Am I a Bad Parent Because I Stop Fighting for the Kids?

Do I fight for my kids or just let them go with the other parent? This is the hardest decision any parent has to make.

Am I a Bad Parent Because I Stop Fighting for the Kids?

J asks: “I feel like I am not a good mother from wanting to stop [fighting in family court for my kids).

Michelle Hanson responds: You are not a bad mother! I call it "dropping the rope". These kids are tied up in the rope being used to play tug-of-war by the alienating parent.

This is the best analogy I have ever heard for what the innocent victims of psychological abuse are going through.  The parents’ stand at each end of the rope tugging while the children stand in the middle with the rope rapped around their necks chocking them.  On the one hand, we do not want to give up the fight for our rights to be a parent to our children.  While, on the other hand, each time we fight back, the children and we are put through horrific psychological abuse.  We are pulling on the end of this rope that is tied around our children’s neck as they stand in the middle between their mother and father.  The person with either the most money or most control is the winner and that is not necessarily the best parent.

I would analogous this to the King Solomon story.  Two mothers claim to be the mother of one precious little boy.  King Solomon cannot decide which mother is telling the truth, so he decides that the only way to solve this is to cut the boy in half, giving each mother one half of the boy.  The true mother turns to the King and says, “I cannot do that to my son, please do not do this and just let the other woman have him.  King Solomon knew at that moment, which mother was the true mother as she was the one to give up her precious son to save his life.

What this means to this analogy of the tug of war is that if we drop our end of the rope, the other side is going to fall flat on their backs.  It may not happen right away but eventually they fall.  Letting go of our end of the rope does not mean that we do not care, what it means is that we care too much to watch our children suffer.  It does not mean that we have to stop keeping in contact, we just find another way to do it that is less toxic.  If we drop out of the fight or tug of war, then the other side has no one to fight with.

This is about choosing which battles to fight and how to fight when we have to.  It is about understanding that we cannot change the alienator.  They are who they are.  What we can change is how we respond and react to them.  What it means is that when we are in front of that judge, we look him straight in the eye and we say, I love my child too much to put them through this.  My child means the world to me, but they do NOT belong in the middle of this tug of war that has been created and that is choking the life out of my children.  This is like the King Solomon story with the two mother’s claiming to both be the mother of a boy.  The true parent is the one that knows it is not worth the child’s life to destroy them in this fight.  All I ask is that your court order my ex-spouse into specialized counseling for Grief and Anger Management and impulse control, so that my children can move forward in a positive way with their relationship with both of us.

