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by Rick Nischalke

How do I survive the pain of Parental Alienation?

People contact us from around the world daily looking for help, resources, encouragement, facts, laws and strategies. But the one overriding theme and prevailing question that we receive more than any other is, “How do I survive the horrifying and life-changing affects that my child and I have experienced because of parental alienation?”

This site is filled with a plethora of resources and suggestions for addressing multiple facets of the complex problem of PA. But no matter where you’re at in your personal journey ultimately you need to be able to understand, address and survive the brutal onslaught of attack, conflict and loss associated with this form of abuse.

Regardless of whether you end up maintaining a positive relationship with your children, or end up losing all contact with them, your life and relationship with them will never be the same. The bad news is that there is no going back. The good news is that after the dust has settled, they may well realize that you are the safe and sane parent, and the alienator is not. Once you overcome attempts by the alienating parent to damage or destroy your relationship with your child, you may develop an even deeper bond of love and mutual respect than before.

But even in the best case, you will still need to deal with the fallout of negative emotions that are associated with going through this type of trauma. And in a worst-case scenario, you will have lost the love, respect and many times all contact with your child. And most likely, you will have invested every dime you have trying to obtain justice in court along the way.

Let’s look at the typical stages and progression of events in a severe case of alienation.

  1. Most alienation starts long before an actual breakup, divorce or separation.
  2. The alienating parent begins making derogatory comments about the targeted parent to the children when that parent is not present. As things escalate, they become much more overt in their attack. They make sure to berate, ridicule or disrespect the targeted parent in front of the children any chance they get, to reduce the authority of that parent in the children’s minds. They constantly attempt to recruit the children to see them as the favored or “good” parent and view the other parent as the inferior, inept or “bad” parent. At this point, the targeted parent rarely understands the goal of the alienator. They usually think that their spouse is just being rude or disrespectful to them, but they fail to realize the impact of these tactics on their relationship with their children.
  3. Unfortunately, after a period of time the majority of children subjected to these types of tactics are not only persuaded to believe what they are being programmed to believe, but they begin to view the targeted parent as weak or inferior. They actually begin to attack and demean the parent themselves to ingratiate themselves to the more “powerful” or “superior” alienating parent.
  4. At some point there is usually a separation or divorce.
  5. During the initial divorce proceedings or at some point in the future, the alienator decides to control or destroy the targeted parent through the children. They employ a winner-take-all attitude and will stop at nothing to obtain their goals.
  6. There is usually extensive litigation during this phase. Statistically speaking, the alienator will use false accusations of fear, abuse, neglect, or other tactics to isolate the targeted parent from the children. The family court system makes it easy for most alienators to achieve their goal of extricating the targeted parent from their child’s life. But as they go through this process, they are able to financially and emotionally decimate the targeted parent as well.
  7.  At this point one of several things may have happened. The alienating parent has successfully severed the relationship of the targeted parent with the child. This can happen with or without the court’s assistance. The alienating parent may obtain a court order preventing any contact with the child. Or the targeted parent receives a verbal reprimand from the judge to stop alienating the targeted parent, but the damage is already done to the children. They disrespect and choose not to see the targeted parent of their “own free will”. Many times, the judge shrugs their shoulders and says there is nothing they can do to force the child to spend time with the targeted parent. Or in a best-case scenario, the court recognizes and appropriately addresses the alienation tactics. And the child is able to withstand the attempts to brainwash them and grows even closer to the targeted parent.

I have just described a very typical progression of events that a targeted parent will go through. What we haven’t talked about is the impact of going through all of that. Do you remember that I said in my previous intro to this series that many people contact us in the pit of despair? That some of them are contemplating suicide because of what they have been through?

How do you survive what many professionals describe as post traumatic syndrome? What do you do with intense feelings of rejection from children that once loved and honored you? How do you deal with feelings of betrayal, hate and bitterness toward a vindictive ex-spouse that would abuse their own child just to hurt you? How do you deal with the shock and injustice of false accusations, or the way that the legal system works? How do you deal with your feelings toward what you perceive to be a corrupt or inept judge that has the power to keep you from your own children? How do you stop the pain, anger, bitterness, and hopelessness from destroying you?

There are many practical things that you can do to help yourself survive and move forward. Here are some of the actions and perspective that can help you to survive. I know they work because I utilized all of them.

  1. Grow deeper in your faith in God
  2. Forgive your enemies
  3. Love your child unconditionally even if they reject and disrespect you
  4. Put your children first – make every decision with their best interest in mind because your ex-spouse is incapable of doing so – you are the sane and safe parent, make every effort to stay that way
  5. Speak truth to your children about the situation and the behavior of your ex – without attacking your ex
  6. Seek professional help for you and your children’s relationship
  7. Don’t sacrifice your own integrity or standards just because your ex has
  8. Remember that lies, deception, politics and corruption may have a temporary victory, but eventually there will come a day of accountability for every evil deed ever done
  9. You can never determine what people say or think about you, only what they ought to
  10. In the event that you are separated from your children, make a website to communicate your ongoing love and commitment to them
  11. Seek counseling, read books and surround yourself with people that can support you in your pain and help you to maintain a healthy perspective
  12. Set goals and work toward your own personal, spiritual, and physical nurturing and growth
  13. Attend church, read your bible and other books to grow deeper in your faith
  14. Look for ways to serve others, in your church, neighbors, friends and relatives
  15. Get involved with organizations (or start one) to make a difference for others so they don’t have to experience the pain that you have (legal reform, resources, divorce-care, support groups etc.)
  16. Speak into the lives of people around you that are in difficult marriages or going through a divorce to stop them from poisoning their children against their spouse
  17. Promote awareness of parental alienation to bring about change in our legal system and society
  18. Remember that even if an alienator is successful in their campaign to destroy your relationship with your children, they are the one that is being poisoned by the venom and insatiable need to control that they carry inside of them
  19. Everyone is “victimized” at some point in their life but no one has to live like a victim – living as a victim is a choice – if you choose to do so, then the perpetrator has truly won their greatest victory in your life
  20. Let the struggles and tragedies in this life compel you to seek deep and lasting answers far beyond the superficial

In my life, the only real and lasting hope that I’ve ever found to deal with these issues is in Jesus Christ. Yes, there are other factors that are important in surviving this type of tragedy but most of those just help to manage the pain they don’t get to the root of the pain and anger.

If you have read my story, you know a small part of what I have been through. My sons and I were forcefully ripped apart in 1999 using a PPO that my ex-wife easily obtained from a judge. I was never even accused of breaking a law yet was treated like a criminal for over 4 years by the judge in my case. I wasn’t allowed to contact my children in any capacity under threat of jail. I never got to say goodbye to them or explain what had happened. My ex-wife and the judge in my case made quite a team. They both achieved their goal of severing me from my son’s lives. This happened when my sons were ages 4 & 7 in 1999. And although I’ve tried multiple times to let both of them know that I love them and would like a relationship with them, they still believe what they’ve been told about me by their mother. I lost over $150,000 in attorney fees, a house, a business, and both of my sons.

The only thing that kept an even greater tragedy from occurring after these events was my faith in Jesus Christ.

Not everyone believes in God. If you don’t, you may wonder why others do. Sure, you probably know the clichés that many believe to be true about people needing a crutch and not using their brains etc.

But what is your personal answer to the question “Does God exist?” And what difference does it make if He does?

Are you tired, weary, angry and disillusioned yet? This world is brutal, but it’s especially hard when you can’t make sense of it. In my opinion, it takes much more faith to believe that there is no God than to believe that there is one. If you’re at the point where you are looking for serious, real, life-changing answers about God, life and His plan for mankind then stick around for the rest of this series and see if there is anything worthwhile here for you.

You may also want to consider reading “Evidence That Demands a Verdict” by Josh McDowell or “Case for Christ by Lee Strobel while you’re going through this series.

If you already believe in God, then you probably have several other questions.

  1. Is God really in control?
  2. If God is in control then why do lies, deception and corruption still seem to prevail in the “real” world?
  3. If God is love than how can he allow this in my child’s life?
  4. How can I ever forgive my ex or the judge and why should I?
  5. How can I trust God when He doesn’t seem to care?
  6. Does God really have a plan for humanity?
  7. Does He have a plan for my life?
  8. How do I pick up the pieces and move on with my life when all I feel is pain and anger?
  9. Will God ever restore my relationship with my child?

