Powerful example of how to talk to your child about visitation with your ex-spouse

The following is a clip from the Dennis Prager Radio Show. Dennis talks about parental alienation, and plays for his views a powerful exchange between a woman and her daughter (from the TV show Desperate Housewives).

The daughter doesn’t want to see her Dad as she’s being dropped off. However, her mother gets composed and gives an excellent example of how to talk to your child about an ex-spouse– even one she is angry at.

Dennis Prager says after the clip:

Unfortunately, tragically, sadly, it is┬ánot what a lot of Moms say to their sons or daughters if they’re angry about a divorce.”

(He does mention that fathers alienate children as well, but that he’s referring to this specific dialogue in the film)

The most gripping part of the exchange occurs after the car door closes. The daughter runs towards her Dad…

This is a testament to the power of a parent’s words to their children. If a parent expresses encouragement about seeing the other parent, children naturally follow this lead (even if there has been some badmouthing up to that point).

If every parent acted this way at exchanges, there would be a whole lot less abused children in the country.



About John

John Thomas Steinbeck is a parental alienation consultant. He and his son's relationship was under attack in a deplorable campaign of parental alienation. In this blog, John shares his insights, techniques, and tools in combating emotional child abuse. He did it-- today his son's love has been restored-- and you can too!
  • Catherine Landers

    WOW! This brought tears to my eyes. I have been divorced for 8 yrs now. I share 4 children with my ex husband. He has remmaried and so have I. My current husband is also divorced and has 5 children. Both my husband and I and our shared 9 children have to deal with “hate speech” from our ex spouses everyday. It has been very difficult for the children. My 3 older children walked away from their father and step-mom because of all the hate and manipulation directed towards me. My youngest son is still with his father. He is 16. Me nor his siblings have seen him in 8 years. I do believe that my older children came to me because I never bad mouthed their father nor step-mother. It will only be a matter of time that my youngest son will leave like his siblings did.
    My current husband has a very bitter ex spouse. She is the statistic of a ex wife/mother that tells her children that “Daddy hates us” “Daddy is a mean man” “Daddy is f-ing that woman(me) in Mexico..ect. My husband’s younger children are 14, and triplets who are 13. His oldest son is in college and does not listen to his mothers rages about his dad.
    I am sharing all of this because we live a hateful example of a mother and a father who seem to not be able to let go of their hate. 8yrs is a long time to control children through hate speech, and manipulation. It is very disheartening everyday as I know we have children that do and will have alot of emotional problems because of this behaivor by their parents. As hard as it is for me to try to understand how parents-people that we once loved and shared kids with-could be so unconscience of how damaging every word and action is to the children they claim they so desperately love…I NEED and want to try to bring awareness to this. Our children need help, but if I can try to prevent this from happening in the future to other families, then let it begin with me. Thank you for sharing this. It’s very powerful.

  • Ted H

    I would completely agree with Catherine’s statement above….

  • Friend

    As a former child from divorced parents, I can say that the effects of my parents actions during the divorce are long lasting. In a sense, PTSD is probably one effect on some children in extreme situations. For me, my loyalty to my mother while being forced to stay with my father till my mother won custody caused friction. My mother never said a mean or angry word about our father in front of us, but other family members did. My father never talked about my mother to us, but his girlfriend (who was the “other woman” did).
    Not saying anything can be just as terrible as saying the wrong things, as children come up with very imaginative explanations on their own (like he did this to “us”-which he did, because his actions broke up a home).
    Sadly I would not get to see him regularly because we lived on separate islands (in Hawaii) and when we did see him finally he was diagnosed and died shortly after from Cancer.
    The strains of the divorce were left unsettled for us kids and the wound never healed.

    My response to this specific clip is that it does not reflect reality, this is a dramatic script acted perfectly with a happy ending and that is not how human nature is. The clip also puts all of the rebuilding a relationship on the mother’s words to the daughter as the father “lovingly awaits the child” when that is also not always reality. In true exchanges, tension is high, parents often don’t speak, children play both sides and say the negative to the other parents to win or vie for affection.

    to say that there would be less abused children due to language at exchanges gives the abusing parent too much credit.

    children witness abuse of their parents and those that are abused will not be subjected to “less of it” because of a friendly conversation with the child enroute to the other parent. that is to much of a fantasy.

  • The truth is that parental alienation is a gender neutral dynamic. As a mother who had primary custody, I had an ex husband who spent inordinate amounts of time during his visitation with my boys denigrating me and sourcing my children for information by which he could denigrate me with. Even things that would be considered postiives my ex would frame in negative ways; “Your mother is only going back to school so she doesn’t have to work a job and so I can keep paying her support.” etc, etc. My children were made allies in a war not of their own and it has had long lasting and life altering affects on my relationship with my children. My case was/is extremely severe and while severe cases occurs in only 10% of divorce cases, I would say that a majority of people who are divorcing or separating with children participate in alienation tactics or behavior and need to be made aware of it before it spirals out of control.

  • John


    Both sexes alienate children, no doubt.

    On average, however, more mothers brainwash their children than fathers do. Yet this stat doesn’t make much difference, as the men that do brainwash have the capability of more harm as they’re typically narcissistic. And narcissistic parents are the devil in disguise, wreaking havoc on the children they come in contact with.


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