What You Need To Know About Divorce And Malicious Parent Syndrome

Some people going through a divorce can suffer from what has been called ‘Malicious Mother Syndrome’ or ‘Malicious Parent Syndrome’.

I spent some time over the last few weeks consoling a friend whose father had recently passed away. Needless to say she was distraught with his passing as it was totally unexpected. He was only in his mid-50s. 
 
It may have been the case that she was more distraught than the average because she had been estranged from her father for a number of years and had only recently found out that what she was ‘holding against him’ were all falsehoods; distorted memories from a very young childhood, fuelled by a mother with a deep hatred of her ex-husband, my friend’s father.  
 
There was some comfort, but only small, in the fact that she had in some way built bridges with him in his final months. But that didn’t make up in any way for the lost years. Her friends, including me, had tried to encourage her to see her father, to visit and to speak to him for years, but she kept saying ‘it doesn’t matter, he left us’.
As a stepmother I know all too well that he didn’t leave her, he left her mother. There is quite a difference - a notable one which too often gets overlooked.  
Despite repressing her feelings toward her father, deep down I believe she wanted a relationship with him but with no support from her mother or other relations around her, and while she was a child, she didn’t know how to go about it. 
 
Some people going through a divorce can suffer from what has been called ‘Malicious Mother Syndrome’ or ‘Malicious Parent Syndrome’. Although not a recognised mental disorder, the syndrome describes the abnormal behaviour that people going through a divorce can display.
The divorce and custody process can be incredibly stressful and as a result can cause extreme behaviour in those involved.
Those who may be suffering from this syndrome, or friends close to those who feel they may be, should encourage them to seek counselling in order to prevent causing current and future emotional issues for their children, especially if their actions could result in a lost relationship with a parent.
Fathers are equally as important as mothers in their child’s life as is a child’s relationship with each of their parents, whether they are together or divorced.  
 
Sadly, through similar situations or through the death of a parent many families become estranged, my own included. There is only so much anyone can do in these situations but without support, understanding or communications on both sides efforts can more often than not prove futile.
It is very much up to each individual and their own personal experience that will enable them to decide if they want to continue to try and rebuild broken relationships irrespective of the influences around them. My advice, go with your own gut feeling, perhaps you will be the exception that breaks the rule.  
 
Kathryn Maile is stepmum to three children and mum to one of her own. She will happily share more ‘food for thought’ on step-parenting and the challenges faced throughout in her blog, www.mystepmumandme.co.uk. If anyone would like to get in touch please do so via her email [email protected]
 

Kathryn Maile

Kathryn Maile is stepmum to three children and mum to one of her own. She will happily share more 'food for thought' on step-parenting and the challenges faced throughout in her blog.

Read more by Kathryn
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