I think you’d agree that those are some pretty tough but real questions that we ask ourselves as we deal with crisis and tragedy in our life, especially if you are a targeted parent of parental alienation.

If you’re already a Christian, hold onto and grow deep in your faith at all costs. You may want to consider reading “Disappointment with God” or “Where is God When it Hurts?” Both are written by Phillip Yancey, or “Finding God” by Larry Crabb.

I’ll be back next week to deal with some of the previous topics in more depth. In the meantime, have a great day!

Rick

Go to part 2

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Learning how to forgive someone is much more than just a learned skill or technique. You can learn how to forgive someone in a matter of minutes. But getting to the point where you’re willing to forgive someone is where the real struggle takes place. Forgiveness is never easy.

After all, if someone has hurt or offended you why should you forgive them? Especially if they’ve done so intentionally and with malice. Forgiveness is essentially letting go of anger, resentment, or any other intense negative emotions that you may have toward someone that has hurt or offended you.

How do you forgive someone that has done the unforgivable?

So hard to forgive!

How do you forgive a spouse that has had an affair?

How do you forgive an addict that has relapsed yet again?

How do you forgive the abuse or neglect of a parent?

How do you forgive a friend or co-worker for destroying friendships or your career?

How do you forgive an ex-spouse that has destroyed your relationship with your children?

How do you forgive rape, murder, incest or other horrible crimes?

Does anyone that would do any of those things deserve forgiveness?

What if they’ve hurt you so deeply that you just can’t forgive them? What then?

Fortunately, forgiveness is a decision not a feeling

Learning how to forgive someone is simple, but often hard to do. More than anything else, forgiveness is a decision. Not a feeling. Decide to forgive and the feelings of forgiveness will eventually follow. You need to master your feelings and thought life, not be victimized by them. Forgiveness is a choice.

Do feelings matter?

If you’ve been deeply hurt or offended by someone and you wait until you feel like forgiving them, it will likely never happen.

Does that mean that if you’ve been hurt, disrespected, betrayed, or abused by someone that you shouldn’t feel anything in response to that? Absolutely not. Intense feelings of hurt, resentment, anger, betrayal and not wanting to forgive the perpetrator are totally appropriate.

In fact, we’ve probably all fantasized how we would “get back” at someone that has hurt or offended us. Forgiveness is the last thing on our minds at these times.

But learning how to forgive someone despite those feelings is crucial.

Why you should forgive

Forgiveness is crucial to your own well-being. Un-forgiveness is a poison that can destroy you and everything good in your life. Forgiveness is the antidote to that poison.

Forgiveness is an important component in all our relationships. Sometimes forgiveness is needed by us and other times we’re the one forgiving others.

Refusing to forgive someone that has hurt you can affect you in a variety of negative ways, your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health are all being affected in adverse ways by un-forgiveness.  

The wounds you’ve sustained can leave lasting feelings of resentment, bitterness, and anger, in extreme cases even hatred. But if you choose to hold on to resentment, you’ll be the one who pays the greatest price. Only forgiveness can set you free from the bondage to these intense emotions.

From a Christian perspective forgiveness is not only the right thing to do – it’s required. But the good news for followers of Christ is that He already set the example of how to forgive. And He empowers us through His Spirit to be able to forgive others as He forgave us. Jesus Christ will enable you to forgive in a way that you could not do in your own strength.

Refusing to forgive can result in:

  • Harming other relationships by bringing anger and bitterness into them
  • Becoming so focused on the past that you can’t enjoy the present
  • Depression, irritability, or anxiousness
  • Feeling and acting in ways that conflict with your spiritual beliefs and relationship with God
  • Avoiding building life-enriching relationships with others because of trust issues
  • A dismal and sad outlook on life
  • Negativity (no one wants to be that person)
  • Becoming aggressive or defensive with those that had nothing to do with your wound
  • People you love and care about start avoiding you because of your unresolved issues
  • Living as a victim – giving your antagonist control over the quality of your life
Results of refusing to forgive

Choosing to forgive can result in:

  • Improved physical, emotional and spiritual health
  • Peace of mind and spirit
  • Healthier, richer, and fuller relationships
  • Walking in harmony with your spiritual beliefs and relationship with God
  • Vastly improved and positive outlook on life
  • Less stress, anxiety, and hostility
  • Fewer symptoms of anger and depression
  • Lower blood pressure and improved heart health
  • A stronger immune system
  • Feeling better about yourself
  • A release from the bondage of bitterness and resentment
  • Embracing forgiveness allows you to embrace peace and hope
  • Living free – no longer a helpless victim of someone else’s intentions, words, or actions
What forgiveness looks like

The real winner if you choose not to forgive

We need to make an important distinction here. This next section is not about someone that unintentionally blows it because they’re having a bad day or they lack people skills; like inadvertently stepping on your toes or accidentally hitting your car in a fender-bender. Even though both events cause pain and injury, neither of these had malicious intent.

But if your antagonist has intentionally and maliciously hurt or attacked you (or you believe they have), why in the world would you willingly amplify and extend the pain they’ve already inflicted?

Aren’t you tired of spending so much time and emotional energy focused on them? And now you’re enabling them to continue to inflict pain, not only with your permission but with your help. You might as well be working for them!

How does that make you feel?

Why it’s so hard to forgive

Being hurt by someone (especially someone that you love and trust) can cause anger, sadness, and a sense of betrayal. But if you dwell on these hurtful events, resentment, hostility and even hatred may take root.

These intense feelings are hard to overcome. Notice I didn’t say set aside or ignore. Burying these strong emotions doesn’t work; these types of feelings demand to be dealt with. And believe it or not, it’s actually good for us that they do. We will never achieve peace and health until we do. And we certainly won’t be motivated to heal relationships with forgiveness.

People often think that forgiveness means forgetting or excusing the harm done to you. It doesn’t. Many also believe that forgiving someone means giving that person unrestricted access to their life without appropriate boundaries being set. It does not.

Many times, the offended person feels like forgiving someone is giving them a “get out of jail free” card. Or worse yet, seeming to be being okay with what happened. It is not. And remember, you are the one in a self-imposed jail if you hold onto resentment not them.

It’s hard to forgive because of the injustice of the situation. After all, they deserve to have you angry with them for what they’ve done to you right? Forgiving them would be letting them off the hook wouldn’t it?

And to make matters worse, they probably haven’t even acknowledged that what they did was wrong let alone asked for forgiveness. Where’s the justice in forgiving them, especially if they haven’t confessed their wrong and asked for forgiveness? 

Unforgiveness is Poison

The problem is that you holding onto your “right” to be angry is hurting you way more than them. Holding onto a grudge and refusing to forgive them to “make them pay” for what they’ve done is literally like you drinking poison to get back at them. Anyone thinking clearly understands that this strategy destroys the one drinking the poison and not the other person. Forgiveness stops you from drinking that poison.

Another factor that can make it hard to forgive someone is that forgiveness is a process not a one-time event. This is especially true if they’re a repeat offender as in the case of an addict.

Forgiving an addict is one of the most difficult situations to offer forgiveness in. They typically lie, steal and break trust repeatedly, destroying the relationships they have with others daily. At the very least, they break promises to themselves and family to give up whatever addiction is destroying their life.

But even if they’re not a repeat offender, the memories and feelings associated with whatever hurt you’ve experienced will come back to you from time to time and need to be dealt with again until you’ve truly worked through your pain. True and lasting forgiveness is a process but deciding to forgive is the first step.

It may also be the case that the person that hurt you has died since the offense transpired or that you’ve lost contact with or removed yourself from the person because of safety concerns. It may seem like forgiveness isn’t possible. The good news is that you can still be set free to forgive in both of those circumstances. We’ll discuss how to do that in a moment.

The last reason it’s so hard to forgive is the most difficult but most necessary to address.

We as humans can be self-centered and at times very judgmental and defensive toward others. Fortunately, those tendencies don’t rear their ugly head every day but we all need to guard against them in order to have better relationships and a better society. Forgiveness requires us to overcome those tendencies.

Sometimes the first step to forgiveness is humbly admitting that you aren’t perfect either and you’ve likely hurt other people as you’ve moved through this life. Welcome to the club. We all have.

But when those times occurred, what were you hoping for from the person that you hurt or offended; grace, understanding and forgiveness, or anger, justice, and un-forgiveness? Sadly, we often want and need forgiveness but we’re reluctant to forgive someone when they need our forgiveness. 

