IS MY CHILD ALIENATED ?
If a child of parents who are separated shows ongoing unwarranted fear, disrespect or hostility towards a parent and/or other family members, the child is Alienated. Other tell tale signs include:
calling a parent by their name rather than mum or dad;
not thanking the parent for cards or gifts;
rejection of toys and pets connected with the Targeted Parent.
Richard Gardner identified 8 behavioural manifestations of Parental Alienation
(1) campaign of denigration of the Targeted Parent (2) weak, frivolous, or absurd reasons for the rejection of the Targeted Parent (3) lack of ambivalence towards both parents in which one is viewed as all good and the other as all bad; (4) lack of remorse for the poor treatment of the Targeted Parent; (5) reflexive support for the favoured parent; (6) use of borrowed scenarios; (7) the "independent thinker" phenomenon; and (8) spread of animosity towards the friends and family of the targeted parent.
Why a child would behave like this is complex and can be explained by many reasons including:
-when a child is being forced to choose between parents they find it incredibly stressful so as to ease the psychological stress it is much easier to cope by pretending to themselves that one parent is perfect and one so bad they are demonic which is known as splitting;
-one parent uses psychological techniques to brainwash a child that the other parent is bad and create false bad memories generating allegiance to them (often referred to as a cross-generational coalition) to attack the other parent in the triangulated dispute;
-one parent uses various cult like techniques such as isolation and creation of a heinous enemy to control their mind;
-a process known as parentification takes place where the child swaps roles with the parent and is in turn rewarded for aligning with the parent;
-victims are often bonded to their abuser due to a phenomena known as the Stockholm Syndrome.
Dr William Bernet has found that a questionnaire titled, 'Parental Acceptance-Rejection Questionnaire' which has long been in use by Psychologists to be a very useful tool to aid in the diagnosis of Parental Alienation.
It might seem obvious to you to send your child lots of information about Parental Alienation now that you have been enlightened about the subject. More than likely your children won't be interested in it and reject it as not relevant to them. Too much of this stuff or even the slightest amount of it will turn them off you and drive them back to the Alienator. Most Parental Alienation specialist authors will tell you this.
You need to understand that if you are noticing any Alienating behaviour at all that this could be the tip of the iceberg. The most effective Alienation occurs when the Targeted Parent knows nothing about it and has no opportunity to rebut it. The children could be asked daily about negative things concerning the Targeted Parent and they could even have to write this down on hate sheets so they can remember the flaws of the Targeted Parent. The family of the Alienating Parent could be told a range of false things such as the Targeted Parent abandoned the children, they threw all their presents away, they refused to go to Counselling etc. The siblings and parents of the Alienator may not have even seen or noticed any Alienating behaviour in front of them.
Beware the 'better for the kids' argument as this is used during and after the divorce process by just about everyone to justify their own self interest. Don't accept anyone in the divorce process railroading what is happening because they make the loudest noise that what they want to do is in the best interests of the child. Just because someone makes a claim that what they want to do is in the child's best interest doesn't absolve them from the need to justify what they want to do with facts, logic and research.
When you are discussing/arguing with the other parent, try and think how you can help them not just about yourself or your own beliefs of the child's best interests. Think of the positives of each other not the negatives.
If the other parent is an Alienator they are likely to be a Narcissist. Many Psychologists advise that you need to be firm rather than accommodating when negotiating with a Narcissist.
United you rise divided you fall.
In today's society it is so easy for someone to decide to leave a marriage. A common justification is that if mum and dad are arguing it is 'better for the kids' that they separate. On face value, this argument seems to have merit however the arguments that parents have when they are married can pale into insignificance compared to the arguments of separated and divorcing couples. Bettina Arndt's review of the literature confirms that many experts now accept that the impact on a child of divorce is often worse than the acrimony of staying in an unhappy marriage. The psychological impact of an argument balanced by two competing parents in front of a child is terrible, however the impact of one parent and the 'Regime' (Ryan Thomas's acronym for the Alienator's support group) badmouthing the Targeted Parent in front of the child without any defence from the Targeted Parent is extreme.
Everyone knows someone who divorced their spouse and obtained a more attractive or financially beneficial partner or spouse. Don't think about it. It is just not worth it. The life of you and your kids will be so much better if you can work with your existing spouse. The divorce process can be so destructive it can ruin everyone's life, with your children the biggest losers.
This is the best option for parents who remain separated. The children can go from mum to dads on say a Friday afternoon. The next Friday afternoon they go from dad to mum's. Despite what some people say, it requires very little cooperation between parents to work. There is no need to have any flexibility in changing this week about schedule. It works so well.
