Parental alienation after divorce

Parental alienation is an extreme form of emotional abuse, forcing children to listen to, watch, and engage in, the full-blown mental abuse of the alienated parent. Alienating parents’ deliberately slander, and maliciously put down the alienated parent in an effort to destroy their relationship with the children.

If  a child asks the alienating parent to stop denigrating the alienated parent, or outwardly disagrees with what is being said about the other parent, they may be raged at, disagreed with, ignored, or may even have love with-held.

Alienating another parent is a serious form of child abuse; which takes years for the adult children’ of parental alienators’ to work through. These children are lied to daily about the alienated parent, and brainwashed into believing that the alienated parent (usually the nicer parent) is actually abusing the alienating parent.

Why alienate another parent?

In the eyes of the parental alienator there are many benefits to alienating another person. Blaming somebody else for all of the problems within the family, means that the alienator doesn’t need to take responsibility for their own behaviour. By blaming their own behaviour on somebody else, this parent can perpetuate their own victim state as the bullied martyr who has to persist with such a difficult, dysfunctional co-parent.

Severe parental alienators’ want their children to feel sorry for them, because they need the children’s continued support in the fight against the alienated parent.

Alienating another parent means that narcissistic supply is endless, the alienator is guaranteed a life time supply of attention, will always be the person in the room with the most attention, and will forever have a scapegoat.

What happens?

Over time the children slowly but surely begin to side with the alienating parent. Through the children, ( the alienating parent’s little puppets) this parent will make chaos where once there was none.

Why? 

Parental alienators’ of the more severe kind are very sensitive individuals. They can’t handle any criticism. Any slight to their ego, and they will pull out of their little bag of tricks, survival skills that small children use to tackle similar situations.

Where and when can parental alienation occur?

Parental alienation can happen in the family home, right in front of the alienated parent, in the family home while the alienated parent is out of sight, in the alienating parent’s home if they are the primary caregiver, or at the alienating parent’s house during weekend visitation.

Parental alienators’ can be of either gender.

Three different types of parental alienators:

Dr Douglous Arnell, in his book, divorce casualties: ‘Protecting your children from parental alienation,’ describes three types of alienators’.

Mild: Naive alienators’ are unaware of what they are doing, and are prepared to change.

Moderate: When triggered, the active alienator loses control of appropriate boundaries, and loses their temper. When they calm down, they don’t want to admit that they were out of control.

Severe: Severe parental alienators’ are committed to destroying the other parent’s relationship with the child.

In the case of the severe parental alienator, no treatment exists, other than removing the child from the alienator’s care.

What is the parental alienator’s motivation?

  • The parental alienator is filled with rage, hatred, and contempt towards the alienated parent. Their primary motive is to enlist the children as soldiers’ in their army, in their war against the other parent.
  • Alienating parent’s usually have a victim’s mentality, and manipulate the people around them, into feeling sorry for them. Its a case of ‘poor me,’ on every level. The alienating parent turns the entire situation around, will not accept their part in any argument, will not admit to their own failings, will deny what they did to create discontent in the other parent, and will encourage the children to feel sorry for them at the expense of the alienated parent.
  • The parental alienator wants their children to feel as though the alienated parent is their problem as well; a problem which needs fixing.
  • Alienating parent’s manipulate their children for their own vested interests. These parents’ are great actors’, and deliberately use their acting skills to manipulate their children. They may role their eyes when the alienated parent makes a request of them, or look overwhelmed and sad when the other parent has an argument with them. All of these actions upset the child, and manipulate them into believing that the alienating parent is being mistreated, when in actual fact they are diverting the attention away from themselves, and onto the alienated parent. This way, the alienating parent can avoid taking responsibility for their own behaviour.
  • Parental alienator’s want the children all to themselves.

