Stuck in the selfish sandpit with Ex…

Special thanks to Wikipedia user, Andrew Dunn, who has allowed free use of his photo. It appears here unaltered.

I thought today, I’d take a break from reposts and rantings about current events. Sometimes, I just need an old fashioned venting session. This particular vent is, yet again, about Ex. It may get profane, so brace yourself or move along. And please, no shaming comments about how inappropriate it is for me to write about this. I’ll write about whatever I damned well please. I know the situation and the people involved. You, most likely, don’t.

July 4th is a big day in Bill’s family. Not only is it Independence Day, which is a big day for anyone in the military community; it’s also Bill’s older daughter’s birthday. Older daughter happens to share her birthday with younger daughter’s daughter– Bill’s granddaughter– who was born on a more recent July 4th. Bill was looking for a gift for his granddaughter, but not for his daughter. Older daughter is still estranged, thanks to her selfish, narcissistic, manipulative mother. He’s come to terms with it. She’s about to turn 30, and she has to make decisions for herself. But that doesn’t mean it’s not frustrating to watch from the sidelines.

What do we Americans usually do on birthdays? Most of us celebrate. Sometimes we go on trips, like Bill and I did last weekend for my birthday. We send gifts or have parties… or send a card.

Recently, younger daughter told Bill that she would like to send her sister something for her upcoming 30th birthday. Unfortunately, older daughter still lives with Ex, which makes it hard for younger daughter to communicate with her without interference from their mother. Ex evidently monitors older daughter’s phone and mail. I don’t agree with this policy, but it’s not my life. For some reason, older daughter tolerates the invasion of privacy, even though multiple people– including Bill– would love to help her move out of her mother’s house and live life more on her own terms. What can I say? You get what you settle for.

In any case, younger daughter said that she doesn’t think she can send her sister a birthday present or card. Why not? Because she says it would cause more drama for her sister than is worthwhile. Here are a few potential scenarios that could occur if younger daughter sends her sister anything for her birthday…

Older daughter: Look! My sister sent me a birthday gift!

Ex: How nice for you. She didn’t bother to acknowledge my birthday.


Ex: That looks pretty cheap. I bet she didn’t spend more than ten minutes picking it out. She doesn’t know what you like, does she?


Ex: That gift is so inappropriate. It’s not the right size, color, style, etc… (you get the idea) Nice that she can send you a gift, but completely ignore me on MY birthday.

Younger daughter has lived with Ex long enough that she knows what happens when someone other than her has a “special” day. Ex has a very long history of ruining holidays and special days. I have written many posts about how she regularly fucks up major religious holidays like Christmas and Easter…. although the last Easter she ruined turned out to be a wonderful blessing, since it meant the resurrection of Bill’s life. She once ruined Bill’s birthday by sending him many boxes of his possessions that she’d held onto for six years after their divorce, along with hateful letters from his daughters AND adoption papers to allow him to let #3 adopt them. She can’t stand for other people to be happy, get rewarded, or otherwise enjoy connections with other people. She regularly shits on other people’s joy and tries to sabotage their successes.

Now… this isn’t really my business at all. I only know about it because Bill told me. I have a lot of empathy for younger daughter, who was always close to her older sister. I know she’d like to be closer to her now, especially since they live in separate states. But she can’t even send texts or call her without interference from Ex. She says Ex will access older daughter’s phone and read what’s on it. When younger daughter calls her sister, Ex will demand to know who’s on the phone. And she just acts like she owns the three kids who still live in her house. This is her way of maintaining control. It’s pure narcissism, and it sucks.

I am comforted in realizing, though, that Ex can’t live forever. Hopefully the ones still at home will eventually break away from her toxic bullshit and live their own lives… although she does have a child who has severe autism and will probably always need help. That’s supposedly one reason why older daughter still lives at home. Ex doesn’t take proper care of her youngest child, so older daughter, who is also reportedly on the spectrum, does it for her.

