Audio (Podcast)

Claiming Your Strength, Resilience and Joy!

Sarah Webb
By Sarah Webb

Wendy Perry’s life was turned upside down when she was blindsided by parental alienation.  While navigating through the cruel emotional and financial devastation caused by parental alienation, she found a voice and strength she never knew she had.  Through her advocacy and consulting, Wendy has helped hundreds of family members find comfort, resilience and tenacity.

Our struggles can ultimately lead us to being the happiest and most authentic person we can be. Wendy’s mission is to help others find peacefulness and joy in life even when facing the toughest challenges.

 

Connect with Wendy Perry:

LinkedIn: Wendy (Wendy Archer) Perry

Facebook: Wendy Perry (Wendy Rees Archer)

Twitter: @wendyjoarcher


Introduction:00:03Welcome to Plaid Radio by Plaid for Women and the #NoMeanGirls movement. Enjoy today's show and be inspired to change the world.
Sarah Webb:00:16Welcome to Plaid Radio. I'm your host, Sarah Webb, and I'm with today's guest, Wendy Perry. Wendy's life was turned upside down when she was blindsided by parental alienation. While navigating through the cruel, emotional, and financial devastation caused by this alienation she found a voice and strength that she never even knew she had. Through her advocacy and consulting, Wendy has helped hundreds of family members find comfort, resilience, and tenacity. Welcome to the show, Wendy.
Wendy Perry:00:43Thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited to do this interview today.
00:47Thank you. Well, we're excited that you are one of our breakout speakers at the #NoMeanGirls Conference and so we're excited for you to share your story and how you impact and help families. At the conference, your session is titled Claiming Your Strength, Resilience and Joy. Give us a little sneak peek. What are we going to talk about in that breakout session?
01:08Okay, well I'm so excited about it because one of my really good friends, Shannon Thomas, invited me to attend the conference last year as her guest and I felt like it was a God thing. She just... Something told her that I needed to go to that and it was really a life changing experience for me and so I thought, I'm going to go for it. I want to be a presenter next year, and so I'm super excited about it. What I experienced, which is commonly called parental alienation, is one of the most devastating things that anyone can go through. It's a truly traumatic life altering event and my session is not about parental alienation, but it's about how you can be strong and resilient and joyful even when you have such a difficult situation in your life. And I think it's really important for us to share with each other ways that we can be strong and empowered and happy even when we're dealing with really hard things in life. So that's a little sneak peek of what my presentation will be about.
02:15What do you think attendees will take away with it? Will we take tactical skills such as, “okay, if I'm going through something difficult I can still find joy by doing ‘this.’”
02:25Definitely. I really want to give people tangible, real ways that they can get stronger and more resilient in life and ways that they can generally just feel more positive and joyful in life. They can expect audience participation. I think that it's really important that they come away with tools to, like I said, feel stronger, more resilient, and just generally more positive and joyful.
02:50Well, I'm excited. I know we always need a little joy. I just got off the phone with someone and they told me, “you seem a little happier this week.” I responded, “yeah, I had a rough week last week.” I'm trying to really turn around in my thinking. Instead of “oh, this is what's wrong and this is what's wrong,” I actually have a bazillion blessings and have many things to be thankful for and just reshaping that because I feel like my negativity as the mom of my house filters down to my kids. If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. So, I try to make sure that I'm being mindful of how I'm setting the tone.
03:24Right. Studies have shown that there are specific things that people who have been through really difficult situations do that makes them stronger and more resilient. If you know someone who's been through something horrible but they're really positive and joyful and you think, ‘well, how can they be so happy and positive when they went through this horrible thing?” There are specific things that people do that can make them stronger and happier, more resilient, and we're gonna talk about some of those things.
03:57Excellent. Well tell us a little bit about your journey and how that led to this passion. It's not a happy story, but I think, like you said, you're finding the joy in where you are today. Can you share that with us?
04:09Sure. So about 10 years ago, like you said in the introduction, my life got turned upside down by parental alienation. And for the listeners who don't know what that means, parental alienation is when one parent tries to damage or destroy a child's relationship with their other parent. And I was devastated and I thought that what I was going through could have never happened to anyone else. I thought I was all alone in the world. And when I discovered that not only was I not alone, but that parental alienation is an epidemic that no one was talking about, I just knew that I had to speak up about it. I'm passionate about it because it's so important and life can be hard and sometimes we have to deal with really painful situations and it's important that we help each other and share ways that we can deal with struggles in life. We can let our struggles destroy us or we can use our struggles to grow and help other people. We don't choose the bad things that happen to us, but we can choose what we do with those experiences. So that's how my journey started and why it's so important to me to talk about this topic.
