Tag Archives: Exposing the methods

Mentally abusive parents frequently abuse on other levels

What keeps a parent who is capable of damaging a child mentally and emotionally from damaging them physically or sexually as well?

Not much.

Parents who are mentally abusive lack the ability to control themselves. Which means they’re unable to contain their emotions, which then spills into doing what’s right for their child, which is sheltering them from harm– any harm. A parent who is OK knowing that their child is suffering (especially over lies that the parent creates) is a toxic father or mother, and toxic fathers and mothers are bad people who have few limits on what they’re capable of doing. 

What I’ve noticed in my own experiences and in the experiences of blog commenters is that parents who can harm kids on one level frequently harm them on others, too.

These “manure-spreading” parents are capable of damaging kids across the spectrum of child abuse: physically, mentally, sexually, medically, and educationally. To be fair, few toxic parents damage via all of the five categories.

Examples
A parent who is physically or sexually abusive is also mentally abusive. Comments are made such as:

“Look what you made me do, don’t tell anyone about this or else…”
“This is your fault because…”

Name calling also goes hand in hand with these forms of abuse.

Here’s the thing: You can’t have a physically or sexually abusive parent who isn’t also mentally abusive. Any attack on a child’s body also is an attack on their mind.

To restate something important, not all parents who are mentally abusive are physically or sexually abusive. However, they have the potential to be, and too frequently are.

Bottom line? Once someone’s an abusive parent in one of the categories, they very often abuse on one or more of the others.

[If you are curious about the use of the terms “medical abuse” (also known as Munchausen by Proxy) and “educational abuse,” click the respective links…]

 

Destroying Dad’s Dignity

Thousands of fathers across America right now are viewed by their children in a disdainful, disrespecting way, brought about by badmouthing and brainwashing.

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!

Brainwashing grandmothers

Grandmothers who brainwash childrenA parent bent on destroying their own child’s relationship with the ex often have a family member quite willing to take part in the brainwashing…

The grandmother.

Over the years I’ve heard my son’s grandmother enough times to see first-hand how she’s hurting my son’s relationship with me. And I realize that what I’m hearing is only the tip of the iceberg, sadly.

Just a few weeks ago, during a long vacation, grandma tells my son halfway through (paraphrasing),

You’re on the downhill slide!

Translation: The sadness of having to spend time with the other, “lesser” parent- your father- is getting close to ending! Then you’ll be back with us and away from the monster…

Another thing she said that showed how selfish she was during one summer saying to him on the telephone how many hours until she sees him again (I can’t remember the exact number, but it was in the hundreds). And for about 5 minutes prior to that, she asked him nothing about what he was doing (we were out of the state on a trip to the lake). She went on about all the things he was missing back home! Learning absolutely nothing about her grandson’s exciting trip to a large lake…

In many families, the grandmother is the dominant figure in the entire family tree. Which is perfectly fine. But when the grandmother uses her power to aid (or in my situation, lead) the effort to sabotage her grandson or granddaughter’s relationship with his or her own parent, it’s downright despicable.

[Now, this is not to say that grandfathers don’t brainwash children. They can and do. But the reality is that in the vast majority of cases, it’s the grandmother who’s highly emotionally vested in the grandchildren, and as such if they feel aggrieved by a child’s ex-wife or ex-husband, many will go to many lengths to harm that person.]

In the process, of course, hurting not just that ex but a child or children as well.

So, how do you combat a grandmother’s actions that are harming your relationship to you son or daughter?

First, start documenting all comments, texts, voice mail messages, and actions. I use Google Docs for all my notes on the evidence of my son’s brainwashing. Then, once you have this evidence hire a lawyer and see about calling a hearing about this abuse. Now, don’t get your hopes up about the judge taking assertive action. Most family law judges are clueless about PAS*. In my case, the judge to this day has done absolutely nothing to warn the mother despite audio and video evidence, and my testimony on the stand. But you still need to make this effort– wouldn’t you like to know your father or mother held a court hearing over the mental brainwashing that was occurring while you were a child? Show some initiative that sadly too many parents lack.

Secondly, place your child into therapy with a child therapist well versed in *Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS).  This will help your child immensely in the recovery efforts. Having a neutral third party talking to the child about you can do a lot of good.

Third, and I’ll write about this soon as a separate topic, enlist the help of a person who your son or daughter really likes or loves. With some well-timed words talking about you (the targeted parent), and sharing their feelings about you, your child will now have in front of them a huge disconnect: between what they’ve been hearing about you by the brainwashing parent and grandparent for years, and what they’re hearing now from this trusted, liked person.

Last, I highly recommend the book Divorce Poison by Dr. Richard Warshak (order here). He just came out with an updated edition, and it’s terrific. It’s essentially the Bible on Brainwashing.

