Of course every situation is different, but based on my experience here are three important ways you can make things much better or much worse in dealing with your alienated child (By the way, I myself still forget and fall into all of these traps):
1. Do not let your child make you lose your temper! Whenever I was able to provoke my “hated” family members into getting angry and behaving imperfectly I would feel great relief, even joy. Then I could feel some justification for my beliefs and renew my faith in the alienator’s judgment, and feel that I made the right choice in sticking by him and rejecting them. I could be cold and hateful without a tortured conscience.
2. NEVER criticize the alienator. This is guaranteed to backfire and cause your child to reflexively entrench more deeply in loyalty to the alienator, no matter how illogical or irrational this is. Strive to avoid talking about the alienator at all. When you have to refer to him/her, or to something he/she did, be as neutral as possible.
3. Do not argue or attempt to reason with your child about the alienation. Just tell your child that you love them, miss them, care about them. When my “hated” family members tried to reason with me, I got defensive, even enraged, and fought them. When they stopped trying to convince me of anything and just communicated that they loved me, I was disarmed. Although I tried not to show or acknowledge it, the message got through.
Just for the sake of completeness I will end with the summary of my experience of being an (adult) alienated child that appeared in the previous post.
What caused it? Nothing my parents did. It was completely, 100%, caused by my ex demanding that I reject them.
Why did I comply? I loved him. I wanted his love. I wanted to believe in him. I wanted to keep my family together. I wanted to maintain a happy relationship with him for my children, and overcome our conflicts to make it worth it in the end.
How exactly did he get me to shun and hate people whom I really loved, and when I knew that shunning and hating are wrong? 1. Relentless, persistent, unceasing messaging. 2. Suppression of argument by any means necessary – sympathy, flattery, gentle coaxing and “discussion”, anger and outrage, criticism and emotional abuse, and the threat of being shunned and rejected. 3. Isolation from others, removal of outside support and influence, increasing my dependence on him. 4. Requiring me to INVEST in my “choice”, and to make sacrifices and commit more and more heavily to that choice.
What ended it? His criticism and emotional abuse of me finally became too much. Although my investment had been huge, there was no more payoff, and no more hope of a payoff in the future. To maintain my willingness to perpetuate my alienation from my parents and relatives, I would have had to enter a deeper level of insanity, to give up even more self-respect. Perhaps if he had treated me just a little more kindly, had given me some scraps of affection, I might still be alienated.
How did the alienator react to my defection? With intense anger and outrage that continues today, and by alienating our children from me.