Parental Alienation: The Issues Are Not Gender Specific

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As stated in my last post, there was a huge reaction last week to a post I wrote some time ago. It was actually the second time it had gained so much attention in the year since it was first published. This was no doubt due to the fact that it covered the topic of emotional incest and parental alienation, two very emotive phrases that are part of a lot of people’s lives. You can read the post HERE.

Many of the emails I recieved were from women who documented their struggles on a wide range of subjects from narcissist grandparents to emotional incest and parental alienation. It seems a massive problem and as I stated in the last post about this subject, there doesn’t seem to be a workable solution in sight.

Two comments stuck out for me and they were both critical of my post, not the content but the style. One wrote:

In my experience I have found this to be far more true of mothers than fathers. Men can be intimidating and controlling certainly, but women are far more manipulative and dependent. Otherwise they wouldn’t focus so much on blaming others for their own choices as well as indecision. It gets really old having to see narcissists solely portrayed as men when the reality is women call every man that doesn’t do exactly what they want them to a narcissist and never notice the irony.

Another wrote:

I feel as though your message would be more relatable and easier to process from victims of a narcissistic parent if you didn’t portray your clear belief that only males and fathers can be the narcissist. A child who is victim to this form of abuse has a 50/50 shot at having either a male OR a female narcissist as the parent they are codependent on and you’ve effectively shut out 50% of your audience by choosing to assign a specific gender to the parent in your scenario

I am always willing to accept constructive criticism on my posts and in this case, I fully agree that I portrayed the narcissist in the various scenarios as ‘him’ or ‘he’. This goes fully against other posts I have written on the subject which generally say that such afflictions are not gender specific. I also find some of the more hysterical blogs that only portray men as the ‘narcissist’ rather unappealing. I accept the criticism and have adjusted the post accordingly.

However, the two comments brought up a subject that can be easily overlooked. Where parental alienation is concerned, it is just as likely to happen with women as men. There are many fathers out there not not being able to exercise their right to be a parent due to alienation instigated by a bitter ex. I could write on but I will leave the last word to the second commenter who gave the following insightful thought:

A child who is victim to this form of abuse has a 50/50 shot at having either a male OR a female narcissist as the parent they are codependent on and you’ve effectively shut out 50% of your audience by choosing to assign a specific gender to the parent in your scenario. While your message is a good one, you’ve singlehandedly alienated victims of the female mother narcissist from being able to relate, have comfort they aren’t alone, recognize their position and have resource to reference in court or therapy sessions they are exposed to, and thus, have lost merit with a huge community. You might consider reworking your article to bring focus to the child victim and not assuming the gender of the abusive parent. The world already believes the only sex capable of any form of abuse is the male, and this article just further propagates that falsehood. I truly believe it would be especially beneficial to your potential advice-seeking, life-questioning victim readers to be inclusive of -and recognize fact that- parents of either gender can and will be the abuser, not just men and not just fathers.

I stand corrected. Once again, thank you for all the mails.

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Dr. Nicholas Jenner, a therapist, coach, and speaker, has over 20 years of experience in the field of therapy and coaching. His specialty lies in treating codependency, a condition that is often characterized by a compulsive dependence on a partner, friend, or family member for emotional or psychological sustenance. Dr. Jenner's approach to treating codependency involves using Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy, a treatment method that has gained widespread popularity in recent years. He identifies the underlying causes of codependent behavior by exploring his patients' internal "parts," or their different emotional states, to develop strategies to break free from it. Dr. Jenner has authored numerous works on the topic and offers online therapy services to assist individuals in developing healthy relationships and achieving emotional independence.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Chey

    To be honest I have long since written out the pronouns used to describe much of anything. There was an attempt to introduce “s/he” back in the late 1960s/ early ’70s, but it never caught on. It took decades for “Ms” to be accepted by many.

    Perhaps people will stand a better chance at … everything … when they stop attending so heavily on segragating the human population by sex and start focussing on the content.