A typical scenario:

Action: The alienating parent leaves the children unattended in their home for hours at a time. When the alienated parent becomes upset about this reoccuring problem, the parental alienator discusses the alienated parent’s reaction with the children, and uses this reaction to play ‘poor me.’ The parental alienator tells the children that the alienated parent has unfairly attacked them.

During reoccuring conversations with the children about the alienated parent’s behaviour, the alienating parent will always leave out what they have done to illicit such as reaction.

Continued scenarios similar to the above will continue to transpire, which will leave the children upset, confused, and feeling as though they need to resolve the problem for the alienating parent, and to protect this parent from the alienated parent.

What is wrong with the parental alienator?

The narcissistic parental alienator: Narcissists’ are very sensitive people. So sensitive in fact, that the smallest slight against their false self makes them crash, and endure what is known as a narcissistic injury. Narcissists’ split frequently, and see people as either all good or all bad. When a narcissist experiences a breakup with their children’s parent, this parent will immediately fall off their pedestal, and will be perceived as all bad.

The psychopathic parental alienator: The psychopath engages in parental alienation to win. Every situation in the psychopath’s life is about winning. This drive to win means that they consistently put their foot in it. Psychopaths often lose custody of the children for many reasons; not just parental alienation.

Parents’ with personality disorders are extremely sensitive people, and cannot handle any criticism. Criticism to sensitive people feels like a major rejection. Rejection to people with personality disorders, is a fate worse than death. To fight against the rejection, these people usually act with an air of superiority. With this air of superiority they will reject everybody around them with continued put – downs, and arrogant behaviour.

It is not uncommon for an alienator to:

For example: The alienating parent may engage the children in their disagreements with the alienated parent:

‘Look at what your mother does kids. Are you watching her. This is what she always does.’

  • Show the children private text messages from the alienated parent:

Parental alienators’ will show the children private emails, and text messages that the alienated parent has written to the alienating parent.

For example: The alienated parent may email the alienating parent (instead of engaging directly due to the drama it causes) to ask if they can return the children’s soccer-boots next time they pick up the children, because without their soccer boots, the children will be unable to play in the next match. The alienating parent may take advantage of this situation, show their children the email, and claim that the alienated parent is bullying them, putting them down, and directly insulting them, again.

  • Allow the children to listen to private voice messages left by the alienated parent:

Severely disordered alienating parents’ will allow their children to listen to voice messages left for the alienating parent, especially messages which are stern, or show emotion. The alienating parent will pick the alienated parent’s emotions to pieces, and feign victim hood.

  • Pathologically lie about how the alienated parent perceives the children:

For example: If one of the teenage children is bi-sexual, the alienating parent may tell the child that the alienated parent doesn’t agree with their child’s sexual preferences.

  • Subtly hint that the other parent is incapable, by saying things like:
  1. ‘Oh yes, mummy doesn’t make you brush your teeth much does she? That must be why they look hairy.’
  2. ‘I bet you don’t eat decent food likely mummy cooks when your at daddy’s house.’
  3. ‘Oh yes, that’s right, you don’t eat many vegetables at mummy’s.’
  4. ‘Mummy never puts sunscreen on properly. Make sure you tell mummy that I’ll put the sunscreen on you when you get to the park.’
  • Play the game of good cop/ bad cop:

The alienating parent will want the children to see them as the fun parent, the joker, and the parent who allows the child to do whatever they like while in the alienating parent’s home.

When with the alienating parent, the children may:

  1. Have really late nights, regardless of it being a school night.
  2. Be allowed to break big boundaries.
  3. Be encouraged to discuss problems at the alienated parent’s home with the alienating parent.
  4. Be rule free.

An example of good cop/ bad cop:  A teenage child may be disciplined by the alienated parent and given consequences. The teenager goes to their ‘good cop’ parent for support, and confides in them about the incident. Instead of backing the alienated parent, the alienating parent may say something like:

‘You know your mother has anger management issues. You need to learn to ignore her.’