I suppose, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not a huge deal that two adult sisters feel like they can’t wish each other a happy birthday without interference from their twatbag mother… (sorry, I know name calling is childish, but this shit really pisses me off). Both of Bill’s daughters are grown women and more than capable of telling their mother to fuck off. Of course, they won’t put it in those terms, since they’re LDS and don’t like to curse. Or, younger daughter is still LDS. I’m not sure about older daughter.

Apparently, now that the church is no longer an effective parental alienation tool, Ex doesn’t attend anymore. I’m sure older daughter stays home, too, especially since church members apparently tried to help her in the same way they helped younger daughter break away from her toxic mother’s influence. Some might say the church’s influence is also toxic, but I honestly don’t think it’s worse than Ex is.

I’m experienced enough to know that this problem is one that Bill’s daughters have to solve by themselves. It’s going to take them growing a backbone and insisting that their mother stay out of their business. That’s hard to do, though, when one of them still lives under Ex’s roof. It’s like older daughter is stuck in quicksand, with many people standing around the sandpit with life rings, just waiting for her to grab one and get pulled out of the toxic mire. But she won’t grab the ring.

It could be that older daughter doesn’t mind the craziness. Maybe she’s afraid of the unknown, or worries that she can’t survive on the outside. I know younger daughter told Bill that she didn’t contact him for a long time because she was afraid. She’d been told so many lies… and she worried about everything from potential abuse to a cold reception. Of course, now she’s found out that she could have always reached out to him for help, and life is soooo much better on her own terms. But it can be hard to convince people still entrenched in Ex’s private pseudo-cult that escape is possible and life is good on the outside.

I just think it’s sad– and rantworthy– that my husband’s daughters can’t trade birthday greetings without a bunch of drama from their mother… or even just the perception of potential drama. Obviously, this is something that happens a lot in Ex’s house. When younger daughter explained her apprehensiveness about sending a gift, Bill knew exactly what she meant. He remembers his days living with his ex wife, trying to do something good, kind, or nice, and somehow, she would manage to fuck it up or ruin it. She is a master at sabotaging other people’s joy and satisfaction.

I remember, after their divorce, Bill would agonize over gifts and cards he’d send to his daughters when they were kids. Of course, Ex probably never gave them the things he sent… or she’d throw them away or sell them… or somehow discount them with disparaging words about what a loser she thinks Bill is (even though she made two daughters with him and asked him to raise her older son). Apparently, she makes babies with “losers”. She’s either got terrible taste in men or she’s a fucking liar. I’m going with liar. She doesn’t appreciate decent people. In fact, the nicer and kinder a person is, the more disrespect she seems to hurl at them. Especially, if they’re men.

Anyway… I know it’s not my business or my problem. I just think it’s terribly sad, and wanted to vent about it. I don’t have a very close relationship with my three sisters, but they all managed to wish me a happy birthday last week. It was good to hear from them. It makes me sad that younger daughter now knows a little bit about the tremendous pain Bill went through in the many years he was kept exiled from his children. They can commiserate over this shared bad treatment they received from someone who should have been loving and kind to them. Every day, I wish to God he’d had those kids with me, instead of his ex wife.

book reviews, narcissists

Repost: A review of Will I Ever Be Free of You?: How to Navigate a High-Conflict Divorce from a Narcissist and Heal Your Family

I am reposting this book review today because it’s relevant to today’s fresh blog content. It was written June 2, 2016, and appears here as/is.

Several years ago, I read a great book by Dr. Karyl McBride called Will I Ever Be Good Enough?: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers.  McBride is a very experienced psychotherapist whose mother was a narcissist.  Due to her own upbringing and the issues she faced growing up, McBride learned a lot about narcissism and has become an expert on the subject.  In 2015, she published another great book, Will I Ever Be Free of You?: How to Navigate a High-Conflict Divorce from a Narcissist and Heal Your Family.  I just finished the book this morning and I think it’s an excellent tool for men and women who are in the midst of a high-conflict divorce from a narcissist.

