I got some insight from a Child Protective Services worker here in Texas the other day. She told me that kids and teenagers that are regularly in counseling or therapy usually have one or more parents that are abusive. Most of the time, kids that are in counseling are there due to bad parenting of some sort (there are exceptions, of course).
I believe that kids placed into counseling regularly are the product of parents that are passing along their own issues. Emotionally healthy parents generally don’t have kids who are so out of alignment that they need regular, ongoing professional therapy. Kids who are exceptionally difficult even with outstanding parents need correction and adjustment from their parents, not from an outsider who is at a complete disadvantage.
I look at my own situation: my son is placed into counseling every month at least once with a psychologist (who unnecessarily told my son about my book on mental child abuse. Causing yet more confusion to my son) by his mother, and my son is with his mother the vast majority of the time. His issues are his mother’s. One of my son’s “issues” is the fact that I wasn’t there at his birth.” Yes, a matter where he wasn’t even consciously aware, is an issue 12 years later. It’s deplorable. When I ask Mom why he’s in counseling she only will say “He won’t tell me; he just says he wants someone to talk to.”
“Abusive parents frequently will use counseling as a deflective shield to what they’re doing to their own child; it’s a cover for their own abuse. For who would question a parent who’s seemingly trying to “help” their child with counseling?” – BrainwashingChildren.com
The sad irony is, the people that should be in counseling aren’t, while the innocent children are. It’s almost as if the parents are conditioning their child to get used to their abusive behaviors…
One lie that many brainwashing parents do to their children is making up completely fictitious stories about why the ex did not appear for, or appeared late for, visitation drop-offs or exchanges.
In my case, I told my son and his Mom that I wouldn’t be able to pick him up for consecutive weekends ahead of time. Funny thing is, I actually figured his Mom might bring him to the normal 4pm Friday exchange location anyway. Sure enough: she did. The next time I saw my son, he mentioned that Mom has been taking him on those Fridays to the exchange point in order to wait on me. He said that he was “confused.” Of course he was– confusion between my words of “I won’t be there on these weekends” and Mom’s act driving him there in order to wait on me, knowing full well that I won’t be there.
This is another sad example of parental soul-destruction leveled onto children. To take pleasure in watching your children absorb with heartache the lie that the other parent doesn’t care enough to show is very sick.
Here are some examples of how these mentally abusive parents operate:
You are 5 minutes late.
MEANING GIVEN BY YOUR EX TO YOUR KIDS
You don’t really care that much about seeing them. If you did, you would never show up late.
You need to move the time back 30 minutes due to traffic, work, etc.
MEANING GIVEN BY YOUR EX
Ex shows up at original time and explains how inconsiderate you are to be 30 minutes late.
You let ex know you’ll be out of town for a weekend or month.
MEANING GIVE BY YOUR EX
Ex shows up at your weekends’ normal time and place with your children, and informs your children that their Mommy or Daddy must not love them very much and doesn’t want to see them.
Parents willing to do this are completely OK with seeing their kids suffer. Instead of building the little tikes up with excitement, which is what nurturing parents do, these bad exes would rather plant a mean lie into their kids’ heads in order to poison the relationship to their very own parent.
So it’s important to always talk about any missed or late drop-offs or exchanges with your kids. Mention how you’re sorry you’re a bit late, and the reason. If you’re gone for a weekend or more, let them know ahead of time, and also address it when you see them again. Ask them directly, “You haven’t waited at all where I didn’t show up, have you?”
You’ve got to be assertive but calm with issues like this involving your brainwashed children. Once your ex pulls this harmful maneuver, you also need to tell your children this:
“Son, if you ever show up and I’m not there at all, know that there’s a misunderstanding or a missed phone call or something. As I would never not pick you up unless it was something big or was a big misunderstanding.”
And if your children have a cellphone, instruct them to text or call you if they are ever waiting and it seems that you won’t show up.
Remember, you need to be assertive in these matters around your kids when they’re in the midst of a brainwashing campaign.
Narcissistic mothers and fathers have most of the following traits. How many apply to your situation?