Are you ready to release yourself from the bondage of pain, bitterness, and un-forgiveness?

Let’s talk about specific steps you can take to set yourself free. 

How to forgive someone

Decide to forgive. You can’t help what someone did to you, but you can decide how to respond. Forgiving someone that has hurt you stops you from living like a victim. A victim is helpless before their attacker. Forgiving them takes that power away.

Ultimately, forgiveness might even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you.

If you’re a Christian, the path to forgiveness begins and comes to completion through Jesus Christ and His revealed word in scripture. He set the ultimate example of what forgiveness looks like by choosing to come to this earth to save us from our sins.

How to forgive someone

The Holy Bible in Romans 5:8 states “But God demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Notice that it doesn’t say “when we got our act together” or “after we recognized our need for forgiveness from a God that we had deeply hurt and offended by our sins”. God initiated the way to forgiveness and a restored relationship with Him, not us.

Even more astonishing is in Luke 23:34 it records that while Jesus was on the cross submitting Himself to crucifixion to atone for our sins, He said “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

No matter what you’ve experienced, it’s hard to imagine a more difficult circumstance in which to offer forgiveness than the one Jesus did when on the cross. There are many other teachings in scripture about us forgiving one another.

Colossians 3:13 states, “Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” 

In Matthew 6:12 when Jesus is teaching the disciples what has become known as The Lord’s Prayer, He taught “and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those that trespass against us.”

Notice the strong correlation between our seeking His forgiveness and extending forgiveness to others. God knows our need for forgiveness and wants us to consider that when forgiving others.

Forgiveness may seem impossible at times but Philippians 4:13 teaches “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.

In Matthew 5:44 Jesus commands us “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Ask God to extend his love and healing to your offender (they obviously have their own issues) and to replace the negative emotions and thoughts you have about that person.

Ask Him to help you forgive them as He has forgiven you. Is there any more powerful witness of God’s transforming grace than someone who can display true forgiveness to the “unforgivable”?

Regardless of whether you’re a Christian or not the following principles apply:

The path to forgive someone

  • Make the decision to forgive the person that hurt you regardless of how you feel.
  • Appreciate the value of forgiveness and how it can improve your life.
  • Choose to let go of resentment and anger before it destroys you.
  • Break the power that the offending person and situation have had in your life.
  • Forgive the person even if they never apologize for what they’ve done.
    Fortunately, forgiving someone doesn’t depend on any action or confession from them.
  • Acknowledge your emotions, recognize they’re hurting you, and work to release them.
  • Practice empathy. Step back and honestly assess the situation with a fresh perspective. Try seeing the situation from the other person’s point of view.
  • Write a list of qualities or things said or done by the other person that you appreciate.
  • Reflect on times when others have forgiven you and how grateful you are that they did.
  • If you’re a person of faith pray and ask God’s help to soften your heart and change your feelings and thoughts toward the person that has offended you.
  • Talk with a person you’ve found to be wise and compassionate, such as a spiritual leader, a mental health provider, or an impartial loved one or friend.
  • Remember that forgiveness a process. These hurts may need to be revisited and forgiven numerous times until painful feelings are fully resolved.
  • Get help from your church or a counseling professional if needed.
  • After you have made significant progress on your emotions and perspective attempt to contact the person to work towards restoration of the relationship. In many cases this step will not be appropriate or necessary. Thankfully, you can reach a state of forgiveness without ever interacting or reconciling with the individual you’re forgiving.

Additional thoughts about forgiveness

Empathy

Empathy brings forgiveness

It isn’t necessary to fully understand why the other person hurt you. However, it can be helpful and insightful to put yourself in the other person’s shoes for a moment when reassessing the event from a different perspective. Instead of seeing the other person as the enemy, try to understand the factors that may have influenced their words and actions. Doing this will usually make forgiveness much easier.  

  • Were they going through any difficulties in their life at the time?
  • Have you ever said or done anything to hurt or offend them?
  • Is it possible that you over-reacted because of other stresses in your life at the time?
  • Are you perfect?
  • Have you ever said or done anything to hurt or offend anyone?
  • How did you hope they would treat you when you blew it? (Judgment or forgiveness)
  • Make a list of qualities or things said or done by the other person that you appreciate.
  • Unless you have strong indicators otherwise, give them the benefit of the doubt, and don’t assume that their motives were to cause you pain.

Assess the value and safety of the relationship

Is the person that you’ve chosen to forgive a core member of your life; a spouse, child, or family member that you need or want to maintain a relationship with? If so, forgiveness is the only way to restore and heal the relationship.

If they are, you’ll need to separate their words or actions from who they are and what they mean to you. You’ll also need to work towards reconciliation, if necessary with the help of clergy or a counseling professional.

Does forgiveness require reconciliation?

Forgiving someone doesn’t mandate letting the person back into your life; at least, not as closely as they were before.

Has the person attempted to make things right with you by apologizing or asking for your understanding or forgiveness? Have they declared that their intention wasn’t to hurt you? Have they asked for your forgiveness? If so, your chances of forgiveness which includes reconciliation are much higher.

Forgiveness may lead to reconciliation. But that’s not always the case. Reconciliation won’t be possible if the offender has died since the offense transpired or if you’ve lost contact with or removed yourself from the person because of safety concerns.

Forgiveness is still possible in cases where you’re unable to communicate with the offender though. A great method to do this is to write (or type) a letter to them about what happened between you. Tell them how this made you feel. Make sure you fully express yourself and be honest about your feelings of pain, betrayal, and anger. If applicable, let them know how much they meant to you and that you wish things would have ended differently.

Tell them that you willingly forgive them and release them from the pain and anger they caused you. And if applicable share any apology you might have about something you may have said or done to harm the relationship. That may be as simple as holding onto un-forgiveness as long as you did. Or maybe lashing out at them or cutting them off in your pain as a response to what they did. Be sure to forgive yourself for any mistakes you may have made.

When you’ve finished, read the document aloud to yourself. You have several choices when this is done. You can keep the letter to review if you’re struggling with old feelings in the future. Or as a symbol of finality, you can shred the letter or burn it. Following this process will bring you to forgiveness and more peace and relief than you can possibly imagine.

The importance of setting healthy boundaries

Forgiving someone doesn’t always include reconciling or maintaining an ongoing relationship. Ask yourself what boundaries you need in place to help yourself move on. 

Appropriate boundaries may include not giving that person access to your life at all or limiting your emotional or physical exposure to them for a period of time. You may choose to only see them in group settings or in a neutral place such as a restaurant.

It may be as simple as limiting the topics you’re willing to discuss, or feelings or thoughts that you’re willing to share until trust is regained.  Don’t feel bad about giving yourself time to find forgiveness. 

Setting boundaries allows you to protect yourself while building the relationship to whatever level you’re comfortable with moving forward. This is especially important with someone that has repeatedly shown themselves to be an unsafe person.

Boundaries provide a safe way to work on the relationship and to either accept a change in the dynamic of the relationship (less intimate and transparent) or realize that the person is more important to you than the previous offense and to leave the offense in the past.

Forgiveness in marriage

Now that you know how to forgive someone let’s apply that to marriage. Marriage has its own unique set of challenges, but it also has advantages that you won’t find in other relationships.

Forgiveness in marriage

To begin with, many of us make a vow to each other and to God that we will love and stay with our spouse no matter what until death separates us. That clearly sets the standard for forgiveness high. Loving unconditionally isn’t easy. But it is worth it.

Even if that wasn’t part of your personal journey, you chose to marry this person because you loved them and wanted to spend your life with them. Hopefully you were honest and mature enough to realize that no one is perfect including you. And that in every marriage there will be hurt, anger, disappointment, and difficulty as you work through issues.

But in either case, you’ve invested a great deal in the relationship, and it would be wise to extend grace and forgiveness to each other throughout your marriage. So, if you’re committed to your marriage, you really only have 2 choices. One is to endure a grueling and loveless marriage because it’s the right thing to do. The other is to work hard on building the best marriage possible and both of you reap the benefits.

All of the principles and strategies above still apply. But deciding whether to forgive your spouse or not has a much more profound impact on your life for good or for bad. What are the consequences if you refuse to forgive them?

Sometimes your spouse just gets on your nerves or wears you out. Occasionally they say or do something that you find embarrassing or disappointing. This is a normal part of every relationship. Forgive the little things as quickly as possible. Don’t let things build up.

