When their own behaviors alienate them from others

“What you do speaks so loudly, I cannot hear what you say.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson was quite accurate with this quote.  Anyone who has experienced life with an individual with psychopathic features will likely confirm this as fact, largely because they have so much experience with the imbalance between the two.

However, individuals with these features will never admit that this dichotomy exists.  Conversely, they will swiftly look elsewhere in an effort to assign blame, pointing the fingers at those around them for other’s reactions to their own acts.  These individuals will never legitimately take responsibility for what they do or the problems they create, in spite of the words they may echo.  While this may not surprise us, we may be perplexed by the notion that this is not always completely obvious.

Mama called the doctor and the doctor said…   

Note:  In this case, the non-custodial parent was court ordered to cover the children’s health insurance. However, there is a history of the non-custodial parent ignoring numerous orders, spanning a variety of subject matter.   

Imagine being an older child with a health concern.  You are waiting to see your doctor.  Upon arrival at the office, the receptionist asks for your insurance information.  Your custodial parent shares that.  Minutes later, an office staff member announces that your insurance has been terminated.

You sit in the waiting room, hoping to find relief as a result of this appointment.  Yet, someone has failed to provide for you….again.  To make matters worse, this individual has done so without any notice to your other parent.

As the parent you are with provides other information, making your office visit possible, you ask out loud, “What did he think we would think about this?  He was willing to let us die or create money problems by cutting our health insurance and not telling you.”

Your custodial parent assures you that everything will be fine and that you will see the doctor.  Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident regarding these types of obligations and you recognize that this, among other things, speaks loudly.

Another casualty on the path to revenge

It seems as though your non-custodial parent will stop at nothing to try to cause harm.  On one hand, the attempts seem quite calculated.  On the other, very poorly managed, with the precision of a “slot machine manager.”  Today’s most recent pull of the handle happened to have left you without health insurance.  But it could have been anything, and has been in the past.

Why does this happen?  Perhaps revenge is the motivator.  He has been quite open about his disdain for the other parent, as well as you.  Or, perhaps you have simply been dismissed.  Either way, the result is the same.  However, you have thoughts, opinions, and are able to understand.  You have been both an observer of this behavior, as well as a participant on the front lines, for a lifetime.  You suspect something sinister, but acknowledge that utter disregard is also possible.  Neither make the situation acceptable.

Back to reality 

Silence follows until the nurse comes to bring the parent and child to an exam room.  After a brief exchange, the nurse leaves.  While waiting for the doctor, the child breaks his silence.  “I don’t expect anything, but this is my health.  My LIFE came second to his wants.  He could have unnecessarily cost one of us our lives or our futures.”

The mother listens as the child continues.  To negate him or try to convince him otherwise would be a lie, so she stays silent.  “He still wants you broken.  He still wants us (the children) broken because you love us.  He knows that his failure to provide doesn’t mean we will go without.  It means it will just be harder, which is what he said he wanted.”

He continued, “You can’t say anything either.  He’ll lie and tell the story of how you or we did him wrong, so it’s our fault.  He’ll say we’re crazy or disturbed or that it was an accident.  But it’s not us.  It’s what things were like before us.  It’s what things were like after us.  Even if things were to ever look good on the outside, it is what will always be.  Everything is a lie or excuse.”

In this scenario, the non-custodial parent also claims to be disabled.  Without saying too much on the topic, there are indications that this is questionable.  If one were to examine the facts at anything deeper than face value, one may find discrepancies.

There you have it 

This child is perceptive and intelligent and claims to have “known” from a very young age.  He asserts that he never felt comfortable around the other parent, but didn’t understand exactly what was going on until he was older.  Frequently, however, children know when things are amiss, even at young ages.

Disordered individuals are masters at alienating themselves from others with their own behaviors and then pointing their fingers. Unable or unwilling to see reality, these individuals cannot or will not admit that their behaviors and choices are what created or fostered dislike and distrust toward them.

Right on the money

In this case, there are a few things the child does not know.  When examined, it further indicates just how correct the child’s assessments are.  Recently, the other parent declared bankruptcy again.  This individual moved to discharge some of the debt owed to the custodial parent.  In spite of a very generous repayment plan agreed to by the custodial parent ($100 per month toward the almost $27,000 owed) the debtor still wanted to eliminate funds that would ultimately benefit the children.

Additionally, the agreed order was signed a mere two months prior to the bankruptcy filing.  There was likely no intent to make good on the dischargeable portion of what the debtor owed or he would have either chosen not to name the custodial parent as a creditor or reaffirm the debt once he did.  Neither occurred.

What was reaffirmed, however, was debt that amounted to over $800 per month on items much less critical than healthcare.  This was a choice, given the fact that other solutions may have been readily available.  Add that to the money spent in another unnecessary area and the total appears to exceed $1,100 per month.  However, the children lost their health insurance.

The ending 

Independently, each event may be considered minor.  But when there is consistency over time, they cannot be ignored and the damage must be assessed collaterally.  As each occurrence builds on the one prior, a significant pattern emerges.

