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I am seeking advice about what to do about my estranged 13-year-old daughter. But first a little background before I get to my dilemma.

Its been 10 weeks since she and I had a falling out over what was initially a minor tiff that has turned into her refusing to talk with me. Her mother and I had week-about-shared-custody with her and her 16-year-old sister, but now she is full-time with her mother. I send my daughter texts asking her to talk about it, for us to see a counselor together, but pretty much all I get back is "go away and leave me alone".

I was bewildered by her reaction, which is way way out of proportion to the circumstances. I am not the perfect father but I've always put the girls first, giving my love, support and understanding. Up until recently we had a warm, loving relationship.

I have good evidence that my ex (who has been diagnosed by her psychiatrist with a personality disorder, which may have something to do with it) has been cleverly sabotaging my relationship with my daughters. A significant number of things my daughter has angrily fired at me, but not all, has come from my ex. Thankfully my 16-year-old is not so affected – our relationship remains loving. On the other hand, my 13-year-old has, believes damaging things about me that aren't true but she thinks she's acting from her own thoughts and will. My ex is very intelligent and manipulative and is good at making herself look innocent and me look like the bad guy.

In an email, my ex denied saying bad things about me to our daughter. Then when I emailed her back the things my daughter has been saying to me (including things related to conflict between us, and painting me in quite a bad light) she admitted saying them, but reasoned it was my fault that she said them. When I asked her to stop saying these bad thing about me she denied they were bad. She will never admit fault and blames it all others.

I am most concerned about the mental and emotional health of my daughter in both the short and long-term. If she wants to live with her mother full-time, I am OK with that but only if that's in her best interests, but not under these circumstances.

I understand parental alienation is a form of emotional and psychological child abuse. If this is true then I am obliged by law to report it. I'm afraid that if I went down that path, it might upset my daughter even more and she would hate me forever. But as the way things are going this might be the case anyway. On the other hand, it might bring out the truth and help her to understand what's going on. But then she might hate her mother, and I want her to have the best relationship she can with her mother.

At the end of the day, I would like us to sit down with a counsellor, talk about it and hopefully mend our relationship.

I'd appreciate your thoughts.

Prolific scribe

Re: Alienation

Hi @Watermelon thank you for sharing with us, it's definitely a tough position to be in. Counselling could certainly be beneficial for your family and opening up those communication lines. I'll tag some of our members to further assist with providing advice and support @taokat @Netbell123 @Schooner @Sister

Active scribe

Re: Alienation

Thank you @Lan-RO. I have an appointment for my first Reachout coaching session next week.

Parent Peer Supporter

Re: Alienation

Hi @Watermelon, this sounds like a such a difficult situation for you and it's so sad things are currently like this. It must be really hard for you and I'm sure you must miss your girl terribly. 


I agree with @Lan-RO that family counselling could be really beneficial in moving forward, and it sounds like you've certainly been trying to set that up. I can hear you just want what's best for your girls in the short and long term and a counsellor can work with you all to figure that out. My daughter used to refuse to attend or engage with any counselling and one of the things I tried was telling her that counselling was an opportunity for her to vent about her grievances with me as well. It wasn't just for me to talk about things from my perspective. I had to say it more than once, but it did sink in. Is that something you'd feel comfortable trying?


I hear what you're saying about your ex and what is being said about you, and also see your dilemma around what to do and what is the legal thing to do. We can't give legal advice but maybe give the Parentline a call on 1300 1300 52. Whilst they may not be able to give legal advice either, they could best direct you as to who you should talk to. 


I'm so glad you're doing the parent coaching. I did it last year and found it practical and useful, and personalised to deal with the specific issues I was facing and I'm sure you'll find the same. Let us know how you go with it Smiley Happy

Active scribe

Re: Alienation

Hi @taokat, thanks for your suggestions. Its a good point you make about reassuring her that counseling is a place where she can air her grievances. And I'll give Parentline a call and let you know how I go.


Parent Peer Supporter

Re: Alienation

Anytime @Watermelon. I look forward to hearing how you go. 


