Children will react to the behaviour of their parents. Children are affected by the behaviour of parents towards one another. When conflict occurs children who have been close to both parents will frequently need to choose sides. The will often be forced to choose between closeness or loyalty to both parents, to that of one parent. Hence children who have had a good relationship to a now absent parent due to separation, will begin, if indoctrinated, will begin to consider the absent parent as somehow less worthy of their love. This tendency is directly or subtly encouraged by the custodial parent of the child. This could be the mother or the father but is more likely to be the mother.
The bitterness, the resident parent feels and expresses towards their former partner is usually transferred into the minds of the child/children. The child/children frequently develop a similar view about the now absent parent as the resident parent. The absent parent may seek to retaliate but as that absent parent has no or limited contact with the child/children such retaliation will be ineffective. The alienation or denigration of the absent parent leads to the child/children resenting the absent parent and wishing to have as little contact as possible with that parent at the instigation of the custodial parent. This happens for two reasons: 1) the child is angry with the absent parent for “deserting” him/her; 2) the child blames himself for the absent parent leaving and feels resentment against the absent parent. The resentment in turn is picked up by the custodial parent and the course of denigration begins. The child therefore becomes an accomplice to the alienator.
This results in years of court appearances for both parents, increasing the bitterness towards one another. Needless to say, the alienating parent is to blame for the situation developing. Such a parent cares little about this. They will claim that they are merely responding to the hated parent for real or imagined misdeeds. Such a parent does not act in the best interest of the child/children. Ideally, as previously mentioned, children prefer harmony rather than disharmony between their parents.
The children eventually become embroiled in a web of hostility, anger, aggression and deceit. This they have learned from the most important adult in their lives who does not inculcate positive, and constructive emotions in the child. It is not strange therefore, that the children have learned to hate and deceive as instructed, or at least not discouraged, by a custodial parent. Let me illustrate this by an actual ongoing case:
An illustration of alienation, deceit and hostility
For over four years there had been an acrimonious relationship between Mr & Mrs X. The alienation of the two daughters aged 7 and 9 began when Mr X, a Muslim decided he wished to divorce his Muslim wife, due to the acrimony which developed between them. Both parties sought total control of their children. They both wished to run the home as they themselves wished it without considering the other party. Mrs X resented the husband seeking a divorce and threatened that if he did so, she would do all she could to prevent his seeing their two children. She therefore sabotaged all contact of the children with the father when father left the home. She totally dominated the children and insidiously prevented them from communicating with the father.
There were numerous court appearances with the Judiciary arranging weekly contact for the father of the children. Mother defied the court asserting that the girls did not wish to have contact with their father because of the way he had treated them and her in the past. It seemed that the Judiciary was unable to, or unwilling to use more firm means, including punishing the mother for failure to encourage the girls to have contact with their father.