Everyone here has a story and as with all of these situations, it is necessary to take time to process what is happening in yours.  Hearing about the experiences of other’s is helpful because you realize you are not walking this alone.  As always, with understanding comes freedom, even if we occasionally must pause to indulge in a few minutes of dismay, as with this scenario.

However, the goal for recovery is to have each incident bother us less than the one before.  In time, this happens regardless of what more comes our way.  We will also find that the effects of the actions do not linger as they once did.

In the above situation, the child is fortunate.  He knows that he and his brother will be fine.  He also feels he was handed the gift of a passion for furthering the cause.

Much strength on your journey through these experiences.  May they guide us to strength we could have once only imagined!

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9 Comments on "When their own behaviors alienate them from others"

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Linda – you describe a situation that I hear so much about – sociopathic parents not fulfilling their responsibilities, to the detriment of their children. Even though the sociopath will plead “oversight” or “mistake,” I’m sure it was intentional.

Of course, if the other parent raises the issue, the sociopath will claim “parental alienation.”

Though I was fortunate enough to never have to face such a situation,I had seen enough of my husband’s ‘bad behavior’ to know what he was/is capable of!

Great article Linda. I could relate to the health insurance situation (or lack thereof)as well as the multiple bankruptcy filings and the amount of support past due. Did I write this?!? lol.

Seriously…I need some advice quick. The headline of this article is what prompted me to post my question here. My ex husband has 4 children. Two with his first wife, now they are adults. Two with me, who he lost all custody rights to almost 8 years ago. Only the second born has contact with him, as he seems to be a “mini me” to my ex husband and this sibling treated the other three poorly while in adolescence. My oldest step child maintains a relationship with the younger siblings (mine) as best as possible. So, my ex S behaviors have alienated him from his children.

I learned four years back when we went through a court ordered psych evaluation, that I needed to be careful not to “alienate” the children from their father, as I may have been a little guilty of that. He abused me in front of the children once and this came out in the evaluation. Because the children were fuzzy on the details and my ex adamantly denied it, the evaluator subtly accused me of alienation. (little did the evaluator know, or myself at the time, that my ex S had just abused his then current wife (#3) and her child two days prior to the interview and later pled guilty and got divorced for the third time.) This wife I am sure fell to his charms, his story of being the victim, and she encouraged him to fight to get his children back. I was this woman in his custody fight with his first wife…I believed his story…I kick myself less often now…lol.

The point of mentioning the psych evaluation is because it did come out that he had sociopathic tendencies, and he was allowed monitored supervision with the children with a professional after reunification therapy. Since he did not provide the court ordered health insurance or the children, I was ordered to pay it. He refused to use any of the therapists on my insurance so his then current wife covered it on her insurance. Within a few months his therapy ended due to his divorce being final and the wife being done with him. Visits never happened. I was told by the evaluator that I was too protective of my children and often referred to them as ‘MY” children throughout the evaluation an not “our” children. This is after I have had sole custody of them for over three years. Another lesson learned. Not to be so protective.

He pled guilty a year later for physically assaulting a guy outside of a bar. Spent 3 months in jail since he was still on probation of abuse of the third wife. (I’m not to be so protective)

He has taken me back to court a few times since then, and thankfully he lost all contact that he had with the children (phone schedule) My oldest told him he didn’t want to talk to him anymore and he didn’t call for almost a year. He took me back to court a few more times for custody and visitation. He still didn’t call.

January of this year he called and left me a voicemail asking about how the children are, did we get his gifts, etc. He didn’t have our address and nothing was sent through my atty, so I assumed it was a lie. I told the children that he called, and later text, and always ask them if they would like to return his call. The answer is always no, and it puts the children in a foul mood to hear from him. I am so afraid of the courts and the evaluator, and being accused of alienation, that I always tell the children of his contact. (we have a follow up psych evaluation ordered when my ex can afford his half, which he isn’t highly motivated to do, since it will come out to the evaluator that he abused wife #3 while our evaluation was being conducted and he withheld this info)

when I didn’t respond to his email and texts, he filed to have me in court again. He was denied on his motion, but it still cost me stress and hours of attorney fees. It later turns out that he sent gifts with the “child” he has contact with and these gifts didn’t make it to us until three months later. I cant help but wonder if I had simply “thanked” him for the gifts if he wouldn’t have taken me to cur the last time and I wouldn’t have had to spend the $ or have the stress.

Now my questions. He called yesterday asking to have the children call so he could hear their voices. If not that he asked again for pictures. (He hasn’t seen them since therapy ended over three years ago, not even a photo.)

Should I send him pics?

My fear is if I don’t respond somehow, he will take me to court again. (He is always unrepresented. I always need a police escort out, hearings are very traumatizing for me and I want to avoid them if possible) Also if I do send the pics, he will see how they’re growing and maybe realize he better take action fast before they are adults.