Don’t just think that brainwashing of children is done by parents. It’s done by grandparents too– and this double-barreled assault on the child and his or her relationship to you can be brutally effective in destroying the child’s opinions, attitudes, and feelings…

Brainwashing children: The four levels of abuse

The Four Levels of Brainwashing Children

The Four Levels of Brainwashing Children

Brainwashing children to despise a parent falls into one of four categories of severity:

  1. Glancing insult
  2. Direct attack
  3. Relationship assault
  4. Relationship-ending coaching

Glancing insult
The glancing insult, also called a “drive-by put down,” is a derogatory remark said to the child about a parent. These are off-the-cuff remarks whose purpose is to instill doubt and negative opinions about the target parent.

Examples include:

“She’s picking you up at 6pm, if she’s even on time”
“So your father didn’t seem to care much about what you thought, huh…”
“You know I love you more than anyone else in the world does, don’t you?”

Direct attack
A direct attack is a slew of words plainly at plainly disparaging you, and thus your relationship to your child.

Examples:

“Your father is an inconsiderate jerk”
“If your mother wasn’t such a messed up soul, your time with her would be much more fun”
“Your mother is a terrible mother, that’s for sure. I can’t believe she did that—what a moron”

Relationship attack
When the source parent tries to harm the parent-child relationship by attacking visitations, minimizing telephone and email contact, and insinuating that time spent with the target parent is bad for the child.

Examples of what such parents will do:

Being “unavailable” all week to receive phone calls from the target parent to the child
Not returning any calls, texts, or emails made by the target parent
Telling the child, “You have complete family here with me and your Dad (step-father), yet he’s again ripping you away from us this Christmas”
Telling the child, “You only have 5 days left with her, then you’ll be back and safe with us.”
Withholding letter, postcards, and emails from the child

Relationship-ending coaching
The most deplorable thing a parent can do to their child is the final step, coaching the child on how to completely break off contact with their own parent.

Some of the things the source parent will teach the child include:

  1. That once the child is 18, he/she no longer has to be in contact with the target parent anymore, and is encouraged to do just that
  2. That once the child is 18, if a boy he can change his last name to something different like his step-father’s last name
  3. That once the child is 12, he/she can go in front of a Judge and state how awful the target parent is, and of the desire to move in with the source parent and not be with the targeted parent at all anymore

Wrap-up: Take the high road
You’ll sometimes feel overwhelmed at correcting the brainwashing being inflicted upon your child. A brainwashed child will act in truly heart-wrenching manners, and you’ll often not even recognize him or her anymore.

But hang in there. Read this blog, discuss with other loved ones your frustration, and read the book “Divorce Poison,” take your complaint in front of the Judge in your case, and you and your relationship will be rewarded one day for your refusal to take part in counter-attacking the other parent.

Be a loving parent, don’t discuss the other parent in a negative light—ever—and take the high ground. Lastly, find a good child therapist who does “play therapy” with children, and you’ll be doing the right things to slowly undo the damage done to your child’s mind.

Dr. Phil’s show on Brainwashing of Children

Dr. Phil McGraw

Dr. Phil McGraw

A few months ago I watched with interest an episode of Dr. Phil that dealt with the topic of brainwashing of children by a parent. Dr. Phil summarized the bad parental behavior that hurts children, and I jotted down the main points he made. Here they are:

  • Using child as pawn
  • Talking bad about the other parent
  • Using child to gain information
  • Transferring hurt feelings and frustrations onto the child
  • Treating the child like an adult

All of them are great points. In my case every single one of them are being done. How about you? It’s my guess that a parent that you see deploying at least two of these actions is likely to be doing all five.

Brainwashing Tool #2: Using the child as a spy

 

Using the child as a spy

Using the child as a spy

Parents who are indoctrinating their children to spite the ex will also enlist the child to become a surrogate spy. This can range from simple information about the ex’s new girlfriend, all the details of every breakfast and dinner (“what did you eat? What restaurant did he take you to?”) to doing complete hard drive searches looking for bank info, emails, or incrimining web sites.

Vindictive ex’s would love to be able to rummage through your home to get interesting details on your life, including any and all “dirt.” They’re still very angry from the divorce or separation. But since they can’t break into your house without risking jail time, they recruit your child to act as a spy on their behalf.

This is very damaging to the child, for a number of reasons. First, it makes the child believe that the parent and their house can’t be a normal environment. There must be something wrong with it if one parent needs all the details of what’s happening there. Second, it teaches that it’s OK to be sneaky and spy on somebody. Remember, kids model their parents’ behaviors. So a continuance brain bath in spying around a parent’s house for information to share with the other parent is very damaging to the child long term.

Finally, by aligning the child in this manner, the vindictive ex slowly tears down the bond that exists between the other parent and the child. This intentional act of abuse on the child is terrible– it creates conflict and discomfort in a relationship where little to none even existed!

Parents that do this are terrible parents. Period.

When you catch your child reporting everything back to the other parent (I discovered mine through child therapist progress notes), it’s time to let the child know that you understand they want to “help Mom/Dad, but reporting back everything you do in such detail isn’t fun for them, it upsets the other parent, and it makes you work too hard, having to carry around a mental note pad every day.” Or words to that effect.