It sadly will not work long term where:
-one or more parents are Alienators;
-there is an adversarial Court system within easy reach of a parent with psychological issues;
-there are financial incentives to care for children.
An Alienators efforts to sabotage taking the children to sports and other regular events during their time with the children can sometimes gain them traction in repeated court applications for custody (the same problem can happen in cases of sole custody with weekend contact).
The children's desires to participate or not participate in various sports and extra curricular activities can be severely manipulated to suit the Alienators own wants, insecurities or legal tactics. You need to appreciate that courts are legally required to listen to what a child says they want especially as they grow older. There is limited precedent of courts to ignore what the child is saying based on the Targeted Parent's percepton of manipulation by the Alienatator.
The best thing a Targeted Parent can do is to try and persuade the Alienating Parent through Counselling and other people to think of their children rather than the next court case. Do not get upset and take the Alienating parent to court over issues.
Rather than having to reach agreement on everything, the parents can agree that one parent decides on say sports and the other decides on say music and drama. This avoids a lot of arguments.
This is an artificial creation of modern life.
May be ok where the custodial parent has a genuine willingness to facilitate lots of contact of the child with the other parent and involve the other parent in the decision making of the child.
Psychologist Linda Gottlieb spent 24 years working in New York with 3000 children who had been removed from their homes due to adjudicated abuse and neglect—Mrs Gottlieb discovered just how powerful is the instinct to have and need a parent. She cannot recall a single child who rejected a parent. To the contrary, she observed these children to align with their abusive parents and to protect them. No matter how bad the abuse against the child they just did not want to leave their abusive parents. A research study by Baker, Miller, Bernet & Adebayo surveyed 338 clinicians which confirmed that physically abused children wanted to maintain a relationship with abusive caregivers.
Dr Steven G Miller cites (Why Do Specialist Say the Parental Alienation is Counter Intuitive in, Parental Alienation International, May 2018) a review of the literature by Baker Creegan, Quinones & Rozelle (Foster Children's Review of Their Birth Parents: A review of the Literature, Children and Youth Services Review, 67, Elsevier 2016 pp 177-183) that notes that even in cases of maltreatment children align to their abusive parents.
In a study of 338 clinicians by Dr Bernet, Dr Baker, Dr Miller and Trinae Adebayo it was found that physically abused children were rated as expressing significantly more attachment-enhancing behaviors than attachment-disrupting behaviors.
Dr Craig Childress explains attachment theory in reference to the work of Bowlby, 'Children who formed strong attachment bonds to parents received parental protection from predators, and their genes for forming strong attachment bonds to parents increased in the collective gene pool. Children who did not form strong attachment bonds to parents were eaten by predators at higher rates. Their genes for forming weak, or even moderate, attachment bonds to parents decreased in the collective gene pool.'
Children can even be heavily bonded to severely abusive grandparents as in the 2017 case in Oklahoma City.
Image from case where father tried to kill son.
From this above news story you can see that the bonds of parenthood are so strong that even after a parent attempted to murder his son, the son still had a relationship with his father. Children just do not want to reject a parent.
This violence that the father did was of the very worst kind and is never justified however this example was used to show how strong the bonds of parenthood are.
Joint custody 50/50 with both parents is the ideal, regardless of the gender of the children. At the first sign of Alienation developing to something serious, consider other alternatives flagged by the Alienator such as splitting up the children and having some live with you and some live with them. Children of a different gender to the parent do not do as well in sole parent families so you should take this into account if joint custody of all children cannot be maintained. This option might not seem good however if that is what the Alienator wants it is far better than to allow the Alienation to develop. You want to do everything in your power to prevent the development of Parental Alienation.
Do what you can to maintain contact and friendship with the Alienators friends and family. This will provide some measure of protection so you can learn of and defend yourself from any false, twisted and distorted allegations that may be propagated by the Alienator. The downside is the more contact you have with the Alienators friends and family, the more the Alienator will get to know about your new life. The more information the Alienator has about your new life, no matter how benign various snippets of information about you are, they are just more information that can come back twisted and distorted against you in the next court case.
Show whatever information you can to the Alienator's family and friends to show them the value of a child having two parents in their life such as DivorcePizza.com and Time To Put Kids First. Make sure that you educate them about Parental Alienation with the brochure by the Parental Alienation Awareness Organisation.
Mildly spoil the child with extra treats gifts etc as this is one of the tactics used by the Alienator to win the child over. It might be wrong, but it is far less harmful to the child than allowing Parental Alienation to develop.
