Fly with the Phoenix

Close your veins

I’m reading a good book right now, “A Mother Apart,” by Sarah Hart that gives a voice to mothers who for various reasons left their children or who live apart from them due to custody decisions. Some of the women chose to separate themselves from the kids because of the hurtful behaviors directed at them by the other parent and/or the child(ren). I used to think very poorly of such women, but my mind is being changed, thanks to Sarah’s book.

Many of us have taken emotional abuses from ex-husbands or partners, myself included. It beats you down and can take years of recovery. The scars aren’t outwardly seen, but they exist. Those of us with teen children know the type of junk they can throw at us, too. I’m learning the teen years make the terrible 2’s look like a church cake walk.

Most of the time, this emotional flotsam is pretty typical of the confused, self-absorbed teen. “What’s in it for me” becomes their mantra, and the savvy parent knows how to navigate these waters using the rudders of unconditional love, boundaries and consequences, clear communication and loads of patience. But sometimes, the emotional junk mirrors that of the abuse the former partner dished out. Kids can be brainwashed by the other parent. Children also can fall into the parental alienation syndrome (PAS) trap. She writes, “PAS is a disorder that occurs solely in child-custody disputes in which a child becomes aligned with one parent and preoccupied with the unjustified vilification of the other parent. It includes the programming by one parent coupled with the child’s denigration of the other parent.”

As Hart suggests, there’s no easy fix to this or quick resolutions. She encourages  parents on the other end of PAS to find support, retain as much contact with the child as possible and assure them of your love. Interestingly, she also writes it’s important to trust your instincts concerning when to take a step back. This rings so true to me right now, and I find her book very insightful. I’d recommend this to any mother (or father) who deals with this heightened emotional challenge.

I’m about to release a book, “I Don’t Want to Live with You Anymore,” and in it, I discuss how a new non-custodial parent can come back from the ride to hell and back that is called a custody modification. It takes work at managing anger, recognizing and working through grief while still maintaining your ability to parent your child. Yet, it’s vital to remember the importance of self-care and even, in the case of a PAS victim, self-preservation. Remember that it is not required of you to open your veins and bleed for your kids. While it’s true they were not asked to be brought into this world and you have  obligations to them, you also must understand there is an unnatural and unhealthy form of self-sacrifice.

A free sample chapter of my book is available through January for those who subscribe to this blog. Or send your e-mail address to It’s not shared with anyone else, but an address is needed to send you the PDF containing the chapter. I’d love to hear what you think, and to hear from any parents who think they have experienced PAS.


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