Don’t embarrass or punish the child, or the behavior will continue and get even worse. Point it out without pointing a hard finger, explain why it’s not a fun or positive thing to do, and then drop it.

When your ex places your child into counseling after every visit

Because time with you is damaging, of course!

Because time with you is damaging, of course!

I’m experiencing in my case severe programming in a desperate attempt to sever my son’s relationship with me. One of the things my son’s mother does is place him into counseling after every father-son time we have. That’s right, usually the very next Monday or Tuesday after the Sunday evening exchange he is placed into child therapy. This has been going on for many months now.

It’s very frustrating to see my 9-year-old son go from a highly enjoyable visit with me (my tactics in fighting back the brainwashing are slowly working, thank God), to being dropped into counseling.

I set myself an appointment with the child therapist a day after my son was placed there, and the therapist said there were no issues in my son’s nearly 3 weeks with me.

So why was he brought in? Counselor couldn’t answer.

I believe that his mother thinks that time with me is harmful to him, that my being in his life is harmful to him, and that the way to “recover” from the awfulness of spending time with a (unwilling to be acknowledged by her) loving father is to get help from a therapist.

Unfortunately in my case the therapist is completely clueless to the brainwashing mother is doing– so clueless that he denies any active brainwashing is going on! Just some “influencing” in my son’s mind. By whom? I ask? “Perhaps a parent”… Please… This after the countless stories I’ve told him and the video and audio tape showing my son’s anguish. It’s a “he said; she said” thing according to him.

When an ex places your child in counseling after nearly every visit with you, what message is that sending the child? That being with you is not a normal, OK thing. That obviously something not good or harmful certainly happened to the child during that time.

It’s sick.

If this happens to you, you need to be assertive in standing up to the child therapist on what exactly it is he or she is treating. See what codes are being documented on the billing to the insurance company. Sit in on sessions like I have, and take good notes. There are many incompetent child therapists out there.

In my case, the therapist didn’t have much to say, and even prevented me from seeing the progress notes when I asked to see them– he needed to see legal proof of my rights to see them. Can you imagine any divorce decree where a parent is specifically denied access to medical records? Amazing.

My battle is just beginning with that incompetent child therapist. Never assume that a therapist knows what he/she is doing and isn’t aligning with one parent over the other. Get your own trusted child therapist always.

Brainwashing technique #4: Transferring hurt feelings and frustrations onto a child

Brainwashing childrenBrainwashing a child usually begins as frustrations, hurt, and contempt towards you by your ex. He or she feels betrayed, wronged, is quite bitter about the separation or divorce, and believes the child needs to know about these strong feelings.

Here, emotion trumps logic and good parenting. A parent makes a decision to bring the child into the separation/divorce mix, and from there the trend is rarely good—- in fact, the trend is usually towards more and more badmouthing the other parent. No matter how frustrated a parent becomes, getting the child to align against the other parent is terribly wrong. A mature parent would instead deal with the ex, and keep the child out of it.

This good parent would think, “Well, one day the child will see their parent for who he/she is, and I’m not going to be the one to slant my kid in one direction. It’s not right for me to do so, and it could even backfire one day.”

People involved in separations and divorces WILL have negative feelings towards the other parent, but it’s time for parents to act like adults and stop putting children in the crossfire. Getting a child to dislike or outright despise the other parent isn’t just wrong—it’s child abuse.

Scorched Earth Alienation

Scorched Earth Alienation (n) – intentionally trying to destroy a child’s relations with a parent and associated family tree.

There are different levels of brainwashing children, the most extreme of which is Scorched Earth Alienation.

When the ex tries to poison the relationship with not only the other parent but with that parent’s sisters, brothers, father– the entire family tree essentially, this is called Scorched Earth Alienation.

In my case, my son’s mother tries to deny him a normal relationship with his own half-sister, his Daddy (me), his grandpa (denied him an exchange– which I promptly filed a motion with the Court), and cousins.

She’s not just satisfied with getting him to hate his own Daddy, she’s going after the entire family tree. It’s truly sad… I hope your situation isn’t nearly as far-reaching as mine.

So when it comes time to discuss with your lawyer or the jury your plight, use this term– it’s perfect for what the malicious behavior it’s describing.

Only 40 hours ’til I see you

Counting down the hoursParents who view visitation with the other parent as something that’s a necessary evil often count down not only the days in front of their child, but hours too.

If a parent says to the child “Honey, I miss you so much, only 40 hours until I see you,” what is that telling them?

First, it tells them that there’s a mental clock counting town the time until “freedom” occurs. Until the misery of having to be with the other parent is over. It’s simply not healthy for parents to use such countdowns.

My son’s mother does this. Just yesterday it was “40 hours.” Not 2 days, mind you. 40 hours.

What she should be doing is asking him what he’s doing, to support those things, and then say “have a blast tomorrow, I’ll talk to you then.” Period.

So if your child mentions “only 35 hours until I see Mom,” you know what’s going on the the parent’s mind.