Symptoms of Parental Alienation

Symptoms of Parental Alienation

Copyright 1997 by Douglas Darnall, Ph.D.

To prevent the devastating effects of Parental Alienation, you must begin by recognizing the symptoms of PA. You will notice that many of the symptoms or behaviors focus on the parent. When the child exhibits hatred and vilifies the targeted parent, then the condition becomes parental alienation syndrome. After reading the list, don’t get discouraged when you notice that some of your own behaviors have been alienating. This is normal in even the best of parents. Instead, let the list help sensitize you to how you are behaving and what you are saying to your children.

1. Giving children choices when they have no choice about visits. Allowing the child to decide for themselves to visit when the court order says there is no choice sets up the child for conflict. The child will usually blame the non-residential parent for not being able to decide to choose whether or not to visit. The parent is now victimized regardless of what happens; not being able to see his children or if he sees them, the children are angry.

2. Telling the child “everything” about the marital relationship or reasons for the divorce is alienating. The parent usually argues that they are “just wanting to be honest” with their children. This practice is destructive and painful for the child. The alienating parent’s motive is for the child to think less of the other parent.

3. Refusing to acknowledge that children have property and may want to transport their possessions between residences.

4. Resisting or refusing to cooperate by not allowing the other parent access to school or medical records and schedules of extracurricular activities.

5. A parent blaming the other parent for financial problems, breaking up the family, changes in lifestyle, or having a girlfriend/boyfriend, etc.

6. Refusing to be flexible with the visitation schedule in order to respond to the child’s needs. The alienating parent may also schedule the children in so many activities that the other parent is never given the time to visit. Of course, when the targeted parent protests, they are described as not caring and selfish.

7. Assuming that if a parent had been physically abusive with the other parent, it follows that the parent will assault the child. This assumption is not always true.

8. Asking the child to choose one parent over another parent causes the child considerable distress. Typically, they do not want to reject a parent, but instead want to avoid the issue. The child, not the parent, should initiate any suggestion for change of residence.

9. Children will become angry with a parent. This is normal, particularly if the parent disciplines or has to say “no”. If for any reason the anger is not allowed to heal, you can suspect parental alienation. Trust your own experience as a parent. Children will forgive and want to be forgiven if given a chance. Be very suspicious when the child calmly says they cannot remember any happy times with you or say anything they like about you.

10. Be suspicious when a parent or stepparent raises the question about changing the child’s name or suggests an adoption.

11. When children cannot give reasons for being angry towards a parent or their reasons are very vague without any details.

12. A parent having secrets, special signals, a private rendezvous, or words with special meanings are very destructive and reinforce an on-going alienation. This includes texting and phone calls with the alienating parent during visits with the victimized parent.

13. When a parent uses a child to spy or covertly gather information for the parent’s own use, the child receives a damaging message that demeans the victimized parent.

14. Parents setting up temptations that interfere with the child’s visitation.

15. A parent suggesting or reacting with hurt or sadness to their child having a good time with the other parent will cause the child to withdraw and not communicate. They will frequently feel guilty or conflicted not knowing that it’s “okay” to have fun with their other parent.

16. The parent asking the child about his/her other parent’s personal life causes the child considerable tension and conflict. Children who are not alienated want to be loyal to both parents.

17. When parents physically or psychologically rescue the children when there is no threat to their safety. This practice reinforces in the child’s mind the illusion of threat or danger, thereby reinforcing alienation.

18. Making demands on the other parent that is contrary to court orders.

19. Listening in on the children’s phone conversation they are having with the other parent.

20. One way to cause your own alienation is making a habit of breaking promises to your children. In time, your ex will get tired of having to make excuses for you.

Next time I will discuss the attachment theory and how all parties play their part.

For now, I encourage all parents (mothers and fathers) to become educated about parental alienation, to help create awareness in their community, and to work towards improving prevention, intervention, and treatment of this terrible form of child abuse.

Introduction

It is said that Hostile Aggressive Parenting also commonly known as Parental Alienation is a set of behaviors that are detrimental to a child’s mental and emotional well-being, and has the potential to interfere with a relationship of a child and their parent or even grandparent.

These behaviors whether verbal or non-verbal, cause a child to be mentally manipulated (basically brainwashed) or bullied into believing a loving parent/grandparent is the cause of all problems, and/or the enemy to be feared, corruptly used, hated, and/or avoided. The child is given one common goal – to disrespect the parent/grandparent.

Parental Alienation serves to deprive children of their right to be loved by and showing love for both/all parents/grandparents. The destructive actions by an alienating parent/grandparent or other third person (like another family member, or even a well meaning mental health care worker) becomes abusive to the child – as the alienating behaviors are disturbing, confusing and often frightening to the child, and can rob the child of their sense of security and safety leading to maladaptive emotional or psychiatric reactions. It also robs the parent/grandparents of their dignity and rights forcing them to make decisions that they would never have anticipated for their child/grandchild in order to keep the peace and not cause such harmful experiences for the child/grandchild.

Most people do not know about Parental Alienation and Hostile Aggressive Parenting until they experience it. Most often this type of behavior is targeted against men.  However, I have experienced it; and I know that more and more women and grandparents are experiencing it.

My purpose for this blog is to share my experiences, give my advice (for whatever it’s worth), and encourage everyone to mindful of how adult situations affect the heart, mind, and souls of children that deserve to be loved by and shown love for everyone they are connected to.

I know this blog will not be the easiest thing I have ever experienced and hope that everyone will be kind and supporting of one another along this difficult road of Parental Alienation.

We are 1 Voice, each from our prism of our own unique life experience, (Love the way you stated that Alan Earnest) and it is what we do and say that is passed on to our little ones.