Unfortunately, during the divorce process or even after it’s all over, a child may not only take sides but may slowly, gradually begin behaving hatefully towards one parent as a show of support for the other, usually known as the alienating parent.
Unfortunately this behaviour may not be of their choice but may be resulting from “coaching” being freely provided by the alienating parent.
I have had clients whose children have turned from the kind 5 year old they once knew to the most hate-filled 6 year old they had ever met.
But what the alienating parent seems to miss is that when their children behave this way towards their other parent, is not only hurts them to do this but it is terribly, terribly confusing.
How do I know? I’ll tell you in a minute.
Well not only do I know that, I also know that it takes a hell of a lot for a child to earnestly, honestly hate the other parent.
Why are they doing it then? Because they are being loyal to you, the alienating parent. They don’t know any different.
They don’t have the maturity to see exactly what game you are playing…they don’t now, but they will one day, that I promise you.
The campaign of denigration you have been working on has been a good, strong and successful one. .
Each time you tell your child something horrible and negative about the other parent, each time you interfere and disrupt their relationship, your child is hurting deep down inside because you are hating on the only other parent they have.
Unfortunately however, at some point, the way you see and talk about your ex, will become the way your child sees and talks about their other parent.
So how do I know that each time they say something ghastly to the other parent it’s killing them inside?
Because I worked for several years as a Child Trauma Therapist at Victim Support Lambeth and some of the children I worked with were there as a result of the actions of one of their parents.
The crimes included fire bombing a house while the children were inside with the real intention of killing them, a vicious attack on a mother, in front of the children, that put her in a coma and the premeditated killing of one parent by another.
The crimes that these parents had committed and put their children through were truly horrific but you know what, in the quiet of the therapy room, in the safety of those four walls, I never once met one of these children who didn’t want to see the perpetrator parent.
It was in this place that they would say that they miss them, that they would like to go visit them in prison and that they love them because, “He’s my dad.” Or “But she’s my mum.”
So as you go along your campaign of alienation, vilification and denigration, ask yourself
- Whose agenda you’re working with?
- What is your desired effect?
- Are you running an agenda at the expense of your child?
And as you become successful in your crusade and war, and your child begins to resent, hate and detest the other parent, just keeping knowing that your children’s growth is not stunted and they are growing into teens, young adults and one day, they will know and learn what a disturbing game plan you had all along and they will feel ample bitterness towards you.
As Dr Phil so clearly puts it:
“Right now, you may think you’re winning because you have the children and they’re clinging on to you and he’s on the outside looking in the day will come when they will look at you and say why did I have to grow up without my daddy?”
Change your direction today. Start dealing with parental alienation today. If you don’t know how ask. Call me, call someone but do it for your child’s sake.
As parents, we so often say, I will do anything for my child, can you do this? Can you allow your child to have a healthy relationship with the other parent? Can you give him that? Can you allow that to happen for their own sake, health and wellbeing?
Soila is the founder of The Divorce Magazine and creator of the five-star-rated online course – Helping Children Cope with Divorce
She is known for taking away the pain of trauma and loss in children, adolescents and their families and is the author of “When Love is Broken. A read-together book for children and parents going through divorce and separation.
Soila holds an MSc in Psychoanalytic Developmental Psychology from UCL (University College London), is an accredited Positive Parenting Program (Triple P) practitioner and a trained Family Mediator.
Soila is Graduate Member of the British Psychological Society.
You can contact her on 07850 85 60 66 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org