  • Set the alienated parent up to be humiliated by their own children:

Alienating parents are well known for setting up the alienated parent. They plan these incidents out very carefully, and make sure that their children are there to become a part of the conflict they are about to create.

For example: The alienated parent sends the alienating parent an email highlighting a problem they both need to discuss when appropriate. The alienating parent contacts the alienated parent to discuss the problem. While discussing the topic, and in the middle of what is becoming a small disagreement, one of the children pipes up in the background and accuses the alienated parent of being in the wrong.

The alienating parent deliberately had the children with them when they made the phone call, and kept the phone on speaker so as the children could be witnesses to the discussion, and see for themselves how difficult the alienating parent is.

  •   Tell the children half truths:

The severe parental alienator either lies outright to the children, or only tells half truths.

For example: If the alienated parent puts up a boundary because of the alienating parent’s inappropriate behaviour, than the boundary is spoken about to the children by the alienating parent; not the behaviour that lead to the boundary.

Example: The alienated parent may decide that they can no longer invite the alienating parent to anymore of the children’s birthday parties because the parent continues to belittle the alienated parent to the guests’ at the party.

The alienated parent uses this new boundary as an opportunity to play the victim, and to become outraged by the alienated parent’s treatment of them.

However, not once throughout this entire scenario has the alienating parent told the children what they did to contribute to the alienated parent’s decision.

  • Pick the alienated parent’s reactions to their children apart:

If the alienated parent shouts at their child, the alienating parent paints the parent to be someone with anger – management problems, and behavioural issues.

If the alienated parent becomes upset with their child, the alienating parent will tell the child that it is not okay for their parent to be upset with them, to snap at them, or to speak to them in any way that makes the child feel uncomfortable.

Speaks negatively of the fun activities the children engage in with alienated parent:

The alienating parent may say things like:

‘Be careful while camping. I’ve heard that there are a lot of snakes out at this time of year.’

‘Why do you have to go so far away? I worry about you when you go on such long trips with daddy. You know he can’t drive for long without getting tired.’

Why has the alienator become this way?

  1. Severe parental alienators’ treat the people around them as extensions of themselves, which means that the children must believe, think and feel in a way which suits the alienator.
  2. The alienator feels entitled, and as though they have the right to destroy other peoples’ relationships.
  3. The alienating parent may have been brought up with extremely controlling parents who taught the child that relationships are about control; and unless somebody has all of the control, than they are nothing. Alienating parents’ only know how to have dominance bonds.  To not be in control means they are unworthy.
  4. The alienator most likely has extremely low self-esteem. If their marriage failed, than the alienator may see this as their fault. This could lead them to believe that they need to fight for their reputation, especially in the face of their children. Narcissists’ are continually trying to protect their outside image; so much so, that they will do anything to make everybody around them believe that this situation is not their fault.
  5. The alienator is so narcissistic in their beliefs that they believe they are never wrong. To protect their image as being all good, they must make the other person, all bad.
  6. The alienator has never been taught to take responsibility for their own actions. They were never pulled up on their own behaviour, and could even be modelling the behaviour of a narcissistic parent.
  7.  The alienator could be extremely frightened of losing their children; because, deep down they don’t feel loveable.

Creation of a little soldier:

Common behaviours in children which signal they have been turned against the other parent:

  1. The child speaks with contempt to the other parent, and about them. They may swear at the other parent and behave with opposition.
  2. Excuses without foundation: The child offers silly excuses for his or her behaviour.
  3. The child believes that they have independently come up with the idea to denigrate their parent on their own.
  4. The child feels as though it is their responsibility to protect the alienating parent.
  5. The child has a complete lack of empathy towards the other parent, believing that they deserve ill treatment.
  6. The child may take their anger out on the parental alienators’ friends, or extended family.

What happens if the children expose the alienating parent?

If the children expose the alienating parent, this parent will deny the accusations, feign victimhood, and claim that the children are now turning against them as well.

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