Parental alienation and the rejection of a parent by a child is a common consequence of high-conflict separation or divorce. Whether it’s caused by the child’s inability to process their trauma or the behavior of one or both co-parents, the parent-child relationship is often severely damaged throughout the process of family restructuring.
For parents who have been rejected by their children, it is essential to seek out support and work towards rebuilding the damaged parent-child bond. There are many resources and services out there that claim to be crucial parts of the recovery process. One of the most common is support groups; while each is structured differently, they all involve coming together with parents currently experiencing similar challenges to gain empathy and validation.
But how effective are these types of support groups? Can they really set you on the path to restoring your relationship with your child? Can they (as some claim) replace other therapeutic strategies?
Read on to find out more about the advantages and disadvantages of parental alienation support groups, and how they can be a part of your journey towards reconnecting with your children with Pathways Family Coaching.
Working Through It Together – The Benefits of Support Groups
Support groups for rejected parents are excellent tools for mitigating feelings of isolation, judgement, and loneliness. Surrounding yourself with individuals currently experiencing the same grief that comes with losing a child to alienation can be uplifting, helping support you through this challenging experience.
The process of separation or divorce can leave many parents feeling invalidated throughout their experience. Unfortunately, parents often find themselves being “gaslit” by their co-parent, child, other family members and even mental health professionals and legal counsel. Gaslighting is all too common in emotionally traumatic life events, and support groups can effectively mitigate its effect on your mental and emotional wellbeing. Interacting with people and sharing your experiences will help validate your experience, hopefully with the goal of accepting your grief and working towards moving forward.
Echoes and Trauma Lenses – The Drawbacks of Support Groups
Although support groups offer many positives to parents facing the rejection of a child, they are far from perfect.
The critical element missing from many group environments is solution-based thinking. By their design, support groups have to devote more time and energy to talking through (and listening to others’) traumatic experiences. While this is an absolutely vital part of the process, it is all too easy to get lost in an echo chamber of commiseration while losing focus on moving forward and real-world recovery strategies. The absence of solution-based thinking in many support groups is a massive drawback. It ultimately prevents them from being a “one-stop-shop” for moving forward and working through a strained relationship with your child.
Depending on the format of your support group, there may be opportunities to give feedback during or after meetings. Be very wary of any advice received in this environment, especially if it comes from fellow group members. While this feedback is almost always given with the best of intentions, it tends to be poor advice rooted in emotionally-based decision making. Remember: everyone in a support group (including you) sees the world through the lens of their own trauma, which can cloud judgement and result in dangerous (if well-intentioned) advice.
Are Support Groups Worthwhile?
In summary, support groups can be a useful resource for many parents struggling to manage a fractured relationship with their child. However, they should not be the only tool in your arsenal.
While it is certainly uplifting to gain validation and understanding from parents in similar situations, it can be all too easy to get lost in an echo chamber devoid of solutions and full of “guidance” filtered through a collective lens of trauma. Expressing emotions and seeking support is a crucial part of the recovery process, but it is only the first step. In addition to support groups, parents experiencing rejection from their child should seek outside guidance and support designed to move them forward in restoring their damaged relationships.
Reconnecting With Pathways Family Coaching
Pathways Family Coaching offers a variety of online courses and resources to help parents manage the stress of all aspects of separation and divorce. Our comprehensive course offerings are here to empower you to regain control in all aspects of your high-conflict separation, all backed by expert coaches every step of the way. We offer multiple online courses for those struggling with parental alienation and rejection by their children, designed to educate and guide you through the various stages of alienation and reconnection.
The Alienation Code takes a deep dive into understanding family dynamics that cause a child to emotionally cut-off from a parent, including understanding your child’s perspective, how your co-parent thinks, and the physical and neurological sides of trauma. This six-module course guides you to understand the importance of repairing the parent-child bond to preventing long-term psychological damage.
Ready to Reconnect is a 12-module online course for parents eager to take back control of their emotions, get “unstuck” and move forward to a place of understanding, compassion and empowerment. This course can be a catalyst for positive mindset shifts in parents, shifting their outlook and repositioning them to approach their alienated child with the confidence and grace required to rebuild a loving relationship.
No matter what phase you’re at in your journey towards rebuilding your relationship with your child, Pathways Family Coaching has the tools and resources you need to develop the skills and strategies necessary to restore your relationship with your child. Combined with support groups and other coping strategies, our online courses can set you on the path to recovery and healthy, loving relationships with your children.
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