Mixed media on paper 58 (H) x 40cm (W)
FRAMED: 86 x 55 x 3 | Natural timber and glass frame
This work focuses on the most obvious and common of all parental alienation tactics – badmouthing. The badmouthing of alienator will include all manner of deliberate denigration of the children’s other parent either directly to the children or often
in company within earshot of children. From outright swearing and name calling, to placing blame for almost all upsets on the shoulders of the target parent, to false accusations and lies,
it is incredibly easy for an alienator to in uence their children to the point where it is quite obvious to them where they must align their loyalty if they do not wish to succumb to the same treatment. For the children, they nd joining the badmouthing secures them more security and affection from the alienator than resisting it.
It is the ultimate betrayal of the trust inherent in a parent/child relationship to effectively ‘kill off’ the other loving parent within a child’s life in order to satisfy your own need for revenge for the narcissistic injury suffered during seperation. This poison injected into the child’s life not only leaves deep psychological scars, with increased risk of a range of mental illnesses, but
it also inflicts upon them the loss of a parent who they can
never grieve. Instead they must enter the circus ring and either support or manufacture a raft of absurd justi cations for the act of rejecting of their parent. This exhausting charade often lasts for years whilst the rejected parent who loves them continues to try and beat down the door between them.
Monique was 16 when her parents separated. After her Dad had sat her down and told her that he had
to go in order to stop the con ict in their home, Monique begged her mother to allow her to spend 50/50 time with her Dad and not to twist and turn his words to come between them. When a child asks for such a thing in the process of separation you can assume that what has come before ensures that the writing is
already on the wall. The badmouthing of her father had already been going for some time and escalated to fever pitch a few weeks later when her Mum realised that her Dad was not coming back. There were daily implosions…Dad was an f****** arsehole. Dad was emotionally abuse, it was Dad’s fault Mum was under so much pressure because he wouldn’t make agreements with her, he was unreasonable, aggressive, uncooperative, he wasn’t a good parent, he didn’t care about them, he had left because he was sel sh. Monique was an intelligent girl. Her intuition told her it wasn’t right for her Mum to do that. She asked her
to stop. Again. And again. When she found the courage to stick up for all the good things her Dad did for her, Monique’s Mum frequently yelled at her “Don’t defend your father!” “How can you stick up for him after what he has done to me? If you loved me you could see that your father is wrong to treat me this way, he is setting a terrible example for you”. It was laden with guilt.
The irony of course was that all the while Monique never her heard her father say anything bad about her mum and yet her Mum was the one behaving abysmally towards her Dad. She was abusive and manipulative. What kind of example was she setting for her daughter?
Monique was made to feel very, very wrong for loving her Dad. When the abuse of her Dad didn’t stop and as her mother’s ts of rage escalated, Monique asked her Mum to go to counselling.
Uncomfortably under the spotlight for her badmouthing behaviour, Monique’s Mum masterfully made a subtle shift in her manipulation, from direct bad mouthing to the creation of ‘incidents’ in order to prove the she had been right to bad mouth Monique’s father in the rst place.
She set up situations with Monique’s father that were impossible to accommodate and that she would not dream of adhering to herself because she believed she was the ‘good parent’. She insisted Monique’s father provide a host of her requirements in writing for her approval every time he planned to take Monique anywhere – like where will you be going, who will be there, what their background is, what their relationship to you is, how long will it go for, what will you be doing, what will you be eating, how will you be getting there and who will be driving. Any or all of those answers would then be used as the excuse not to allow the event to take place or to send lengthy criticisms for Monique’s Dad’s ‘lack of judgement and inability to put his children’s interests rst. She would launch into tirades about a whole host of mental illnesses she had diagnosed on his behalf, all of which were proof that it was Monique’s Dad who was the bearer of all problems and was clearly the cause of their marriage breakdown.
Monique’s mother also insisted she listen in on all conversations with her Dad on speaker phone (but would clearly never allow this to happen in reverse as that would be completely unnecessary wiht a ‘good parent’.) When Monique’s Dad nally let his guard down and and hung up on her mother after she interrupted their conversation with some of her own questions, Monique’s Mum hailed down another raft of abuse, calling him childish and sel sh and aggressive. “See” she told Monique, “See what I put up with. Your father is so unbearable he makes it impossible for me to act any other way. It is HIS fault, I say these things.”
At her mother’s behest Monique promptly texted her father to let him know how disappointed she was that he had been so childish and sel sh to treat her mother that way. Monique hated doing it, but knew if she didn’t then her mother would go on ranting, defending and screaming. Deep down she knew when she sent this horrible text to her Dad that he would go on loving her any way. He would not leave her.
And so, beaten, the process of parental alienation takes hold and Monique nally started to swim with the tide of hatred and abuse against her father in order to prevent the same tide turning in the place where she must live.