In the early stages of alienation some rejected parents counter-reject their children. They rebuke the children for their negative attitudes, and tell them, in effect, “Shape up or ship out.” They expect, of course, the children to shape up. This might have worked prior to the onset of the alienation. But it no longer works when the children have lost respect for the parent or lost sight of their need for the parent.
Parents use this ploy before they appreciate the nature and seriousness of the problem. They never consider the possibility that the children will choose to sever contact permanently. By the time they realize their mistake, it is often too late.
Counter-rejecting your children is the wrong move for several reasons.
• It breaks contact with your children, which is so crucial to resisting and reversing alienation. If the children become solely dependent on your ex, they may not be able to resist divorce poison on their own. Losing contact with them means losing the opportunity to help them escape or withstand the noxious environment.
• It stings the children who, despite their overt belligerence, at some level continue to need your love and acceptance They will feel hurt and abandoned and express their pain with more anger and alienation.
• It sets you up to be seen by the children, and possibly by the court, as the bad guy who caused the alienation.
Pushing the children away will nor bring them closer. Even if your push seems gentle to you, it could strike the mortal blow to your relationship.
For a thorough discussion of other common errors made by alienated parents, and strategies for effectively copying when your relationship with your children is being challenged, see Divorce Poison: How to Protect Your Family from Bad-mouthing and Brainwashing.