05:22Honestly, I don't know much about it. Were you divorced from your child's father. And how many years had you been divorced?
05:31We were married for 18 years and we have been divorced now for 13 years.
05:41Okay. So, this started about three years after getting divorced. And what does parental alienation look like? I think as a woman, me specifically, I would be asking myself, “am I dreaming this? Is this really happening?” Because it just seems so… It’s almost like mean girl behavior, exclusion and things like that. I think I'd be like, “did that really happen or am I overreacting?” Is that how it started for you or was it apparent? What did that look like when it first started, when you first noticed it?
06:15Well, some of the alienating behaviors actually started while we were still married to each other and that's really common. And after our divorce, I knew that some things were happening that made me feel uncomfortable and didn't seem right, but I didn't know that there was a name for it. I didn't know where it would end up leading. And that's really common for what we call targeted or alienated parents. That this thing is happening, and, in the beginning, you have no idea...
06:49So, you're going through all the emotions of divorce and your family changing. I mean, to me it's just an emotional messy time.
06:55Right? And that's what a lot of people think. And so, if a child starts rejecting one of their parents and telling their parents, “I hate you, I never want to see you again.” And they're calling that parent by their first name instead of ‘mom’ or ‘dad.’ People who are not educated about parental alienation will often say, “well, your child was just upset about the divorce and they'll get over it.” And parental alienation is not that. Parental alienation is when your child, 100 percent loves and adores one parent and then 100 percent hates and rejects the other parent. And they're doing that because they are being encouraged, persuaded, bribed or manipulated. There's a whole lot of different methods, but they are being forced to reject and hate that other parent. So that's what parental alienation is. But to outsiders, to people who don't understand it, they just don't quite see why that's happening. And many times they believe that the rejected parent has done something to deserve that. And sometimes those people even help the alienation because they think, well that parent, they must have done something horrible to deserve that. And so, they will, in a sense, sort of help the alienation. And that's one of the many reasons why education about it is so important. Sorry, I kinda got on a roll there!
08:26It's something that's definitely not talked about enough. I mean, divorce rates are, let's just say broadly 50 percent. I don't know that, but let's just say it’s around 50 percent. This has to be happening to other families. Until I met you, I actually didn't even have a term for it, I didn't know a lot about it, and I could definitely see myself being a friend that would say something like, “oh, it's just a growing spell,” from a heartfelt, but really an uneducated position. I could see myself saying those exact same things and really just...
09:01Yeah, like I said, that's one of the reasons that education is so important. Those people, their intentions are good. We've got support groups for targeted, alienated parents like me, but it's incredibly important that we go outside of ourselves and educate the general public about it because...
09:25And you're part of a group that does that?
09:26Yes. And the people who are sort of on the outside of it, people like teachers and friends and relatives who are not right in the area and really close to the family, they can have a great impact on the situation. That's why we need them to be educated about it because they can really help the kids. The kids are in a horrible loyalty bind where they are forced to choose one parent over the other and the kids don't want to do that. They just get to a point where they don't know what to do and they're just trying to survive. So, it's really important to educate everybody, not just have support group meetings for ourselves.
10:08Well, when you talk about that education, if were educating a grandparent, what would that include? How would you coach the grandparent or the family? With talking points or how they should talk with the child?
10:20When they're talking with the child, it's really important to be positive and encouraging about their relationships with both parents. And even if... Let's say you're a grandparent and you think negatively about your ex-son-in-law or ex-daughter-in-law. Still it's important to put your feelings aside and to understand that that child still loves that person. That's still their parent. That's still half of who they are. And it's important for that grandparent to be encouraging of their relationship with both parents and to say, both of your parents love you and it's also important for them to... I know it's hard, but they need to have a chat with, with their child if that parent is the one who's being the alienator and to say, I love you and I know you're hurt about your marriage ending. I know that some things happened that you're really upset about but you need to move on and let that go and let your child love the other parent, too.
11:31Yeah, those are definitely difficult conversations. You've talked about support groups and groups that you're with. Did you take…? You've talked out a lot about this and have educated people and brought awareness to this issue. Do you feel like you’re taking risk when you’re being part of these groups and posting on social media? Do you consider that a risk that you've taken?
