Mild Parental Alienation: Parents who lose control, make negative comments or exhibit negative behavior towards the other parent in front of the child, but feel bad about it later. Most parents going through a divorce engage in this level of Parental Alienation at some point. But they recognize they are wrong, worry about the effects on the child (or children), and take steps to stop inappropriate actions directed at the other parent. They understand that their child needs to have a healthy and loving relationship with both of their parents, to have the best chance of developing into a healthy adult someday. These parents rarely use the family court system to control or attack the other parent, and are rarely involved in starting a child custody battle.
Moderate Parental Alienation: These parents are similar to the first parent in that for the most part they mean well. They also understand that their child needs to have a healthy and loving relationship with the other parent in order to develop in a healthy way. Where they differ is, they believe that the relationship with the other parent should never cost them anything, interfere with or inconvenience their life. These parents operate in the emotional, selfish realm, and are very defensive. They have a hard time controlling their emotions and take everything personally.
During periods of emotional turmoil or disagreement they mount an explosive and possibly even a violent attack on the other parent. The gloves are off and they will do anything to win. They continue to attack as long as they perceive there is a threat to their image, their selfish actions or the control they have over others. These parents are very willing to use the family court system during a child custody battle to achieve their goals of control and retribution over the “targeted” (rejected) parent whenever necessary to “win” a battle or prove a point. When the threat disappears, the alienating tactics subside. While they may not encourage the child to have a relationship with the other parent, they aren’t actively sabotaging the relationship either. That is, until the next perceived threat and then the cycle repeats itself.
Severe Parental Alienation: These parents have one mission, to aggressively and viciously attack and destroy the previously healthy and loving relationship that their children have with the other parent. During a separation and the ensuing divorce, the targeted (rejected) parent almost always becomes a bitter enemy in the mind of the alienating parent. They must “win” at all costs. They are determined to be the only parent in their child’s life. They resent and get violent (verbally and many times physically) with anyone that sets healthy boundaries with them in their quest for dominance and control over the other parent. All of which can lead to a long and bitter child custody battle which is never ending.
In many cases, there is a history of severe psychological problems and agitations before the alienation tactics are ever employed. Many times these individuals suffer from some type of mental illness. The alienator perceives and portrays themselves as the victim. They are obsessed, consumed and driven, by the goal of destroying the “target” (rejected) parent in the eyes of the child (or children). They enroll family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, schools, churches, police, and the courts in their quest to remove the target parent from their child’s life. They constantly create opportunities, to reinforce their agenda to manipulate the children into believing their false realities. Anyone that might support a realistic and positive view of the “targeted” (rejected) parent is cut off from the child’s life. They also remove any evidence of positive interaction with the child and the other parent, in an effort to complete the brainwashing process, such as pictures, cards, presents etc. If they ever feel guilty, they dismiss that guilt with statements like “I know what’s best for my child” or “I’m just protecting them from abuse or negligence”.
The child is both a weapon to be used against the other parent and a tool to make them feel emotionally complete. They are so consumed with themselves, their hatred, and the need to control, that they are only interested in their own needs. They refuse to see the pain and destruction they are causing in the life of their child. Even after the alienation is complete, a severe alienator will often continue to use the child and the courts to further their revenge on the targeted parent with excessive litigation, unnecessary bills and continued accusations of both physical and sexual abuse. Often they are not satisfied until they see the complete destruction of the other parent both emotionally and financially. They need the rejected parent branded as an “abuser” in order to feel good about themselves and their actions. These people are damaged and in desperate need of professional psychological help and extensive therapy. They often have clinically diagnosable issues such as BPD (borderline personality disorder). Most will never get the help they need unless it is court ordered, which is rare indeed.
If you’re concerned that any of these descriptions might reflect your behavior (especially on a difficult day), please take the Am I An Alienating Parent Quiz to better assess your situation.
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