As some regular readers of this blog may know, my husband was once married to a woman we believe is a narcissist.  She definitely has a high-conflict personality and went out of her way to make things difficult when she and Bill were splitting up.  I wish Dr. McBride’s book had been around win Bill and his ex wife were divorcing.  Even though reading it might not have changed the outcome in their situation, it would have shed some light on some of the behaviors we observed in Bill’s former wife and the two kids they had together.  

Dr. McBride does an outstanding job of explaining what narcissism is.  Many people have the misconception that narcissism is about being extremely vain and selfish.  It’s true that vanity and selfishness are aspects of narcissism, but narcissistic personality disorder goes way beyond simple self-centeredness.  Narcissists lack empathy and crave adulation and attention.  They overestimate  and exaggerate their abilities while tearing down the people around them.  They go to extreme lengths to meet their endless need for narcissistic supply and they hurt good people in the process.  

If you are unfortunate enough to be married to a narcissist, you may find yourself losing inches of your life in support of the narcissist.   Your hopes and dreams become completely lost as the narcissist’s hopes and dreams become the center of importance.  Your health, financial stability, and self-esteem will suffer.  If you have children with a narcissist, you may find yourself constantly fighting parental alienation tactics.

One thing I liked about McBride’s book is that she teaches readers some effective communication skills that can be used with children.  She explains that children can’t process their emotions the way adults can.  They may lash out and say things they don’t really mean.  Many parents will retaliate by getting angry and dismissing or discounting their children’s feelings.  Children of narcissists are especially at risk.  What McBride advocates is using very basic therapeutic skills to communicate with children who are upset or angry.  

Here’s an example.  If a child is upset that you won’t let him or her sleep over at a friend’s house, he or she might say “I hate you!”  Many parents might have a knee jerk reaction to that statement and say something like, “Yeah?  Well, I hate you right back!”  While that response might feel good and seem justified at the time, it’s not constructive.  The situation will only get worse as the child feels like he or she isn’t being heard or respected.  There will be mounting frustration and the situation will likely escalate.

Instead of saying, “I hate you right back!” you could say, “I’m sorry.  It sounds like you’re very upset. Why don’t we talk about why you’re upset and what we can do to make things better?”

When the child explains why he or she is upset, you could paraphrase what he or she says, making it clear you’re listening.  Then the two of you can come up with a solution.  Or not…  the point is, instead of yelling at the kid and reacting in anger or annoyance, you can express empathy and show respect.  Then, the child might eventually learn to behave in the same manner.  

All of this may seem unrealistic to some readers.  It’s easy for a trained therapist to say that a parent should show empathy and respect.  And I’m sure that McBride knows parents are humans who lose their tempers sometimes.  The point is, she offers a new way to communicate.  Children who have a narcissistic parent have it tougher than other kids do.  They have a parent who doesn’t respect them and treats them like a possession rather than a person.  Non-narcissistic parents can ease the situation by learning how to communicate respectfully.

I also liked that Dr. McBride reminded readers that they should never badmouth the child’s other parent, even if the child is complaining.  Kids complain about their parents, but they don’t want to hear other people complain about them.  Like it or not, the other parent most likely shares DNA with the child, so when you criticize the other parent for being a jerk, it can come across as a personal insult to the child.  McBride advocates always taking the high road, at least until the child is mature enough to understand other perspectives.  And even then, it’s probably best to keep the badmouthing to a minimum.

Now, I write all of this realizing that I badmouth Bill’s ex wife all the time.  However, we have no contact with Bill’s kids.  I am not their parent and they are both now grown women.  Bill is their parent, and he hasn’t actually spent time in person with them since 2004.  Sadly, they are both strangers now.  But when he was able to see his kids, Bill didn’t trash talk his ex to them.  (Edited to add: Bill now speaks to his younger daughter, and she does understand the different perspectives now.)