I do know that any contact with him opens the door for even MORE contact.

Should I not tell the children each time he calls or texts?

I struggle with not wanting the kids to feel their father abandoned them, but I also hate to hear how they want nothing to do with him.

I have snapshots of their recent school pics loaded and ready to be sent to him on my phone…

desert flower,

These situations attempting to co-parent with a sociopath are always so draining. How old are your children?

Personally, I think the fact that your children want nothing to do with the father is a good thing.

I wanted to know how the children are as I read this. I am wondering if setting up email accounts from the children and keeping the password to yourself would be an idea. If they are old enough to have email accounts, email him as them telling him: Dad, I don’t want to see or hear from you at this time. If I do in the future, I will let you know.”

This is honest enough because at this time, the children want no contact. If they did contact him, everything is covered also because he will be too busy gushing and smarming them to say anything about the emails. It also protects the kids from actually being involved in emails with him where he could pull them into his circle of evil. I may be wrong, and I may just be sick to death of spaths, but I think this is something that can be done without guilt if it protects the kids. And if the email is believable enough, he might not want to go to court again if he believes the kids have put in writing that they don’t want to have any contact with him.

Desert flower – more thoughts on your issue. Always follow the any court order. Anything other than what is ordered can be at your discretion. If pictures are not in the court order, you can choose what to do. If you are sending them out of the “kindness of your heart,” you may want to consider resisting the urge. It won’t get you anywhere. If there is court paperwork ordering that you send pictures, then you should send them. You should always give the children the opportunity to respond. Period. You cannot be accused of not allowing interaction.

However, unless the conversations are court ordered, you are not violating anything if they do not call. You should not be worried about future litigation due to any action or inaction on your part, (as long as it is not something that is directly ordered.)

Sociopaths are inherently litigious. If he is still interested in pursuing future action, he will do so regardless of what you do or do not do. Naturally, this is why less is more. Give him less to work with. Any interaction should be STERILE (Gray rock) no emotion and very few words.


I sent the pics via text. Huge mistake. I felt the need to give him an earful about how the children really felt in the hopes that he would not call anymore. He cried the crocodile tears. He said all the right things. He also let me know his disability was endifng and implied how his life sucked. He justified the aliases he has and other excuses for his job loss, etc.

It ruined my whole day. Back to square one. Mind you I have been divorced for 8 years and can still get sucked in. Grey rock. Yep I was trying to act out of the goodness of my own heart in sending the pics. I’m proud of my kids. It’s not in the order to send pics, or respond at all.

Fight, the email address for the kids is an idea to consider. They are at pre teen and teen ages and I know his calls and texts are disruptive to our whole household. We give him that much power.

No contact is the only way.

Divorced from Gaslighter

desertflower, I actually think that sending your ex the school photos was a good decision. Your ex has a pattern of going to court and representing himself, and your children are refusing to email him or talk to him on the phone. When he drags you back to court, your testimony that it is the children’s decision not to speak to him or email him will be more believable now that you have voluntarily emailed him the school photos, even though there was no court order requiring you to do so. This helps to show that you are a decent, reasonable person AND it prevents him from going into court and sobbing that you won’t even let him have one little photo of his kids, even though he has begged and begged, etc.

My ex paid for health insurance for the children for a five-year period while he was living out of the country but working for a Fortune 500 company BUT kept the policy a secret from me, so that I had to pay for all health care out of my own pocket. He later took me back to court because he wanted visitation, and he showed documents proving that he had been making payments on a gold-plated policy for five years. “If a tree falls in the forest. . .” Honestly, we were very broke (ZERO child support) during those years, and it killed me to find out that there had been existing coverage which couldn’t be used. Obviously, he was making good money and got the coverage to cover HIMSELF in case one of the children was ever seriously ill or badly injured at which point the hospital would have tracked him down. He didn’t want to disclose the existence of the policy otherwise, because doing so would have disclosed that he had a high-paying job and was capable of paying child support.

Each story is different, but the same themes are always popping up.

The only mistake that you have made is in talking to him on the phone. And even there, at this point your goal should just be to run out the clock on him. One of your children is already a teen, so you are on the final glidepath toward freedom. If he hasn’t seen the kids in three years, to some extent he has written them off already.

Hi Divorced from Gaslighter…

Wow, it’s is amazing how our stories and situations with all here on LF are so different, yet similar. Thank you for your kind words in regards to the pics. Yes, for a moment I wanted to show off the kids to him, brag about how well they’re doing (without him) and I was trying to be a kind person because every once in awhile I feel sorry for him. I used to tell him he would grow old and die alone because ofblow he treated people who cared about him, especially his children. I really wouldnt wish that on anyone. My sympathy only lasts until my next hearing and I quickly am reminded that he isn’t deserving of my sympathy.

That’s pretty awful that your ex hid the insurance from you for all those years. They seem to stop at nothing to get out of their responsibilities and you’re right, I am coming down the home stretch. I wonder how many parents that owe in the child support system are spaths?

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