hi Shannen. Please e mail me email@example.com. we could support each other.
My husband and I have been separated for years. I finally could not handle my son who is almost 21 so I forced him to leave our home which was a mistake. I thought he would be gone for a couple of days and then come back. He did not want to leave. now he is up with his dad. His dad has poisoned his mind against me for many years. He is hostage up at his dad under his control. I wanted him to go in the service but his dad would not allow him too. I got the nastiest text from him that anyone could get. I have to let him go now and hopefully some day he will realize. I have two more teens at home that do appreciate me. I do not think my oldest son will ever realize. I know I should divorce but our finances are better without a divorce. Looks like divorce is not always the answers to separate from him.
Would have been a valid, great article if only it had been regarding either parent and not attacking moms. Hopefully someday someone will get their head out of the sand and realize this evil exists on both sides. Many of us moms fall victim to what you claim as fathers being so wronged. Unfortunate, an article that could help so many I both sides seeking help protecting themselves and kids against horrible misdeeds.
I have been diligent in my support of my children’should father. I have paid for him and his wife to come see the kids more than once. I have never discussed him in a negative light. Telling them that he loves the.. Recently they have gone to stay with them…. I passed for it so they can know him better. My reward? He and his wife’s family have filled my daughter with Mis information. Telling her that she was being left out because she is the middle child and that they have been trying to get her for years. I can not even refute it without hurting my daughter.
we have had horrible or no luck with judge in our case. He blindly takes ex wife’s lies and rules in her favor. We are at a lost.
What about the moms? If the father is brain washing and guilting the kids???
one more thing. me and her have a decent relation. i live close. she visits and sleeps over whenever she wants. oh and i got her a phone and so now evenn more its all my fault. she has 100% and still its all my fualt
my x wife has had 100% custody since my daughter was 4 or 5 and it wasnt’ a problem then. I didn’t get a lawyer , she got an expensive one and I told her she could have what ever she wanted cuz. she was going to fight me to the end to get 100%. it was not a problem until now. since my daughter has been a teen she has had multiple problems at school and home. she is 17 and is drinking, some drugs and her moms dr is calling her boderline and another diagnosis which i dont remember its a new one in the dsm 5 i think its explosve . its a really long one. anyways. she was on probation for supposively hitting the mom which as first i belived but now i dont’ or i know its half half. also the mom is from japan which makes it even more hard. the nite my duagher got taken to detention her mom told her i told her i was too drunk to go pick her up. totally not true and she admitted it to both of us. my daughter didnt talk to me for 6mos becuase of that 1 lie.. i ll stop fo rnow/.
Thanks For Sharing
Your article has some valuable information about the uncomfortable topic of parental alienation. Unfortunately, I have been a victim of PAS for the last three plus years having to deal with as much as being served an Order of Protection four days before my daughters birthday making it impossible to see them to being called a ‘Liar’ because I told them that they were delivered by a stork.
Thank you for the advice of keeping a separate notebook for documenting such incidents because I feel as though this is valuable information. I am currently working on modifying the current parenting plan in order to spend more time with my daughters and provide them with the best upbringing involving both parents.