From the Yated Ne’eman newspaper
Having been raised in a home with divorced parents, I am thrilled to have an opportunity to share with the Yated readers a happy ending to a sad an unfortunate childhood. I have, Boruch Hashem, finally reunited with my alienated father and now we, and his new family, have established a warm, solid relationship together.
I am now 20 and happily married.
I was a product of parental alienation by my mother, who kept me away from my father. She fed me a host of lies, false allegations and sheer drama, and thereby robbed me of a relationship with him due to her selfish personal war that she waged with him all the years. It was almost an obsession to completely blot him out of our lives. She should have sought help for herself, since this was about her own selfishness and not about what was right for her child.
It is only fair to mention that I had a loving mother and I have many fond memories growing up, but despite all of that, there was a steady sprinkling of lies relating to my father’s whereabouts, which left me quite confused.
How I finally sorted things out is a story too long for this column, but when I started dating, issues about my father kept creeping into every conversation with shadchanim and I was stunned to discover that my father was, in fact, an outstanding human being, quite well known and respected, with a loving family. I set into motion a plan that ultimately led me back into his life.
The grief he suffered is indescribable. He shared with me his own journey with rabbonim, dayanim, friends and family who were all equally helpless in effecting some sort of visitation due to my mother’s relentless compulsion with revenge.
Unfortunately, rabbonim are not equipped with much to enforce agreements. Despite their best efforts to reason with my mother, pointing out the wickedness of such alienation and the impact on my childhood, nothing changed.
What she caused, a parentectomy of sorts, is unforgivable. The emotional manipulation I suffered for nearly 20 years will take me a lifetime to make sense of. Couldn’t she have seen that this would backfire?
I am happy today beyond words. I have a new family, siblings and grandparents who embraced me and my husband. I am trying to make up for lost time. I am trying very hard to focus on that and not on the resentment I have for my mother who caused so many individuals so much pain. She is now suffering the backlash, the wrath of her child, for having precipitated this enormous loss, because our relationship today is cold at best. In time, I honestly hope things will improve on that front too, but for now it comes down to my own personal healing experience and my newfound happiness.
It is my sincere hope that by sharing my story, I will encourage others in similar situations to seek professional help to try, at all costs, to avoid a lifetime of unresolved pain and regrets to their children.
Name withheld, Montreal, Canada
I read it through and of course had to try and think if I knew who it was, us both being Montrealers. I don’t and I am kind of glad. This type of letter breaks my heart. So many missed opportunities on all sides. I have heard versions of the same type of stories way too many times to be surprised. I am so thrilled for the writer that she managed to find the truth and is working on moving on.
I just have to wonder how come her father didn’t go the legal route to try and see her and spend time with her – whether he lives here or in the States, or any civilized country, a father has a legal right to see his child, divorced or not. It’s all well and good that he consulted the rabbanim and dayanim et alia – but it did not help. Rabbanim cannot enforce visitation. The legal system is there for a reason, so I would love to understand why there is no mention of that in this letter.
I feel sorry for the mother. I am sure in her mind she thought what she was doing was right. Maybe she felt like she was protecting her daughter. I am sure she didn’t do anything with the intent deliberately to hurt her. I feel bad that right now her child is angry with her for the choices she made and for the experiences she missed out on. The father missed out on knowing his daughter for many years – years that cannot be replaced.
Parents may not like each other any more after divorce, but the children must come FIRST. Every. Single. Time. Everything I have done, every decision I have made since my divorce, has been with the kids front and centre in my heart. It isn’t always an easy answer. But we want our children to grow up as well rounded individuals – to do that they need exposure to both sides of the family. There is no excuse for alienation except perhaps in the case of molestation – but even then, supervised visits are sometimes mandated by the courts.
Children are not weapons. They are not to be put in the middle of a battle between ex-spouses. They are innocent in the whole divorce scheme of things. They didn’t do anything to cause the divorce and they don’t need to be used as pawns for the agenda of either parent. So many people don’t get this, and they are hurting their children.
If the writer of this letter is somehow reading this – Kudos for you for working to finding out the truth for yourself. I hope at some point you can find it in your heart to forgive your mother and move on. It will take time but time WILL heal. Enjoy and cherish your new-found relationship with your father and his family. You have been given a second chance – make the most of it. B’Hatzlacha.
To my readers – how do you feel reading this kind of letter? With whom do you sympathize the most? Do you also wonder what legal steps were taken? Talk to me…
[note from HSM: My dear friend Lady Lock and Load brought this letter to my attention. It was printed recently in the Yated Ne’eman newspaper. (She actually typed it in herself so she could send it to me as this letter is not online. She knew I would be interested.)]