What Is Parental Alienation?

What Is Parental Alienation?

Parental alienation is a term that is used to describe a scenario whereby one parent uses strategies to distance one child from the other. This can sometimes also be referred to as programming, alienating, or brainwashing. Parental alienation tends to refer to the symptoms that the child experiences because of this. Below, we will explain more about this syndrome and the different signs to look out for.

What is parental alienation syndrome? 

This is a term that was coined in 1985 by child psychologist Richard Gardner. He used it to describe the behaviours a child exhibits when they are exposed to parental alienation. However, it is not something your child can be officially diagnosed with, as it is not deemed an official syndrome in scientific or mental health fields. 

Signs that parental alienation could be happening

There are a number of different signs that could indicate that alienation could be taking place. Here are some of them…

  • An alienator may act controlling with regards to the child’s relationship with the other parent. 
  • An alienator could prevent a child from talking to the other parent or indeed saying them. At the same time, they may tell the child that the other parent is too busy or is not interested in seeing them. 
  • Both secrecy and gossip may become rampant.
  • An alienator may plan activities to try and tempt the child away from the other parent, despite it being their custody time. 
  • An alienator may also frequently break or bend the custody rules. 
  • An alienator might divulge details that are unnecessary.
  • An alienator may insist that the child’s personal items are kept at the alienator’s property, irrespective of how much time the child spends with the other parent. 

Symptoms of parental alienation

Let’s take a look at some of the different symptoms that your child may exhibit if he or she is experiencing parental alienation syndrome…

  • Your child has feelings of hate aimed at the alienated parent, which could be expanded to other family members that are related to the parent in question. 
  • Your child uses phrases or terms that seem to be borrowed from adult language when they refer to situations that happened prior to the child’s memory or that have never happened.
  • The child does not feel guilty about hating or mistreating the alienated parent.
  • The child has an unwavering amount of support for the alienator.
  • The child claims that he or she has come to these conclusions based on their independent thinking and own thoughts. 
  • The child does not have mixed feelings about the alienated parent. Rather, they are all negative, and there are no redeeming qualities. 
  • The child does not have any justifications or strong evidence for these criticisms. 
  • The child unfairly and constantly criticizes the alienated parent. 

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of parental alienation, so you can determine whether or not this is occurring within your family.  This can have an impact on children in terms of their behaviour and feelings, so it’s important to try and rectify the situation. 

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