Healing, Reunification & Building Strong, Sustainable Relationships
This blog was inspired by my wonderful, brilliant, courageous daughter and by Dr. Phil. Being with my daughter on the Dr. Phil show this week has empowered me to reveal some of the knowledge and experiences I have developed over my lifetime. I thought sharing some of these important lessons I have learned would help others who are struggling with relationship issues of all types. This was written in honor of my amazing daughter.
As a basic premise;
“Hurt people, hurt people.” Thus, we need to get to the truth of why someone feels hurt and also in many situations, why they are doing hurtful things to themselves. Maybe we have communicated in unproductive ways; maybe both parties interpreted what the other said or did in unintended ways; maybe both were provoked; maybe both just did not have a meeting of the minds and misunderstood each other’s kind intent. These are common communication problems.
My wonderful Grandfather Ben taught me to never give up because if you are working with honest, sincere people; if there is a will, there is a way. These are some important issues which will determine whether you are working with an honest or sincere, capable person and reunification even has a chance of being successful:
1-Does the person you are trying to reestablish your relationship with truthfully want to also reestablish the relationship or are they pretending and have some ulterior motive?
2-Does the person you are trying to reestablish your relationship with have free will and are they in control of their own thoughts, expressions and behavior? Often in the case of parental alienation, the child, teen or young adult is often just a mouthpiece for the controlling alienating parent and is only expressing this parent’s views not their own.
Beware of the common strategy of someone who wants to act like they are cooperating but who really wants to set you up to fail so they can say, see another therapist and nothing seems to work, it is all his or her fault. What they do is to agree to therapy with a therapist who does not practice SAFE HAVEN THERAPY. This means that the sessions are not kept confidential so the child does not feel “safe” in expressing his or her true feelings OR someone else is controlling what the child, teen or young adult (hereinafter referred to as child) says because they are privy to what is discussed. Thus, the child who is physically the one in therapy has no freedom of expression, thought or liberty. This can work several different ways:
- One way is when the therapist does not agree to keep the sessions confidential.
- Another way is when you have parent/child reunification therapy after a divorce, particularly with parental alienation, when the alienating parent refuses to sign an agreement AND/OR abide by it stating he or she will not ask the child ANY questions about the therapy.
This waiver and abiding by it is very important because after a divorce, it is in the child’s best interest to have INDEPENDENT relationships with each parent. But, with alienating parents who are narcissistic, they cannot give up this control and try to use the children as pawns or objects for their own purposes. They should not even be interested in what is discussed in the therapy sessions but what often happens is the child becomes their mouthpiece and the reunification fails. When the therapy fails, the alienating parent blames it on the loving, kind, unsuspecting alienated parent and says no wonder therapy failed because this parent is unfit, delusional, crazy or other false allegations. As this was truthfully just another one of the set of planned parental alienation strategies commonly used. Please be aware of this so you do not fall prey.
A possible solution in this situation is to have the therapist, alienated parent and child agree to keep the sessions confidential and that no conversations are to be held with ANYONE about this therapy. The problem with this is even if the alienated child is a young adult, the alienated parent has such control over this child and can evoke such fear or hate in them that they end up discussing the therapy even though they signed the waiver. As a result, the therapy can really harm the young adult because he or she knows the waiver was violated. This young adult is now ashamed for lying but in reality does not have control over his or her own actions due to the parental alienation. As you can see, parental alienation is such a serious problem to resolve because the alienating parent usually cannot be trusted.
Another more likely possible solution is to have a marathon therapy session when working with a young adult only because they have long attention spans. For an entire 8 hours, therapy is conducted so a lot of the issues can be discussed and resolved and new patterns of behavior can be established and practiced and in the future discussed during the next 8 hour session. This way, any interference by the alienating parent and others will have a minimal effect because the new behavior patterns have already been outlined by the therapist and the communications between the alienated parent and young adult will be recorded or noted for the therapist to discuss.
A therapist trained in safe haven therapy and parental alienation will be able to recognize if there was interference by the alienating parent or others. Again, the alienating parent must still sign the waiver along with the therapist, alienated parent and young adult and anyone else, like step parents or grandparents, who knows about the therapy and may be tempted to coerce the child to discuss it. Also, during these marathon sessions, if the young adult is not living in the home of the alienating parent, this therapy has a better chance of being successful. But, as you know, when you are dealing with liars and those who deceive, as Les Linet MD says, they will do anything to get their way as they do not love their children and do not care about any collateral damage.
Back to trying to mend a broken relationship; as my friend and author Ambassador Douglas Kimec says, kindness is the key to healing these hurts.
No one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes but if the kindness of both parties is sincere, then you can forgive each other and move forward with new positive adult thought processes which drive our patterns of behavior so you will no longer think or act in these hurtful, misunderstood ways. Charles Duhigg’s bestselling book The Power of Habit, discusses this thoroughly & John Maxwell’s book The Difference Maker, discusses how important a positive, truthful attitude is for making positive accomplishments and overcoming our challenges.
To have a wonderful relationship you must be able to enrich each other and also have fun together for the rest of your lives, not just for a short period of time. This relationship must be sustainable. To have this mature relationship, you must learn to grow together as you enter many phases of your adult lives and face your challenges together in positive ways instead of abandoning the relationship when times get rough and challenging. These rough and challenging times are great opportunities for real growth and bringing the relationship to a new level of love and respect. Again, you both must continue to be totally honest with each other and also be kind. Kindness is the key to healing our hurts, not quitting, rudeness, deception or disrespect. All these words of wisdom I have learned from many wise people in my life and wise philosophers, authors, judges and others too and of course my wonderful Grandfather Ben. Also, as you know, we can learn from people what to do as well as what not to do.
Relationships are not easy and must be worked at constantly. Relationships are beautiful too especially when you connect with your soul mate. Such a relationship does not seem like work at all as it is so much fun and truly enriching. I am not saying everything is great and wonderful all the time, but this is the status quo. A successful relationship, including mother/daughter, business and all others I believe, requires kindness, love, objectivity, truthfulness, desire for positive results for the common good, compassion, tolerance, patience and I am sure other things as well. It is so much easier to give up then it is to face your challenges with truth and conviction and work collaboratively together to learn to develop these skills to have a successful relationship.
As I have learned from many wise people; you have to learn how to love again and learn to accept or embrace the love you have for each other as you adapt to new changes in your life. The relationship must grow stronger and adapt too.
Please understand some people, unfortunately, can never admit their mistakes and make positive changes. This is when I have been told by many professionals and others that if their negative ways are destructive to you as they usually are, you have to get away from them or they will pull you down with them. This is why it is so important to associate with kind people with good values that can enrich you and are interested in doing good things. Plus, this is where the saying “Guilt by association,” comes from. Unfortunately, if someone inhibits us from reaching our potential and being a healthy, well balanced person, AND if they refused to change, we have to end the relationship.
Usually, the ones who really need to learn how to make positive changes refuse to have therapy with a therapist who practices what is called safe haven therapy.
I hope these lessons I have learned were helpful to you and please send in your comments so we can post them and continue to help each other.
-by Sara Hassman, Parental Alienation Solutions, founder, www.palienation.org-