What Is Parental Alienation?

Updated on October 27, 2021
Updated: January 18, 2023

Parental alienation is when one parent takes it upon himself or herself to manipulate the child against the other parent hence resulting in the other parent being unflavored and hated. Parental alienation causes a division between the unfavored parent and the children. It mainly occurs due to the transfer of fake information or half-shared information.

Parental alienation most of the time occurs in divorcing couples. The alienating behavior mainly occurs when one of the parents wants custody in a high-conflict divorce case. They use this as a tactic to turn the child against the targeted parent so they can have a parenting plan and parenting time schedule favorable to them.

Types of Parental Alienation

There are three main types of parental alienation. They include mild, moderate, and severe.

Mild Parental Alienation

The child has mixed feelings about the parent that they don’t favor. The child can speak negatively about the parent, but once they are together they forget the negative feelings. The child may even enjoy spending time with the parent.

Moderate Parental Alienation

The child has negative feelings towards the parent. The child does not love them but they also do not feelings of hatred towards the parent. After the child spends time they may reconsider their opinion about their parent. Even so, the love for the alienating parent is unwavering and anything to change that relationship may increase the damage.

Severe Parental Alienation

The child hates the parent completely and does not want to spend time with them. This is the worst type of parental alienation since it can take a lot of counseling and time to change the child’s mind. Also, at times it may be impossible for the child’s mind to change.

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Major Signs of Child Alienation

There are eight main known signs of child alienation

Campaign of Denigration

This is the first sign of child alienation. It is the view of hatred to the other parent by the child. This is well seen when the child develops a hatred kind of relationship towards the targeted parent. The child wants nothing to do with them after believing what the indoctrinating parents say. Words that are used to target the other parent are; dangerous, worthless, unloving, and malevolent. These words stir up a resistance towards the target parent and form a resistance boundary against the target parent. This results in the child being outwardly disrespectful. It can lead to the child refusing gifts, refusing to spend time with the parent, and even insulting the parent in some cases.

parental alienation

The campaign of denigration is completed in two phases. The first is the indoctrination of the accusing parent towards the child. In this case, the parent feeds the child with information to cause a negative response towards the target parent and second is the child’s own view and finally contribution.

This may well be the most crucial, without the child’s contribution then alienation has not completely taken place. This causes an uproar in both passive and aggressive ways towards the target parent and the indoctrinating parent often goes behind the curtain and pretends to be as shocked by the behaviors as the other parent.

Weak Evidence

It is also known as weak rationalization. Since the main reason for the alienation is due to the accusing parent it becomes difficult to point out what the child dislikes about the parent. They go on to give petty excuses such as the parent comes home late, the parent does not pay the fees on time, or that the parent refused to take her out on the birthday. Though very convinced of what the child knows, it becomes ultimately impossible to know exactly what has caused the level of resentment towards the parent. Sometimes reasons such as abuse are given and may require the intervention of the authorities.

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Lack of Ambivalence

When it comes to the target parent, the behaviors and characteristics displayed are all negative according to the child. The parent shows characteristics of being unfair and undeserving to the child. There are no positive traits about them. The child utterly forgets all good things done by the parent before and only sees the other parent as being good all the time. All of their traits are said to be excellent. The child’s views the parent as capable of all their needs. Due to their perspective, it can become difficult for them to see from any positive trait in the targeted parent as well as any bad traits in the indoctrinating parent.

Own Idea Mindset

In this case, the child believes that all the ideas they have are their own. They speak with boldness and when asked who told them that, they claim that they figured it out by themselves. Though it was through the indoctrinating parent the child feels as though they have not been given information and it is on their own that they came to the conclusions they have. The child also ensures not to leak any information about the alienating mother or father to ensure that it seems that they made that conclusion on their own.

Unswerving Support

The child has unswerving support for the alienating parent that has caused problems even in solution giving. The child views the alienated parent as aggressive and thinks that they want nothing good for both the child and the other parent. The child will always support the alienating parent without a second thought. The child can even turn to be abusive and violent towards the other parent especially when a confrontation occurs between the two parents and hence it makes it impossible to solve issues.

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Lack of Remorse towards Cruelty Expressed to Alienated Parent

Children at this level have no positive feelings towards their alienated parents. They speak cruel words and even portray behaviors that are seen to be insulting to the parent. The biggest problem is that the children do not feel that their behavior was wrong since it wounds the alienated parent even more. It causes a stir and makes life more difficult for the alienated parent who ends up feeling left alone by their ex-spouse and now their children. In such circumstances, the child may not even want to be associated with the alienated parent.

Use of Borrowed Terms

It is easy to note when a child has borrowed language from an alienating parent. The child uses terminological terms that the child could not have learned by themselves and are above the child’s level of understanding. One way to note this is when they are not able to explain the words they are using. Another way to know is when a child explains the history of an event so vividly when it is known that the child was not present. Even though the child refuses to admit any intervention by the alienating parent, it is clear that the parent had a hand in indoctrinating the child’s mind.

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 Hatred Expanded to the Extended Family

The child’s hatred may be expanded to the extended family due to the increased animosity of the child to the unfavored parent. Anyone who tries to redeem the relationship of the two may find themselves in a compromising situation. The child extends the hatred to the entire family. The alienated child can display abusive behavior if they try to defend the unfavored parent. This is mainly due to the child feeling like the favored parent is being attacked and wants to completely protect them

Effects on the child

The effects to the minor child are numerous and when not handled earlier may result in the child having issues later on in life.

Anger Issues

The child may end up growing up with anger problems. It can cause the child to have increased indiscipline issues at school due to feelings of resentment. The feeling may even translate to other people and if not handled could lead to a serious problem later in life.

Self Destructive Behaviors

The child may be unable to sustain any positive relationship in their life as they are always trying to find fault. Due to the parental relationship distress, the attitude can spread to other people and things in their life. Some mental heath professionals have attributed issues such as substance abuse to issues such as domestic violence, abusive parents, and disruption in the personal life of the minor children's upbringing.

Lack of Affection

They lack empathy and sympathy. They end up becoming vengeful in life and only want to take action when someone has done something against them. They don’t take well to goodwill and only perceive that which is negative.

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The child may become neglectful of themselves if they are experiencing feelings of inadequacy. This could lead them to live in solitude and believing that no one truly loves them. They refuse to connect with people, even when other feelings and intentions are genuine

Can I Go to Court for Parental Alienation?

Yes, you can go to court. A person has the right to take their ex-spouse to court for child alienation. Manipulating a child’s mind against another parent can proven to be a form of child abuse. However, without proper family law representation it can be a difficult situation due to the lack of evidence needed to prove that there indeed was child alienation. 

An experienced family law attorney can help you prove the incident has occurred. The lawyer will know how to prove that the preferred parent has indeed changed the behavior of the child against the unfavored parent.

Consequences if proven guilty may prove to be fatal to the other parent. They can get jail time and may have to pay fines. Even so, this rarely happens since it is seen to be extreme. As a result of parental alienation and the false allegations custody can be changed from the narcissistic parent to the unfavored parent. 

If you are dealing with a high-conflict situation you can hire a qualified legal professional to help represent you during a child custody hearing. Tommalieh law firm would love to be someone you can trust.  Give our Orland Park child custody lawyer a call we would like to help you through the child custody litigation process or structured family mediation, and as well answer your questions. Book an initial consultation and speak to a child custody attorney today!

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