Parental alienation is a form of child abuse that is finally slowly being recognized. It’s when a child aligns with one parent and rejects the other parent for reasons that make no sense.
Parental alienation is a legitimate and serious problem that affects the child, their parents, and the whole family and society.
Alienating parents use several tactics to damage the relationship between the child and the targeted parent. Unfortunately, there is no exact set of behaviors that constitute parental alienation.
Targeted parents mothers, fathers, and families experience psychological distress as a result of being alienated from their children.
Psychologists need to be aware of the presence and severity of parental alienation when working with families who may be experiencing parental alienation.
The alienating parent can be either the mother or the father. But also the wider family. In addition to this, not all alienation is caused by “brain-washing” from the other parent. Some rejection of a parent involves actual fault on the part of the rejected parent. Whatever the case is, if you are the parent being rejected it is important for you to take ownership of your own doings.
What responsibilities do the targeted parents have?
It is the issues from our own psyches that are involved in any relational dynamic. When you are being rejected by your children, it is important to own your responsibility in the dynamic. This is not victim blaming, it’s taking responsibility.
Sometimes it could be that the parent gets rejected because they weren’t strong enough to instill respect in the children to overcome the onslaught of mind-control the other parent was throwing their kids’ way.
If this is your case then you have let yourself be disrespected by your ex-spouse (partner) and your children and you didn’t protect yourself or demand respect for yourself. There is no judgment here. This is a contributing factor to the problem — one that you have the power to change.
Sometimes alienated parents don’t take on a strong parental role, but rather a weak, helpless, victim-like role in the relationship. They act more like a friend than a parent. This contributes to children being disrespectful to them, particularly if the other parent is reinforcing bullying behaviors toward the targeted parent.
Some alienated parents may dissociate or use other forms of avoidance of reality, such as denial of a problem. They may just “check out” and become oblivious to what is happening to their relationships.
What can you do to improve the situation?
I recommend you analyze yourself, your children, and the other parent. One way to do this is to write down the abuse cycle in your family. For example, suppose the other parent is rude to you in front of the kids, encourages the kids to be rude to you, or implies that you should be disrespected, and so on.
How can Parental Alienation destroy a parent?
Parental Alienation causes long-term damage to children, and it also destroys the parent being targeted. Numerous clinical studies have documented the effects of parental alienation on targeted parents:
- Severe depression
- Social isolation
- Self-loathing and inward-directed anger
- Deterioration of executive control (ability to stay organized and focused)
- Symptoms indicating the presence of CPTSD
Imagine being in a situation where you’re watching your children suffer, watching them being deceived and turned against you, watching custody orders being blatantly ignored, and throughout all of it, you’re helpless to do anything to stop it because of an unconcerned family court judge.
Even worse, the harder you fight, the more you’re children are pressured, threatened, and bullied by the alienator.
Targeted parents can feel this conflict hurting their children and take all that pain into themselves. Many targeted parents, realizing that the family court is never going to truly intervene choose to walk for no other reason than to spare their children any additional bullying and alienation abuse.
The legal system will sort of involve itself, but only to the extent that a targeted parent can keep adding every available penny they have into it. The process will grind on for years or until the targeted parent runs out of money, and in the end, people often blame alienated parents for failing their children.
When it’s all said and done, they’ve lost everything: their home, their savings, their children, and themselves.
The only thing they get out of this is a monthly reminder of what they’ve lost in the form of a child support order that threatens to imprisonment.
The ongoing pressure, stress, despair, shame, grief, and sadness — it’s all overwhelming and unrelenting. It’s too much, and in the end, the parent turns the anger on themself.
Many parents had ideations of suicide, and some have actually attempted it.
Parental Alienation is no joke!
It’s a devastating form of psychological abuse and domestic violence, made so in no small part because family court pathology enables and empowers it while holding targeted parents relatively powerless to do anything to stop it.
How to stay healthy when you are rejected by your own child?
Here is a list of steps you can take to be healthy when you’ve been rejected by one or more of your children:
Manage your expectations. It is important not to be committed to expecting your children to change. On the other hand, it is important for you to expect respect from your children.
Ask your children what their thoughts and feelings are. Ask them what they need or wish from you and why they are rejecting you. Consider how much of what they say is based on “brainwashing” by the other parent, and how much is within your power to change.
Make your time spent with them about them, not about you or your hurt feelings.
- Look them in the eye and be affectionate.
- Think of ways to enjoy your children.
- Don’t bring your emotional needs to your children. Take care of them outside of that relationship.
- Have self-compassion. Be kind to yourself and forgive yourself always. Don’t overly think about every little thing you did wrong as a parent. No parent is perfect and children don’t need to have perfect parents in order to be kind.
Remember that no matter what you do it is important for you to focus on yourself and on no one else. Try to evaluate your life based on how you feel and what you want and need. Don’t place the responsibility for your happiness on others.
As you live a happy, well-adjusted life, your kids might notice and if they have rejected you they may start feeling left out of the awesome life you’re living.
It is better for them to want to be with you than for you to make them be with you.