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Parental Alienation

There is still very much to be learned about how a deranged young man came to massacre 20 innocent, young children in Connecticut on Friday. Guns have been widely and foolishly blamed – they didn’t pull their own triggers.

One thing that won’t be discussed or accounted for, however, is the absence of the boys’ father, the animosity toward him by the boy’s mother, and whatever it was she fed this boy’s mind and emotions on a daily basis. Was it alienation? We may never know. What there more serious and directed abuse, aimed at a vulnerable boy who was deprived of common coping mechanisms?

And no, this isn’t meant as blame against someone who became one of the victims. But something was seriously wrong with that young man, and it doesn’t appear as if it started an hour or two before the murders. It had to be brewing for a long time.

From the description of her death, it sounds as if he must have been very angry with his mother – which is absolutely no justification for her killing, nor any other. What he did was sheer evil – unbridled, unequivocal, utterly in humane evil.

But it didn’t happen in a vacuum. It didn’t happen solely because his mother owned guns, and it didn’t happen because he was anything close to “normal” or well. He lived with some horrible demons. And he lived in a place isolated from his own father, with a mother who despised the man who was his Dad.

How often do we hear about a father when a horrible mass shooting occurs? Does anyone ever know why the father is or isn’t in the killer’s life? I suspect it’s very rare that a mass murderer has any meaningful relationship with his biological, father – but do we even know? Is the question ever asked?

And what about their mothers – what do we know about them? Until one of the victims was actually a mother herself – we seemed to never hear their stories either. So we can’t know what actually happened.

But is there a chance, a very real chance, maybe even a probability that no one – NO ONE develops an utter indifference to human life, unless the childhood they have experienced, the upbringing that rendered what they have been taught – was built upon the presence, or even outright fomenting of indifference and/or hatred on the part of no one else other than that person’s primary caregiver? Is that possible? Or is it possible that this kind of horror could ever occur if it wasn’t just possible, but absolutely true?

I know I may be wrong. I want to be wrong! I do not want to think a mother, any mother, or any other parent, could ever want to feed so much hate and indifference into the soul of another human being – and I WANT TO HEAR from those who can attest to it – if I am wrong. It is a terrible thing to consider.

But what else can explain this? What else can possibly come close to explaining it? If it is the ownership of guns, our nation would have been dotted with this kind of slaughter throughout our history, and there would be thousands and thousands more like it. But there are literally millions of gun owners in America, who would not and never will perpetrate any crime. And there are thousands of gun owners who possess “assault weapons”, yet never, ever commit a single crime.

If mental illness accounted for it, again, we would likely have seen many hundreds or thousands more horrific killings of this type. The Newtown killer was neither diagnosed nor, until the murders occurred, was he even suspected of mental illness. He was odd, he was recluse, but as far as anyone knew, he was not mentally ill.

I fear we are leaving an important puzzle piece completely unturned in reconstructing these horrible events, and we are leaving this piece unturned because we do not want to ask questions that may have such unfathomable answers – could a child be fed a constant diet of hate and indifference to leave his soul utterly without any human compassion or care? And could he be fed this diet by the very person who gave him life – his own mother?

Motherhood is sacred in our culture. And motherhood is esteemed so highly because of the dedication, hard work and absolute love so many mother’s pour out for their children every day – tirelessly! But we also live in a culture that is reflectively pleased to reward a mother who will use her position to hurt, harm or punish the man with whom she conceived that child.

This reality is regularly ignored because few mothers are willing to stoop to a level to use this power, fewer fathers are willing, ore empowered, to dig in and fight it when it happens, and grandparents, siblings, teachers, neighbors, pastors, friends, and therapists, cannot bring themselves to see the wretchedness of alienation, hate-filled, unrequieted alienation for what it really is.

I know. I’ve lived it. And so have my kids. And what a good friend told me shortly after my divorce was final was really true, “You could tell the world about it and write a book about it, Drew, but nobody’d read it, and nobody’d care.”

It’s time we do care. Until we do, those unanswered questions will remain unanswered.

No one, NO ONE, except my children, their mother and her parents knows what has been done and said in her home since the day she left me. And the way our system works now, no one ever will. No one knows how much the abject hate, and systematic destruction of one of the most important relationships in my children’s lives, has affected them and how negatively it has affected them, and their ability to function and live as happy, ordinary people in this world and this culture of ours.

But one thing is certain – it has to be really bad. They have been told, and forced to submit that they can never feel nor show love to their father – have contact with him, or receive, accept and enjoy his love for them. They are cutoff and cutoff is not enough for their mother or her parents.

What we don’t know, and CAN’T know at present is how this is done, what is said, what punishments they endure, and what it does to their human, natural sense of ordinary healthy human emotions – of love, concern, and affinity for those you are BORN to love and be close to.

Until our culture wakes up to the seriousness of this problem – how can we expect anything but more. More lack of human compassion, more indifference to life, and more complete lack of concern about other people, and ordinary life boundaries.

Anytime one parent is alienated from a child for any extended period of time, especially by the will of the other parent, we should have great and deep concern for and about what happens in the home where the alienated child/children live! SERIOUS CONCERN! That home should be looked at, not such casually on a one time basis, but consistently, over time to see and understand what is happening to the child’s soul as they have to cope with the alienation from that parent, and any hostility directed toward that parent from within their home.

Our neglect of this problem is serious and we need to open our eyes and change. “All it takes for evil to live and dwell among us, is for good people to look the other way.” Let’s start looking at real problems with real people and stop ignoring them!

Drew Thompson is a custody, divorce and paternity lawyer in Carmel, IN, with three beautiful daughters in Michigan who need him and who he loves dearly,and desires to be restored to a full and loving relationship! He can be reached by phone at 317-604-1276, or email at ajt@thompsonlaw-in.com.

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