Parental alienation can be overt or subversive. It can wear away at any child over time. It can make a parent want to give up because nothing ever changes, and the other parent gets away with everything while maintaining a holier-than-thou persona. Perhaps our struggle with the court systems turning a blind eye to clear instances of the Ex alienating P from David will help someone else who feels unheard and unimportant.
David found out that his ex got married during a FaceTime visit with P (from P who was six years old). The ex felt it unnecessary to let David know about the new man who was now P’s stepfather. ( Although we have reason to believe they had been living together for a while before getting married.) David asked for his contact information, so he could introduce himself. He wanted to get to know this grown-ass adult man who was now living with his daughter.
The ex responded:
Unbelievable! The ex was well on her way to replacing David without a thought about how damaging and confusing this would be to P. To make things even worse, SD (stepdad) never introduced himself, reached out, or made any contact with David, thus perpetuating the alienation that the ex so skillfully weaves into their daughter’s life. As an aside, he also wore acid-washed jeans to a court hearing. Petty..yes..but what the hell?
I know for a fact that if David refused my contact information to his ex, I would have a big issue with it. The spouses of the parents who are so far into the fight can’t always see things clearly. My husband always asks me to look things over or give my opinion on just about every correspondence he has with the ex. There have been plenty of times I’ve said, “Yah, you shouldn’t send that.” SD has no moral and ethical compass. I would have ignored the acid-washed jeans had SD done the right thing.
After the ex remarried we noticed that P was calling her stepdad, ‘dad’. We asked her about it and she tells David, “I have two dads”. In a perfect world where the four parents get along, respect each other, and understand each other’s roles, calling stepparents ‘mom’ and ‘dad’may be ok if everyone agrees. David’s ex used this as a tactic to not only confuse P, but to punish David by marginalizing his role in his daughter’s life. David asked the ex about it.
During many Face Time visits, P referred to her stepdad as ‘dad’ or ‘daddy’. Here is the transcript of one of the visits from 11-12-2016
P had shown David that she lost a tooth. David asked who pulled it.
P “My dad pulled it.”
D “I’m your dad, baby.”
P-eye roll, stuck out her tongue
D “I’m sorry baby, but I’m your dad.” She stuck out her tongue again.
D “Ok? Don’t stick your tongue out at me, baby.” She stuck out her tongue again.
D “Why are you doing that?”
P “You’re wrong. Your’re wrong.”
D “How am I wrong, baby?”
P “I have two dads. I have two dads.”
D “You have a stepdad and a dad.”
P “I have two dads.”
D “Ok, we aren’t going to have this conversation, baby.” P sticks out tongue. D “Don’t do that, baby.”
P proceeded to hit the Ipad , stick out her tongue, and roll her eyes at her father. They eventually moved on to another subject.
Here is another transcript from one of their conversations on 11/24/16. David and P were talking during a Thanksgiving visit. When the topic of stepdad/dad came up, he recorded the conversation. P told her dad the following:
P “He is my stepdad, so I call both of you dad.”
D “He’s not your dad, baby.”
P sticks out her tongue. “But my mom said you are wrong. She’s right.” This isn’t alienation in any way whatsoever.
She proceeded to get very upset and told David if he didn’t turn up the TV she would “bite his arm off”.
This poor baby was so confused, and this isn’t alienation? But, the court didn’t look at this evidence and because apparently, it didn’t matter. The ex lied in court, saying P rarely called the stepdad dad. Lying under oath isn’t a problem for the ex, since she has done it so often.
Furthermore, the ex has never acknowledged my presence. She’s never reached out to me after over six years of me watching P over school breaks. Since I’m a teacher, we have many of the same holidays off, so I’ve taken care of her. The pinnacle of my relationship with the ex was when we went to pick up P from their house for our hotel visitation. We went to the door, and the ex had some of P’s things. I reached out my hands for her to hand them to me, and she just dropped all the shit on the ground. I laughed and said, “wow”. Yes, P saw this.
A few years ago, we were visiting P for one of David’s visitations. He is allowed up to four days a month. For each trip, he has to buy three round-trip tickets (four if I go). The travel issues are another blog. When we visit, we stay in a hotel and take P to school, games, practices, etc. if we are there during the school week. The ex asked David to take P to her softball game. We were happy to do it. When we got to the game we saw stepdad wearing this shirt. P’s number was 12 of course.
The ex knew we would be there and threw this in our face. David proceeded to introduce himself as P’s dad to some of the players’ parents. We both noticed a few looks of confusion. Our attorney sent this picture to the ad litum who made a snarky comment about whether we were upset about what it says or the colors choices on the shirt. When the judge heard about this he said the following:
The week David and I got married, P asked if she could call me mom. I told her that might hurt her mom’s feelings and that we could come up with something else to call me. P said, “My mom won’t know if I call you mom.” She was seven.
I know that it is very easy to villianize the ex. As a teacher, I’m always looking at the other side of the story and the other person’s perspective. But, I can’t here. To this day, I would be glad to co-parent with the ex. She refuses. P is often rude to me because of the guilt she feels for having fun with me. P is now 10, and she is better with her father. But, these formative instances of her complete confusion and the ex’s diliberate intent to distance David from his daughter have had a dibilitating impact on this girl. David continues to fight to have a relationship with his daughter despite the ex’s continual intereference and thousands of dollars in attorneys fees.