“I love you.”
“I love you more!”
“No, I love you more!”
“No, no, I LOVE you more!”
“Well, then, I am a very lucky mommy. Thank you.”
These words have ceased now; silenced not because a child gradually out grows such interactions, but with the sudden swiftness of an unexpected blow that knocks the wind out of you so that it is impossible to breathe. This dialogue has ceased to exist because of the impact of one of the characteristics of Parental Alienation Syndrome: sudden hatred. Where my son once spoke these silly, loving words with me; words of hatred anger, and resentment come from his mouth now. And it happened in what seemed like the blink of an eye – shocking not only myself, but family and friends who were witness to the loving bond we shared with one another.
How should one react when a formerly loving child turns belligerent and hostile?
Our natural instinct is to become defensive, trying to counter each attack by justifying everything we have done and are doing. We are fighting a losing battle in which both our child and we lose if we react in that way. There is a winner however: the alienating parent. So, what should we do – just sit there, silent while our child insults us (likely saying things that make you want to shake your head in disbelief)? Yes, unless it becomes too brutal. Allow them to verbalize how they are feeling. Remember that they too are victims of P.A.S. who are not allowed to voice any feelings that differ from that of the alienating parent. Also remember this is their reality. When they finish their tirade, acknowledge their words – let them know they have been heard in a non-judgmental way. For example,
“I can see that you feel very strongly. I am sorry you feel that way. Please tell me how I can help you.”
Rehearse what you are going to say so that the words come to your mind easily and then flow comfortably from your mouth.
Don’t expect a response, unless they repeat what they already said to you. And don’t expect this to magically change things back to the way they once were. Hopefully, what it will accomplish is two-fold.
- You will feel good about yourself for maintaining your composure while responding to your child’s rantings with kind, respectful words.
- Your child will look back upon these interactions and eventually see how much you truly care for and love them even during this trying time.
It will make a difference someday. Don’t give up on them.