Instead, share your feelings and thoughts about what needs to be resolved so it doesn’t build up and destroy the relationship. Forgiveness works both ways. You may forgive your spouse today and need their forgiveness tomorrow.

Learn or implement conflict resolution skills when addressing issues. Reach out to a pastor, counselor or trusted mentoring couple to help if needed. Both are skilled in helping us to forgive others.

An excellent resource for learning great communication and forgiveness skills for marriage relationships is a book called “Love and Respect” by Emerson and Sarah Eggerich.

What if trust is broken?

Forgiveness of infidelity is one of the hardest betrayals to work through. Certainly, it’s much more difficult to forgive someone for having an affair than for a mistake like forgetting to put gas in the car.

Forgiving after trust is broken

If you’re the one that has broken trust and is seeking forgiveness

It’s up to you to initiate healing the relationship. The first step is to honestly assess what you’ve done and acknowledge how it has hurt your spouse.

Then, share your sincere sorrow or regret with them and ask for their forgiveness without making excuses. Even if you believe that your spouse said or did things that contributed to why you broke trust, now is not the time to deal with those issues.

Make a commitment to not hurt your partner again by repeating the behavior. This may include a plan of action like getting help from a professional or putting boundaries in place to assist you in staying true to your commitment.

Listen. Really listen, to what your spouse shares about what has happened and how it’s made them feel as well as how it may affect the relationship moving forward.

Be patient with your spouse. Don’t dismiss their deep hurt by telling them to “get over it”. Accept the fact that your actions have consequences which likely include your spouse distancing themselves from you emotionally and possibly physically until a level trust is regained.

Remember, forgiveness is a process. You can’t force someone to forgive you. Everyone moves to forgiveness at their own pace.

If you’re the one that needs to forgive a betrayal of trust

Use all of the tools you learned earlier in this article; especially separating what has transpired from who they are and what they mean to you. If you’re unsure an affair has occurred, got to Signs of an Emotional Affair to help you discern if forgiveness is necessary.

Make a decision to forgive regardless of whether your spouse is repentant or not. It’s much easier if they are, but still necessary (for your sake) even if they’re not.

If you’re a person of faith ask God to help you see your spouse through His eyes and not your own. Share your pain and betrayal with Him. He already knows and will help get you to forgive in a way that only He can.

Discuss what has happened with your spouse and be honest about how it makes you feel. Afterward, listen to your spouse carefully (without interrupting), and see if they are remorseful and willing to work on repairing the relationship.

If they don’t present a plan of action to get professional help or put boundaries in place to prevent a repeat of previous behavior, you have every right to request these things yourself. This not only helps hold them accountable, but also assists both of you in healing and restoration of the relationship.

You’ll also need to work towards reconciliation, if necessary, with the help of clergy or a counseling professional. Forgiveness can be achieved without reconciliation, but reconciliation cannot be achieved without forgiveness.

It’s important not to give into the temptation to use what happened in the past as a weapon against them the next time you’re in a heated discussion. True forgiveness means that you forgive the transgression and put that incident completely behind you.

Always remember that none of us is perfect. Not even you. You may find as you work through the forgiveness process that you may need to forgive yourself for something you said or did that contributed to the problem. Or you may simply feel bad that it’s taken you so long to forgive the other person.

If you need more help to forgive and experience feelings of forgiveness, I suggest the following books. “What’s so amazing about Grace” by Phillip Yancey and “The Bondage Breaker” by Neil Anderson.

Forgiveness is a gift that you willingly extend to yourself and the other person no matter how badly you’ve been hurt. Choosing and working toward forgiveness is hard work but it’s one of the greatest decisions that you will ever make!

Freedom in forgiveness

Now that you know how to forgive someone, you can be set free from the self-imposed prison of bitterness and un-forgiveness. Choosing forgiveness will let this joyous truth change your life!

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How to find the best divorce attorney for your unique situation is one of the most important factors in your divorce settlement.

This post is a brief overview of the Hiring a Divorce Attorney section of our Divorce Protection Program.

Most people are totally unaware of how the divorce legal process really works. They have no idea how many cases are decided in the judge’s chambers based upon the relationship they have with one or both of the lawyers and not the divorce case itself.

Additionally, judges are human beings like you and I. They have biases, allegiances and a network of people that they like to work with, and those that they don’t. Divorce court is no different than the rest of life.

How to find the best divorce attorney

The judge in my divorce case had a Women Lawyers Association banner draped across the American flag in her courtroom. We witnessed dozens of other cases being heard by her and she ruled against every single man that entered her courtroom. We found out later that she was well known among men and father’s rights groups as a man-hater. I don’t know if that’s true but her rulings certainly seemed to bear that out. 

If you decide to retain a lawyer, finding the BEST divorce attorney for your case is critical. And knowing how to find the best divorce attorney for your unique situation is the starting point.

Why knowing how to find the best divorce attorney is crucial

– Every monetary and tangible asset that you have is at risk

In a worst case divorce scenario your finances, reputation, safety and even your children can be taken from you virtually overnight. Your choice of divorce lawyer will have the single greatest impact on your divorce settlement positively or negatively. The damage from a nasty divorce can affect your family and finances for generations to come. So choose wisely!

– Cost of divorce

Includes divorce attorney fees/court costs/other 3rd party professionals (accountants, mental health professionals, appraisers etc.)

Most people have no idea how expensive a divorce can be – According to TheStreet.com, as of April of 2020, the average cost of a contested divorce in the US is approx. $15,000. And the cost is substantially more in high conflict divorces. My post-divorce litigation ended up well over $150,000. I had 3 different legal firms represent me. Knowing how to find the best divorce attorney can be the key to keeping expensive litigation to a minimum.

– Financial Settlement

Ending up with the best overall divorce settlement includes a variety of aspects:

1. Liquid financial assets, securities, tax deferred accounts, crypto currency, real estate, jewelry, furniture and memberships, vehicles etc.

2. The total amount of legal fees when your divorce is completed

3. Which of you pays 3rd party fees such as psych exams and therapy and long term obligations like alimony & child support

– Parenting schedule and rights

Knowing how to find the best divorce attorney could result in avoiding a costly and damaging child custody battle. Additionally, a poorly defined initial divorce settlement usually leads to post-divorce litigation and enforcement issues that can lead to astronomical costs later.

– Long term relationship with children

Having the wrong divorce attorney represent you can result in receiving a limited parenting schedule,  a damaged relationship, or no relationship at all.

How to find the best divorce attorney

– Financial & emotional quality of your life for years to come

The divorce is usually completed within 4-12 months. But the cost of your divorce, the damage to relationships, and the financial settlement affect the quality of your life for many years to come.

– Long term representation

In the event of post-divorce litigation your divorce lawyer will already be up to speed and know how best to proceed based upon their knowledge of the case, your ex and the judge involved – you do not want to have to start over!

Now that you know why discovering how to find the best divorce attorney is so important, let’s talk about solutions.

How to find the best divorce attorney for your family law case

Best insider referral sources

Each of these sources has a unique insider viewpoint of the family divorce court system. They also know intricate details about judges and divorce attorneys that will assist you in qualifying the best divorce attorney for your case.

– A current or retired family law judge  

– Retired family law divorce attorney

– Family Law divorce attorney that practices in a different jurisdiction

– Attorney from a different field of law

– Someone that works in the family divorce court system (county clerk office, judge’s assistant, Friend of the Court case worker, etc.)

– Friends or family that have connections to these previous mentioned

Other sources

– Accountants, financial planners, counselors or clergy

– Friends, family, church and co-workers (most common)

– Online divorce resources – read reviews thoroughly

– Gender specific sites, forums and support groups

Always qualify and interview a divorce attorney before selecting them regardless of the referral source. You want to make sure that your divorce lawyer is a good fit for your goals and personality. And that they have the legal experience necessary to protect you from an aggressive or difficult spouse if needed.

*We supply a PDF of questions for insider attorney referrals in our program

Optimum divorce attorney selection criteria – The perfect candidate

– Influential and politically connected 

– Respected by their colleagues 

– Powerful, effective and experienced

– Proven in high conflict and/or custody cases

– Frequently practices in jurisdiction your case is in

– Willing to fight for clients (but not a fire-starter)

– High integrity

– Favorable relationship with your judge (if your judge is already assigned)

Your divorce attorney’s credibility, relationships, personality and skills matter more than you know!

