Parental Alienation Hurts

Parental Alienation Hurts


In Parental Alienation (sometimes called Parent Alienation), one parent intentionally alienates their children from the other parent. It is emotionally abusive not only to the alienated parent—it is also abusive to the children.

What we are talking about here is different from normal estrangement that might occur between children and their parents because of expected stages of development or actual bad acts of the parents they are rejecting. It is a distortion of the intentions, attitudes, and behaviors of the alienated parent.


What's in This Post

Definition of Parental Alienation
Parental Alienation: Syndrome or Not
The 3 Alienating Messages
When Does Parent Alienation Happen?
Child Manipulation by a Parent
Signs of Parental Alienation
Parental Alienation Example


Definition of Parental Alienation

Dr. Amy Baker, Parental Alienation expert, and author of many books on the subject including Co-parenting with a Toxic Ex, What to do When Your Ex-Spouse Tries to Turn the Kids Against You, defines Parental Alienation this way:

“Parental alienation syndrome occurs when
a parent emotionally manipulates a child
into turning against his or her other parent,
in the absence of abuse or neglect.”


Parental Alienation Definition Quotes Amy Baker, Parent Alienation, signs of Parental Alienation examples


Parental Alienation: Syndrome or Not

Controversy has brewed over the idea of parental alienation since Richard Gardner described Parental Alienation Syndrome in the 1980s. The controversy largely focuses on whether or not there should be an official syndrome for children experiencing severe behavioral, psychological, and emotional impact from being manipulated into rejecting a loving, nurturing parent.

Whether or not there is an official syndrome, parents do sometimes choose to distort a child’s reality so that the child is turned against the other parent in their efforts to control, punish, or demean the other parent, or for other self-serving reasons. In so doing, they abuse both the child and the other parent. 


A quick look at Partner Abuse: A Concise Overview of Domestic Violence, Emotional Abuse, and the 5 Other Forms of Partner Abuse in Straight and LGBTQ Relationships




The 3 Alienating Messages

In Parental Alienation, one parent manipulates the thoughts and feelings of the children to twist them against the other parent. It is a form of brainwashing.

Dr. Baker describes a three-part message an alienating parent gives to their child:

  1. I am the only parent who loves you, and you need me in order to feel good about yourself.

  2. The other parent is dangerous and unavailable.

  3. Pursuing a relationship with that parent jeopardizes your relationship with me.

      In the most severe cases of parental alienation, the child fully adopts the alienating parent’s hatred for the target parent.

       What is Parental Alienation, Parent Alienation messages, manipulative women, abusive women, children and divorce


      When Does Parent Alienation Happen?

      Intentional alienation of children’s affection toward one parent can happen:

      • while a family is together,

      • during separation, or

      • after divorce.

      While the family is intact and living together, an abusive woman or man may maliciously work to undermine their partner’s relationship with their child, misrepresenting the partner's actions and attitudes, thereby distorting the child’s perception of the other parent.

      The most severe cases usually occur after separation or divorce.


      Child Manipulation by a Parent

      In Parental Alienation, one parent manipulates the thoughts and feelings of the children to twist them against the other parent. It is a form of brainwashing.


      Signs of Parental Alienation

      Let’s use an example of methods an abusive woman might use to alienate her children against their father.

      She might:

      1. make the children think that her happiness is dependent on them choosing her over him;

      2. sabotage his ability to spend time with them;

      3. lie about him or exaggerate his flaws;

      4. lead the children to believe he doesn’t care about her or them;

      5. isolate the children from his extended family, including grandparents;

      6. interfere with their relationship with a step-mother; and even

      7. force the children to lie about him.


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          Parental Alienation Example

          At the age of 18, a man’s father showed him a shoebox of cashed child support checks (This was in the days when your monthly bank statement was mailed to you with the checks you had written that were cashed by the recipient of the check). The existence of the cashed checks went against everything the man had been told by his mother.

          After his parents divorced, his mom had filled his head with stories of how dad didn’t care about him, including what he discovered were lies about non-payment of child support.

          Dad had tried and tried to secure time with the children, but his attempts were thwarted. Mom had so manipulated the situation that she demanded that the children lie about dad in court. Torn, but wanting to please her, the children had complied. They falsely accused their dad of child abuse. The court believed their stories and dad was banned from contact with the children.

          Having lost his custody court battles and his right to see his children, dad moved out of state but kept sending the support checks.

          After the eye-opening reunion with his dad, the two were able to rebuild their relationship and the boy-turned-man was able to see that his mom had distorted his perception of his dad and that dad did care about him all along.  

          I have seen several cases similar to this one.

          Even if your child has turned against you, they might find their way back to you as an adult.  

          Learn more about Parental Alienation and other ways that women abuse men in my book:

          Abuse OF Men BY Women, It Happens, It Hurts, and It's Time To Get Real About It, available on this website (click here), Amazon, and other book retailers.

          Abuse OF Men BY Women: It Happens, It Hurts, and It's Time to Get Real About It, Parental Alienation and other ways abusive women abuse husbands and boyfriends

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          • Ann Silvers
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