LIFE INSIDE THE BUBBLE – 2018
Oil and Acrylic on Canvas
82cm (H) x 70cm (W) x 1.5cm (D)
For kids who have been alienated from one of their parents by a narcissistic parent life is very much confined to living within the bubble of the alienators’ mind. All thoughts, emotions and actions must align with the narcissist’s expectations and view of the world. Nothing else is tolerated. Everything else is manipulated until it also aligns.
Parental Alienation Syndrome involves the triangulation of children into the abusive, narcissistic parental relationship. A cross-generational coalition is formed between the narcissist and their children in order to exact revenge on the targeted parent. Narcissists have limited insight so they will be unwilling or unable to see their unhealthy union, believing it to be occurring because he or she happens to be the superior parent, deserving of loyalty, deeming the innocent parent as “bad.”
The bubble is created as the alienating parent rewards the children for saying hostile or angry things about the targeted parent and by encouraging and displaying “understanding” for the children’s negative feelings, when what should really be occurring is the children should be taught to respect the other parent. In essence, hating one parent gains love from the other one – the one who holds the reigns so tightly children come to believe they are dependent on them for everything.
By way of a real life example, a targeted parent asks his daughters to attend a family barbecue with friends for New Years Eve. The narcissist, knowing that any New Years Eve event including a barbecue will run for at least 5 hours by the time friends are greeted, dinner is served, fireworks are watched and the New Year is seen in, but she primes the children (who are 11 and 19) during a long discussion about ‘their father’ to insist that if he is a good father he should only ask his daughters to attend the party for 90 minutes, as any longer in the ‘company of strangers’ (i.e. – not her friends and allies) is too overwhelming and not in their best interests “at this difficult time”. When the children make this demand on their father he becomes frustrated and asks them to reconsider as 90 minutes is not really long enough for a New Years Party to unfold. A disagreement follows in which he recognises his daughters language from the volumes of his exwifes abusive emails. He is told that “it is in his best interests to make this happen if he wants to have a relationship with HIS CHILDREN. He should always put them first”.
The alienated father knows he is being set up to look as if he is does not love his children if they attend the barbecue as per all the other families who are going. Feeling frustrated and manipulated by his ex-wife who he knows has influenced his children to believe that 90 minutes is the only answer and therefore successfully sabotaging his plans to spend an evening with them, takes a 30 minute walk to the park to calm down. The children immediately call the narcissist fearing the consequences after her expectation has not been met and blaming their father for being mean and ‘out of control’ (i.e. – not falling into line with the narcissists view of the world).
The narcissist then sympathises with the children, encouraging them to feel victimized by the “outrageous” expectations of their father and suggests that they should never have been “abandoned” in a time of such “high stress”. She talks to them on the phone for over an hour and tells them she “understands” how scared they must have been. She tells them that “she will look after them” by taking over all future negotiations with their father so they do not have to be put in the situation of dealing with his unreasonable, selfish responses.
The entire event is manufactured by the narcissist who has successfully given herself a reason to break down all normal lines of communication between a father and his daughters and thus, the children have been sucked into the web of PAS.
The targeted parent is hurt and betrayed and forever vilified for his ‘bad behaviour’. Asking his daughters to spend 5 hours at a New Years Eve party with him and other families has become an unforgivable event. He is accused of anger and abuse – which conveniently now comes to represent the entire sum of his relationship with his children. He is told by the narcissist that “until he changes his behaviour his daughters do not wish to see him.”
The children have been covertly empowered to disrespect their father who is actually trying to develop a normal loving relationship with his kids, by doing normal loving things. Meanwhile, the narcissist sits back, effortlessly creating the destructive coalition with her children via a web of perverse mind games.
Parts of the above are taken from Sharie Stines, Psy.D