When you’re the noncustodial parent, days and weeks go by without you being around your child or children. During this time the custodial parent– your ex– who’s hell-bent on sabotaging your relationship with your child has ample opportunity to do so.
There are some strong signs that appear in most brainwashing households. You can’t be there in person to observe all the things said, the lies told, or the subtle put-downs, so you will have to look elsewhere– to the telephone, cellphone, text messages, and emails.
The openness and normalcy of the electronic communications with your child is in most cases directly related to the level of mental abuse taking place in the other house. Evidence that your child is being coached and lied to include:
Your child is flat, monotoned, or sad when he or she gets your phone call
Your ex is often heard speaking to your child in the background (and your child will frequently cover up the phone with his or her hand)
Your phone calls or texts are not returned
Cellphones you buy for your kid are rarely used to call you, but used routinely by your ex to contact your child when he or she is with you
No calls on your birthday or Father’s/Mother’s Day, and rarely or never a card or e-card
Your child asks you questions inappropriate for their age
Your child is used as a messenger by your ex
Your child complains about his or her last visit (usually of trivial things)
You rarely get a call, email, or text out of the blue from your child
Your child claims out of the blue that “I don’t want to see you”
Your child seems unable to echo any “I love you’s”
Your child echoes the words of your ex (words a child of that age would never use)
Your child refers to you by your first name, either to you directly or at home while away from you
Your ex refers to you when speaking to your child in the background by your first name
Your child will say “Why haven’t you called me” when in fact you’ve tried
You rarely get an acknowledgement of any cards of presents sent
How to fight this? The short answer is to call your child on a regular basis (once a week, twice a week, etc), and stick to it. Also send texts and emails, even super short ones, when you think of your child. If you’ve been unable to get through to speak to him or her, make sure you let them know that you’re excited to finally reach them. If you’ve left a voicemail, ask them “So did you get my voicemail?” That way, if they didn’t (as is likely), they’ll realize that you did reach out to connect with them. Older kids will even figure out on their own that a parent is withholding messages from them.
The big picture, of course, is to get the child into counseling. Even call Child Protective Services if your child’s emotionally wrecked. Make sure you document everything– to include tape recording phone calls (if legal in your state), logging all the times you’ve tried to reach your child, etc.
If your child custody decree doesn’t mention anything about telephonic or electronic access, then consider hiring an attorney who can make a “motion to modify” the decree. Some decrees include specific hours whereby your ex must make your child contactable. That way if your ex doesn’t comply, he or she could face the wrath of a judge.
It’s a very difficult thing to have to suffer through month after month after month, with the only let-off being when you have possession of your child. But hang in there. Keep a steady flow of calls, emails, and texts to your brainwashed child. One day your child will see the “unhappy” parent for who she is, and your consistent actions at reaching out will be rewarded in 95% of cases.