Narcissistic parents are… self-absorbed, authoritarian, know-it-alls, negative, highly critical of others, yellers, secretive, possessively close to the child, cunning, manipulative, exploitive, stingy, pathological liars, envious and competitive, play favorites (and it’s a rotating favorite list), deaf to other’s opinions, bad listeners, braggers and exaggerators, ungrateful, boundary-less, inept at basic manners, lacking a sense of humor (especially at themselves), feel superior to all others, and are masters in making others feel guilty.
A happy parent is one who nurtures his or her children physically and emotionally. Happy people don’t molest, pass hurt feelings on to, deprive the other parent’s love from, or otherwise hurt their kids. Happy people who go through divorces or break-ups hurt just like anyone else, but they elevate their behaviors to protect their children from the adult pain.
“All abusive parents are unhappy parents, and unhappy parents are feelings-based people who act out on these feelings without regard to whether what they’re saying or doing is right or wrong for their child” – www.brainwashingchildren.com
Look at your own situation of mental abuse or even milder alienation efforts. How happy is the person who’s damaging your child? Are they an overall happy person?
Whenever I think of the environment that my child is in, I think of his home with a big giant neon sign above it flashing, “UNHAPPY – 24 hrs/day.” The nearly decade-long campaign of harming my son’s relationship with me has been so pervasive, how could such behavior come from a normal, happy parent? It can’t.
The unfortunate part is the long-term outlook. Since it’s impossible for you to change the unhappy person’s core, what are the odds of the damage being done to the children who are in their midst stopping? Quite low. The only real way to help the children that live with these negative, unhappy, parents is to have them spend more and more time with the positive, happy parent. It can be a complete change of custody in severe alienation and emotional abuse cases, to granting the “happy” parent a lot of meaningful time in the decree.
- Don’t share any anger or grief with your child
- Never badmouth, demean, denigrate, or devalue your ex in front of your child. EVER.
- Communicate directly with your ex (your child is not a messenger!)
- Respect your ex’s visitation time (don’t bombard your child with calls, texts, etc.)
- Say positive things about your ex in front of your child (“I see you have your Mom’s good organization skills”)
- Never discuss pending family court matters with or in front of your child
- Enroll your child in doing kind gestures (a small gift, Father’s Day card, postcard, etc.) for your ex
- Encourage your child to communicate– telephone, email, texting, etc.– with your ex while apart
- Get your child excited about seeing your ex as visitation approaches (kids follow their parents’ emotional lead)
- Include your ex in important decisions
Divorce does not have to damage children. But it always does when divorced parents argue, bicker, play emotional games, try to make the child take sides, and even brainwash them that Mommy or Daddy is not worthy of their love. Parents need to elevate their behaviors by refusing to engage in any emotional or tactical behaviors that harm their child.
Bottom line: Show the child through words and actions that the other parent matters in their life. That’s one of the greatest gifts you can ever give them.
Even a father who is in jail and has done horrible things does not deserve a verbal attack. Adults can comment all they want on him, but when it comes to the kids, children should never have to encounter an adult who destroys their father’s dignity, even if that father is in jail.
The importance of a father and a mother to children is unrivaled. As such, no ex-wife, mother-in-law, or anybody else should trash the father in front of that father’s own children. Yet that’s what’s happening across America every day. Divorce and children born out of wedlock have caused many mothers to take out their hurt and anger on the “flawed” father by directly enrolling the children in their contempt and hatred.
The direct route for these bad parents to ease their hurt is to destroy Dad’s dignity. It ranges from saying how Daddy never loved Mommy, and doesn’t love the child either, to falsely accusing him of rape, physical abuse, or molestation. The most common way of lessening Daddy’s worth is by addressing him by his first name, and teaching the child to do the same. So Daddy becomes identified by his first name, “David.” Teaching a child to stop calling his Dad, “Dad,” is destructive beyond measure.
The goal is to impugn Dad’s worth as a father and as a human being. If the child is young enough, a parent can successfully diminish in the child’s eyes his or her own Daddy.
Any attempt to destroy a child’s connection to a parent should be punishable by law. But because it’s hard to prove, this kind of child abuse is enacted on children everywhere with virtually zero consequences for the abusive parent.