11:54That is an awesome question. It is. I do a lot of interviews. I've never had anybody ask me that question before. I love that question. So yes, it was, and it still is a big risk for me to speak out publicly about parental alienation. People who engage in parental alienation and the people who help them engage in it, they don't want to be exposed. So, they come after advocates like me and I've been the victim of a smear campaign in our community for many years. I've seen with my own eyes the lies that are told about me and it's truly vicious. One example is there's a lady in our community who she's very well-known and she's very connected and very politically active and she tells people that I divorced my ex-husband and that I abandoned him and abandoned my kids and my kids didn't want to have anything to do with me and that's all the opposite of the truth and she's never even met me or spoken to me. So there is a risk that comes with it and it takes brave people. It takes risk takers to break the silence about issues like this. When you look back at history, people who have made big social changes, they took a big risk in doing that, so it's worth the risk because it helps so many people and I would encourage anyone who has a passion to make the world a better place to go for it and to take the risks that go with that.
13:30Yeah, that has to be hard. That someone can have this smear campaign against you and it's not true and as the bigger woman you say, “okay, I'm just going to ignore that.” You try to be that person that's puts this behind you, but it definitely hurts and it's something that...
13:47It does hurt and some of the things you're just like, oh my gosh. I mean, it's so outrageous. And like I said, really the opposite of what happened and it's just hard. You just have to have faith that someday, the truth will come out to them and you have to be at peace with that might not happen, that you just have to keep moving forward and try to stay on the high road and be positive.
14:13Who has had the greatest impact on your life?
14:16One person who greatly impacted my life was my grandma on my dad's side of the family. She taught me what unconditional love really was. She was the kind of grandma that everyone should have. She was an amazing person, but the person who has had the greatest impact on my life is definitely my mom. She was in a very abusive marriage with my dad and many people would say that she had valid reasons to try to keep me away from my dad or alienate me from my dad after they're divorced, but she made it very clear to me that she was going to make sure that I saw my dad when I was supposed to see him. I remember one time I was complaining and saying that I didn't want to go to my dad's house and she let me know that not seeing my dad was not an option. So she taught me at a very young age that parental alienation was wrong and of course there wasn't a word for it back then and I had no idea at that time she was teaching me about something that would end up being of critical importance in my life as an adult. So when I think back on that moment, it's pretty amazing. But my mom, she's just a great role model. She's been through a lot in her life and she's handled it all with grace and she never says a bad word about anyone, even if they might deserve it. So she has sacrificed, she's sacrificed so much to help me and my kids and we literally could not have made it through what we did without her. And she's really loving and super fun. And, and everyone loves my mom. So as soon as I see people, they ask, how's your mom?
15:54Yeah, forget about you. Tell us about your mom!
15:55Exactly. You know how when you have a baby, right? And people...
15:59You're like a second class citizen. Nobody asks about you anymore.
16:01Yeah, exactly. You know they kind of bypass you and they're like, oh the baby. And you're just standing there going hi and that's how it is. People see me, and they ask, how's your mom? That makes me happy. You know, she deserves that because she's such an awesome person. So yeah, definitely my mom has had the greatest impact on my life. She's just amazing.
16:21What an amazing legacy. What have you created that you're most proud of?
16:26My kids, of course! Other than my kids, I guess the creation I'm most proud of is creating awareness and education about parental alienation. When I started my advocacy work about eight years ago, I would ask people if they had heard of parental alienation and they would say no, and then I would have to explain it to them. And now when I ask people if they've heard of parental alienation, they say yes. And so I'm really proud of that and I'm really proud of the parental alienation symposium that we had in Dallas last year. We had 250 people come from all around the world. We had people come from nearly every state in the US and we had people come from four different countries. And it was the largest parental alienation educational event that's ever been held, so we surveyed everyone who attended and we got top scores in every category, so I'm super proud of that event as well.
17:24And was it for people to be educated on it or was it more of a support group or just a mix of everything?
17:32It was a mix of everything. We had Dr. Craig Childress as our keynote speaker. He's one of the world's top experts on parental alienation. He's actually doing a presentation in Italy right now about parental alienation. Our whole goal was to educate. So we had a lot of mental health professionals come. We had counselors, therapists, and social workers. We had teachers, we had attorneys come because these are all people who it's incredibly important that they be educated about it, and we gave continuing education units for those professionals as encouragement for them to come. Education was really our top goal, but we did want it to have a supportive atmosphere also. So we had presentations that were educational but also some that were really for support and encouragement for the parents and grandparents that attended. So, it was a really well-rounded conference and then at the end of the day we had a mixer, a meet and greet, mingle time. And it was so cool. That was really a happy moment for me because alienated parents and grandparents, they're really sad. Right? And at this meet and greet in the evening, I just stopped, looked around, everybody was smiling and laughing and having a good time and, and that just made me so happy to see I'm getting emotional talking about it.
