My Parental Alienation Story

As I vulnerably write, I hope I am not the only one, but I also hope I am the only one who is walking through the traumatic hell called Parental Alienation. When court adjourns, parenting schedules are signed, and you leave exhausted but with hopes of co-parenting, parental alienation is not expected. I have learned the hard way that a legal agreement is only as good as the person who signs it and that hatred in the human heart is a ruthless, selfish beast of an enemy.

Here is my story. Let me know if it is yours.

I was the little girl who didn’t dream of having babies. I wasn’t raised with siblings or around family. I was an only child in a rough childhood, thrown into the school of survival, and the thought of having children was a luxury not afforded to me.

When our first son was born, he was the first baby I held and the first diaper I changed. I was terrified but awakened to a love I didn’t know existed. I quit classes at the university to be home with him. I nursed him for months. I poured my heart and soul into learning how to be a mother and savoring those early days with this life I had carried. Our first son was animated and outgoing. He spoke complete sentences by eighteen months old, and he had every mark of a born leader.

I worked hard to protect our first baby from the chaos enveloping our home. I attempted to shelter him from the screaming and the violence and spent hours covering him in prayer. The marriage that began when I was eighteen was rocky, loveless, and abusive. We were leaders in a church, which made our relationship more toxic; we attempted counseling which seemed to worsen the situation. Pastors would instruct that divorce was an unforgiveable sin, no matter the circumstances, and that if only we would “do “more…” or “be more…” then God would fix it. The underlying message seemed to be: good Christians ignore their emotions and that is what God requires.

Two years later, our second baby was born. He was a sweet, quiet boy who liked time alone and watching his older brother’s every move. He was the type of child who rarely fussed, ate neatly, and loved to learn and cuddle. I settled into my role as a mom of two, worked tirelessly to finish my college degree remotely, homeschooled, served several hours a week in ministry, and completely shut down inside. Two children doubled to four, another son and a beautiful curly-haired girl, and I turned around and I was thirty years old.

Most would agree that something changes around thirty. For me, I knew that I could no longer live the way I was living. I wanted to feel something besides numbness and loneliness. I felt like a closed, trampled flower that wanted to rise and bloom and no matter the fighting or the prayers, it seemed impossible. Divorce was a common discussion for us and a few years after I turned thirty I gathered the courage to file.

I remember the day my attorney’s letter arrived for him at our house. Our daughter was playing on the carpet and our boys were jumping on the trampoline out back. He stood in the kitchen reading the letter and immediately bolted outside, exclaiming, “Boys! Look what your mom did!” That should’ve given me a glimpse into my future but never could I have imagined the extent.

As I write, five years have passed since that letter. I have spent five years fighting for a divorce decree, fighting for it to be upheld, and fighting to see our older sons. They were ten and twelve years old when I filed, and despite joint custody and a shared parenting schedule, that’s how old they were the last time I was allowed by their father to be their mother.

Counselors, attorneys, and former judges have said that this is the worst case of parental alienation that they have ever seen. One therapist, after meeting with the father, bluntly stated, “I don’t know what you’re going to do, he’s going to turn all of your kids against you.” A handful of friends and family have been on the sidelines, sometimes cheering, sometimes at a loss for words. I am asked, “How could this happen?” “How could the courts allow this?” If I listen intently enough, I can hear a pastor’s voice, “If only you would do more…”

The reason that this happened is a real, devastating, and systematic undertaking called Parental Alienation.

Post #2: What is Parental Alienation?

Post #3: Grieving the Living

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8 Comments on “My Parental Alienation Story

  1. So heartbreaking. Hard to write without malice. Instead your voice is eloquent and with objectivity.


  2. Oh, I am so sorry this happened and continues happening to you! 😢 I’m very sorry for what “pastors” spoke to you! 😢
    “ Heavenly Father, I ask that You will mend and heal her heart and that You will restore what has been taken from her. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”


  3. I used this today with my Interpersonal Relationships class, and the stories I heard from my students were heartbreaking. Many of them said they felt like they were reading about their own lives. You are in my prayers, as always!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Over the Edge – The Jar

  5. This is tragic, and sounds legally indefensible.

    As a pastor, I particularly grieve over the poor pastoral care you received. I hope you have at least, for your own wellbeing, found a healthy Christian congregation where the Gospel is actually preached.

    Liked by 1 person

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