By: Susan Shofer
Divorce can be frightening for children because the family structure changes dramatically; a change that they have no control over. Children want and need to love both of their parents. Thankfully, most parents understand this. The most tragic component of any divorce is parental alienation and it’s component, parental alienation syndrome. If you think your ex may be turning your child against you, there are specific signs to look out for.
Unfortunately, there are parents who choose to express their anger towards the other parent in the form of parental alienation. There are eight signs that were detected by Dr. Richard Gardner, the “founder” of parental alienation during the 1970’s. He detected a specific set of behaviors exhibited by those children who were alienating one parent, usually during their parent’s divorce. Since then there has been a consensus of opinion that these are standard benchmarks, used by mental health professionals who diagnose and treat children and families who have been victimized by parental alienation.
8 Signs of Parental Alienation
1. A once beloved child no longer wants to be with the targeted parent for no obvious or apparent reason. The parent is actually denigrated by the child.
2. A child makes weak, frivolous, or absurd rationalizations for the denigration of the targeted parent.
3. The child has a lack of ambivalence regarding their negative feelings toward the targeted parent. They feel no remorse for not wanting to be with or speak to that parent.
4. The child insists that their decision for the denigration of the targeted parent is predicated on their own accord. In other words, they have made the decision independent from any outside influence(s).
5. There is reflexive support for the alienating parent. The child has completely aligned himself/herself with that parent to the exclusion of the other parent.
6. There is a presence of borrowed scenarios. The alienating child has the same complaints, as the parent with whom they are aligned, regarding the targeted parent.
7. The child feels no remorse or guilt for their denigration of the targeted parent.
8. The animosity is spread to the extended family of the alienated parents. Once beloved grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles are simultaneously alienated alongside the targeted parent.
Parental Alienation can occur very quickly. All the alienating parent needs, to achieve an alienating scenario, is access to the child and a willingness of the child to participate. Alienators are very sly and often coerce the child with toys, vacations, and privileges which enable them to brainwash the child to believe that they are the “good” parent and the targeted parent is “bad.”
Overcoming Parental Alienation
How you overcome alienation depends on the age of your child and whether you still have communication with your child. If you do have a relationship with the child, there are some things you can do to thwart total alienation from taking place.
1. Never speak badly of the other parent to your child.
2. Maintain who you are at all times. Don’t try to “one-up” the other parent with enticements (toys, trips, rule-breaking).
3. Love your child unconditionally. Always tell them that you love them and will always be there for them.
4. Never blame your child.
5. Remind your child of the fun times that you have had together.
6. Always be on-time with your visitations and don’t cancel your times together.
7. Speak with your attorney about the alienation and take legal channels to try and stop it.
8. If your ex-spouse is keeping your child from you, under the guise that your child does not want to see you, speak with your attorney immediately so that legal action can be taken. The family law courts frown on violated interfered visitations and will change custody schedule if need be. Many alienators end up with supervised visitation so that they are unable to continue to alienate the child. These arrangements may only be made by court orders so you must receive legal guidance on how to proceed.
The Divorce Recovery Ladder Workbook and Program were inspired by Susan’s own
contentious divorce and triumph battling severe Parental Alienation.
Susan began her professional career in the financial industry working for an International Investment Firm.
After that, she was an agency licensed private investigator for two decades where she amassed thousands of court testifying hours.
Topics covered include: Realization of the situation | Attorneys | Finances | Children | Parental Alienation | Courts & Evidence | Recognizing Retaliation | Dating Again