Parental alienation can be difficult to recognise for anyone not experiencing it first-hand. Being an alienated parent means that your ex-partner is or may be trying to turn your kids against you by essentially brainwashing them to believe that you’re dangerous and unfit.
Rejected parents can find themselves struggling against a powerful force as it pulls them further and further from the relationship they once had with or desire to have with their children. They feel the resistance and fight against it. But the more they fight, the more exhausted they become. It seems as if there’s no one to appreciate how difficult it is to stay buoyant in these deceptively calm waters.
As noted by psychologist Amy Baker (2010), parental alienation will usually result in the child adapting their behaviours and feelings to that of the alienating parent to ensure their attachment needs are met. This means they can end up trying to please the alienating parent, rather than basing their behaviour on true feelings.
Examples of Parental Alienation
Forbidding discussion about the other parent whilst they’re in the alienating parent’s care
Interrogating the child after contact about the other parent and what discussions they had during their contact session
Placing blame on the other parent and making the child believe that they were the one to break up the family.
Convincing the child that the other parent doesn’t love them or loves them less than another child of the family
Prohibiting contact or cancelling pre-arranged contact sessions
Restricting information provided to the other parent regarding schooling, activities or medical issues
Making important decisions about the child’s welfare without consultation of the other parent
Undermining the other parent’s authority
“Your mother doesn’t love you like she used to before. She has more friends now, and she likes to spend most of her time with them and not with you.” — Lying to the child.
“Your father doesn’t earn much. I’m afraid he won’t be able to take good care of you.” — Criticizing the partner and showing them in a bad light.
“I am the one who manages all your requirements. Your father can do nothing for you. Still, you take his side and not mine?” — Showing anger or manipulating the child.
Let me be clear: Parental Alienation is child abuse. Parental Alienation can happen on many different levels. If you, or someone you know, is in a position where the children are refusing to see the parent, it can seem hopeless, but the key is not to give up. A major part of dealing with parental alienation is trying to maintain a relationship with your children, even in small ways.