Join in forums on the internet and find out how other people have dealt with Parental Alienation.
Be careful that whatever you post on line may stay there for ever and could end up being read by the Alienator or even your own children.
Send your children photographs to help them remember the special times you had together.
Get your other parent and you to participate in the Save A Child's Soul ie SACS campaign as it is the only known targeted strategy to stop badmouthing by parents of each other.
Scientist and TV personality Mayim Bialak shows her positive attitude to make this work:
Brazilian and Mexican Courts will award sole custody to a Targeted Parent to prevent an Alienating parent from having enough time with a child to poison its mind. Canada seems to be the jurisdiction next most willing to use sole custody as an instrument to control parental Alienation.
In custody cases that drag on for several years Australian Courts inevitably award sole custody to Alienators (as advised by one retired Court Psychologist to the author of this website). Also see various reported cases such as: FamCA 1251 .
Once an Alienator has sole custody they will inevitably shut the Targeted Parent and possibly the Targeted Parent's entire family out of the child's life, potentially for life.
Alienators tend to be Narcissists so they are less likely than other parents to put extra effort into fostering needs for a child such as sports and other cultural pursuits which require a lot of effort.
Under normal circumstances parents should do everything they can to keep their children living with each other after divorce.
Having one parent care for some of the children of the family and the other parent caring for the other children of a family is probably the best option where there is Parental Alienation at play and the legal system is not an option to treat the Alienation. At least this way some of the children get to stay with a parent who will not poison their minds.
It is harder for an Alienator to prevent contact with one parent and all the siblings than a parent without the care of a child.
It is best if the parents both live nearby, however even if they do not, this is a better option than allowing the Alienator lots of time with all the children.
Children in sole parent families do worse living with parents of a different gender than those who live with a parent of the same gender (children of the same gender are also badly affected, however this is in different ways). This can be offset to some degree where the child can have lots of contact with the other parent.
WHO TO TALK TO
The first person to talk to about the Alienation is the Alienator themselves. It is worth trying however it is extremely unlikely a hardcore Alienator will give up Alienating simply because the Targeted Parent asks them to. Some Alienators however are passive Alienators and will change their ways with Counselling and support.
It is very difficult to speak to your children about Parental Alienation as to do so is involving them in your adult issues, just like the Alienator has done. Look for suitable books to give your children on the subject.
Counselling is provided for free by many Family Courts and if both parents have the right mindset it can be very helpful. Unfortunately some people are innate Alienators or get drawn into Alienation by the adversarial Court process. These people need early identification by the professionals involved and need additional help. We will be working with Counsellors to develop suitable early assistance programs to be widely available to help affected children.
It is great to get a family Counsellor involved, however hardcore Alienators reach a point where they refuse to be involved in counselling. If this is the case get the Counsellor to write to you confirming this.
It can sometimes be helpful talking to the Alienators Lawyer however we suggest you need to remember they are on the payroll of the Alienator and not your children or you. They can help you to broker a deal however if the deal does not go ahead, selected bits and pieces of what was said will come out during the Court process at the worst possible time. The Lawyers recollection of what was said will be accepted in preference to what you say was said. Most Lawyers will be willing to talk to you on a confidential basis and you can get them to agree to this in writing before you say anything to them.
You might be able to get helpful communication going between you and the Alienators friends or family however this is unlikely to be with a person who has actively and deliberately campaigned against you. Remember that the Alienator may have spun enough stories about you to get resources and other help from friends and family so that they already do not like you.
Be aware that the Alienator may have told their friends and family you were trying to 'steal' his/her children with a megaphone to get sympathy. Once they have full custody they will likely change the story to a false fabrication that you abandoned your children to get sympathy, support and resources from their family and friends.
Do not assume that all of the Alienators family and friends participated in the campaign against the Targeted Parent. In many cases these are good people who were manipulated with false information.
You might be able to communicate with spokespersons pre-appointed by religion such as:
-the child's Godfather and Godmother in Christianity
-the Alienators father or eldest brother in Islam
-Rabbi, Priest, Pastor, Imam etc
-The child's school psychologist.
Maybe you should keep in contact with your children's friends to let them know you have not abandoned your children.
