Parental Alienation

Last week, I made reference to a voicemail that Alec Baldwin left his daughter when she didn’t answer her cell phone at a prearranged time. I drew some parallels between his situation and my own with my ex-wife and son from that marriage. However, I made it clear that I have never degraded my son Cameron as Mr. Baldwin did in that message, verbally or otherwise.

There was no justification for what Alec Baldwin said to his daughter. The reason he gave was that his tumultuous custody battle with his ex-wife led him to do it. Though that is his reasoning, it isn’t a justification, and I don’t believe he intended it to be such. In fact, he profusely apologized on several talk shows for his remarks toward his daughter.

In addition, he announced that he was dropping out of some major projects he is involved with and dedicating his efforts to writing a book about “parental alienation.” That is a topic very close to me and I will definitely be getting a copy of that book.

It is tragic, the turmoil that Alec Baldwin has been through. Some people in the media seem to be focusing on the voicemail message while overlooking the brunt of the problem, his ex-wife’s continual efforts to keep his daughter from him. She, Kim Basinger, seems to be following the same pattern as my ex-wife did. From what I have read, Alec Baldwin has been a great parent, until that unfortunate voicemail, while his ex-wife has denied him visitation repeatedly.

In fact, Kim Basinger’s own mother has publicly condemned her behavior. Ann Basinger the grandmother of the daughter, Ireland, calls Baldwin a “wonderful” parent and says:

“My heart is sad for Ireland. She’s the one that’s suffering the most. All this is killing her. I think Kim has tried to alienate Ireland from her father. Alec loves his daughter with all his heart. He really is a family man… I hate what [Kim] is doing.”

My ex-wife, Tara, provoked me during our marriage, to the point that I became a terrible husband to her. She pulled no punches there, seeking to find my boiling point at whatever cost. Tara continued to egg me on after the divorce, through literally holding our son, Cameron, hostage until I paid her extra money, above and beyond that which I was paying for child support. Time and time again, she played me like a fiddle, saying she would have Cameron ready at a certain time and place and then not following through with that agreement.

I took Tara to court over these matters, not to the extent that Alec Baldwin has with his ex-wife, but to the extent that I could afford. Believe me, lawyers and court costs are not cheap! For a time, every extra penny I had was spent on fighting Tara in the courts in order to see my son. I didn’t even have a place of my own during that time, staying with family, friends, and coworkers. I slept on many cold floors throughout that period, thinking about nothing but seeing my son, Cameron.

I wonder how many times Tara left Cameron with friends, instead of calling me so I could take care of him. I wonder how many times Cameron was ill or in pain and could have used his father to comfort him. I wonder how many times he thought about me and wondered if I was really the terrible ogre his mother made me out to be. I wonder if he yearned to know the truth about me, and if he ever found himself doubting his mother.

I tried to placate Tara through her wild imaginative outbursts against me. On several occasions, I gave into her requests for extra money and gave it to her. It worked a few times, as I was able to see Cameron, albeit just for a day or two, but Tara made sure it didn’t last. I went through long droughts of not being able to see him. It began as weeks, then turned to months, then turned to years. Sadly, I haven’t seen my son in almost four years now. I hope to see him this summer, when I go to the US, but I’m not holding my breath for that to happen. Even though he is now eighteen years old, I’m certain he still feels the influence of his mother from all those years where she was, seemingly, the only one by his side.

I remember in one court appearance, Tara tried to employ the same tactic as Kim Basinger, a common tactic used by alienating mothers. This was around the time that Cameron was six years old and I had just moved to Arizona. Cameron was spending a few days with me, on one of his rare visitation trips. Tara said that she spoke to him on the phone and he cried, “Please Mommy! Please come get me. Daddy is beating me!” Luckily, the judge was not a moron and didn’t fall for her shenanigans. That was her pattern in court, to accuse me of being an abusive father, trying to get my already-limited role in Cameron’s life reduced. She even refused to call me his father, choosing to call me “the sperm donor” instead.

John Stossel, in his new book Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel–Why Everything You Know is Wrong, describes an example of parental alienation he filmed for his TV show:

“We videotaped one such heartbreaking scene. A divorced father went to see his five kids for what he thought would be a full-day visit. He was entitled to that, under court order, and the court also ordered the mother not to discourage the children from spending time with their father. But she clearly had poisoned his children’s minds against him. The father just stood outside his ex-wife’s house and begged his children, ‘Would you like to go out with me today?’ ‘No,’ said one kid after another. Then the mother ordered the kids back into her house. What comes through on the tape is the unbridled satisfaction of the mother and the helplessness of the father.”

I can entirely relate to that. “Helplessness” is what I felt then, concerning my relationship with Cameron and it still continues to be my predominant feeling. I think of him several times daily, wondering where he is, what he is doing, and hoping he is happy. I wish things had been different, but circumstances prohibited them from being so. I will always love Cameron and pray for his continual success.

One comment

  1. Well, I am just starting to go through what you went through. It is Christmas and I can’t see my son without paying her more money, even with me paying $500.00 a month for my son. My lawyer is taking her to court next week, but i don’t know what good it will do. Funny, I found her on welfare, living in her dad’s basement, and totally took care of her and her 2 children. But now I am the biggest piece of //// around.

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