18:59Well, but that goes back to what you're talking about at the #NoMeanGirls conference about that resilience and joy and even though you're going through these difficult times, and we all have times. Sometimes our times are long stretches and sometimes it's a few minutes, but I mean to be able to find the joy in... You know, when I think about parental alienation, and I think about people who are impacted as well as... that doesn't change the love that you have for your child, and that doesn't mean that you're not loving them. The education and the fighting… not fighting but advocating for that person just even demonstrates that even more of, I'm not giving up on you. And so, when you talk about seeing these people, they can still be joyous, they can still be happy and they're not giving up. They're fighting for that. Right? But also that power of that love that they have for that person that they're being alienated against.
19:50Yeah. A lot of alienated parents feel like they have to be sad or unhappy all the time. It kind of becomes who they are. And that evening, they were just mingling and chatting and forming friendships. It's so important to not let parental alienation define who you are. It's not all that you are as just a targeted or alienated parent, you know? I always tell parents, you're so much more than that. You're a friend, you've got other family members, you have things that you're gifted at doing, things you love doing. It was just a cool, cool moment that night to see people smiling, laughing, having fun, and just enjoying, enjoying being with other people who understand what they're going through.
20:43What's one interesting fact about you that you don't mind sharing?
20:48That's a hard question. I don't know if I have very many interesting facts about me!
20:57You dyed your hair purple a few weeks ago or a few months ago, it was interesting.
21:01You know, I'm kind of a simple person. I like simple things and I'm not too adventurous I guess. Well, let's see. Okay. Interesting fact about me. I don't know if you know who Lita Ford is. She's a Rockstar and she is an alienated mom and so recently my husband and I spent an evening with her, just the three of us. That was really cool and really interesting. Let’s see, what else? I've had dinner at the home of Klaus Schwab. Klaus is the founder of the World Economic Forum and Klaus and his wife Hilde. They had a very small group of us to their home in Geneva, Switzerland and the house was heavily protected by armed guards at the gates and on the grounds, but once we were inside their home, their home was, it was so cozy and comfortable and not really fancy, like I imagined. It was one of the coziest houses I've ever been in and they wanted the guests to get to know each other, so, they sat us in between people that we didn't know. And I sat in between the CEO of Exxon Mobile and a former President of Mexico. And it was a surreal moment. And the next day Hilde took us ladies on a personal tour of Geneva and she didn't hire a tour guide; she guided the tour herself. We still had armed guards with us, but they were really discreet. And Klaus and Hilde... Talk about change makers! I mean, they're really important people but they are two of the kindest and most down to Earth people I've ever met and so I don't know if that's interesting to your listeners, but it was a really interesting experience for me. Something that I always look back on really, really fondly. I thought that was really an interesting experience.
22:57Absolutely. As you know, Plaid for Women is all about creating a space for women to be judgment free and support each other and celebrate each other's success with our #NoMeanGirls campaign, you talked about this smear campaign, which totally is mean girl treatment. Do you see targeted and alienated parents specifically receive mean girl type treatment because of just the nature, like you said, people talking about you or thinking that you did something wrong because you're the targeted parent. Is that common among a lot of families?
23:28In parental alienation, it's totally common. And parental alienation is, in my opinion, bullying at its worst. It's really bullying and definitely mean-girl treatment in that way. I would encourage anyone who's listening to this interview, if you know of a child who has rejected one of their parents, don't just assume that the rumors you hear about that parent are true. Get to know that parent for yourself. Especially if they say things like, “well, that other parent's crazy. Just don't talk to them.” Broad general statements, not anything specific. Don't just assume those things are true, get to know the person yourself. And I think your listeners, if they do that, they might uncover some situations that really are parental alienation and they can make a difference. They can help that child. They can say, “hey, I understand that you've got some things that you're unhappy about with your parents and parents are not perfect, but I know that other parent loves you. And how about consider reaching out to your other parent and reopening a conversation with them?” So yeah, definitely. It's a ‘no mean girl’ situation. It's not just girls, it's guys, too. It's bullying. So yes.
24:56I'm so excited to have you at the #NoMeanGirls Conference and get to share your message with our listeners and our audience. Thank you Wendy so much for joining us today.
25:06Thank you so much for having me. I'm really looking forward to it and I hope to meet a lot of people at the conference.
25:10That's great. And that's a wrap for Plaid Radio.
Sarah Webb
A bit about me, I'm a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, employee and volunteer. I am married and have two children - one who aspires to be a secret spy ninja and the other wants be a doctor for toys...Read More
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