If you need to go to Court you should consider the services of a specialist Parental Alienation Consultant. They may not be a Lawyer or Psychologist however if you find someone who deeply specialises in your problem they will be able to give you guidance on how to select suitable Counsellors, Psychologists and Lawyers and give you other valuable advice. A good one will have a very deep understanding of Parental Alienation and Court processes as well as other ways to resolve your problem without going to Court. http://www.parentalalienation.ca/consulting.shtml
WHY DOES PARENTAL ALIENATION EXIST
Psychiatrist Richard Gardner noticed the emergence of Parental Alienation with the introduction of 'No Fault' divorce in the USA in the 1970's. Prior to this the financial settlement from a divorce was largely determined by who was 'at fault'. After 'no fault' divorce laws came in the one who obtained the best financial settlement from a divorce was the one who was caring for the children. As western countries became more affluent they woo-ed voters with substantial government payments and benefits of various kinds for those who cared for the kids. Child maintenance laws were introduced with the aim of forcing the non custodial parent to pay enough money to the custodial parent to maintain the same standard of living for them pre divorce. No consideration was given to whether the non-custodial parent could afford to provide accommodation for the children to stay with them on the weekends or the impact on the standard of living of the non custodial parent. The process of the system financially rewarding a custodial parent based on the volume of information it can gather about the Targeted Parent using children as spies is extremely alienating.
As Family Courts have evolved, all sorts of changes have been made to the system that seem on the surface of it to be for the children's best interests. A classic one is removing children from the care of one parent based on unproven allegations of physical mistreatment of some kind. Many people would think that even if there is only the slightest chance that a child might be physically abused they should be removed from the care of that person. The psychological harm of cutting the child away from the other parent is known by experts whereas the harm by the untested allegation of some physical abuse is given a much higher weighting. In practice, even if a parent has been found to have maliciously invented false claims of abuse against the other parent they can still be awarded custody of the children and there is no penalty given.
Don't allow the child unreasonably long phone calls with an Alienator who has joint or sole custody. This gives the Alienator the feeling that the telephone is a window into your house. They will draw all sorts of information out of the child to be used in Court and maintenance cases against you. Don't feel bad limiting these calls as they are already spending lots of time with the Alienator anyhow.
If your child is Alienated and living apart from you, don't respond to the Alienation with a very strong campaign to maintain contact with your child as this will cause your child severe emotional stress and has been known to cause suicide to the child. See: http://akidnappedmind.com
If you are Alienated or potentially Alienated don't do anything drastic that could have an impact on your kids. The best thing you can do is educate yourself from Ryan Thomas's many resources on his web page, You Tube or Facebook listed in the Links section of this site. Most of them are free. You can also educate yourself from following the many other links listed in the Links section of this site.
Do not think about taking court action to get your kids back. It might seem reassuring to get professionals involved to make sure your kids get to see their Alienated mother or father. Despite the best intentions of many professionals, the Family Court is the last place you want your kids to get dragged into. It is the main driver for Parental Alienation and once proceedings start one or both parents will likely start the psychologically damaging badmouthing of the other parent and their family in the presence of the children.
The decisions are made by Judges who mostly have little/no training in child psychology. In some instances Judges do receive guidance from Psychologists in what are known as Family Reports however the professional Psychological organisation that governs Australian Psychologists have yet to agree on the issues that need to be assessed during custody evaluations. The Australian Psychological Association note that, 'There is little to no research that answers the question of what is in the best interest of the child'. The determination of what time children should spend with each parent is very subjective and will depend very much on which Psychologist is chosen for the job. Dr Craig Childress gives this anlaygy: 'Might as well have a monkey throwing darts at a dart board. Just divide up the dartboard into different custody time-share schedules, and let the monkey have at it. Lots less expensive and just as valid'.
The Court process can often drag on for years and years. In the meantime your kids are placed up on stage by the Alienator for one performance after another in front of Psychologists, Counsellors, Lawyers, Doctors, Specialists etc looking for a performance that will denigrate you. If the process keeps going long enough they will eventually get the performance they are looking for.
The Alienator will use whatever resources they have at their disposal to most effectively bribe the children just before they get interviewed by this never ending list of experts.
The Alienator will have no concern of the psychological damage caused by forcing your child to choose between parents. To gain further advantage the Alienator will selectively show whatever documentation they have from the Family Court and Child maintenance proceedings to the children to denigrate you.
The children will be used as spies to gather any information they can to bolster the Alienators case for custody, maintenance and passing on the costs of legal proceedings to you.
Once the court process starts the Alienator will start telling everyone they come in contact their situation looking for sympathy. They will eventually come in contact with people who will tell them the court winning strategies that the Family Court is mostly too shy to publish.
They will quickly realise that the Family Court does not want to see parents arguing so the only way to stop this is to award exclusive custody to an alienator with no contact to the friendly cooperative parent.
Great mileage can be gained in court by shopping the children to various doctors getting unnecessary medication which the targeted parent will oppose. Additional mileage in court can also be gained by talking the children out of activities and sports that the children otherwise love with dramatised exaggeration of dangers and other reasons.