Common mistakes when choosing a divorce attorney

Divorce attorney mistakes

– Not realizing you need a specialist for a high conflict or custody battle

Never underestimate the need for control and retribution in an unhealthy ex-spouse. Most of the people that end up decimated in divorce court had no idea that anyone, let alone their spouse, could ever be so cruel or vindictive until after it was too late.

The first reason is that the healthy spouse can’t even conceive that another person, (especially their spouse), would ever be capable of trying to destroy them and their own children. It’s incomprehensible to them. Because the healthy spouse would never be capable of the same type of behavior.   

The second reason is that no man wants to admit that they married the woman from “Fatal Attraction”. And no woman wants to admit they married the man from “Sleeping with the Enemy”. It says something about us when we realize that we married that type of person.

Not realizing that there are some lawyers because of their experience, dedication, skill, and yes their connections, that have a much greater chance of protecting your assets, children and your reputation from a high conflict spouse. All licensed divorce attorneys are not equal in their ability to get the job done!

Any divorce attorney can represent a low asset, low conflict client case. It takes a specialist in high conflict, high asset, and child custody issues to represent you if your ex-spouse is vindictive or emotionally unstable.

– Choosing an attorney with a personality like yours

Like attracts like, both good and bad. Chances are high that if you’re reasonable, compassionate and responsible, you’ll find an attorney who shares those same characteristics and values.

All of those traits are admirable. But there’s a potential problem with this kind of personality. You may be more laid back and much less assertive than your spouse. You may also have a hard time confronting and holding people accountable. And that’s the LAST thing you need in your divorce attorney.

You need someone with all of the previous characteristics, but they need to be strong and assertive when necessary to protect you and your interests.

Paradoxically, if your ex-spouse is controlling, ruthless and manipulative, that’s exactly the type of divorce attorney they’ll find to represent them. They’ll find a bottom-feeder that will gladly take their money (and yours) to destroy you in court!

The goal of any sane and healthy individual going through a divorce is to make the best of a bad situation. They look beyond their own loss and pain, and try to help everyone involved to minimize the damage that’s being done to their family during the divorce process. They aren’t out to destroy the other spouse. They’re rational. And they try to be reasonable while working through the many compromises and negotiations necessary in a divorce.

If you don’t anticipate a high conflict divorce then finding an average divorce attorney might seem adequate. But if you retain the best divorce attorney from the beginning, they’ll be equipped to deal with every situation no matter how intense things may get. They’ll also be able to prevent a great deal of escalation and litigation that a less skilled or principled attorney will not. 

If however, you already know you’re dealing with a spouse that’s emotionally damaged and controlling, you can count on a high level of conflict. These type of personalities will NEVER play by the same rules as the sane spouse or parent. Their goals and tactics will be totally different than yours.

A good lawyer will be wise enough to only use the amount of assertiveness and accountability necessary to get the job done. But they won’t intentionally escalate tension and litigation. They’ll always try to bring things to a reasonable and equitable settlement. But they’ll also be fully equipped to deal with escalating tensions, illegal tactics and to protect you from harm should those things present themselves in your case.

– Hiring a divorce attorney based upon their fee or hourly rate

This common mistake can make all the difference in the outcome of your case and your future. The cheapest is not always the least expensive!

A divorce attorney with a lower hourly rate doesn’t mean their total fees will end up being less than hiring a more effective and powerful attorney at a higher rate.

A divorce attorney that charges $500 dollars an hour may end up costing you WAY less in the long run, than one that bills you $150 dollars an hour.

The right divorce attorney will have the best strategies, the best connections, and the best experience, which should result in less motions, hearings and court costs. You’ll also have a much better chance of protecting yourself, your assets and family from irreparable harm during the divorce process.

The sad truth is that too many judges are only persuaded to do the right thing because of relationships, political alliances or the threat of being held accountable by an attorney that is well respected and connected.

– Hiring an aggressive divorce attorney that will cause conflict and litigation 

1. Many attorneys simply want to increase litigation to increase their fees. And they take every opportunity to do so at your expense.

2. Divorce attorneys that come off as rude, arrogant or antagonistic toward your spouse and in some cases even the judge. The stereotypical “bull in a china shop” personality.

3. Divorce attorneys that are inept or don’t have the expertise to submit a well-defined settlement document to the court that prevents further litigation in the future.

4. Unethical lawyers may promise you an unrealistic divorce settlement to get your business. And once they represent you, they will get you to fight for things that they know you’ll never end up getting just to increase their fees throughout the divorce process. Don’t take the bait.

Next steps to find the best divorce attorney

I imagine by now, that finding the best divorce attorney isn’t as easy as you thought it would be! It’s not. And it’s one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. Hang in there. We’ll lead you through this every step of the way.

Divorce Attorney Interview Process and Questions

Use the interview questions provided in our Divorce Protection Program.  

When you’re interviewing a divorce lawyer to represent you, the interview accomplishes multiple goals. First, you’ll find out which divorce attorney is the best fit for your situation. But you’ll also set the tone for your relationship moving forward.

An attorney will always pay more attention to detail with a client that is highly aware and involved. This will also make it easier to manage your divorce attorney later on. They will realize that you aren’t just passively leaving everything in their hands and hoping for the best.

You’re much more likely to be a priority case if your divorce attorney understands that you know what to look for and that you expect their best.

In review:

It can’t be over emphasized just how important knowing how to find the best divorce attorney is! Using the Optimum Selection Criteria in this section will give you the best chance of finding a highly qualified and effective divorce lawyer to help obtain a favorable outcome for you and your family.  

If you found this information helpful, go to The Ultimate Divorce Protection Program to develop a step-by-step plan to navigate through your divorce with the least amount of cost, conflict and damage to your family as possible.

Knowing how to find the best Divorce Attorney for your specific circumstances is crucial. But it requires knowledge that most people don’t have. We are happy to share our hard-earned knowledge with you to help you and your family to find the best divorce attorney!

by Rick Nischalke

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by RICK NISCHALKE

There are hundreds of thousands of divorces every year, but divorces that include parental alienation are the most dangerous and damaging to every family member involved. Divorce and parental alienation are a deadly combination.

Wow, what a sad statistic and topic that is all by itself. But the numbers don’t even come close to reflecting the pain and heartache that divorce brings with it. Most of the time, both partners feel hurt, angry and possibly even betrayed. If not by their spouse, then by the hopes, dreams and commitment that they once shared.

If you have ever “survived” a divorce you know exactly what I mean. If you haven’t experienced one then you are most fortunate. The emotions, demands and the decisions that need to be addressed while going through and after a divorce are staggering in scope and importance. It’s a wonder any of us survive. My heart goes out to anyone that has ever had to rebuild a shattered life and dreams because of divorce.

The difficult scenario that I’ve just shared describes a husband and wife navigating through this life changing event. I think we would all agree, when children are introduced into the equation the stakes go up considerably for everyone involved. That’s where the potential for “Parental Alienation” rears it’s ugly head. And PA is ugly folks…

In fact, Parental Alienation is so ugly that very few people even want to admit it’s existence. They would much rather debate whether it should be classified as a “syndrome” or not. Or assign self-serving motives to anyone who dares to shed light on it’s deadly impact on children.

Let me be clear, I am NOT attempting to address every issue “surrounding” this topic. I want to get right to the heart of the matter. Let’s cut through all the posturing and game playing here. No matter what you label” Parental Alienation, it comes down to this. Any parent that deliberately and maliciously attacks their child’s other parent, and does everything they can to destroy the relationship their children have with that parent is abusing that child. In my opinion, Parental Alienation is “The Ultimate Hate Crime”!

Now I’m not talking about occasionally venting about your ex-spouse (although even that is not healthy for your children), I’m talking about a willful desire to use your children to “hurt, control or attack” your ex-spouse by turning the children against him or her.

Most of the time these attacks are hidden behind the guise of “protecting” the children from their “father or mother. In reality there are very few situations (although there are some) where the children are in need of protection at all.

What about the children? Do they deserve to be caught up in a deadly game of hate and manipulation just to make one of their parents feel better about themselves or meet their needs? What about our God-given (or at the very least our humane) responsibility for their welfare? The sad fact is that the same parents that would probably fight to the death to shelter their children from harm, end up being a perpetrator that inflicts some of the deepest wounds their child will ever receive. It boggles the mind and daunts the spirit to even consider such a thing! Doesn’t it?

