Often occurring during high-conflict divorces, parental alienation involves a parent pressuring a child to reject and have strongly adverse feelings toward the other parent. Whether intentional or unconscious, this psychological dynamic may have damaging effects on parents and children alike.
Knowing what to watch out for may benefit parents, allowing them to stop such influences before they cause serious issues.
According to WebMD.com, children with parental alienation often feel no remorse or guilt for their poor treatment of a parent. Kids commonly say hurtful things to parents when they get mad or upset. Later, however, most will feel sorry for their words. When parental alienation occurs, however, children often feel justified in such actions.
Children experiencing this type of dynamic frequently have only harsh criticism for the alienated parent. They often offer such critiques without cause and, if confronted, will claim the feelings come from themselves alone. If kids do have positive interactions, they may conceal it from the influencing parent and ask the other parent not to share.
According to Psychology Today, many children in such situations display very set split thinking – everything the influencing parent does is good and everything the other parent does is bad. Considering himself or herself superior, the influencing parent will often portray the alienated parent as neglectful, inattentive or otherwise ineffectual. Consequently, children may experience impaired psychological bonds of love and trust with the alienated parents.
If people feel parental alienation has occurred in their families, they may pursue the various options available to help remedy the situation and restore the affected bonds.