A lot of you probably get advice and suggestions for how to reunite with a child. "What to do if you are alienated from your child" or "what to do if your co-parent is withholding" and etc - and we offer tips and guidance in that way as well. However, sometimes it is downright more effective to hear what you should not do. So, here goes- if you are cutoff from your child, here a few things you should not be doing.
1. Blame the child
Here's a tricky one. You might not realize you're even doing this. Or maybe you are, especially if your child is an adult. Many parents think that their child is at-will and responsibility, that it is partly the child's fault. While that is partly true, since we all have responsibility over our lives, think of it this way: you chose to have this child with their other parent (even if they were created by accident...), you and said parent don't work out romantically, you wind up in a high-conflict scenario and your child is automatically put into this ring of fire. They get roped in by and with their other parent, and now here you are. They act out in ways that are actually a cry for help and pain, and yet you choose to be upset with them. It's that simple. Now that is pretty frank, but that helps give you a better idea as to why you shouldn't place blame onto the child. This also instills guilt onto them, anxiety, pressure, etc - and only keeps them at bay. Remind them you love them no matter what. Teach them what kindness and unconditional love looks like not by telling them what they are doing is wrong or how they are behaving, but by authentically showing up in the ways you want them to show up.
2. Alienate the other parent for alienating
Oooof. That is a tough thing to hear. It needs to be said, though. Too often parents think it is ok to tell their child what their alienating parent is doing, in such a way that ends up being quite alienating in and of itself. There are other ways for your child to know what is going on, it doesn't need to be in the form of 'your [other parent] is making me spend all my money trying to fight to get access to you. I can't afford my house anymore because of him/her' or ' your [other parent] is ruining our family because they refuse to stop harassing me with court.' You get it. How does this sound? Not the greatest. So you can imagine how your child will internalize it, and it's really not that much different than the other parent's statements to them about you. regardless of who is right, your child doesn't hear the difference. There is a very fine line, and you must take a step back and see which side of it you're on.
3. Cutoff contact
Just because your child isn't responding or responds hastily, doesn't mean you should cutoff contact. This is quite literally creating a story to your child that their parent doesn't love them unconditionally. Don't text and call multiple times a day, or interrogate them. Just be frequent and keep it simple, lighthearted. Be the soft place for them to land.
4. Refrain from taking responsibility
Regardless of what is driving the cutoff, we (as humans) should always take responsibility when applicable. Don't completely refrain from doing so, take a deeper look within and make sure to take responsibility with yourself and if it comes up with your child, there as well.
5. Think you know it all
Something I hear often is 'I've taken dozens of co-parenting and self-help classes' and 'I've already learned all the skills.' That may be true, and yet consider what you've applied thus far. Did you really take the courses, or did you complete them just to get that certificate? True growth is knowing there is always room for growth, and that you cannot simply take a course and check that off the list, you have to implement what you learn. If you tried something and it didn't work out, either you need to shift that, keep going, or try something different. If your situation is at a standstill, clearly there is still room for growth. Invest in the support and skills to help solve your family dilemma. It will quite literally pay off as there is no greater investment than that of yourself and your children.
...Now, you may likely have already done a few of these line items, or maybe all of them. And that's ok. We are not perfect beings. There is no such thing as a perfect parent. The important thing is that you continuously are aiming to learn, grow, and shift. And that is what we are here for. So don't fret, simply make a different choice. Luckily, we have the ability and power to do so anytime, we are always in control of ourselves.