Parents who want to alienate the kids from their mother or father can use several types of tricks to brainwash children:
1) Parents may conceal or withhold phone calls, gifts, or letters from the other parent, and then use this “lack of contact” as proof that the other parent doesn’t love the child.
2) Lying about what the other parent did to cause the divorce or making up stories about extramarital affairs or other indicting accusations.
3) Warning that the other parent is unpredictable, dangerous, mentally unstable or violent: “You be careful around your father…you know how dangerous he is. He might go crazy for any reason.”
4) This may also take the form of more subtle suggestions: “I’ve put a cellphone in your suitcase. Call me when everyone’s asleep to tell me you’re okay,” or “I don’t think anything bad will happen to you at mommy’s house,” thus implying that it might.
5) Making up false stories: “When I was pregnant with you, your dad wanted me to get an abortion. He’s always resented the fact that he has to take care of you.”
6) Feeding a child insults to use against the other parent. For example, one boy was recruited by his father to say things like “pull your skirt down, you’re a whore” or “God will punish you” to his mother.
7) Taking something that did occur and then using it to alienate a parent. For example, telling the children about a parent’s affair and then using this indiscretion as “proof” for how evil and unworthy of love the other parent is.
8) Coaching or creating false allegations/memories of abuse.
9) A pattern of making derogatory statements about the other parent: “You can’t ever trust anything your father says, he’s a serial liar.”
Signs of parental alienation
In some cases, one parent might not even be aware of the other parent’s antics. Instead, they experience a sudden and unexplainable problem in their relationship; the children start acting strange, or suddenly don’t want anything to do with them, or begin acting hostile out of the blue. If you experience any of these things, ask children outright:
- “Is there any reason you’re saying these things to me all of a sudden?”
- “Where did you hear that from?”
- “Is your Mom saying things about me that I should know about?”
Most of the time, once prompted, the passive-aggressive child will be happy to blow up at you and fill you in on every idea the other parent is promoting.
Are you experiencing parental alienation? Learn how to respond & get tips for dealing with this issue, along with some words of comfort that will help you cope with the situation in our Divorce eBook. It’s just $4.99 and all author proceeds go to help kids in need.