"The pain of a tattoo is nothing in comparison to the emotional pain I endure daily."
Parental alienation is an insidious and cruel form of emotional abuse that can happen during acrimonious divorces and separations, where one parent prevents a child from having a normal, loving relationship with their other parent. They may be motivated by anger, spite, or hurt, or it may be a way to control and dominate the other parent or punish them for perceived wrongs.
It’s not the same as when a child doesn’t see a parent for their own safety and security, such as when one parent has a record of abuse, drug use or other destructive behaviours.
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It is an extraordinarily complicated phenomenon and is difficult to understand and even more difficult to remedy.
Alienated children can suffer from depression, anxiety and other debilitating effects of being forced to separate themselves from a parent who loves them.
And alienated parents also suffer from the extraordinary pain of not being allowed to see or love their child.
If this breaks your heart, wait until you see these unanswered texts, or find out what this dad said to his daughter that made her reject her own mum.
"We spend the first 12 months of our children’s lives teaching them to walk and talk, and the next 12 years telling them to sit down and shut up."- Phyllis Diller
Here, alienated parents share the tattoos they’ve made to keep their beloved children close to their hearts, as a way to remind themselves never to give up on loving that child, or hoping that one day they will be reunited.
"Maybe it's self-harm. I don't know"
“I haven’t seen my girls Kiara and Sienna for 12 months. The tattoo runs down my wrist and across over my birthmarks. The pain of a tattoo is nothing in comparison to the emotional pain I endure daily. Maybe it's a form of self-harm. I don't know.”
- Mum, USA
"They went to their dad's and never came back"
“My kids moved out when they were 15 and 17. They went to their dad's and never came back. It has been almost five years. Over the last year, things have gotten better and I do communicate with them and have actually seen them a couple of times. They are adults now, and I am hoping they will soon be able to think for themselves. I have missed too many graduations, birthdays, Christmases, etc. I am hoping to go to my daughter's college graduation in the spring, I am hoping she will say that is okay. I take it slow and keep a positive attitude and hope for the best. I miss them so much and I can cry about it them at any given moment, but I've trained my brain to not go there and I compartmentalise my thoughts and feelings.”
By acknowledging small improvements in behaviour you make it easier for big improvements to follow.
- Mum from the USA.
"My last Father's Day present"
“The last Father’s Day present from my son when I last saw him 7 years ago,”
- Dad, USA.
The most heartbreaking letter
Tattoo artist Ronnie Lloyd from Liverpool in the UK shared this photo of a tattoo he made for a client several years ago. It was the last letter the man had from his young son before the little boy’s mother alienated him from his dad. Thankfully, this family’s situation has improved and the dad has been reunited with his boy.
"I've never forgotten"
“I’ve been alienated from my daughter since she was one. She’s now nearly eight. My last visitation was January 2016. I’ve basically been backed into a corner with the court system. Every time I would try to take him for contempt of the custody agreement, I lost a little more of my rights. I’m at the point now if I try to go back without a lawyer, I’ll lose everything.
I have been able to re-establish communication with her through her school because her cousin is in the same class. She signed one of the notes to me with this drawing. I’m just glad that she knows that I have never forgotten about her.”
"If you have never been hated by your child you have never been a parent. " - Bette Davis
- Mum of two, USA.
"He took them one by one"
“These initials stand for Michael, Ronan and Zak. He took them one by one.”
- Mum, Perth.
"Hope, and my two kids"
“This tattoo which represents hope, my two kids and suicide awareness because I have been close so many times,”
- Mum, Sydney.
"They are with me everywhere"
“I am alienated from my seven children and six grandchildren. So I have tattooed a bracelet with one love heart in the colours of the Chakras to represent each of my children. Hanging from the bracelet like charms are a big heart with an anchor and cross as symbols of faith, hope and love.
The hearts of my children who have children also have smaller hearts representing each grandchild, blue for the boys and pink for the girls. They are with me everywhere.”
- Mum and Grandma, Melbourne.
"My son's name"
“This is my son’s name and date of birth on my fingers,”
- Dad, Sydney.
"A present for myself"
“A present for myself on the first Father's Day without my girls. That was three and a half years ago.”
- Dad, Hobart.
"My boys and my girls"
“I had my children’s names put on my upper arm about a week before my boys disappeared. My daughters are from my first marriage and I have a wonderful relationship with them,”
Hillary Rodham Clinton (mom of Chelsea): When my daughter was younger, I would say, “‘Chelsea, you’ve never been a baby before, and I’ve never been a mother before, and we’re just going to have to help each other get through this.”
- Dad, Adelaide.
If you or anyone you know needs immediate support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or lifeline.org.au . In an emergency, call 000.