The Insidious Poison That Damages Children
What is Parental Alienation (PA)?
Parental Alienation is when a parent, stepparent, or other family member uses their words and actions to systematically destroy a child’s love for the other parent and replace it with animosity and hatred toward that parent.
If you suspect that you, your child, or someone you love has become a victim of Parental Alienation, you may be feeling a pain deep in your heart like you never imagined possible. You may recognize some of the following manipulation techniques that are often used by the alienator:
- Relentless denigration of the targeted parent
- Creating the impression that the targeted parent is dangerous
- Misrepresenting the targeted parent’s feelings for the child
- Withdrawing love if the child indicates affection for the targeted parent
- Intentionally erasing the targeted parent from the life and mind of the child.
There are no easy solutions for PA and it is much like cancer; you have a greater chance of repairing it if you are able to catch it early and it will be much more difficult to cure if you are either not aware of it or you choose to ignore it.
The best place to start is by learning more about it. The Q&A below will give you a general understanding, but it is always best to consult with mental health and legal experts who will support and guide you through this nightmare.
What do Alienated Children Believe?
Through the cult-like indoctrination process of PA, a child comes to believe that the parent they once loved is evil and harmful to them; sometimes even being led to believe that their parent abused or abandoned them.
Why do Parents, Stepparents and Other Family Members Alienate Children?
Many people who engage in alienating children have personality disorders such as narcissism and borderline personality disorder so are focused on their own unhealthy agenda and do not have the ability to understand nor the compassion to care about the harm they are causing to the child.
Why is Parental Alienation so Harmful to Children?
Children are taught to respect their parents and are physically and emotionally dependent on them. They are vulnerable and when fed toxic feelings about their adoptive or biological parent, confusion, anxiety, and loyalty wars rage internally in their innocent hearts. Children learn to distrust their gut and guilt arises when feeling positivity towards the alienated parent. A “walking on eggshells” pattern around the alienator parent can form and cutting off the other parent can cause temporary psychological stress relief.
How does Parental Alienation Impact a Child?
Children who are alienated from a parent most often develop Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS); resulting in a lifetime of significant mental health challenges including low self-esteem/self-hatred, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, addiction, eating disorders and chronic relationship instability.
How does Parental Alienation Infect Other Family Members?
The child or adult child with PAS can be quite effective in convincing siblings and other family members to believe that the alienated parent is evil. Sadly studies have shown that adult PAS victims are more likely to become alienated from their own children causing it to cycle through multiple generations.
How Does PA Impact the Alienated Parent?
Parents who encounter the animosity and outright rejection from their child suffer from an excruciatingly painful form of grief; the trauma of mourning a child, still alive, who they can’t see and sometimes being held responsible for it by those who do not know the facts nor do they understand parental alienation.
What are the signs of Parental Alienation?
Unfortunately, PA is often done secretively without the other parent realizing its invasiveness until their child is more fully indoctrinated. Here are a few signs of Parental alienation:
- Your child distancing themselves, questioning your motives.
- Increased anxiety when your co-parent is mentioned.
- Parentified language, saying unusually hurtful things to you and/or acting out in other ways.
Error on the side of caution and immediately seek the support of mental health and legal experts to guide you through your options.
How To Fight Parental Alienation.
The first step is to immediately seek the support of mental health and legal experts. Beyond that here are some helpful strategies.
- Don’t take your child’s rejection personally or begin to believe that you are a bad person; that you deserve this tragic situation. All parents make mistakes so forgive yourself for those and be compassionate with yourself.
- If/when your child attacks you, take a pause and resist the instinct to attack your child or to attack your child’s alienator to the child.
- Continue to show your love and support for your child if you have the opportunity to do so; hold that love in your heart and share it with others if you are unable to communicate it to your child.
- Know that an alienator can succeed in removing your child from your life; however, they can never remove the many good memories of the love you shared with your child before the alienation took place so continue to hold tightly to those treasured memories.
- Always take the “high road” by maintaining your highest standards of ethics and conduct in your interactions with your child and his/her alienator. Don’t get pulled down to their lower level of conduct.
- Don’t allow the alienation of your child to fully dominate your thoughts and your life. Practice gratitude by continuing to remind yourself of all that is still good in your life.
- Never give up.