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Parental alienation syndrome: More than ordinary bad-mouthing

On Behalf of | Mar 16, 2017 | Family Law |

Parental alienation is a game with only one goal: to “win” the exclusive love of the children by destroying the relationship the children have with their other parent.

Unfortunately, it’s a game where there are always a lot of losers, chief among them the children at the center of the battle. They ultimately end up deprived of the companionship, emotional support and guidance of the victimized parent. They may also develop long-term emotional problems, including low self-esteem and an inability to trust others.

But they aren’t the only losers in this loveless game. In order to make certain that the children completely picture the victimized parent as “bad” or even “evil,” the parent engaging in acts of alienation has to make certain that the children aren’t exposed to any viewpoints that are more positive — or even neutral. Anyone not “with” the alienating parent is automatically against them — so grandparents, aunts, uncles, half-siblings and cousins can all be erased from the children’s lives. Over time, all communication breaks down and the bonds of the familial relationship deteriorate.

It’s important to understand that parental alienation syndrome goes far beyond the normal boundaries of simple bad-mouthing or a hard-fought custody battle. Parents engaging in alienation often share certain characteristics:

— He or she may show signs of narcissism or borderline personality disorder, sees his or her actions as entirely justified and is incapable of being reasonable.

— He or she may involve the children in conversations that are inappropriate, discussing their marital complaints in detail.

— He or she may purposefully throw away letters or delete messages from the other parent or the other parent’s close relatives to create the impression that the other parent and those family members don’t care.

— He or she may purposefully create new conflicts with the alienated parent, just for the purpose of vilifying him or her to the children.

— He or she may convince the children that only bad things will come of contact with the other parent and that they do not need or want the other parent around.

Parental alienation syndrome is a serious problem that many equate to child “abuse with a smile and hug.” If you believe your ex is engaging in these sort of extreme behaviors, consider seeking the help of a family law attorney right away.

Source:, “Though either parent may be targeted, parental alienation is a damaging dynamic for all,” March 15, 2017