Re: Alienation

In my opinion, unless there’s more to the story or why your daughter is so mad. IF the reason is legitimate where you did something harmful toward her abuse wise (not implying but just saying In that case, leave her alone). However I don’t believe that’s the case. She’s 13, she’s mad about something. If her parents were together, she’d have to be around you. I’m not sure what happened but maybe you punished her, didn’t give her what she wanted, offended her, who knows.
But she’s 13 and in my opinion, it’s not her choice. Children are given too many options. If you’re a fit parent , she comes to you. She can whine, cry whatever. I would force her (with reason) lol . And if she refuses over a trivial matter, then any financial “extra” or “want” you contribute to, take your contribution. Not for necessities. Parental alienation with a child with no proof of harm you’ve caused, shouldn’t have a choice. And depending on your court agreement, you should get her instead of the grandmother. Guaranteed she didn’t ask your daughter and if she did, there’s incentives given that make you look bad. My mother was like that.
At 13, my mothers spoke horribly about my father. I’d go there with the worst attitude and no respect. Basically on a throne. He kept quiet but eventually lost it and told me some truths and showed some documents. To be honest, I’m glad he did. I can’t imagine if he allowed me to be a manipulated and entitled brat forever. Your daughter won’t hate you forever. You’re her parent. Until you cause her actual harm, that’s that . I’m curious the reason she’s mad at you because that defines the proper solution

Re: Alienation

Recently I was able to locate the court appointed psychologist that wrote the report to my judge at the time in my custody case that caused the 8 years of separation which I later learned was the start of the parental alienation for my children and I . I feel this woman was not a bad person for misunderstanding and overlooking the abuse going on in my case rather she was not educated . I decided to draft up this email I included below and I sent it over to her . I am sharing it with you all because I think education is critical in these PA cases and unless we can find reasonable and constructive ways to get parental alienation recognized it will never stop . I hope you find this information helpful ❤️ it’s a long read but very useful and important!

Here is what I sent over to the court appointed psychologistthst caused parental alienation in my case and caused an 8 year separation and no contact between myself and my two boys ;

“Dear -
I hope this email finds you well. Years ago you were involved in a court case that removed both my children from my custody . I am only sending you this information because what happened to me and my children in that case caused unrepairable damage to my children and myself . To date the separation that was created by the court after your review of our case and the submission of the report you wrote after evaluating our case - caused so intense trauma that both myself and my children have become disabled permanently with complex ptsd . I only send this to educate you as I truly believe you did not recognize what what really going on in this case and while I was being gas lit from domestic violence as well as beat up and the children abused mentally and physically by their their father somehow you were unaware of the abuse taking place and you got it exactly backwards and blamed me as the person at fault . Because of how you wrote the report tonthe court the judges ruling literally caused unrepairable harm and disabled myself and my children . To date all 3 of us ( my two boys and myself) have been in trauma based treatments and suffer complex ptsd over the separation. This case involved severe domestic violence and parental alienation. Here is an article I think may help you understand what happened so this hopefully never happens to another innocent parent or child . Again I only send this so that it prevents this happening to anyone else .

Please know I only am contacting you to help educate you on how powerful a person like you can be in changing the trajectory of a innocent parent and child’s life .

I am sure you are a good person just a person who did not understand the magnitude of abuse going on and you simply made an innocent mistake .

Unfortunately this mistake caused extreme harm to myself and children and I pray it never happens to another innocent parent or child.

Lastly, Today I work directly with DCS and foster kids who have been abused and I work with the courts through special child advocates in the Supreme Court to ensure that when domestic violence , child abuse and parental alienation are involved the child and abused parent are protected . I was fortunate to be able to return to work after 8 years of experiencing ptsd from the separation so severe I could barely leave my home as I was crippled with fear and trauma over no contact with my children . My younger son took the worst hit and is now SMI and diagnosed with a permanent disability from trauma and the separation from me as well as from child abuse .

I have made it my mission in life to help make constructive change in the family courts through advocacy and education. I wish you much luck and hopefully this information will help save someone from experiencing what my family experienced.

Star contributor

Re: Alienation

Message contains a hyperlink

Hi @courtneylage , 


Thanks so much for sharing your powerful words here- I just wanted to let you know that I made a small edit to remove your name, just to keep your post in line with our community guidelines around staying anonymous


As a parent myself, (who also raised my first child alone for the first 4 years of her life) I can't even begin to imagine what you and your children  have been through over the last 8 or more years. 


It sounds like you have been able to use your lived experience in a really purposeful way through your work with other families and in your advocacy work , and I'm sure that you will change many lives for the better through your work.  Are you and your family still getting support with your c-PTSD? 


Do you mind if I ask what you found helpful in your own recovery journey? I know we have a lot of other parents reading who may also be recovering from complex trauma, and hearing from people who've walked the same path is really powerful. 


Thank you so much for sharing your story here, wishing you and your family all the very best Heart