Posted in Alienation

Diagnosing and Treating Parental Alienation/Child Alienation: How a Forensic Psychologist Can Help

Darnall goes on to site the following examples of parental behavior that can result in alienating the child/children from the other parent:

  1. Giving children choices when they have no choice about visits. By allowing the child to decide for themselves to visit the other parent, when the court order says there is no choice, sets up the child for conflict. Children placed in such a position often blame the non-residential parent for not allowing them to decide whether or not to visit. The targeted parent is now victimized regardless of what happens; either the parent does not see the children or if the parent enforces his/her parenting time, 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 uncaring and selfish.
  7. The alienating parent assumes that if a spouse has in the past been physically abusive, 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, the children 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”. Typically, children will forgive and want to be forgiven if given a chance. If for any reason a parent encourages the child’s anger and the child is not is not allowed to heal and forgive, parental alienation should be considered. Children placed in this situation by the alienating parent are often found to make such statements as, “I cannot remember any happy times” with the other parent; or have difficulty saying anything positive about their time with the alienated parent.
  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 with the children; this is destructive and reinforces an on-going alienation.
  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-spouse will get tired of having to make excuses for you.

The question often asked is why the child believes the alienating parent. There are a number of reasons:

  • The child feels the need to protect a parent who is depressed, anxious, or needy;
  • The child wants to avoid the anger or rejection of the alienating parent; and
  • The child has unresolved feelings about the rejected parent and the divorce.

The impact of Parental Alienation can often cause significant problems for the child as they become adults. These difficulties include:

  • Having trouble trusting others;
  • Low self-esteem;
  • Difficulty sustaining intimate relationships;
  • Experiencing shame for hurting the rejected parent;
  • Depression;
  • Substance abuse to relieve the pain of parental alienation;
  • More likely to experience divorce;
  • More likely to have difficulty with authority figures and the law; and
  • Experience the loss of their own children through parental alienation.


Currently studying Psychotherapy , Cognitive psychology, Biological psychology, Counselling psychology and CBT and NLP. I believe in truth, honesty and integrity! ≧◔◡◔≦

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