Toxic parents destroy families and alienate children in many ways.

One common scenario was when Helen finally divorced Martin.  Martin was toxic – narcissistic, bullying and abusive.  He’d belittled and demeaned Helen for years.  He’d controlled her with criticism, negativity and emotional torture.

Helen finally filed for divorce when she saw the effects on her children.
During the proceedings, Martin lied convincingly under oath about what he’d done and what Helen had failed at.  Helen kept offering reasonable compromises to him so he could live well after the settlement.  She knew every time she gave in he demanded more, but even though she hated his demands and her acquiescence of them, she always gave him more.  She wanted him to know, she was still a good girl, worthy of respect and appreciation.

Helen protected Martin’s image with the kids.
Martin tried to alienate and estrange the kids from Helen.  He consistently told the children what a rotten person and mother Helen was, how she’d treated him badly, how the divorce was her fault and how she was guilty for every bad feeling and problem the kids had.  Nevertheless, Helen never said a bad word against him.  She wouldn’t want the kids to think she was the kind of person who was vindictive; she wanted to show them the meaning of forgiveness.

Later, during the daily arrangements about visitation and taking the kids to and from their activities, Martin always had excuses why he couldn’t make the required effort.  Helen always covered for him.

She said the most important thing was that kids should see the best of their father and should honor him.  Kids need a father.

Kids know the truth.
Despite Helen’s attempts to protect Martin, the kids knew how he treated them and how they felt.  Helen saw the kids living in fear of displeasing their narcissistic father.  If they didn’t do exactly what he wanted, he’d be vindictive.  He yelled at them relentlessly and battered them emotionally when they didn’t please him.  Nothing was ever his fault.  He even pitting them against each other, rewarding favorites who did what he wanted and acted like they worshiped him.

Most kids choose to imitate the winner.
Soon, the kids started treating Helen like their father did.  They acted like she was supposed to make them happy by being their slave.  They knew they’d better ally with him and they could get away with disrespecting her.

Decide which values are more important than which others.
Helen finally decided her values of being a good girl, worthy of respect and appreciation, of showing she was forgiving and not vindictive, and of thinking the kids needed a father were less important than setting high standards of behavior and of speaking the truth.  Martin was destroying the children’s self-esteem, self-confidence and good character, and she had to stop him.  Yes, kids need a father but not this specific angry, cruel, lying, controlling, manipulative, bullying father.

Speak and act before it’s too late.
Helen finally allowed herself to rebel against her old beliefs, rules and roles.  It took great courage to say she mattered; her views, feelings and attitudes were important.  She finally chose to speak out against Martin’s treatment of her and, even more important, to take action.

For example, when he failed to pick up the kids or buy their promised sports’ equipment or give them birthday presents, she told the kids the truth about who’d failed them and let them suffer the consequences.

What happened?
Both children had lived in fear of their father and accepted his behavior until one became old enough to resist and say he never wanted to see Martin again.  He remembered the fear, shame and pain he’d felt when he was with his father.  He also started treating Helen well.  He told Helen he’d rather grow up with her rules than be hateful like his father.

Unfortunately Martin alienated and estranged the other child from Helen.  That child accepted her father’s control and her fear of him.  She went to live with Martin.  She took out her anger on Helen.  She swore Helen would never see her grandchildren when she had them.  She seemed to enjoy Helen’s pain when she said that.

There are many other situations with similar patterns and consequences – separation, alienation, estrangement.

Of course, there are many complications depending on your situationThe best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:

  1. Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
  2. Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create the life your spirit has always hungered for.

Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert counseling and coaching by phone or Skype.

AuthorBen Leichtling