Take the 2-minute tour ×
Parenting Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for parents, grandparents, nannies and others with a parenting role. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Having experienced parental alienation syndrome, my child is very reticent and unresponsive to my attempts in rebuilding our relationship. The condition is very much like sulking, but with an externally inflicted cause. What approaches can I try to invoke interest, cooperation and joint bonding experiences?

[edit - background - not part of the question]
After divorce the mother got custody and over time have influenced our daughter to the extend stated above. The mother has committed at least 9 (provable) acts of transgressions indicating active application of parental alienation most of which is still continuing. The syndrome is the effect it has on our daughter (12yo). Due to its insidious nature, the parental alienation took place over two-plus years to reach this current state at which I at last woke up to it. Previous to this period the relationship was fine and normal.
I've looked at legal options but will not take that route - can see only harm and stress affecting my daughter on top of the PAS.
I have intermittent telephonic access (controlled by the mother: I call her and ask to talk to my daughter), and see my daughter twice a week for less than an hour each time. I want to use these accesses to try and salvage something of a relationship with my daughter.
I've informed the mother that I'm aware of what is going on, but no helpful response from her side (yet), but I'm working on it, although I'm not holding my breath.

In short: what can I do to (re)bond with my daughter?

share|improve this question
    
"Having experienced parental alienation syndrome": Could you expand on this, especially with regards to the "externally inflicted cause"? It's not really a very well known term, and that makes this question hard to answer. Obviously no-one wants you to reveal personal details, but if you could expand on the events that triggered this behaviour, and explain how it's affecting their behaviour, and how you've already been trying to deal with it, I'm sure we'd be happy to help. –  deworde Nov 21 '11 at 9:33
    
From what I've just looked up on the internet, PAS is generally one parent attempting to turn the child against the other. If so, please edit the question to say so. –  deworde Nov 21 '11 at 10:08
2  
    
Well, yes, but as the third paragraph down reads : "Parental alienation syndrome is not recognized as a disorder by the medical or legal communities and Gardner's theory and related research have been extensively criticized by legal and mental health scholars for lacking scientific validity and reliability.", I felt a little more information on the actual situation at hand might be helpful. –  deworde Nov 21 '11 at 16:14

2 Answers 2

Being the child of divorced parents and looking at your question I'd say you need more time with your daughter. Intermittent contact and less than two hours a week of face time, if I am reading your question and adding it up right, means not much contact. If your contact is that limited then it's easy for the other party to say that you don't love your daughter or you would spend more time with her. Increase your time with her, ask her where she wants to go and take her places she enjoys, get her comfortable and in a setting she enjoys and or might be talkative. It's easy to build trust, but once removed it's doubly hard to rebuild and with PAS it's going to be more difficult if the other party is actively trying to subvert you. Nothing builds up a relationship like alone time and showing you care.

share|improve this answer
    
Your observations are correct. The access time is what I've got to work with, as result of the mother arranging extra-mural activities (which I unwittingly acceded to at the time). My daughter is currently disinclined to go places with me, and like I said to enforce my rights will require legal intervention that I don't want to do. So, how would you suggest that I use the access, what do I do to reconnect with my daughter. –  PasserBy Nov 21 '11 at 13:58
    
Try to do things she REALLY enjoys then, you need to bring her to a place that she is comfortable and will open up. If your time is limited then try to make it a place you can talk and she will be open to what you say. Sometimes words can help and tell her you can in any way and in as many ways as you can. Basically you have to reestablish a relationship that is actively being destroyed, and when my parents divorce got bitter sometimes all I wanted was a few kind words or an attempt from the other. –  MichaelF Nov 21 '11 at 14:18
1  
As an aside, it may be that legal recourse is going to be necessary at some point, otherwise you will be dealing with a limited access window that in the long term may not help you. –  MichaelF Nov 21 '11 at 14:19
1  
I'd be concerned that taking her mum to court might be more damaging in the long term than waiting it out till she gets older, but I can see that it might be necessary. I'd certainly recommend doing everything else possible first. –  deworde Nov 21 '11 at 18:39
    
It depends, my parents divorce was anything but civil and my brother was sort of in my Dad's sphere of influence and my brother and mother NEVER had a good relationship. Keeping the communication lines open is the best way, but it all depends on how your ex-wife wants you out of the picture. Court is not always an attractive option, but in some ways showing you are fighting to have more time with your daughter is one way to show you care. It all depends on how you spin it. –  MichaelF Nov 21 '11 at 18:52

The primary thing here has to be your daughter's welfare. If you and the mother have an actively hostile relationship, then you need to shield her from it as much as possible. When you spend time with her, avoid all mention of her mother, except in a supportive context (e.g. if she's complaining about her mum, remind her that her mother loves her, and deserves respect).

One thing I would suggest is to spend some time every day writing a little note to your daughter. Just tell her about your day, something interesting you saw or heard or did. Always sign off with your love. Either e-mail it to her, or better, send it in an pretty envelope. This effectively increases the time you spend with her, because she knows you're thinking about her at other times, and she's got the letters to remind her of you. The other advantage is that, even if your daughter's in a position at the moment where she's supporting her mother at the cost of you, the letters will be there for when she's more interested.

Beyond that, just be there whenever you can. Try and rebuild your relationship with her mother to the point where you're allowed to be. Don't throw around psychological terminology or blame the mother for turning your child against you. When the mother insults you, learn to take it. Fight it, and you'll gain nothing and just end up putting your daughter in the middle.

This could take years, especially as your time with the daughter is so limited, but you may just have to hang on till she's an adult and is more willing to re-engage with you. The worst thing you could do between now and then is to either fall out of her life completely, or become "that guy who hates her mother".

share|improve this answer
    
Yes, I can use this, it is the kind of suggestions I'm looking for. Thanks. –  PasserBy Nov 21 '11 at 16:36
    
No problem. They're just suggestions. I have no experience of divorce, except from a distance, but I've seen how much it can screw up parent-child relationships, and I hope you find a way to make it work. –  deworde Nov 21 '11 at 18:40
    
Thinking about this the only problem I see with this is that if the mother is actively trying to remove the father then mail may be intercepted as well as emails. Depends on how active the mother is in this, so it could just end up with another situation where the daughter needs to choose whom to believe. –  MichaelF Nov 25 '11 at 13:36
    
Which is why I also recommended trying to rebuild the relationship with the mother. Doesn't have to be sent. Giving it to her at the end of the visit would be better, if anything. –  deworde Nov 25 '11 at 22:48

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.