That brings me to my next point.  As many readers may know, sometimes people who divorce someone with a high-conflict personality may end up losing contact with their children.  I think this happens especially often with men who marry narcissistic women.  I think McBride’s book would have been stronger had she addressed this phenomenon.  Also, she doesn’t really explain as much about how to deal with narcissists themselves.  Her book was more about protecting children.  Unfortunately, if you have joint custody with a narcissist, it may be difficult to employ some of McBride’s strategies.  If your narcissistic ex has sole custody, as Bill’s ex did, you probably might as well forget it (and for the record, I think Bill was unwise to allow his ex to have sole custody, but he was naive and trusted her).   

I think Karyl McBride’s book is a worthy read for people who are divorcing someone who has a high conflict personality.  I’d probably give it 4 stars on a scale of 5.  

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book reviews

Repost: My review of Sarah Tate’s Web of Lies…

I read this book years ago, when we lived in North Caarolina. I thought it was a surprisingly interesting story about a narcissistic relationship, although I think it might have been self-published. It offers a revealing look at the welfare system in Switzerland, of all places! I am reposting it as/is today.

Swept off her feet… right into the Dumpster!

Lately, I’ve been discovering books written by “lesser known” authors on Amazon.com and have ended up finding several good memoirs.  I have a special interest in memoirs about narcissists because my life has been “singed” by my husband’s time with one.  Sarah Tate is a British woman living in Switzerland who spent several years married to a narcissist.  She got out of the relationship, but not without a lot of stress, heartache, and financial ruin.  Tate chronicles her experiences in her book, Web of Lies- My Life with a Narcissist (2011).  

Sarah’s story

In 2001, Sarah Tate was a 30 year old single woman who had just moved to Switzerland for work.  She was excited about the move and her job, which she truly enjoyed.  One day at work, she met Bill, a man in his late 40s who radiated charm and charisma, even though he wasn’t particularly attractive to her.  Bill was balding and somewhat paunchy, but he talked a really good game.  When he asked Sarah out on a date, she accepted.

Bill showered Sarah with attention.  He took her to very expensive restaurants, cooked her lavish meals, bought her gifts, and took her on amazing holidays.  It wasn’t long before Sarah was securely under Bill’s spell and they were talking marriage. 

Sarah was aware that Bill had been married twice before.  With his first wife, he’d had three children who had become somewhat distant from him.  His second wife was a German woman who was supposedly a friend.  Bill explained that he and his second wife, Sofia, had a “business relationship” and had gotten married purely for tax and business reasons.  They’d had no children; in fact, Bill said he wasn’t sure if they’d even consummated the marriage.  Sadly, Bill’s second wife had killed herself, leaving Bill with the failing business.  As Bill told it, Sofia had screwed him over and now he was dealing with the legal and financial aftermath.

Bill impressed Sarah with his stories of being able to command huge sums of money for his work.  He always had big plans that would make him wealthy.  Although some of what he said seemed too good to be true, Sarah pushed those thoughts out of her head.  She was still caught up in the fairytale romance.

In 2002, Sarah and Bill were married in a lavish ceremony in a castle in Yorkshire, England.  Sarah writes that as she was about to walk down the aisle, a little voice in her head warned her to “get out now!”  But she got married anyway, and it wasn’t long at all before she was pregnant.  Wanting to be a stay at home mom, Sarah decided to quit her job rather than just take maternity leave.  Meanwhile, Bill decided he wanted to go into business for himself.  He also quit his job.

It was about at this time that the fairytale romance started to slowly but inexorably turn into a nightmare.  In her very well written and gripping account, Sarah Tate explains what it was like for her to be married to a narcissist.  As the years passed and her three babies were born, Sarah Tate found herself trapped in a web of lies spun by her husband.  He lied about his relationships, financial dealings, legal dealings, and work prospects.  As she was confronted by each falsehood in the form of legal summonses and collections notices, Sarah fell into despair.  As each lie eventually unraveled, Sarah became more and more determined to extricate herself and her children, escaping Bill’s web of lies, once and for all.

