Why Asking Alienated Children Questions Works...
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What’s Not Working: “Let Me Tell You Approach”
Many alienated parents think their best approach to reaching their child is to give them new information or to explain their position. So they use the “Let Me Tell You” Approach. They overload with; “Here’s what really happened…” “I wish you could just see…” and “You’re being lied to..” Unfortunately, this approach doesn’t work because it’s simply too much for the child to handle and process. It requires them to accept someone else’s thinking, challenges their loyalty to the controlling parent, and ultimately shuts down the child’s thinking.
What’s Effective: The “Questions Approach”
We are going to do the exact opposite of telling the child what to think, and instead ASK them questions to get them to reflect. If we can change the dynamic we can start to get the child thinking about the alienated parent in a different way. Questions that will cause them to think on their own, to discover for themselves their own thoughts, to put their thinking cap on and learn something new.
So, by using whatever precious communication you have, asking thought provoking questions seeks to engage them.
Why this Is Effective
Understand that the majority of questions they have been asked have been leading or manipulating questions. Questions that have been asked where the deck is stacked in the favor of a specific outcome or there are consequences…of course we have talked about the guilt and illusion of choice that has been ingrained in them.
The goal is to ask them questions that don’t assume to know the answer. To open the door for them to express themselves in a non-confrontational, non-judgmental way. Questions where there is no other expectation other than honesty and their own feelings. Think about that…this might be the first time, or the first time in a long time that asks them to reflect and give their own opinion. Plus, the fact that YOU the target parent are asking these questions without expectations changes the dynamic.
Change How the Child Sees You
There is a story about you and how you act…and it’s told by the alienator and it’s NOT good. One goal of these questions is to surprise their expectations of you. By asking questions that trigger reflection you are #1 – you show that you are willing to ASK a difficult question, #2 you are willing to hear and receive their opinions and feelings. And #3 you are getting them to engage in a conversation in a new way.
These are all characteristics they are NOT receiving from the controlling parent. This will instantly set you apart and make you seem “different.”
* It’s important to note that you will most likely receive a response that is “more of the same” brainwashing of the alienator. The answer, though important, is not as important as engaging with the child in a different way.
3 Categories & 3 Goals
Many of these questions require your vulnerability, while some are aimed at sparking their imagination of the future, and reminiscing about the past.
So let me introduce you to the categories of questions we are going to be talking about. And keep in mind, every parent is at a slightly different stage of Alienation. Some of these categories and questions are going to be better for those who haven’t had contact in a long time, while others are great for current or more recent alienation. Use your judgment when you see the types of questions and find the best that would fit for you and your situation…you can also use a series of these questions over time as the communication slowly builds.
Just a quick reminder…I’m not a psychologist, psychiatrist, trained or licensed councilor in any way! I can’t make any guarantees J I’m just a kid that lived through this alienation and is now looking back and figuring out what my Dad could have done to put us in the best position to keep a relationship or reunite after the relationship ended. These are just suggestions to consider to help you along the way.
Stay stay strong, positive and loving!
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