Parental Alienation

Many separated and divorced parents have faced a situation in which one parent attempts to get their children to 'love them more' than the other parent. There are many reasons for this, however, most of the time, the children are being used as pawns to hurt the other parent.

As much as people do not want to admit this...much of the time the reason one parent wants their children to be with them more is because they need the reassurance that their children will not forget them, not love them, and very often, love one parent more than the other. However, this behavior leads to parents treating their children as chess pieces. CHILDREN ARE NOT BARGAINING CHIPS.

According to Joan Kelly and Janet Johnson, the following are contributions to the Child's Alienated Response

• The personality of the aligned parent and that parent’s negative beliefs and behaviors that reinforce the child’s aligned response. This is consistent with the view of Gardner who hypothesized that, when there is a hostile parent, the child is likely to respond in an alienated fashion.

• The personality and responses of the rejected parent, both historically in the relationship as well as in response to the child’s initial alienation.

• Because alienation occurs within the context of the divorce, a more conflicted divorce and intense litigation can also contribute to the child’s response, especially when the child is exposed to the litigation by one or both parents.

• Marital history, especially when there has been intense marital conflict, or when there are intense emotions around the separation (such as shame or humiliation).

•The myriad of aligned professionals and/or extended family and friends who contribute their own pressures on the parents and/or the child to resist contact with one parent.

• The siblings can also be a factor, especially when an older sibling refuses contact with a parent, as this can contribute to a younger sibling becoming afraid or resistant.

• Finally, a critical component to whether or not the child will become alienated is found in the child’s age, cognitive capacity, temperament, and vulnerability. It is hypothesized that children under age 7 are less likely to become alienated because they are less able to “hold onto” the resistance when they are with the otherwise-rejected parent but that older children can easily be common alienated and will often take a strong position primarily because of these factors.

The full text of the article on Alienation may be found at:

If you feel like this is a situation you are facing please call Holan Law, PLLC.

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