My thoughts

I read Web of Lies in one sitting because I had a hard time putting it down.  Though I have been fortunate enough to avoid having an intimate relationship with a narcissist, my husband Bill was married to one for almost ten years.  The aftermath of their marriage has been difficult to overcome and has resulted in some significant financial and personal losses.  Like Sarah, my Bill had a little voice in his head begging him not to go through with the marriage.  Like Sarah, my Bill ignored that little voice to his great detriment. 

Anyone who has been involved with someone who has narcissistic personality disorder will likely recognize themselves in Sarah’s story.  Anyone who has not been involved with a narcissist should count themselves lucky and read this book as a warning.  That old adage about if things seem too good to be true, they probably aren’t, really rings true when you’re dealing with a narcissistic person.  They lie, cheat, and steal, and they have no thought for anyone but themselves.  They think no one else sees how brilliant they are as they try to execute their big plans, then wonder why eventually no one cuts them a break when they ultimately foul things up.  When they get to that point, they have to move to a place where people don’t know them and start over.  Eventually, they aren’t able to fool people anymore.


I spent about $2 on this book and I think it was worth every penny. Even as I sighed at Sarah’s naivete and moaned as I read about how easily she was swayed by what seemed like Bill’s wealth, I could also see how such a shower of attention and flattery could sway her.  Most people would be overwhelmed by a person who seemed so taken with them and appeared to just want to take care of them, no questions asked.  There are very few people who in the world who are genuinely like that, though, so anyone who is that intent on bowling you over is probably up to no good.  If they are bombarding you with love, gifts, and attention, they are probably trying to blind you from seeing something ugly.

Sadly, Sarah’s three kids have a father who is a narcissist and they will have to live with that legacy.  But at least their mother was able to get out of the marriage and is now rebuilding her life.  As someone who came along post narcissistic relationship, I will tell you that rebuilding is possible, but difficult, and it doesn’t just affect you, it affects everyone who loves you… especially if there are children involved.

This book gets five stars from me.

Edited to add: Here’s a very interesting Amazon review… apparently, this woman almost fell for the same guy.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

book reviews, psychology

Repost: my review of Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life

I’m reposting another book review about narcissism. Just trying to keep it from going into oblivion. This review was originally written for Epinions.com on April 13, 2012. I am reposting it as/is.

More of a “what is” book than a “how to” book about narcissists

Narcissists can wreak havoc on just about any human interaction and relationship, at home or at work or among friends and family.  Over the past few years, I’ve read a lot of books about narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder. 

I have my own personal reasons for all this study, though I think almost everyone would benefit from learning more about narcissistic behavior.  In our society, which rewards people for doing and having more and polishing an image, narcissistic behavior seems to be on the rise.  That’s why I picked up Linda Martinez-Lewi’s 2008 book, Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life

What is narcissistic behavior?

Although Narcissistic Personality Disorder was removed from the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), a manual published by the American Psychiatric Association, plenty of people have to deal with the negative aspects of narcissistic behavior.  People who are narcissistic lack empathy toward other people, think they are “special”, and have grandiose fantasies about their own power and brilliance.  Narcissists are self-centered and focus only on their own needs and getting ahead.  They have no qualms about lying, cheating, or stealing if it means they can further their own agendas.  When they don’t get what they want, they tend to go into volcanic rages or become incredibly vindictive toward the person or people who they think have wronged them somehow.   

However, narcissists are also superficially charming and ingratiating.  They can come across as friendly, charismatic, helpful, alluring, and exciting.  It’s easy to be swept away by a narcissist’s dazzling footwork.  It’s not so easy to break out of their toxic sphere and reclaim your life.  That’s why people who have dealings with narcissists and are able to recognize the behavior need so much help from books like Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life.

False advertising…

I decided to buy this book because it got excellent reviews on Amazon.com.  However, having now read this book, I can’t share the majority opinion of those who left Martinez-Lewi such glowing reviews.  Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life does not offer much in the way of practical information about how to deal with narcissists.  Instead, it mostly focuses on anecdotes about famous people who were narcissists.  A solid half portion of this book is about people such as Ayn Rand, Frank Lloyd Wright, Pablo Picasso, and Armand Hammer.  While the anecdotes Martinez-Lewi relates are interesting, they don’t offer any definitive advice to readers on things they can do to combat narcissistic behavior from loved ones, friends, or co-workers.

