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Family Wars: The Alienation of Children
(provided by Dr. Peggie Ward)


When the alienation is overt, the motivation to alienate, the intense hatred of the other is blatant. The alienating parent is obsessed and sees the target as noxious to himself, the children, and even the world. He relates a history of the marriage which reflects nothing but the bad times. The target parent was never worthwhile as a spouse or a parent and is not worthwhile today. Such a parent shows little response to logic, and little ability to confront reality.

Many alienating parents at this stage entertain the overt belief that the target parent presents an actual danger of harm to the children. They present this belief as concrete knowledge that if the children spend time with the target parent they will be irreparably harmed in some manner or that they will be brainwashed by the target parent not to value/love the alienating parent.

1. Statements about the target parent are delusional or false:

"Your Mom doesn't pay support" when there is evidence to show payment.
"Your father doesn't love us" (or "you") when there is no evidence to that effect.
"Your mother drinks too much," "uses drugs," "smokes," etc. when there is no evidence to support these statements.
"Your father went out and got the meanest lawyer in town."

2. Inclusion of the children as victims of the target parent's bad behavior:

"Your Mom abandoned us"; "Your Dad doesn't love us (or you) anymore;"

3. Overt criticism of the target parent:

"Your Mom is a drug addict/alcoholic/violent person..."
"What's wrong with your Dad; he never/always does... "
"Your mother endangers your health."
"Your father doesn't take good care of you/ doesn't feed YOU/ take you to the doctor/ understand you during visits. "

4. The children are required to keep secrets from the target parent:

"Don't tell your Mom where you've been/ who you've seen/ where you are going/ etc."

5. Threat of withdrawal of love:

"I won't love you if you ... (see your Dad, etc.)"
" I'm the only one who really loves you."

6. Extreme lack of courtesy to the target parent.

At this state of alienation, conscious motivation is always present, and the internal, interactional and external systems are fully engaged in supporting the alienation process.

Information provided by:
Dr. Peggie Ward

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