Whether you live in Jupiter or Wellington, as a parent you have a special relationship with your children. Alienation during divorce can damage this important relationship. Parental alienation is an action or actions by one divorcing parent that forces an alienation of the other parent from their child (or children). It is perpetrated, consciously or not, by a parent who desires to punish the other parent for the situation. Most commonly, it is the mother who is the perpetrator but increasingly, fathers are alienating as well.
According to Southern England Psychological Services, there are a number of indicators that may help identify when parental alienation is happening. Here is collection of some of them. Remember, this is just a short list of what is certainly an issue with many layers and most of the indicators interact with others in some way.
The signs of parental alienation list from Parental-alienation.info should be viewed not in isolation but in combination with many elements that go into the complexities manifested in some divorces:
- An alienating parent often keeps the child from communicating with and visiting the alienated parent and may destroy letters or presents sent to the child.
- The alienated parent becomes the reason for all that has broken down in the relationship.
- The alienated parent is portrayed as being “despicable, faulty and deserving of being rejected permanently.”
- A child behaves beyond their years in the way they speak about an alienated parent. They are mimicking the alienator’s words and feeling.
- When wishing to spend time with or say something good about the alienated parent, the child fears rejection by their close parent. The child may also experience guilt for just wanting to be with the other parent.
- The parent with the child “is viewed as all good, all wise, and all powerful by the child who becomes dependent” through various manipulation tactics with no questioning from the child as being right or wrong.
- The child may describe false or exaggerated abuse by the alienated parent.
- An alienated child’s mind no longer discerns what is true and what is false.
- A child who suffers from alienation will likely also be alienated from extended family.
- An alienated child will often not remember the happy memories they did have prior to the alienation.
Keep in mind, it may not be what an alienating parent says but rather the way they say it that generates the psychological injury. Mom may say, “Dad wants to take you to a ballgame.” Whether she says it with “joy and enthusiasm indicating positive expectations or . . . with venom indicating negative feelings” can dramatically change how the information is perceived and whether it constitutes abuse or not. During the emotional upset that occurs during a divorce, parents should monitor carefully what they say about each other and how they say it.