SELECTIVE EXPOSURE – 2018
Oil and Acrylic on Canvas
100cm (H) x 76cm (W) x 3.5cm (D)
During the process of parental alienation, “selective exposure” refers to the alienators tendency to feed their children information which reinforces their pre-existing views while avoiding contradictory information.
They selectively focus the child’s attention on the negative traits or moments of a parent’s failing, highlighting adverse attributes, painful memories and fueling distorted perceptions of the target parent’s behavior. The alienating parent crowds out the pleasurable experiences of being with this parent. He or she may encourage the child to continually question the other parent’s judgment, relentlessly second-guessing decisions made by the target spouse.
Selective Exposure: Charlie’s Mum said “Your father is insufferable. I’m so sick of fighting him just to get the money he owes us. He is refusing to pay for your gymnastics so I’m going to have to have a big drama with the school which will be so embarrassing for you. I don’t care if he makes me go to court, there is no way I am paying.”
The Full Story: Charlie’s Dad pays for all of his private school fees, his uniforms, his excursions and computers. Charlie’s Dad also gave his Mum the house they live in. Charlie’s Dad gave Charlie’s Mum thousands of dollars for counselling which she never took him to. She bought a new bathroom. Charlies’ Dad also gives his Mum around $2000 extra per month just to help look after Charlie and to buy him the things he needs. Charlie’s Mum’s responsibility in their agreement was to use some of that extra money to pay for extra curricular activities. Charlie’s Mum only allows him to see his Dad for birthdays and Christmas so he can go and collect his present which his Dad also buys.
Charlie’s Dad refused to pay (anything more) for his gymnastics.
Selective Exposure: Charlie’s Mum said “Your father has anger issues and I don’t want you to have to put up with what I put up with for years. How dare he disagree with what you wanted when you are his CHILD. You shouldn’t have to put up with that and he won’t be seeing you again until he can show ME a written outline acknowledging his bad behaviour with a measurable plan (that I can be the judge of) of how he is going to ensure that he never upsets you again .”
The Full Story: Charlie had one disagreement with his Dad. And because of that Charlie has only seen his Dad for a total of 10 hours over the past 2 years. Charlie’s Dad did get annoyed because Charlie was refusing to go to an event with him as planned. He would only go for 90 minutes, instead of 3-4 hours as requested by his Dad. Charlie’s Mum had told him to tell his Dad that 90 minutes was enough because she didn’t want Charlie having to spend any extended time with Dad’s new partner, and that it was in Dad’s best interests to make this work if he expected Charlie to make any effort at all to see this woman, because after all she was not his mother.
Charlie’s Dad who had suffered from the narcissistic abuse and manipulation handed out by his mother for 20 years was ‘triggered’ by the attempted control and sabotage of his time with his son and he told Charlie that when he was at his place, it was up to his Dad to organise things. Charlie argued back, insisting it was his decision, not his Mum’s. 90 minutes only. He knew he had better not go back to Mum and tell her that they were doing things Dad’s way, because Mum had told him that his Dad was acting irresponsibly and only thinking of himself and that Dad could not make good decisions. She’s be so angry if Charlie didn’t listen to her. That made Charlie agitated, anxious and scared.
Charlie’s Dad was frustrated and thought it best to go for a quick walk to calm down. Charlie’s Mum accused his Dad of abandoning him when he was agitated, anxious and scared. She sent him a 4 page email berating him for showing the frustration that she had deliberately provoked, and his disagreement with Charlie became the ‘unforgivable event’ that justified her having to permanently protect her child from his father’s ‘bad behaviour’.
During the past two years, Charlie’s Mum has screamed at him and lost her temper at least once a month, usually more. She often shuts herself in the shower and screams, or slams doors and throws food around the kitchen. He must do what she tells him to do, not what HE decides, because she is his MOTHER. Charlie’s Mum can not see the hypocrisy in this.
Charlie’s Dad has made several written apologies to Charlie. None of them were acknowledged. Charlie’s Dad went to see a family relationships counsellor for the second time to discuss how to improve his relationship with his son. When the counsellor suggested that the next step was to get Charlie involved in the counselling Charlie’s mum didn’t tell him but refused to allow him to go. When Dad asked Mum how she suggested that he improve the relationship with his child, she kept the goalposts at an unreachable distance by replying that “your counsellor told me that you did not take on her advice so there is no point in me telling you what I want you to do because you do not listen anyway.”
And so Charlie’s Dad MUST improve his behaviour in order to see Charlie. And Charlie’s Mum refuses to give his Dad the parameters by which she will decide how to measure his behaviour. And in so doing completely shuts off Charlie’s Dad’s ability to meet them. So Charlie does not see his Dad. And Charlie is told that his Dad has let him down by not meeting his ‘agreement’ to improve his behaviour.