Martinez-Lewi, who holds a PhD in clinical psychology and is a marriage and family therapist in Carlsbad, California, seems a lot more fascinated by describing the behavior and rationale behind rabid narcissistic behavior than giving her readers the tools to sidestep the  behavior.  Consequently, the title of this book is somewhat misleading and borders on false advertising.  Martinez-Lewi has divided her book into four parts.  It’s not until Part Four, 165 pages into the book, that she actually addresses strategies on how to deal with a narcissist. 

But that doesn’t mean the book wasn’t useful… 

Despite my negative comments about Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life, I can’t say I got nothing from this book.  For one thing, I never knew about the narcissistic tendencies of Ayn Rand, Pablo Picasso, Armand Hammer, or Frank Lloyd Wright.  Martinez-Lewi writes well and her anecdotes about these famous people were compelling and thought provoking.  I also think Martinez-Lewi offers a good description of what makes narcissists tick.  However, my feeling is that most people who would pick up this book would be at their wit’s end and really needing some practical tips on how to deal with destructive people.  I’m not sure Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life quite delivers in that regard.


I think this book is worth three stars and my recommendation, but I would encourage readers to find other resources to accompany Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life

For more information: https://thenarcissistinyourlife.com/

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

book reviews, divorce, psychology

Repost: A review of Divorce Poison

Here’s another useful book for people going through a divorce and having to co-parent with a difficult person. I originally reviewed this book for Epinions.com in 2006. It appears here as it did on Epinions, in 2006.

I have never been unfortunate enough to have suffered through a divorce, either as a child or an adult. My husband, Bill, on the other hand, is a survivor of two divorces, his own and his parents’. He was also a stepson to two men, both of whom eventually split from his mother. My husband has LOTS of experience with divorce and yet he was taken completely by surprise by his ex wife’s vindictiveness when it came to their children. In the six years since his divorce, my husband has felt helpless, watching as his kids suddenly refused to have anything to do with him. The one exception is his 18 year old former stepson, who recently reconnected with my husband just before he moved out of his mother’s house. Last week, my husband even got letters from his kids asking him to allow their stepfather to adopt them. In the midst of all this drama, I decided to read Dr. Richard A. Warshak’s 2001 book Divorce Poison: Protecting the Parent-Child Bond from a Vindictive Ex, a book that was suggested to me on a message board I frequent. Frankly, I am very surprised that I’m the first one to write an Epinions review of this highly acclaimed book.

Dr. Warshak is a clinical, research, and consulting psychologist. He works out of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and is reportedly an internationally respected authority on divorce. Divorce Poison is aimed at non custodial parents who suddenly find themselves pariahs when it comes to their children. As I posted in an essay last week, my husband’s children are all victims of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). PAS is a term coined by Dr. Richard A. Gardner of Columbia University’s Department of Child Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons. It refers to regular attempts by a custodial parent to destroy the non custodial parent’s relationships with their children. Custodial parents who engage in parental alienation use a number of very effective tactics to make it impossible for their child to enjoy a normal relationship with their non custodial parent. This is most definitely what has happened to Bill and his children. After reading Warshak’s book, I am thoroughly convinced.

There are some legal and mental health professionals who don’t believe that PAS exists. They don’t believe that children can be brainwashed by their parents. Instead, they believe that non custodial parents use the PAS label as a ploy to be hurtful to the custodial parent. This explanation bothers me because it assumes that the custodial parent, usually the mother, is always the better, more equipped parent. For the record, I do believe that PAS is real because I have seen tangible evidence of it from my husband’s children and their mother, especially after reading Divorce Poison. The hair on my arms literally stood on end as I read Washak’s excerpts of letters PAS victims had written to their non custodial parents. They read almost exactly like the letters my husband got last week from his daughters! The letters all said, in essence, that the kids no longer had any use for the non custodial parent and no longer had any memories of their lives with them. It was as if my husband’s daughters had plagiarized Divorce Poison.

