I spent time with two targeted parents. One is the parent of a son he hasn’t seen since October. The other is the parent of a daughter he hasn’t seen since May. Both made themselves participate in and enjoy the gift-giving and family time associated with Christmas and New Years. People who love them tried hard to give them the joy they deserve. Neither man was completely happy, though, despite the laughing and joking and love from all the other kids in their lives.
I found myself comparing the two situations after a few days. One father was the recipient of short, angry emails that refused to acknowledge anything positive in his relationship with his dad. Emails from the father saying “Happy Thanksgiving” and “Merry Christmas” were answered with “Why are you so fake?” and “You’re so mean to me.” Requests to see his son to give him Christmas presents and cards, not only from himself but from extended family, were ignored. One statement in an email from the father, “I’ve tried to call you a couple of times” was corrected with, “You lied. You only called once.” Of course, that begs the question: How did the son know he only called once? Is he checking every day or relying on his mother to inform him of his dad’s attempts to talk to him? And, so what? So what if he only called once instead of twice? The real issue is that the father cannot get in contact with his son by telephone because the answering machine is off. Always off. At least it was last month, up until Christmas. He hasn’t called it since, which I’m sure someone, somewhere, has made note of. The sad thing is, now the dad knows for sure the son is aware of his calls and still chooses not to respond, or maybe he just isn’t allowed to.
Then there’s the other father. While he hasn’t seen his daughter for a much longer period of time, he was happy to get an unexpected text from her saying, “Merry Christmas,” as well as a text thanking him for her birthday card. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t also send him cutting texts, though. Plus, she declined to participate in a family trip to see relatives and may also skip a family vacation in July. But there’s the tiniest crack of light visible between the door and the slamming it shut. His daughter is also open to having contact with extended family and is thoughtful enough to send thank-yous for cards and presents. At one point, the dad’s wife said he wants desperately to talk to his daughter on the phone, but is nervous about forcing the issue. The possible rejection is more than he can bear right now. And who can blame him? Certainly not the first father. He knows exactly what that rejection feels like.
Even though the circumstances of these two men’s alienation are different, they are each in pain. They each miss the child they knew and the person they hoped their child would become. They both wonder what will happen to these kids if they continue on the paths of rejecting their fathers. Statistics show that children who are alienated from a parent are more likely to become depressed or addicted to drugs. There is also a strong possibility they will be alienated from their own children someday. Neither father knows if anything he can do will help.
It’s just another sad chapter in the lives of parents whose kids have been brainwashed. It’s a perpetual cycle of anger, sadness, and estrangement…a never-ending tale of abuse.