Many targeted parents with adult alienated children ask me whether I think it would be okay to send my book (Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome) to their adult children. As much as I would like the royalty from the sale, I always, and I mean always, say no.
If you are a targeted parent and are thinking about sending my book to your child, don’t. Do not send my book to your adult alienated child. This isn’t just a waste of time and money. It is actually a very bad idea. Think about it. If your child (and I use the child to mean someone you helped to raise even if that person is now an adult) is alienated from you, he or she has a version of reality that involves you having done something terrible to your child which resulted in your child rejecting you. Your child does not share your version of reality which is that your ex manipulated your child to reject you for no good reason.
You and your child do not have a shared understanding of what has led up to the breach in your relationship. By sending the book you are saying to your child in so many words “Your version of reality is wrong. I did nothing to warrant your rejection of me. You have been tricked and lied to. You are wrong for rejecting me.” While that all may be true, saying so to your child will do nothing to heal the breach between you. In fact, it will deepen the breach because it will confirm for your child that you and she have no common ground, that you think you are all right and she is all wrong. No breach has been healed that way (that I am aware of).
The only time to share my book with your adult alienated child is when the child expresses interest in your perspective “Gee, Mom/Dad, what do you think happened between us?” or “I know you think I was alienated and I would like to learn more about what you mean when you say that.” Unless and until your child asks you about your perspective, you must keep it to yourself. Your goal is to heal the breach, not impose your perspective on your child. In my opinion, the book is best read by the targeted parent not the adult alienated child.
When I coach targeted parents with adult alienated children, I try to help them let go of the idea that the only way to win back their child is to convince the child through some kind of debate of the facts that she (the child) was wrong. I coach that first you reconnect with the child on common ground, and then you show your child --through your loving actions – that you are in fact a safe and loving and available parent. The book can come later, if and only if your child shows interest. Otherwise, keep it to yourself.
I hope that targeted parents learn and take comfort from the book and use the knowledge in it to heal their relationship with their adult alienated child. Just keep it to yourself – at least for now.
Dr. Baker is a nationally recognized expert in parent child relationships, especially children of divorce, parental alienation syndrome, and emotional abuse of children.
Dr. Baker is available as an expert witness and for print, radio, and television interviews.