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Just Me August 16, 2012 at 06:09 PM
If the person you are fighting with is an Alienator then they are a child abuser and are using your child as a weapon of mass destruction. Walking away from this child so they can continue to be abused emotionally is abandonment! This is no longer a fight about custody - it is about fighting for the mental health of your child. It is a parent's responsibility to fight for their child and NOT walk away and leave their child with an abusive parent. The only acceptable reason for walking away from your job of protecting your child from emotional child abuse is when your life is being threatened in any way. And the only reason that is true is because you cannot help your child if you are dead, in jail or you are financially or emotionally ruined. There are other ways to fight for your child outside of Family Court which does not protect children. Find those ways and fight like hell! You owe it to your children. If you don't when they grow up and realize what you already know about their parent they will hate you for abandoning them and they will be right. It is one thing not to continue a battle in Family Court but when your ex is an Alienator and restricts your access to a child YOU MUST fight this abuse and save your child in any way possible!
Apple Discord August 16, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Sorry - I had to walk away to save my sanity. To go through years and years of more abuse from the ex and from my own child be it her fault or no.. not an option. Not when the courts had ruled against a contact order and my daughter was of an age (12) they decided that she could decide for herself. Whether it was the right decision or not remains to be seen. In my situation I had other children living with me who needed their mum to be healthy.. not a crumpled mess as I was after 14 years of abuse anyway. I just wasn't strong enough to carry on with everyone against me. I had more crap and abandonment from people (even my own brother) who said I should have stayed and battled it out. They don't know what I went through and they have not lived my life, therefore they cannot judge what was right or wrong for me in that situation. I don't think any of us are in a position to say whats for the best in any family, it's down to a combination of a few basic rules of spotting alienation and dealing with it quickly, and gut instinct. Did I feel guilty? Yes, for a long time. Do I feel guilty now? I cannot say in all honesty that I do. 6 years on after leaving that hellish marriage I am finally able to move forward a little. >>cont...
Apple Discord August 16, 2012 at 08:55 PM
..>>cont from above>> Once I am of complete sound mind maybe then I can persue a now 18 year old daughter whom I'm told (by her sisters) has turned out as manipulative as her father. I don't believe these traits are easily undone until that person has learnt a good many lessons, if ever, and I'm not prepared to let that into my life until I am sure I can deal with it without breaking.
Apple Discord August 16, 2012 at 08:57 PM
>>cont from above>> My second eldest is now discovering that you cannot live with an abusive parent without it taking its toll on you mind body and soul so there are more of us in this, maybe she can be some kind of bridge between my eldest (alienated) daughter and I, but at the minute she herself is struggling to deal with the eldest as she is so manipulative and nasty. Only time will tell. Most of the pain is locked away and I hope when I have to deal with it again it will be for a positive solution otherwise I'm not prepared to scratch the surface again. This is about survival, not selfishness. Peace all..
Joan Kloth-Zanard August 17, 2012 at 12:07 AM
Apple Discord, this is exactly what I am talking about. You had to do what was right for you and the kids down the road, so that you could be there for them when they finally got it. What good would you be as a basket case or worse in a basket in the ground from all this stress. I have something I call the Festering Wound and it goes like this: You get a rash on your arm. At first it starts as just a red rash that itches, so you scratch it. But it just itches more and more. So you scratch it more and more. You scratch it so much that it starts to get raw. Soon you are scratching it so much that it starts to bleed. Pretty soon, it is not just bleeding but infected and oozing. In fact, it is a festering open wound. And the only way for it to heal is to cover it with a bandage and ointment and just leave it alone for a while, so that eventually, you can reach out and touch again.
Fran Hopkins August 17, 2012 at 06:22 PM
"You had to do what was right for you and the kids down the road, so that you could be there for them when they finally got it." Joani, I agree with this. People shouldn't judge what others decide is best for both themselves and their children in a specific set of circumstances. No one should heap guilt on alienated parents by accusing them of "abandoning" their children! These parents' hearts are already broken because of their love for their kids and their inability to have a relationship with them because of the alienator. Alienated parents are innocent victims too and if they -- unselfishly, in my opinion -- decide that the constant battling is more harmful to their children than is "dropping the rope," then this is a loving act. We who love these alienated parents should support and comfort them and pray for the day when their children will understand.
Joan Kloth-Zanard August 17, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Fran, you are so right. This is a a personal choice and no one can tell another that it is right or wrong. Yes, sometimes the fight is not worth the emotional and financial damages. In fact, I was just thinking about the amount of money being spent on family court attorneys that could be better spend in our economy. To have all this money going to only one person, the attorney, for a no win situation, when that same money could be helping hundreds of other people by being spent in the economy and stimulating it. It seems to me to be a no brainer. No win case in court with excessive emotional damages, and a high ticket price that only one person benefits from, the attorney. Or lower the stress for all and find a different way to fight, and instead spend those thousands of dollars in the economy (or in my brother's case, one million dollars) helping to stimulate it, which creates jobs, which creates more income, which gets spent in the economy, which stimulates the economy further, which brings more jobs and so on.
Frogwiek August 24, 2012 at 05:45 PM