The time and stress of court affects your ability to be the best parent you can for your child as well as affecting your ability to work.
Your professionals may advise you that in child custody proceedings the parent who is the best parent and does not denigrate the other or involve the children in adult issues will be awarded custody. Don't believe it, the opposite is what will ultimately happen (to find out for yourself, talk to the great majority of parents whose custody cases never get published and read some of the published cases as well).
If a lawyer is appointed for the children by the Court the targeted parent will be sought to pay for some of this.
Going to the Family Court places great stress on people. It can often drag on for years and years and is extremely invasive of your personal life. The things at stake by going to Court include:
-greatly increased chance of loosing all contact with your kids;
-it incentivises the other parent if they are an Alienator to inject hatred in your children about you and your family;
-teaches the other parent that it is OK to use your children as spies to gain information against you;
-teaches the other parent that parental co-operation is viewed negatively by the court;
-teaches the other parent that there is much to gain for them and little chance of loosing anything by planting into your child's mind the seeds of false allegations of serious crimes against your children;
-according to many experts such as Dr Lorandos false allegations of sexual abuse often arise in cases of severe parental alienation;
-by reading the newspapers you will frequently find reports of professionals such as social workers making false claims of sexual abuse against parents;
MEMORIES OF A MONSTER: A CLOSER LOOK AT PARENTAL ALIENATION – the above movie shows how easy it is for Parental Alienation to occur.
Once an Alienation mindset begins, it seems hard to stop. Each additional Court hearing seems to generate more aggression and add more resolve and fuel to the Alienation.
Like any crime, Parental Alienation is committed for for the benefit of the perpetrator at the expense of the victim. The difference with Parent Alienation is that in a great many cases the crime even once brought to the attention of the authorities in Australia goes un punished. So for all practical purposes there is no deterrent effect. This contrasts to Mexico , Brazil and Romania where Parental Alienation has been outlawed. In Romania this was achieved by a Protocol concluded between the Romanian Association for Joint Custody and the Institute for Forensic Psychology.
-even if you can rebut false allegations in court, these allegations may take root in your child's mind and prevent you from ever having a good relationship with your child. (see Tonya Craft's, Monique Leon's and Dean Tong's stories);
-even if a parent has been found to have made unfounded or deliberately false allegations of abuse, courts are mostly very reluctant to punish them;
The law in USA often enforces Alienation and incarcerates loving parents. See the tragic story above of Dr Carlos Rivera.
Although both male and female genders can be Alienators, a survivor of being brought up by a single mother, Stefan Molyneux presents an encyclopaedic treatment of the reason why there are now so many single mothers and the damage to children and society of this new social phenomina. It would be easy to want to skip the first part of this long video as boring verbage however it gives great background to an enormous succession of coloured graphs and charts with reference to research that follows.https://board.freedomainradio.com/topic/44011-youtube-the-truth-about-single-moms/
-the cost of going to court is extreme and you can end up loosing all your assets;
-you could end up having to go to prison;
-the stress and loss of time to go to court could result in you loosing your job;
-the stress can cause you body to run down and be more prone to all sorts of negative affects on your health;
-there is a significantly increased chance of suicide and Family Violence, see the Glendinning case and the case of Jeramey A's very sad story with his suicide note blaming Parental Alienation and the Family Law:
The longer court proceedings drag on the more that you will feel that you and your children have had the wrong thing done to you by the Alienator. It can be tempting at times to want to share the story of your divorce with your children because you feel that the children 'deserve to be told the truth' or 'they need protection' or some other such justification. Don't do it as their minds are still forming and are not able to handle it. The other problem is that whenever you have a dispute with someone it is human nature to want to select the bits of the story that support you. As acrimony fills our hearts it is so easy to unknowingly twist and distort facts. Psychologist Richard Warshak gives guidance on when kids need to know bad things about a parent in the Huffington Post.
I AM THE BEST PARENT
Of course you are. Of course you are not !
We all like to think that we are the best parent and can see so many of the flaws of the other parent. To get through this dispute we need to stand back and not focus on this. If we can try and see the better sides of the other parent it helps us to keep level headed and not get emotional. It also avoids sucking us into thinking so many bad things about the other parent so that we start to subconsciously Alienate our children when we are with them. If we can have a disciplined and mature approach it becomes a powerful argument in any counselling session with the other parent to do the same thing so they don't alienate the children against us.
Remember no Alienation whether it is against the Alienator or against the Targeted Parent is good. It is all bad for our child's welfare and must be stopped.