How Can I Stop My Ex from Turning My Child Against Me


How to Determine if Your Ex-Spouse is Attempting to Turn Your Child Against You

I was talking to Cathy, a 46-year-old mother, who had been alienated by her 14-year-old daughter.  At the beginning of the divorce, Cathy suspected that her then-husband was trying to turn her one and only child against her.  She and her daughter had always been close so it was a red flag when Cathy noticed that her daughter was argumentative with her and wanted to spend less time with her. Cathy told her attorney what was happening who assured her that this was harmless, kids go through phases, “we see this all the time, “ and once the dust settles from the divorce “everything should be ok,” meaning that their relationship would go back to the way it was. None of that had happened.

By the time Cathy reached out to me, she had not seen her daughter in five years.  Cathy said that her daughter not only did not want to see her mother, but she also accused Cathy of horrendous actions against her, claimed Cathy an unfit mother, and therefore wanted nothing to do with her.  As Cathy sobbed through her words, the immense pain she had endured over the years was palpable.  She missed so many of her precious daughter’s life milestones and knew that she was going to miss even more.

Cathy was caught in a psychological loop of seeking for the pivotal moment when we went from beloved parent to undesired foil.  We scan our history together to uncover a clue, anything that we could have done to precipitate and facilitate our child to hate, fear, and reject us.  Did we make them go to bed too early, did we not allow ample computer time or not make enough of their favourite foods?  We wonder if we were too strict, too lenient, were not available, were too available.  I will refrain from listing the mound of questions we ruminate over because it is meaningless to do so because the answer is plain and simple.  An alienated parent did nothing wrong!

What Can You Do About Parental Alienation?

As with my answer to Cathy, I have the same one for you if you find yourself on the receiving end of the alienation stick.  Parental Alienation is when one parent (your ex-spouse) uses your child as a pawn to act as a weapon against you — the target.  The cog in this equation is your ex-spouse.  Without the ex, the alienation would not take place.  What makes it even more complicated is that the alienator is your child’s parent; a parent they love and are completely devoted to.

Cathy asked me for guidance on how to reset the relationship with her daughter by asking me “How do I get her back?  Before I could answer, she said she thought she may have waited too long to do something about it.  Her biggest struggle with herself is why did she wait so long. Cathy was already in so much pain.  The years of emotional anguish had taken a toll on her and I could tell that she was exhausted by this experience.  We discussed several options that she had and I am happy to say that the walls between Cathy and her daughter are beginning to break down.

I share this story because it is one I hear frequently with the primary question being how could Parental Alienation have been prevented?  My professional and personal experience understanding and circumventing parental alienation was the catalyst to be asked to perform a TEDx talk.  Parental alienation hurts everyone involved, primarily the child whose childhood is robbed of them while they are indoctrinated to hurt a loving parent – you. 

You are not helpless!

You can circumvent, defy, diffuse, and possibly eradicate parental alienation.

Remember, I Was a Targeted Parent

The alienator is a force that is impossible to fight alone.  You need the tools to fight back.  No one can change the alienator’s behavior but, I can give you the arsenal to fight this war and it is a war!  A war waged against you and the child is the weapon.

Don’t allow Parental Alienation to destroy you, your child, and your family.

Your friend in combating Parental Alienation.

Susan Shofer Divorce Consultant

Parental Alienation Is Complex.  I’ve Been There.

I know that there is a lot to understand and consider if you’re fighting Parental Alienation.  Along with my module-based online course, Pass on PA (Parental Alienation), and a master class Burst the Alienator’s Power Bubble,  as a CDC Certified Divorce Coach and Parental Alienation Specialist, I am available for telephone coaching sessions.

If you are in the throes of Parental Alienation and feel like giving up, check out this post to get a little insight.  To view my other posts on Parental Alienation, click here.

Discover Why Parental Alienation Has Nothing to Do With You

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  1. Wondering if I can get any kind of help. My ex-husband left me, 6 years ago (redacted for privacy)…
    Thanks for listening, Jennifer

    1. Thanks for your question, Jennifer. We have reached out to you personally.

    2. My sons live with me and visit my ex wife every other weekend. I know she takes them to do alot of things that I can’t because I pay for all the care as I didn’t ask for child support. Do you have any suggestions to help the alienation that is going on.

