How can I recognize if my Massachusetts co-parent will engage in Parental Alienation?
A parent who exhibits signs of a personality disorder such as extreme narcissism, borderline personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder is most at risk to become an alienator. These disorders are often denied by the parent and therefore they seek no mental health treatment to mitigate their behaviors.” Worse they can accuse the other parent of being mentally ill and engage in behaviors such as “gaslighting.”
These are not the only parents who engage in parental alienation but they are the group for whom the risk is greatest.
There is a significant link between the behaviors of alienating parents and those who have been alienated, the children, a 2016 study of college age individuals found.
What are the possible effects on my child?
Children who are alienated from one parent may: experience increased anger, have heightened feelings of neglect (or even have their basic needs actually neglected while being caught in the middle of their parents’ fight), learn a destructive pattern that they pass on to others, take on a skewed view of reality and become prone to lying about others, become combative with others due to learning an “us vs. them” mentality, see things as very “black and white,” lack empathy…
When does alienation begin?
When a child is born, each parent forms a bond, or attachment to the child known as child attachment theory. For the future alienating parent this bond is often based on the parent’s emotional needs and not those of the child. The parent/child relationship from early on is reversed. A parent who ignores his one year old child’s hunger and need to eat for the parent’s ego and desire to show her off to his customers and be praised as a dad, with no regard the child’s needs is meeting his needs and not the needs of the child.
When a separation between parents begins, the future alienator puts more pressure than usual on the child to support him or her emotionally. The child can often find this situation untenable and themselves unable to resist the alienator’s emotional need to denigrate the other parent. The child is placed in the position of being an emotional caretaker.
Some alienating parents use money as their weapon to both denigrate (the targeted parent earns less and is therefore inferior) the targeted parent as a weak link in the family unit and to buy the child’s devotion. One father purchased a life size portrait of himself and the child by a world-renowned artist thereby using both financial power and the physical evidence of alienating (the mother is not in the picture) the child from the mother. This coupled with exotic travel and other ways in which he took from the mother pleasures she enjoyed with the child (the mother used to take the child for haircuts to a local community beauty parlor until the father hired a beautician to come to the home to teach the child how to do her own hair) manipulated the child to him. How far this father will get is to be seen as he is in the early stages of alienation.
Both men and women can be alienators.
When is alienation most likely to occur?
When the child begins to mimic the alienating parent’s hatred towards the other parent, the targeted parent, the alienation is occurring. Ultimately, the child believes the alienator’s viewpoint because in order to provide support to this parent, he or she must do so. The choice for the child to not emotionally support this parent is not something the child has learned to do since birth. Parental alienation has occurred with the child as the instrument of destruction against the targeted parent.
At some point, the child completely and wholly adopts the alienating parent’s viewpoint about the targeted parent and the cycle is complete. The child is without any empathy towards the targeted parent and sees them only as in the eyes of the alienating parent.
What can I do if I see this occurring in my own family separation?
There are many experts addressing parental alienation online. You should be mindful of the laws in your state as to the legal recognition of parental alienation. Legal experts should be knowledgeable of your state laws and psychological experts must be licensed in your state if they are to give helpful expert testimony recognized by your court system. The most consistent and salient advice I have seen is to take care of yourself, if you are the targeted parent, both emotionally and physically.
Document everything in a diary-missed visits, alienating behavior in the presence of the child. Be consistent with your child no matter how they respond to you. Don’t abandon them.
Should you be in the midst of a divorce or paternity case, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar at 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE one hour no obligation consultation.