Destroying Dad’s dignity– or manufacturing a lie to a child that their father is not worthy of their love and affection– happens far too often. The best action for fathers at the receiving end of this is to stay the course. Stay in your child’s life. Keep the phone calls, emails, and texts coming. Document, document, and document again the abuse, and contact a lawyer if you have evidence of your ex mentally abusing your child.
Never give up!
When you’re the noncustodial parent, days and weeks go by without you being around your child or children. During this time the custodial parent– your ex– who’s hell-bent on sabotaging your relationship with your child has ample opportunity to do so.
There are some strong signs that appear in most brainwashing households. You can’t be there in person to observe all the things said, the lies told, or the subtle put-downs, so you will have to look elsewhere– to the telephone, cellphone, text messages, and emails.
The openness and normalcy of the electronic communications with your child is in most cases directly related to the level of mental abuse taking place in the other house. Evidence that your child is being coached and lied to include:
- Your child is flat, monotoned, or sad when he or she gets your phone call
- Your ex is often heard speaking to your child in the background (and your child will frequently cover up the phone with his or her hand)
- Your phone calls or texts are not returned
- Cellphones you buy for your kid are rarely used to call you, but used routinely by your ex to contact your child when he or she is with you
- No calls on your birthday or Father’s/Mother’s Day, and rarely or never a card or e-card
- Your child asks you questions inappropriate for their age
- Your child is used as a messenger by your ex
- Your child complains about his or her last visit (usually of trivial things)
- You rarely get a call, email, or text out of the blue from your child
- Your child claims out of the blue that “I don’t want to see you”
- Your child seems unable to echo any “I love you’s”
- Your child echoes the words of your ex (words a child of that age would never use)
- Your child refers to you by your first name, either to you directly or at home while away from you
- Your ex refers to you when speaking to your child in the background by your first name
- Your child will say “Why haven’t you called me” when in fact you’ve tried
- You rarely get an acknowledgement of any cards of presents sent
How to fight this? The short answer is to call your child on a regular basis (once a week, twice a week, etc), and stick to it. Also send texts and emails, even super short ones, when you think of your child. If you’ve been unable to get through to speak to him or her, make sure you let them know that you’re excited to finally reach them. If you’ve left a voicemail, ask them “So did you get my voicemail?” That way, if they didn’t (as is likely), they’ll realize that you did reach out to connect with them. Older kids will even figure out on their own that a parent is withholding messages from them.
The big picture, of course, is to get the child into counseling. Even call Child Protective Services if your child’s emotionally wrecked. Make sure you document everything– to include tape recording phone calls (if legal in your state), logging all the times you’ve tried to reach your child, etc.
If your child custody decree doesn’t mention anything about telephonic or electronic access, then consider hiring an attorney who can make a “motion to modify” the decree. Some decrees include specific hours whereby your ex must make your child contactable. That way if your ex doesn’t comply, he or she could face the wrath of a judge.
It’s a very difficult thing to have to suffer through month after month after month, with the only let-off being when you have possession of your child. But hang in there. Keep a steady flow of calls, emails, and texts to your brainwashed child. One day your child will see the “unhappy” parent for who she is, and your consistent actions at reaching out will be rewarded in 95% of cases.
Educational Child Abuse is the harm done to a child by a parent or caretaker who deliberately keeps the child out of school, taking them out repeatedly early, or otherwise preventing a healthy child from being in school consistently.
Although this blog deals extensively with mental child abuse, I thought I’d expose a growing problem that’s also abusive to innocent children.
The motivation is usually a very selfish one of the parent: they’re either too emotionally dependent on the child so they keep them at home, or they are too lazy to ensure that the child is in school on time every day.
Parents that are capable of educational child abuse are usually abusive in other manners as well. So if a child is being educationally abused, there’s a high likelihood that the child is also being mentally, sexually, medically, or physically abused.
An interesting phenomenon is that of child abuse when the child is being home schooled. There is a serious argument to be made that children are more susceptible to being abused when they are yanked out of school and placed into home schooling. With home schooling, the signs of any form of abuse can very easily be hidden from the public. After all, many of the reports of abuse to authorities are made by schools across America.
