The Signs of Parental Alienation
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.
Parental Alienation Syndrome
In most cases, the child will have had a loving relationship with the targeted parent before the alienation has started. However, the continual hostility can cause Parental Alienation Syndrome, whereby the child will eventually be the one to highlight the targeted parent’s faults and eventually believe that they’d be happier without them in their lives.
Parental alienation usually takes place when the parents have separated, are divorced or if the other parent has started a new relationship. The overall aim of the alienation is usually to punish the other parent.
Examples of Parental Alienation
- Belittling, badmouthing and undermining the other parent
- 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, resulting in hostility and hatred
- 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
- Blocking indirect contact by making the child unavailable
- Undermining the other parent’s authority