This past weekend, I held the kids, I watched them play, I looked into their dancing eyes as they talked, laughed, watched TV. I tried to see them the way other people in their lives see them, as faceless, not people, pawns, tools to be manipulated and shoved around to serve a purpose. I tried to erase their unique heart, soul, feelings, and future when I looked at them.
I couldn’t do it.
One of the hardest things about dealing with an alienating parent is the constant, bewildering, unbelieving sense of “How can you do that to the kids?” Skim just a few of the step-parenting blogs in my blog list, and it won’t take long to hit a frustrated, painstaking “How can she/he do that? Why does he/she hurt the kids like that?”
Kids are too young to completely understand what is happening, and they are too innocent to even contemplate that someone they love and trust may not be at all what they appear. Kids are easy victims, trusting, innocent, loving. To abuse their trust is disgusting and cowardly.
It’s a knee-jerk reaction, especially if the alienating parent is the mother, to listen to the horrific behavior with a sickening sense of disbelief, then brush it off with “She’s mentally ill. She’s sick. She believes her own lies.” There, no need to dive further in exploration of this behavior. Ah, she can’t help it. She just needs counseling. It’s easier to flip the mental illness card than believe a parent can be simply rotten.
We as a culture simply can’t stomach the fact that some mothers are ill-suited for parenting, and especially that some are outright dangers to their own children. Our Hallmark induced pedastal of motherhood won’t allow us to accept that giving birth does not make an instant, competent parent.
Imagine you are told that a father lies to his kids, grills them for information when they return from their mother’s, tells them they must love their mother more than they love him if they don’t cough up the information he wants fast enough. What an ass, right? He shouldn’t be allowed near the kids, jail him, fine him, deny his parental rights, etc.
Now let’s substitute “mother” into this scenario. More than likely your mommy myth preservation kicked in and you started conjuring up excuses for her behavior, or thought she needed psychological help, or *insert any bullshit excuse that is fabricated for unacceptable mothers’ behavior here*.
I don’t buy it. Lying to the kids, using them as tools, pumping them for information, manipulating them, and deliberately hurting them makes anyone a wretched parent, male or female. It’s hard to fathom how a parent can look at their children and see weapons where a living, breathing, feeling, hurting human being actually stands. However difficult that is to grasp, however, it does happen. Refusing to admit that parents, even mothers, are capable and more than willing to abuse their children to score a point or two against the other parent leaves the kids unprotected and wide open to more hurt.
The last things kids in this situation need is another adult with their own best interests in mind instead of the kids’.