Parental alienation happens when one parent deliberately interferes with the child’s relationship with the other parent. Because a broken family is already volatile, parental alienation may be difficult to recognize.
In parental alienation, the alienating parent tries to control the child’s feelings toward the other parent. A child whose parents are divorcing may feel anger, but the child forgives the alienating parent. When one parent alienates a child, the child loses empathy for the alienated parent. Knowing the symptoms can help identify the problem, which is the first step in working toward a better relationship with the alienated parent. Here are the symptoms of parental alienation:
Feelings of Hate. An alienated child may express feelings of hatred towards the alienated parent that never waver. It is often a constant occurrence and can sometimes extend to other members of that side of the family.
- Lack of Guilt or Empathy. The child may know he is hurting the alienated parent with his actions but show no remorse or guilt.
- No Forgiveness. A child refuses to work through problems with the alienated parent.
- Refusal to Visit Parent. The child may not be willing to visit or spend time with the alienated parent. The child also might refuse to talk to the alienated parent on the phone.
- Knowing Private Details. The interfering parent might confide details about the marriage and the divorce that the child would otherwise have no knowledge of.
- Emulating Alienating Parent. An alienated child may emulate or adopt the alienating parent’s issues with the other parent, regardless of whether the complaints are relevant to the child.