  2. Wish I had heard about you years ago. For me nothing can be done about my relationship with my two daughters. I haven’t been able to speak or see them for years now. As they just stopped any communication with me for no reason what so ever. My hope is at least someone out there will find you and you will prevent what happened to me from happening to them. It is horrible not being able to see or be a part of your children’s life’s. I’m was a very good father to my girls at one time. I love them very much and miss them every day.

  3. […] Susan Shofer is passionate about helping those dealing with parental alienation, an issue many divorcees experience. She has set up a free webinar for those looking for guidance […]

  4. My wife is going through a high conflict modification and her kids have been turned. I don’t even recognize them on the phone, they are cold, secretive, and mean to her. My step daughter fits every description above, she is making up lies about her mother, being disrespectful(and seems to feel justified in her disrespect), speaking and saying things way above her understanding, saying she has “been realizing more lately” and “has been asking questions and getting answers from her dad”.

    Dad is a text book narcissist, and has been calling CPS with bogus claims to try to make my wife look bad. We need help, these children are being mentally abused and it doesn’t seem like we can stop it.

  5. My husband and his ex wife do not get along, she is very manipulative and immature. However, they had a daughter. My husband and his daughter were inseparable, he raised her and took parental leave. She lived with him for years while her mother was nowhere around. She took off because she started dating her student (they are married now) and left her daughter behind. Anyways, her mother came back around, they share custody now. We had to move a little further away due to a new job, so now his child visits every other weekend. Up until about a month and a half ago. She just stopped visiting, my husband would get excuses as to why his daughter doesn’t want to come and it all ended last night when he received a text from his ex wife saying “your daughter doesn’t want to visit, she will call you when she does” Which is TOTALLY out of the norm for her. She LOVES being her and her and her father have such a strong bond. The child is completely ignoring us and we have no idea why. What can be done? We need help

    1. It’s remarkable that unwittingly I ran from my NPD/Malignant type who was so jealous, threatened & incapable at a very young age I knew she was not like other mothers in the neighborhood. Meet & married my ex husband w whom I repeated the cycle for 25 years. It was only when my mother truly killed my beloved father that I knew it was do or die for me. After finally disentangling from thst marriage I came to see that my brother & one of my daughters are afflicted to boot. After becoming a psychologist I had knowledge but no power bc I had been in training from birth for the next narcissist to abuse me. At long last Ive found that when I’m rested with an established time limit around either one & that’s worked for years. No picking up every tab, mess & endless therapy or adoration. I’m done with them & the only one that’s even fully aware of that fact is me. They’ve long since found another object & devalued me enough that they’ve squared their loss. Me? I cannot allow myself to forget or be lulled into submission : bookended from birth to death with the Sz folks is enough – I’ll not let them kill me. Dramatic ? I think not.

  6. I googled “ex turning my daughter against me” and found your website. It all added up in a split second after reading and checking off every item on list. I have sacrificed everything, as every good parent does, to care for my daughter. It just sickens me. All the times I called on my off weekend, only to be told she doesn’t want to talk to me. I always made sure my daughter was primed to talk to her mum on my weekends, trying to make my girl feel whole, even though she was a child of separation. This and so many other things that have not made sense. But now they do. And now to pick up the pieces. Glad I found your website though. It has been a slow boil to being ‘mindf***’. At least I now get what’s happened. Thank you.

  7. I’ve just discovered that my ex cultivated parental alienation since our divorce in 1995. He is still manipulating our first-born daughter, and she will be 33. She fully estranged from me almost 2 years ago. His actions were exposed during lengthy and multiple conversations with our younger daughter, who is also estranged from her sister, and rarely interacts with her dad because of the script that he adheres to regarding me. I admit to being blind-sided, and never considered that he was the source of the alienation. Now, however, it makes perfect sense. My ex has always favored the eldest and never made that favoritism a secret. She was under his spell since age 7 and by age 9 had begun to exhibit symptoms of alienation. She parrots his script almost word for word, both in regard to me and to her sister. My youngest has lost a loving relationship with her sister, and I’ve lost my first daughter’s love. We’ve also been torn from my eldest daughter’s two children. No grandma, no aunt for them. It is as if we were both dead and buried. For the past two years and even earlier, I’d been blaming myself and wondering what horrific behavior of mine resulted in such a painful and agonizing fracture of our mother-daughter bond. Thank God that my youngest was willing to share her life-long observations. The more she shared, the more quickly all of the pieces of the puzzle came together. I’d been focused on the estrangement, when in fact it was parental alienation all along. The puzzle, completed, revealed the face of her father. So very sad. A tragic end for such a fragile family of four. <\3

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