Remember Andrea Yates, the mother who drowned her five children in Texas? Not that there’s a defined connection, but her children were home schooled…
Educational child abuse is not yet well documented as a form of “child abuse,” but it’s clearly takes place in too many households and needs to be exposed.
In my study of mental child abuse I’ve noticed how prevalent it is that the child abuser is highly narcissistic.
What’s a narcissistic parent? It’s someone who is self-absorbed, authoritarian (watch out for their outbursts), negative, a know-it-all, never culpable or blameworthy for anything, highly critical of others, secretive, cunning and conniving, manipulative, exploitive, stingy, ungrateful, a pathological liar (twists the truth with incredible ease), envious and competitive, deaf to other’s opinions, doesn’t listen (zero empathy), brags and exaggerates, plays favorites (and it’s a rotating favorite list at that), has no boundaries, inept at basic manners, lacks a sense of humor (especially at themselves), and excels at making others feel guilty… He or she is one unhappy person (read this post on Unhappy Parents) who sucks the energy and life out of those around them.
Looking at these traits, how many of them apply to your parent or ex? A narcissist will have most of the traits listed.
There’s a simple reason why the more a parent brainwashes his or her own children (or dishes out any other form of abuse), the more narcissistic tendencies they have:
It takes an extremely selfish and sick parent to inflict such harm onto their own child.
Any mature parent can set aside anger or hurt from a divorce and keep their child on neutral ground by refusing to enroll them in the middle of the conflict. But a narcissistic parent will be hell-bent on minimizing or even outright destroying the child’s relationship with the ex and unable to place their child out of the emotional turmoil. They can’t do it. In fact, they will actively bring pain to their own kids. That’s how mentally ill they are.
So how do you counter these parents, and is there hope for changing them? A sobering quote:
“Trying to reform narcissists by reasoning with them or by appealing to their better nature is about as effective as spitting in the ocean.”
That has been one of my biggest frustrations with my ex, thinking that reasoning with her and letting her eventually calm down and see for herself that I’m a good Dad would temper her behavior towards our son. But it never happened, and her actions even got worse over time. The sad reality is that you can’t change the narcissist. They don’t have the self-awareness or humility to see that they’re out of control and need help. They’re incapable of introspection. It’s deeply unfortunate, especially if your ex is the custodial parent and has ample amounts of time to transfer these narcissistic traits onto your child.
The only recourse for you is to be a normal parent, providing needed contrast for your child. It’s very important to insist that any behaviors in him or her that mimic your narcissistic ex are stomped out immediately. So if your child is flippant, rude, and lacking manners– and they will on many levels when they’ve been living with a narcissist– don’t tolerate it.
“The narcissist is governed by his or her feelings, the decent person is governed by his or her obligations” – Dennis Prager
Since a narcissistic parent is governed by his or her feelings, they don’t have the ability to own up to their obligations to shield their child from emotional heartache, adult issues, stories of how bad Mommy or Daddy is, etc. They will actively get the children involved in the conflict. It’s inappropriate, it’s evil, and it’s abusive.
These parents are a vortex of negative energy, and will suck the life out of those around them. Children of narcissists suffer, and they come in two camps: those that are aware of this parent’s bizarre, completely irrational behavior “Yeah, there my Mom/Dad goes again…”, or they’re not and are mentally smothered by the parent. Sadly lots of these children end up inheriting the narcissist’s traits, supporting the findings that many children of narcissistic parents become narcissists themselves.
The reality is this. Once the children become adults, the only way for them to not further suffer under the tyranny of a severely narcissistic parent is to move away from them. Creating physical separation, and thus limiting contact, from a parent might seem like a bad solution. But the alternative is living a life of suffering. Remember, the narcissist will never change. After all, he or she isn’t the wrongdoer or person with flaws. Everyone else is.
Finally, here is a quote I would like to share that was left in the comment section (scroll down) from a reader, Eve:
“The narcissist has no conscience and no feelings for others, especially their own children. The only thing that matters is their own selfish ego– coercing, manipulating, causing chaos, and damaging lives everywhere they go.”