Parental alienation is a set of tactics that a parent uses to encourage a child’s rejection of the other parent. Children subjected to parental alienation will hate, fear, and reject the targeted parent.
Psychologists have identified several indicators of parental alienation. They include the following:
• Alienated children are filled with antipathy toward the targeted parent, denying positive experiences, rejecting contact and communication.
• Alienated children are unable to justify their hostility with explanations that correlate to the magnitude of their antipathy. For example, when questioned about the cause of their resentment, the child will identify behaviors that are trivial, exaggerated or vague. For example, the child will complain about the parent’s food preparation or making vague accusations of “meanness.”
• Alienated children display what psychologists term “lack of ambivalence” about the alienating parent. The targeted parent will be all bad with no redeeming qualities, whereas the child will be at a loss to identify any negative traits in the alienating parent. All parents have strengths and weaknesses. All children have mixed feelings about their parents. Where the child thinks and speaks in absolutes, parental alienation could be the cause.
• Even though clearly influenced by the alienating parent, alienated children will adamantly deny their influence, and maintain the views are theirs alone.
• Alienated children will be unrepentantly cruel, hurtful and mean toward the targeted parent, and will fail to display gratitude for acts of parental kindness.
• Alienated children will reflexively and consistently side with the alienating parent; the child will not display any impartiality or interest in hearing out the targeted parent’s side.
• Alienated children make use of arguments and phrases clearly traceable to the alienating parent, using borrowed words and adult concepts.
• The child will reject the targeted parent’s targeted family.
• The child will make false claims about the targeted parent.
Studies suggest that independent of other marital issues, acts of parental alienation may be harmful to children. While not all adults who experience acts of parental alienation during childhood report negative consequences, many report outcomes that they attribute to parental alienation, including low self-esteem, addiction and substance abuse, trust issues, and relationship problems.
ATTORNEYS SKILLED IN EXPOSING PARENTAL ALIENATION
Unfortunately, parental alienation is becoming more prevalent, particularly in high conflict custody situations. Parental alienation either leads to the divorce or is utilized by a parent during a divorce to gain leverage. Parents who are the victims of parental alienation are particularly vulnerable in a custody fight. They pose unique challenges, as they are consistently provoked by the other parent and feel powerless to stop the bleeding.
Under Illinois law, if a parent is guilty of acts of parental alienation or interference with the parenting time of the other parent, they may have their own parental responsibility restricted. If you are the victim of parental alienation, it is especially critical that you retain attorneys that are experienced in alienation cases and have successfully exposed alienating parents. Our custody lawyers have this precise history of success and are skilled in devising and implementing strategies to combat parental alienation.