In Divorce Poison, Warshak gives his readers advice on what to do when an ex spouse starts badmouthing them to their children. He gives his readers insight on how to spot early warning signs of PAS and how to combat it. Many non custodial parents are confused and hurt when their children are suddenly rude and hateful toward them for no apparent reason. Sometimes these parents counterreject their kids. Warshak warns against giving into the temptation to get angry with the children. Chances are, they didn’t come up with their negative attitudes by themselves. Warshak puts his ideas of how to combat PAS in boxes labeled “Take Action”. The ideas are easy to find and read for quick and easy reference.

Warshak writes that many mental health professionals will tell clients who are dealing with PAS that they should never say anything bad about the custodial parent. Warshak believes that this is bad advice. It’s not that he wants non custodial parents to badmouth the custodial parents. Rather, he thinks it’s better to encourage the children to use their own developing senses of logic and reason to form their own opinions.

Ironically, many parents who engage in PAS claim that they are allowing their kids to make up their own minds about non custodial parents. My husband’s ex wife wrote that she only has her daughters’ happiness and well being in mind as she discourages them from reconnecting with my husband. She emphasizes it’s all their decision to reject him and she’s respecting their wishes for their sake. Never mind the fact that my husband gets letters written by his girls that don’t look or read like they were written by adolescents. Forget the fact that my husband once had a very loving and close relationship with his daughters and now they apparently hate him. I wish very much that my husband had read Dr. Warshak’s book right after his divorce. Maybe it could have spared the whole family some significant pain.

Warshak writes very well. He uses an empathetic but no nonsense tone throughout Divorce Poison. At times, I found this book very hard to read, not because of the way it was written, but because Warshak’s descriptions of divorce poison and how it’s affected my husband and his family were deadly accurate. It’s uncanny how my husband’s ex wife has employed the very same tactics that Warshak describes in order to get my husband’s daughters to reject their father. I also appreciate the fact that Warshak never assumes that parents who engage in PAS are all mothers. Indeed, Warshak presents a number of examples in which the PAS targeted non custodial parent was the mother. While it’s true that mothers are often awarded custody when couples with children get divorced, fathers can be just as guilty of engaging in PAS. Warshak also doesn’t paint the PAS targeted parent as completely innocent. Many non custodial parents unwittingly make avoidable mistakes that lead to their alienation.

Warshak is a strong advocate of PAS targeted parents seeking legal action against the custodial parents. He believes that the best antidote against PAS is that the children need to spend more time with the targeted parent, even if it means the targeted parent has to go to court. I was glad to see, however, that Warshak understands that a change in custody is not always feasible for logistical or financial reasons. My husband and I often used to talk about seeking custody of his kids. Now that his two younger children are adolescents, we don’t believe that seeking custody would be worthwhile. We have a number of good reasons for feeling the way we do. I’m happy to report that Warshak doesn’t condemn PAS targeted parents who choose not to go to court. In fact, although Warshak doesn’t want his readers to give up on their kids, he does realize that sometimes it’s better to let go. At the end of Divorce Poison, Warshak includes a chapter on how to let go of the children and reasons why a PAS targeted parent might consider letting go.

At this point, I don’t know what’s going to happen with my husband and his kids. He’s going to write them letters letting them know that he will not consent to letting them be adopted by their stepfather. He’s going to tell them that regardless of how they feel about him, he still loves them very much and always will. I hope with all my heart that the girls actually read the letters, but if they don’t, no one can say that my husband never tried. In our case, I’m not sure if Divorce Poison will help my husband get closer to his daughters. I will say that as his wife and the legal stepmother to his children, reading Divorce Poison definitely made me feel like we weren’t alone in our problem. If you see yourself in this review, or if you are a parent who is contemplating a divorce, I urge you to take a look at Divorce Poison: Protecting the Parent-Child Bond from a Vindictive Ex.

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