The statistics are bleak concerning children of divorce to begin with. The incidence of depression, fear, anger and feelings of pain directly related to divorce and a “broken” family are significant by anyone’s standards. The statistics for children that have successfully been alienated from a loving parent is even more staggering and alarming!

Can you imagine how horrible it must be for a child to be torn from the loving arms of a parent that has loved, protected and provided for that child since the day they were born? Someone that comforted them, spent time with them and nurtured them for as long as they can remember. Now for reasons they can’t comprehend, that parent is suddenly “the enemy”.

What must it be like to be told (or at the very least strongly encouraged) that they must “hate mommy or daddy” to keep the alienating parent’s love and acceptance. What must go through their fragile little minds when they are taught to call the parent they once looked up to and respected by their first name, essentially taking them out of the role of parent in that child’s life?

How does a child feel when every reference made about one of their parents by the alienating parent to others, is demeaning and cruel. I would speculate that it makes them embarrassed by and resentful of the targeted parent. It makes them hate a part of themselves…

I could go on for a lifetime. I am still living the nightmare of being separated from sons that I love for over 9 years now. They were 4 and 7 years old at the time they were taken. I wish that my case was unique but I receive similar stories every day from people around the world. Our passion is to bring healing to parents and children that have been separated by alienation and the family courts (the family court system is a topic all by itself).

I do what I can to make a difference, in the hope that it might help parents that are currently abusing their children to stop. I hope that in some small way my story will make a difference for those precious children for years to come.

Thank you for investing the time to read this post . Please pass it on to anyone that might benefit from it.

Rick

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Does God exist? – cont’d

This post is the fourth in a series on how to survive parental alienation. If you haven’t read the previous posts I would suggest doing so before reading this one.

In my previous post #3 of this series we looked at the first 3 reasons in the following list. Today we will explore the last 2:

It’s been my experience through the years that there are really only a handful of reasons that people refuse to believe in (or acknowledge) the existence of God.

  1. Some of us have never really given much thought or done our own research on the subject, so we end up accepting and repeating what some authority figure in our life told us we should believe.
  2. Some believe that our cultures’ “current version of science” has all of the answers and they are under the false belief that no one of above average intelligence believes in Intelligent Design and Creation.
  3. If God does in fact exist, this truth may require changes in their lifestyle that they are unwilling to make.
  4. Many become angry and appalled with the injustice, evil and pain in this world. They ask “If God exists how could He let all of this happen”?
  5. In some cases people that used to believe in God change their view because they feel that God has let them down in some way. They become disillusioned by their own false understanding about who God is and how He operates in our world. They believe that God has an obligation to answer every prayer the way that they think He should or He must not be real or trustworthy. Or worse yet, if they are in deep enough pain and confusion they simply walk away from a relationship with Him. Sometimes they profess not to believe in Him at all, but most of the time they are just angry, hurt and disillusioned by their pain so they refuse to worship, follow or even acknowledge God’s existence anymore.

Reason #4

Addressing the 4th reason on our list let me start by saying that all of us should be angry, shocked and appalled with the injustice, evil and pain in our world. Each of those things should cause us great consternation and deep reflection about the world we live in and the very meaning of life itself.

Many of us just haven’t been able to make sense of how a loving and all-powerful God could allow evil to permeate our society. We earnestly wrestle with this seeming disparity and are at a loss as to how to reconcile these two “opposing truths”. If you find yourself in that situation, I would refer you back to the 2nd post in this series for insight into this perplexing issue. Specifically go to the section that says: “Let’s begin exploring God’s existence by examining some the basics of the Christian faith.” Although this may not answer your questions in their entirety, it’s certainly a good start. I have also recommended several books that will discuss these matters in depth.

But here’s where it gets dicey, the conclusions we come to about these difficult realities of life, can be heavily influenced by the first 3 reasons listed above. If someone hasn’t invested the time and effort to come to a proper understanding of who God is, and they refuse His offer of salvation because they don’t want the accountability that goes with that, then they use the atrocities of life to reinforce why they shouldn’t “believe” in a God that would allow those things.

The sad but interesting thing is that these are usually the very people that push God away (out of our schools, public meetings, court etc.) and deny Him every chance they get, yet they rail against Him when there’s a natural catastrophe or a sociopath goes on a rampage etc.

Reason #5

The 5th reason on this list is much more complex and difficult to explain with a brief explanation. There are really only a few core reasons that people “stop believing in” or turn away from God.

I’ll take the sadist but easiest reason first. They never really “believed” in Him in the first place. Many people make a profession of faith at some point in their life. But not all of them come to a saving faith in Christ. Many are moved by the emotion of the moment or perhaps a friend, family member or peer pressure that encourages them to profess their faith in Christ. Any of us could “believe” that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

But that belief alone isn’t an acknowledgement of sin or faith in Christ’s sacrifice for our salvation, is it? That type of superficial faith or belief will never see us through the hard times and complexities of life. Look in your bible in the book of Matthew 13: 1-22 to see what Jesus had to say about “the parable of the sower”. The good news is that if you fall in this category, today is a brand-new day! Don’t count on anything from your past. Ask Jesus to give you the faith to believe and follow Him today and to forgive all of your sins.

Then there are those of us that have truly believed to the point of salvation but have gotten lost along the way. This life is brutal! Sometimes the pain and disillusionment is so intense that we turn away from God completely for a time. Most of the time, it’s because we feel that God has let us down in some way. Often we become disillusioned by our own false understanding about who God is and how He operates in our world. We believe that God has an obligation to answer every prayer the way that they think He should or He must not be real or trustworthy.

There are two deadly teachings in many Christian churches today. One is that once you become a follower of Jesus Christ you won’t experience hardship, adversity or persecution in this life. The other is that if you “do all the right things”, only good things or blessings will come into your life. And if God doesn’t answer your prayer the way that you think He should, than either you don’t have enough faith or there is un-confessed sin in your life. Both of those teachings are a lie. In scripture Jesus disputes both of these false beliefs.

Jesus promises us that when we follow Him we can expect persecution for doing so. This means that when we walk with Him, those that hate Him will hate us and everything we stand for. Obviously, that doesn’t mean when we do something wrong or sinful and there are consequences to our actions that we can say we are be “persecuted for Him”.

So what happens when we pray for “good” things and God doesn’t give us the answer that we prayed for? What if we read our bible, say our prayers, go to church, treat others kindly and try to be the best person we can be, and then He still doesn’t give us what we want? These types of circumstances cause many to have a crisis of faith. Now is the time you will find out what your faith is really made of.

Have you been worshiping a much smaller god that you have created in your own mind, one that is a magic genie of sorts, where you can make a wish and he will grant it? One that operates based upon what you see as real and important and is limited by your perspective?

Have you ever wanted something bad enough to pray for it only to find out later that is was a really good thing you didn’t get what you prayed for? Maybe there were other factors involved that would have made it a terrible thing in your life if you got the thing or circumstance you asked for. Do you really want to follow a god that is that small?

Or do you have faith in the Omniscient, Omni-present, Omnipotent, all-powerful, loving and wise God of the bible? A God that is all knowing, not limited by time or space, and so powerful that nothing in the heavens or on earth can stop Him from accomplishing His purposes. A God that loves us so much that sometimes He allows this sinful and fallen world to drive us closer to Him so that He can meet us at an even deeper level, to show us His love and compassion for us.

We are so limited. We are finite beings and He is not. God has revealed much of His plan for mankind in His Word. He has also revealed many aspects of His character including His great love and compassion for His people, His holiness and righteousness, His willingness to forgive us while we were yet sinners through the provision of His son. But much of His plan is still a mystery.

Here’s what you need to decide. Can God be trusted? Can God be trusted with your children? Can He be trusted even when lies and evil seem to prevail and darkness seems the victor? If He is a loving and all-powerful God than how could He allow such injustice and evil to seemingly prevail? Those are great questions, questions that only He can answer. And He wants and invites you to seek Him for those answers.

Even as you read this, please remember that I have not been in my sons’ lives since 1999. I lost all contact with them when they were ages 4 & 7. I have seen my share of lies, darkness and corruption prevail. So even though I draw my conclusions based upon how God has revealed Himself in scripture, I have also walked with Him through the darkest days of my life.
I have decided to trust God no matter what. He sees what I cannot, and He knows what I do not. God has revealed Himself in scripture and in my life as the only one who can be completely trusted. God will never leave or forsake us (or our children). My children were a gift from Him and I thank Him for every day I had with them. Although I hope to be reconciled to them again on this earth, I know I will be with them in heaven for eternity.

Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Look at the stories of Job, David, Daniel and Joseph just to name a few examples of the fulfillment of His promise.

This life is not the end of your story or His plan for us. Justice, real honest unflinching justice will prevail in the end. Just please make sure that you are covered by the blood of Jesus when His judgment day comes.

In summation, trust God’s character and promises even when everything around you screams that He doesn’t care. He cares more than you know. Look to Jesus and you will find assurance of His love for you. May you find the healing, peace and hope that only He can bring.

Have a great day!

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Does God exist? – Cont’d

This post is the third in a series on how to survive parental alienation. If you haven’t read the previous posts I would suggest doing so before reading this one.
In my previous post #2 of this series we left off here:

It’s been my experience through the years that there are really only a handful of reasons that people refuse to believe in (or acknowledge) the existence of God.

Objections

  1. Some of us have never really given much thought or done our own research on the subject, so we end up accepting and repeating what some authority figure in our life told us we should believe.
  2. Some believe that our cultures’ “current version of science” has all of the answers and they are under the false belief that no one of above average intelligence believes in Intelligent Design and Creation.
  3. If God does in fact exist, this truth may require changes in their lifestyle that they are unwilling to make.
  4. Many become angry and appalled with the injustice, evil and pain in this world. They ask “If God exists how could He let all of this happen”?
  5. In some cases people that used to believe in God change their view because they feel that God has let them down in some way. They become disillusioned by their own false understanding about who God is and how He operates in our world. They believe that God has an obligation to answer every prayer the way that they think He should or He must not be real or trustworthy. Or worse yet, if they are in deep enough pain and confusion they simply walk away from a relationship with Him. Sometimes they profess not to believe in Him at all, but most of the time they are just angry, hurt and disillusioned by their pain so they refuse to worship, follow or even acknowledge God’s existence anymore.

Please let me begin by saying that volumes could be written and discussed about each one of these subjects. In fact volumes have been written! But it isn’t my intention here to address each of these topics in the depth that they deserve and not one of them has any “easy” answers. My hope is to stimulate you to ponder and perhaps research these subjects further after you hear my perspective on them. You may or may not come to the same conclusions that I have, but at least you will have put an honest effort into resolving these issues in your own mind and heart.

Reason #1

William James is credited with the statement: “The aim of education to teach you how to think not what to think.” Now I can’t attest to the accuracy of whether he was the first to come up with this statement or not, I just know it wasn’t me! I do however agree with the statement. Sadly in my lifetime I have seen many people influenced by formal education in just the opposite way. I believe that most of us would agree that academia and a formal education certainly has value in our society. But the sad reality is that there seems to be a distinct trend in our educational system to “program and persuade” students to certain political and societal beliefs as well as teaching scientific theories as though they are fact in the classroom. It has been my experience that very few teachers or professors welcome an honest and unbiased investigation and debate of the subjects they teach in their classes.

The fallout of this type of programming is that many people fail to question, research or form their own opinions even after they graduate from high school or college. They let the media, a political figure or party, an actor or actress, or even popular opinion sway their views instead of thinking through and researching the subjects to come up with their own strongly held conclusions and beliefs.

Nowhere is this pattern more destructive than when it comes to your belief about whether God exists or not and how that impacts your life and purpose in this world.

It would be a tragedy to go through life never caring enough or being too gullible to do your own research on the subject. And in the end to realize that the rest of eternity depended on your decision to accept or reject God’s love while you were here on this earth. To find out that there is a God that created you, loves you and has offered you an invitation to be a child of His (instead of just a creation) with the ability to live with Him forever in peace, joy and security in a world without sin, pain, injustice and grief, and you turned it down by not answering His call.

Reason #2

Some of the smartest, wisest and most educated people in the field of science have contributed great things to our society and the world at large. Many of the most influential contributors in this field were and are Christians. Their contributions have made a significant impact on our understanding of the universe and our way of life on a daily basis. Progress in the realm of science has been nothing less than amazing at times. But like every other field of human endeavor, you have the best of the best and the worst of the worst.

If you are counting on science alone for the answers to God’s existence you are doomed. Here are just a few reasons why. God has revealed in scripture that we are finite beings. We are limited in our understanding of who we are as created beings, let alone attempting to understand a creator that has an infinite understanding of all things because He created them. God makes it very clear that we are incapable of comprehending certain levels of understanding that He has purposely hidden from us.

But even if you don’t know or believe what God has revealed in His word, let’s take a brief look at sciences’ track record. The following examples were all taught as fact at one time in history:

  • Science told us the world was flat.
  • Science told us that the sun revolved around the earth.
  • Science said the speed of sound and light could never be broken.
  • Science taught the atom was the smallest particle in existence.
  • Science continues to change and update the scope of what they discover in astronomy daily.
  • “Politically popular” science today teaches anything but Creation and Intelligent Design.

The list could go on indefinitely. Am I attempting to discredit or nullify the study of any of the sciences? Of course not, I am simply pointing out that the field of any scientific study is in a continual state of change based upon new discoveries and techniques that are learned as time goes on. So the first impediment to obtaining concrete answers from science is the continual lag in discovering truths that already exist about life and creation’s secrets.

The next major flaw in relying solely on science for an answer about God’s existence is this. True science works like this: Men and women set out to discover the secrets of the universe and use every tool available to discern these hidden truths. If the research is untainted, the scientists involved will share their findings regardless of where their research takes them. It may or may not prove or disprove a previous hypothesis. A scientist or research organization with integrity takes great pains to implement valid testing criteria and provides an unbiased conclusion about the data collected.

Sadly, all too often a scientist or research organization has an agenda going into their research. They do everything in their power to set up test parameters that will ensure they receive validation of the very “facts” that they want to promote. This is usually done for professional notoriety or politically or financially motivated. Sad but true.

Add to that, scientists that don’t believe anything unless they can “prove” it with science. So let’s ask a logical question here. Until the renowned scientists of the day had proof that the world was round they believed and taught that the world was flat, did that make it true? Just because we haven’t discovered ways to validate many of the things that God has revealed in His word does that make God wrong? Or does it just mean that we still have more to learn to catch up with what He has revealed in the scriptures? I don’t know about you but I’m inclined to believe the latter.

One more thing on the subject, look around you. Examine every part of the human body, the insect world, the ocean and marine-life, the stars and cosmos. Do you really need to be a scientist to figure out that our world, the cosmos and every human being was a creation of an intelligent being with a purpose? Some people would have you believe that there are no intelligent Christians. Here is a very short list of prominent individuals well respected for their intellect that expressed a strong belief in God:   Galileo Galilei , Blaise Pascal,  Sir Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle, Michael Faraday, Gregor Mendel, Max Planck,  Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Louis Pasteur, Heinrich Hertz, Lord Kelvin, George Washington Carver, Albert Schweitzer, Denis Alexander, Jocelyn Bell Burnell, William Newsome, Brian Kobilka, Mike Hulme, John Lennox.

Reason #3

This is probably the saddest reason not to believe in and have a relationship with God. When someone refuses to acknowledge God in their life because He might require them to make changes in their lifestyle and choices, it’s truly all about control, pride and selfishness. I know that sounds harsh but there’s no nice way to say that.

God has extended an offer of salvation, grace and mercy through His son Jesus Christ. When we refuse His incredibly painful sacrifice of love on the cross as atonement for our sins we essentially spit in His face and say “No thanks. I don’t answer to anyone. I’ll do life my way. I don’t need or want your offer”.

These people realize that if God does in fact exist, that this truth will require certain things from them. They would be forced to come to grips with the fact that they aren’t the most important person in the universe. They would be forced to concede that there is someone in the universe that has the right to hold them accountable for their sins. If God doesn’t exist they can live a life with virtually no accountability or restrictions except for man-made laws in their culture. They can do whatever feels good to them and is right in their own eyes.

Now in all reality, most people never voice those words and may not even allow themselves to “go there” in their mind, but those thoughts and motivations are there non-the-less. This is part of the humbling process that I described earlier. Christ set the example for us by taking on humanity, living among us without sin, dying a horrible, painful and humbling death on the cross for OUR sins. And then He had conquered death and eternal judgment for everyone and anyone that would acknowledge Him as Lord, confess their sins and follow Him.

