Parental Alienation is Child Abuse!
In Australia, we have seen time & time again loving parents being dragged through an archaic system that allows this kind of behaviour, we believe that accountability for this kind af abusive strategy should be made illegal, and the “powers that be” should be able to monitor this so children are not used as pawns in a game of narcissistic behaviour to punish the other parent.
There is no one definitive set of behaviors that constitute parental alienation but research with both parents and children has revealed a core set of alienation strategies, including
- bad-mouthing the other parent,
- limiting contact with that parent,
- erasing the other parent from the life and mind of the child (forbidding discussion and pictures of the other parent)
- forcing the child to reject the other parent,
- creating the impression that the other parent is dangerous
- forcing the child to choose
- and belittling and limiting contact with the extended family of the targeted parent.
Parents who try to alienate their child from his or her other parent convey a three-part message to the child:
(1) I am the only parent who loves you and you need me 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 essence the child receives the message that s/he is worthless and unloved and only of value for meeting the needs of others.
Research with “adult children” of parental alienation syndrome (that is, adults who believe that when they were children one parent turned them against the other parent) confirms that being exposed to parental alienation represents a form of emotional abuse. Furthermore, these adults reported that when they succumbed to the pressure and rejected one parent to please the other, the experience was associated with several negative long-term effects including depression, drug abuse, divorce, low self-esteem, problems with trusting, and alienation from their own children when they became parents themselves. In this way the cycle of parental alienation was carried forward through the generations. Thus, parental alienation is a form of emotional abuse that damages the child’s self esteem in the short run and is associated with life-long damage.