I do. I love coaching targeted parents. I don’t love the fact that there are targeted parents for me to coach and I wish more than anything that there were no targeted parents for me to coach. But the truth is there are targeted parents. And I love coaching them. I have had some success in particular with targeted parents with adult alienated children. Sometimes, not always of course, in just a few sessions I have facilitated reconciliation. These are my favorite moments, for obvious reasons.
What is interesting to me is that in my book Surviving parental alienation: A journey of hope and healing I provide a blueprint for a letter for a targeted parent to write to an adult alienated child. A few times it has happened that a coaching client starts by telling me that he or she read the book and already wrote “the letter” and so far had no success. What I often find, however, is a little more complicated than that. Once I get the history of the unfolding alienation drama and then I read the letter the person wrote to their adult alienated child, I can see how the letter might not have sparked the desired result.
There is definitely an art to writing the letter and it may be hard to get just the right tone and the necessary content into the letter without the coaching experience to provide the support and the feedback. Too often I have read the letters only to find that anger and resentment has seeped through For example, “You have no idea how much pain you have caused me” along with denigration of the other parent “I don’t know who told you that I____ but that is a lie” or statements that are insulting to the adult child such as, “I cannot believe that you would think I_____”
What I have learned in the coaching is that the letter cannot be written until the targeted parent has a pure heart. If there is anger and resentment, it will come out and while it is totally understandable that a targeted parent would feel a multitude of feelings – hurt, anger, grief, frustration, indignation – those feelings need to be processed in order for the letter to be written in such a way that will reach the heart of the alienated child. The letter is the result of the coaching and when done properly appears to be very therapeutic to the targeted parent regardless of the immediate impact on the child, although of course a positive response from the child is what is hoped for.
What I have learned in the coaching is that the letter is not just a letter. It is not just words on a paper. It is the culmination of hard work on the part of the targeted parent to achieve a state of grace towards the alienated child that allows for the letter to be written. I applaud all of my coaching clients for taking this journey and I thank them for allowing me to be a part of that journey.
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.