You can't judge this every family's struggle is different. In our case we won all the battles but lost the war. We fought for my husband's son to see his us, & courts saw our struggle with BM, that we paid all support, medical, life ins, gifts, clothes, etc., never missed visits when BM wasn't denying visitation, & they granted us 1/3 parenting time. BM married a law student & they started making son suffer for loving us. & the second step-dad graduated they kept us in court always, attacking the order, moving far away, trying to end visitation. Many false claims of abuse &abduction on our ordered parenting time. The child was suffering & was told if he upset Mom Jesus would rip out his heart & burn it in hell forever. He wasn't allowed to like his toys here, trips we took, etc. We fought thru all that. Then he started getting molested at a sitters, Mom wouldn't help him, we had no choice but to finally let her win. She'd always said, "I wish to God you weren't (child's) Dad, but time WILL change that" & "(stepdad) is his real dad not you", "sign over your rights & this will all go away".
frogwiek August 24, 2012 at 05:47 PM
We tried DHS here & they were very worried, but when they transferred it to small town where step-dad is a lawyer, & his associate was president of the agency that investigates child abuse, they dropped it without investigating. We couldn't protect our child from molestation. She made him keep going until we signed the consent. Sometimes, you have to drop the rope to save your child, because it would be far worse for them if you keep fighting, Some alienating parents are willing to hurt their kids as long as they get the end result.
frogwiek August 24, 2012 at 06:00 PM
We used to feel the same way. In a perfect world this sentiment would be true. But some alienators are willing to hurt their children until you give them what they want. & sometimes they have the power & connections to make sure you can't help your child. When you're left with the choice to either see your child hurt & destroyed, as well as you & your family, or give the alienator what they want, sometimes you have no choice. In our case we were left with the choice of signing a consent, or BM keeps making son go to sitters where he's being molested. Child told DHS here, they were worried & helping us, but when they transferred it to small town where stepdad is a lawyer & his associate is president of the agency that investigates abuse, they refused to investigate despite child's testimony. When we 'dropped the rope' he was no longer an effective weapon, he doesn't get worked on every day anymore with stuff like "If you upset Mommy Jesus will rip out your heart & burn it in hell forever". He doesn't go to that sitters anymore. Every situation is different.
Joan Kloth-Zanard August 25, 2012 at 12:42 AM
YOu are very correct. Every case and situation is different. In my husband's case, we had no choice but to stop fighting for his kids because each time he took his ex back to court for violation of the orders, she would go home and rip into the kids one way or another. The kids grades and behavior would deteriorate. We knew that it was psychological abuse but could not stop it as the courts refused to penalize the mother for constantly ignoring the courts orders. In fact, we had 6 different court orders for counseling and visitation that she impeded with. But of course, the kids were told something entirely different by their mother. In fact, their mother lost all of her court cases and on at least two occasions the judge told her that she was mentally ill and needed a psychiatrist. But yet, the courts never ordered her into counseling. When she was caught by the judge committing perjury, fraud, forgery, defamation and slander, the courts did nothing about these criminal acts. And she, of course, went home and lied to the kids telling them that their father was ripping them off and did not love them. So in our case, it was a matter of it being the only way to stop the psychological abuse by their mother, was to stop fighting for them.
Joan Kloth-Zanard August 25, 2012 at 12:44 AM
Yes, CPS refused to help us either. The ex was in contempt of the courts orders to get the kids into counseling, which is medical neglect, yet no one would hold the ex accountable. Just because she had primary custody does not mean that she should be immune from penalties if she is violating the courts orders. But then our case is very old and the courts did not know as much as they know today.
jonathan January 14, 2013 at 11:00 AM
Thanks guys I feel alot better after reading this..I have had a young son that i had when i was 16 with a very huge alienator and a minipulator she is obsessed with this fantasy life of us being together and i have never wanted that..she was in prison for years and her parents have taken care of the son for those years..all that ever happens when i try to get involved is bring me down into a slumber and has for years..people treat me different and act like i'm a bad person for not being in his life..but i do not want to subject myself to that womans horrible mind games...i cannot live in a life that will torment me and i do not want to make my son go through those emotional hoops..i am hoping one day he will come to me and what to know me. i always feel bad for not being there and not fighting in court..but i do not have the financees and i have goals i am working towards and trying to accomplish..they make me feel selfish for wanting to achieve my goals instead of fight to see him..but i want to be happy and i am done feeling sad and beating myself up..i know i care for him and i have paid and still continue to pay child support. i am only 25 now and he is 7 i have seen in a few times in the past few months and it caused me stress and grief with the mother..she toys with my head and uses him as a weapon..i cant do that to myself so i am going to step away
Joan Kloth-Zanard January 15, 2013 at 01:49 AM
Johnathan, yes, your mental health is very important especially since it is tied to your physical and emotional health. Dealing with narcissists is not any fun. What you can do is be like a guardian angel in the background. So for example, you can start a savings account for your son that he cannot touch until he is 25 years old or has established a healthy relationship with you and your extended family. You could make sure to keep yourself in touch with his school and teachers on the down low. Make sure that you get copies of his school pictures every year. Start a an open facebook page where he can some day reach out to you. There are so many things you can do silently in the background for him. You can even name a star in the sky after him. Donate to a charity in his name and so on. Plant something in his name. You get the picture.
Freely LoveBoth Parents December 27, 2013 at 10:56 AM
Not fighting my ex-husband for my daughter was my only option, though I am damned if I do and damned if I don't in my ex-husband's portrayal of my response to his lies & cruel control. Not only does my ex-husband, who never stayed home with small children and is 11 years my senior, have a bigger income, but he is a skilled manipulator with connections. My daughter was visibly upset & encouraged to lie against me, her own mother -- how sick & sad for her. I could not do it. Thank you for writing this -- so many I thought were my friends have judged me.


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