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Parental Alienation - Advice?

ABStepmom's picture

Background: I have been with my husband and his three boys for 8 years. When we met, BM was more interested in partying then having anything to do with the kids - even going as far as telling people that she did not have children or that they ruined her life. The kids often were not fed or bathed, and often missed school. I almost immediately stepped into the mom role, even before we were married. She is the type who does not want to parent, but does not want other people to know that she doesn't, so she hates me. She has never taken them to the doctor or dentist and has never attended one of their sporting events. We would often receive calls from their friends' parents saying she dropped the kids off without asking. They were typically left home alone or with her grandmother. We now have primary custody and she is not allowed to have weeknight overnights during the school year. 

Over the years, BM has chosen one child at a time and tried to alienate my husband (BF) and I emotionally from the boys. It never lasts for very long, but while it is happening, the child comes home with new clothes, shoes or toys. BM shows them attention that she previously never showed them. They begin to disrespect my husband and I, as well as their teachers, coaches, etc. They are in more trouble at school and home. Their demeanor is so different that we immediately know what is happening and are able to talk to the child to correct it. The most recent was last year, when our youngest, now 12, did everything he could to upset me. His baseball coach pulled him aside and he admitted that she was telling him to misbehave and not listen to me. After the coaches' talk, the child corrected his behavior. The other boys are twins, now 16. One now has a serious girlfriend and BM has become "besties" with her. The child is becoming more disrespectful toward his BF and I. He is doing everything he can not to spend time with his dad and has become extremely defensive of his BM on the rare occassions she is brought up (we rarely talk about her to the children). The sheriff's department and CPS were called on my husband and I by BM with unwarranted claims of abuse. She also tried to claim abuse in custody trial. When the state sent her a letter regarding her unpaid child support, she told the child that she would have to sell his stuff since we were going after child support and the child texted my husband saying that "he couldn't believe he was taking money from his own kid". 

We have always been a close-knit family and I am struggling with this alienation because it has never gone on this long. I am trying my best to disengage until BM loses interest again, but it is depressing when I have been the parent for the last 8 years. Any advice??

Survivingstephell's picture

Ask the boys why their mother would tell them to follow her diections.  They sound more than old enough to call it what it is. Interfering with Dad's role.  It sucks to have a parent like this but they will have to manage her the rest of her life. It is up to dad to teach them that they have to manage her and how.  I got my tips from the book Divorce Poison.  Things changed after reading it.  You can't pretend it's not happening. Keep it rooted in reality, High conflict BMs HATE the truth.  Screws with their ability to manipulate. Ask thought provoking questions to get the boys to figure out how they are being manipulate.  Send them back to HER with questions. That's what we did.  

ABStepmom's picture

Thank you! I will try that book. That is what we’ve always done when it has happened in the past, but it is not working with this SS. He was always the left out one, the least favorite with her so it’s like he’s soaking up the attention he’s always desired. When we try to talk to him, he either clams up or gets defensive of her. He’s definitely emotionally stunted and we’ve had him in counseling in the past but it hasn’t helped. She’s feeding him what he’s always wanted - WE’RE the bad ones because we won’t let him do what he wants and he’s an adult now (at 16). Telling him that we’re trying to control him because we maintain rules at our house and we’re not letting him be his own person. 

ABStepmom's picture

Well they’re in my custody and I raise them as my own children so yes, we are family. And the mother they have had wanted nothing to do with them or their interests for EIGHT years, so I don’t consider that a parent.  But thank you for your input. 

tog redux's picture

Honestly? Send the 16-year-olds to live with BM, and cut them off from anything you provide for them. Yes, BM is alienating them, but not with the goal of getting them to live with her, she just wants to disrupt your lives. And the 16-year-olds are plenty old enough to have a talk with them and let them know they are welcome to go live with mom, but here are the conditions - you won't pay for any phones or cars or proms or anything, just your fair share of child support costs, but no extras.

BM doesn't want them, so when they say to her that dad says they can move in, she will backpedal so fast your head will spin. And when the kids realize that, some light bulbs will start to go off.  In the meanwhile, their father needs to be primary parent and he needs to set any and all limits he would set if BM wasn't alienating them.

Karrolla77's picture

Parental alienation is a form of abuse. Seek legal advice! My DH's ex was found guilty of parental alienation and the child was moved from BM's care into our custody with very strict restrictions on contact with BM.