A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation, follows the story of Mike Jeffries and his family – wife Beth and sons Jared and Adam – as Mike realizes his post-divorce dream of co-parenting his children as they split their time between two households will bear little resemblance to a post-divorce reality consumed with trying to maintain a normal relationship with his 11-year old son Adam in the face of parental alienation.
BETH HAD A MAJOR meltdown this morning. On a one-to-ten scale of hysterical behavior, today’s episode rates a 20.
Today is a travel day for Jared. When he wakes up on travel days and he isn’t in school he calls the parent with whom he is not residing. For me, the call is a request to come pick him up. For Beth, the call alerts her that I’ll be dropping him off soon. Beth rarely picks Jared up. According to Beth, Jared’s 15-minute commute between households is also my responsibility.
This morning Beth called at 11:00 a.m. and again at 12:00 p.m. looking for Jared. Both times he was sleeping, and I said so. The second time she demanded that I wake him up and bring him back to her house. I refused – reminding her that Jared was sick all week and could use the sleep.
Beth called twice more. She threatened to file motions. She threatened to send the police over to “escort her son home.” I hung up on her both times.
Jared woke up at 12:20 p.m. He called Beth. After showering and eating breakfast, he was back at her house by 1:15 p.m. As usual, I drove him over.
One time when the phone rang, I picked it up expecting to hear Beth screaming, but I heard Adam’s voice instead. He wanted money out of his savings account. Unfortunately for Adam, I’m the guardian on his custodial account so he needs my permission.
I told Adam that until he starts treating me with respect the money in his savings account will sit there collecting interest.
We went back and forth. Adam accused me of spending his money. From the “oh-how-far-we’ve-fallen-department,” Adam argued that he does treat me with respect since he no longer comes out to curse at me when I pick up Jared. For good measure, Adam also threw in that I was keeping Jared from Beth on “her day.”
I stayed on the phone until Adam cursed at me. Then I told my respectful 11-year-old son I loved him and hung up.
Dr. Davies and I discussed this incident during my next session.
|How long has it been now?
|In many ways, your situation is similar to a loss due to death or an unwanted divorce. You feel pain over your lost emotional attachment with Adam. Anyone who has lost the physical presence of someone they cared about suffers in a similar way.
|So you have to go through the same stages of denial/disbelief, anger, bargaining and grief that all emotionally healthy people go through when dealing with loss in order to get to the final stage – acceptance. These stages are progressive. You must finish one stage before moving on to the next.
|I’m nowhere near acceptance.
|I know. At this point, you’re in the denial/disbelief stage. You still can’t believe that your once loving, sensitive, affectionate child is so rude, disrespectful, cold and even sadistic towards you today.
The denial/disbelief stage is a coping mechanism. Quite simply, in this stage, a person denies the loss of a loved one. Denial is not accepting reality – a reality that is too painful to deal with all at once. This stage allows a person to function. A person who suffers the death of a loved one still must make funeral arrangements and take care of other family members. If the person didn’t deny the new reality that the loved one is gone forever – the loss would be too intolerable to accept. He or she wouldn’t be able to function and complete even the simplest tasks. It’s hard to accept that your child is gone from your life.
A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation by Michael Jeffires and Dr. Joel Davies. Published by A Family’s Heartbreak, LLC. www.afamilysheartbreak.com