Monday, August 13, 2012

Mother and Daughter

I'm leaving in a few days to fly to Washington to visit my mother.  So my thoughts have been dwelling on my kids, especially my daughter.  Of course, they do anyway.  But contemplating a visit with my mom got me thinking of the relationship between a mother and daughter.  And also the circumstances of my separation.  Because within the first six months of my separation I went to stay with my mom.

Shortly after we separated, my husband stopped paying the mortgage on the house and did not put any money into our joint bank account.  He did not follow temporary court-orders to continue paying the mortgage and pay me spousal.  And my attorney told me, do not, under any circumstances, get a job. (With the assumption I would be awarded spousal support when the divorce became final, since for seventeen years I was a stay-at-home mom.)

After I had sold all my jewelry and used up my remaining credit to try to pay bills and stay fed, I panicked.  I was in fear every day, because of the unpaid mortgage bills, that cops would come knocking on the door to kick me out.  I panicked. And thinking I had no other option, I went to WA to stay with my mom.

My kids were already at their dad's after having said they wanted to live with him.   I think of how they must have felt when I went to Washington.  Abandoned, unloved, alone, afraid.  How their dad would have used that against me, "See your mom doesn't love you.  She doesn't care about you. She abandoned you. She left you and went to Washington."  Put pain and anguish and loss into their hearts.  I feel guilty thinking that by leaving I made them feel abandoned and unloved.  How much pain and loss and fear I put into their hearts.  Especially my daughter.  Only eleven years old and a mommy's girl.

I will be in WA again, soon. My sister and her family live there, too, just a few miles from my mother.  I will be there for both my niece's and my sister's birthdays.

I started thinking, when was the last time my daughter saw her cousin?  My daughter and I went to see my sister soon after she gave birth.  Just the two of us.  I have photos of my daughter holding her days-old baby cousin, cradling her carefully in her arms, beaming into the camera.  She was so excited to have a baby cousin, especially a girl cousin, being the only girl with brothers. My daughter was nine years old then.  I didn't know I had only two years left with her.

My daughter and I had driven from the Portland airport together  to her aunt's.  My sister lived in a remote part of southern Oregon.  It was about a five hour drive.  My daughter brought her enormous stuffed horse with her on the trip.  My sister had five horses that my daughter loved and got to ride when we visited.  My daughter's stuffed horse's name was Coco and she was a Bay.  On our long drive back to the airport, Coco became a TV newscaster horse.  She talked about all kinds of things as a TV newscaster.  She was also a weather reporter, and an interviewer, and she interviewed both my daughter and I.  This was the entertainment for much of our five hour drive.  My daughter as Coco was very engaging, funny and quirky.  We laughed and laughed.

During the time at my sister's, my daughter and I had gone to a nearby lake.  We brought a raft boat with oars, and a picnic lunch.  My daughter refused to help oar and instead demanded that I get us around to different parts of the lake.  So  I oared and if I wasn't going as fast as she ordered, I would get into the lake and push the boat kicking my feet wildly.  She enjoyed getting mommy to do her bidding.  On shore we feed bread to the ducks.  A large flock of happily quacking ducks gathered at our feet, but then geese came and scared the ducks away.   My daughter didn't want to give the mean geese any food.  I didn't either.  So we began throwing rocks into the lake as if they were bread, and giggled deviously as the geese dove down to get the 'food.'  My oldest son would have said that was not nice, and not respecting the geese's feelings.  But my daughter and I found it most humorous to trick the geese.

I found a bracelet she made for me today while starting to pack for my trip.  I know where all the things are that she made for me, but I try not to look at them because it always makes me cry.  She made the bracelet from a jewlery kit.  It is a black band, like a watch strap, and on it silver letters spell "MOM" with a heart on each side.

Monday, August 6, 2012

What Causes Parent Alienation?

Parent who alienate have serious unresolved personal issues.

"What causes a parent to want to damage the relationship of their own child with the other parent at their own child's expense? Intentions differ from one parent to the next, but psychologists have suggested the following as potential motivators:

* An alienating parent may have unresolved anger toward the other parent for perceived wrongs during the relationship and may be unable to separate those issues from parenting issues.
* An alienating parent may have unresolved issues from their childhood, particularly in how they related to their own parents, which he or she projects onto the other parent (whether or not it's factually accurate).
* An alienating parent may have a personality disorder, such as narcissism or paranoia, which makes him or her unable to empathize with the child's feelings or see the way their behavior is harming the child. Such personality disorders may also make the alienating parent more likely to be jealous of the other parent's adjustment to the breakup and cause the alienating parent to have extreme rage toward the other parent.
* An alienating parent may be so insecure as to his or her own parenting skills that he or she projects those concerns onto the other parent, regardless of reality.
* An alienating parent may be so wrapped up in their child's life that he or she has no separate identity and sees the child's relationship with the other parent as a threat.
* Sometimes new spouses or grandparents push the alienating parent into inappropriate behavior for their own inappropriate reasons, and the alienating parent isn't strong enough to resist them."

"Children do not naturally lose interest in and become distant from their nonresidential parent simply by virtue of the absence of that parent. Also, healthy and established parental relationships do not erode naturally of their own accord. They must be attacked."
-- Michael Bone and Michael Walsh, Florida Bar Journal, March 1999