In all fairness, I don’t think we can ask any more of Him than that. In fact, I am continually amazed that God would find any of us worth of that type of love and sacrifice. So after all of that, my hope for you is that if you haven’t made Him the Lord of your life that you will do so today.

Here’s a prayer that you can pray if you’d like.

Lord, I am not a perfect person and I haven’t lived a perfect life. I confess all of my sins to you and ask for your forgiveness. Thank you for dying for my sins and for your grace and mercy. Please come into my heart and help me to follow you all the days of my life. Amen.

Well, this post is starting to turn into a marathon so we can discuss the last two reasons in my next post. These next two reasons will probably have the greatest relevance to the greatest number of targeted parents coming to this site.

Until then, have a great day!

Rick

Go to part 4

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Does God exist?

I thought that I had better deal with this subject first because so much of the following content in this series about surviving parental alienation will depend upon your decision about faith for its foundation.

One of the most important questions a person can ever ask is “Does God exist”? The answer to that single question has enormous implications on your views about life, humanity, morality, good and evil and most importantly your destiny. It also has huge ramifications for those of us that have been targeted parents of alienation. And it will greatly affect how and if, we are able to work through our emotions and circumstances and move toward a better future.

Let’s begin exploring God’s existence by examining some the basics of the Christian faith.

  1. God created everything. Man and woman and the earth that we live on were all created by Him.
  2. God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden where they lived in total harmony with nature, animals, each other, and God himself.
  3.  Adam and Eve both sinned (rebelled) against God. Eve followed satan’s lead and Adam followed Eve’s. Both of them disobeyed the command that God had given them (for their own protection).

    Just like in our current culture today, they decided that other desires or relationships were more important than their relationship with the loving God that had created them. That is when sin and death entered our world. God didn’t bring sin or death into the world man did. When God created mankind, He placed them in paradise. But man and woman chose to turn against God in their quest for knowledge and power. Not much has changed, has it?
  4. Satan is real and he is a liar. He seeks to bring destruction to all human beings because we are created in God’s image. He enticed Eve with a lie and has been lying to each one of us ever since. (One of his biggest and most successful lies is that he doesn’t exist.)

    An unseen spiritual war is being fought to this very day. Although we may not be able to see the forces of good and evil fighting this war, all of us would certainly agree that we can see the results of a war between good and evil daily, both in the world and in our own lives as well.
  5. As the creator of mankind God had every right and reason to say “I am done with mankind. There is nothing they can say or do to obtain my forgiveness and favor ever again. They are ungrateful, obstinate, selfish, and foolish. They voluntarily chose to betray my love and trust. They disobeyed the specific instructions that I gave them for their own protection.

    And then instead of confessing their sin and rebellion and asking for my forgiveness, they blamed others for their choices and actions. They had their chance and rejected me so I will reject them. I will let them live with the consequences of their sin forever. They can live in the fallen world they have created and be destined to an eternal hell with no chance of salvation, because of the curse they have brought on themselves”. Or God may simply have said “Fine, I will destroy mankind and create another race that won’t turn against me.”
  6. Instead because of His great love for us, God sent His own son Jesus Christ to live the perfect life that we could not. To voluntarily sacrifice Himself on the cross to pay for our sins.


To defeat the curse of sin and death that we had brought upon ourselves. And to not only provide a way for our salvation, but to actually allow us the privilege of becoming His children. We will live with Him in a new heaven and earth for eternity with no more sin or death! The sacrifice that Jesus made to save us from our sins and eternal judgment was costly, agonizing and humiliating for Him. But He did it anyway because of His incomprehensible love for us.

  • Many people are offended by the concept of eternal judgment and hell. They say “It’s not fair that anyone should go to hell. A loving God would never sentence anyone to an eternity of suffering”. Yet God has made it very clear that His offer of salvation and atonement for sin is free and extended to everyone.

    He already paid the price for our sin, unbelief and rebellion. All He requires of us is to admit our weakness, sin and need for Him and to confess and believe that He is Lord of all and ask for His forgiveness.

    Anyone that refuses to humble themselves (like He did first) by accepting God’s provision for our sin is sentencing themselves to an eternity of pain & suffering. God doesn’t want anyone to end up in hell. People sentence themselves to hell.
  • The Christian faith is the only faith that I am aware of where a follower of that faith can’t earn merit or justify themselves to appease whomever they are following in their faith. The Christian faith is clear that we can never earn or merit salvation and a right relationship with God by any works of our own.

    With every other religion or faith that I have seen, there is always a list of things that an individual can do (or not do) to earn favor with whatever deity they are following. These faiths all encourage certain actions, ways of life and methods of worship to gain favor with their gods.

    The Christian faith makes it clear that there is only one way to end our alienation from God. And that is to accept His free offer of grace and mercy for the forgiveness of our sins. Yet many simply refuse God’s terms like Cain (the son of Adam and Eve) did and come up with some other system of works to make themselves acceptable to God on their own terms instead of His.

    Other religions say you have to clean up your act or earn your way by good works to make yourself right with their deity. Since He created us, Jesus Christ understands that we don’t have the capacity to live the sinless life required to be in a right relationship with Him, so He did it for us.

    He extends an invitation to come to Him just as we are, in all of our brokenness and pain and He will change us through His power not ours.

If you would like more information about God and His son Jesus Christ I suggest getting a bible and reading it yourself. Start with the four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. You can also read “Evidence That Demands a Verdict” by Josh McDowell or “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel. There are also many fine churches that would be delighted to have one of their pastors speak with you and answer any questions you have.

If you would like to accept Jesus Christ’s invitation to come into your life right here and now, it’s easy to do. You don’t need to take a special class or read anything to accept His invitation. In fact, since none of us knows what the future may hold, I would encourage you to ask Him into your life without any delay.

Remember, you don’t need to have every question answered, or clean yourself up a bit to accept His invitation. He loves you just like you are (but too much to let you stay that way!) ☺

Here’s a prayer that you can pray if you’d like. It’s not a perfect or magic prayer of some kind, just pray from your heart in all sincerity and God will do the rest.

Lord, I am not a perfect person, and I haven’t lived a perfect life. I confess all my sins to you and ask for your forgiveness. Thank you for dying for my sins and for your grace and mercy. Please come into my heart and help me to follow you all the days of my life. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, feel free to post that on this blog or send me an email to let me know so I can be praying for you!

It’s been my experience through the years that there are really only a handful of reasons that people refuse to believe in (or acknowledge) the existence of God.

  1. Some of us have never really given much thought or done our own research on the subject, so we end up accepting and repeating what some authority figure in our life told us we should believe.
  2. Some believe that our cultures’ current version of science has all the answers and they’re under the false belief that no one of above average intelligence believes in Intelligent Design and Creation.
  3. If God does in fact exist, this truth may require changes in their lifestyle that they are unwilling to make.
  4. Many become angry and appalled with the injustice, evil and pain in this world. They ask “If God exists how could He let all of this happen”?
  5. In some cases people that used to believe in God change their view because they feel that God has let them down in some way. They become disillusioned by their own false understanding about who God is and how He operates in our world.

    They believe that God has an obligation to answer every prayer the way that they think He should or He must not be real or trustworthy. Or worse yet, if they are in deep enough pain and confusion, they simply walk away from a relationship with Him.

    Sometimes they profess not to believe in Him at all, but most of the time they are just angry, hurt and disillusioned by their pain so they refuse to worship, follow or even acknowledge God’s existence anymore.

My next post will deal with each of the reasons listed above. But before I go I wanted to share another interesting fact and perspective with you.

Do you know when the first incidence of alienation occurred according to scripture?

When did the whole concept of turning someone against someone else begin, and who started that mess?

It was satan. And it happened in the Garden of Eden. He effectively drove a wedge of doubt and sin between The Lord and Adam and Eve. This resulted in their (and our) alienation from God. Jesus came to reconcile our relationship with God again. Here are a few scripture verses that describe this:

Colossians 1:19-23 (New International Version – NIV)

19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of[a] your evil behavior.22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Adam and Eve were created by God. Since they had no earthly parent, He was in essence their parent. Satan’s tactics have never changed. He does everything he can to destroy the relationship that we have with our children through parental alienation. Unfortunately, there are many that have learned his tactics and like him, are selfish enough to implement them for their own selfish goals of control and power, destroying anyone they consider an enemy along the way.

See you next week for part 3. Have a great day!

Rick

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