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Are You a Parent Who Is Being Alienated?

Parental alienation is a strategy of a parent destroying their child’s relationship with the other parent by turning the child against the other parent because it serves that parent’s personal agenda to do so. In today’s world, it is a poorly understood dynamic, even by professionals. And it is a superbly abusive family dynamic. In order to understand this dynamic in depth, I suggest that you watch my video titled: The Truth About Parental Alienation. Today, I’m going to give you some insight as to what to know and what to do if you are a parent who is being alienated. 

  1. It is very tempting to feel like it is all your fault and to take what is happening deeply personally. Because it seems personal. But here is the reality. It isn’t actually personal. You have stepped into a transgenerational abuse pattern. As well as a subconscious attempt to resolve the trauma experienced in that abuse dynamic. All kinds of things are being projected onto both you and your child. And because your child was born into this transgenerational abuse pattern before it was changed or resolved, they are not in a safe situation. A child who does not feel safe in a situation, is a child in survival mode. They will adapt to that situation in self-preserving ways. Such as suppressing their authenticity, aligning with whomever their survival is better served by aligning with and going against whoever they need to go against. It isn’t actually about you. It’s about the other parent being caught up in an experience with you that is triggering their original trauma, and the whole host of defensive responses that they are having to that. It’s about your child being put in such a terrible position by the other parent that they are doing what they are doing, in order to stay safe FROM the other parent. This is why the child is often not motivated to make things better with you, and may resist seeing you at all. And while you need to do everything within your power to correct any actual issues between you and your child that are being exploited by the other parent, there is literally no way to build a good relationship with your child, when the other person upon whom their life depends, is actively and intentionally destroying it. It’s like trying to build a sandcastle with a playground bully. Don’t ever forget that in a healthy parenting or coparenting situation, two people should be trying to help each other to have a better relationship with their child, this situation is exactly the opposite. 
  2. Due to enmeshment, you are not actually interacting with your child. You are interacting with a puppet/reflection of the other parent. And therefore, the person you are actually interacting with when you interact with your child, is the other parent. You can think of it like talking to a ventriloquist puppet on stage. The child’s authenticity is deeply suppressed… inaccessible. Just because you see your child’s physical body, that does not mean your actual child is present. They are no longer present. Stop trying to talk to your child as if your child is there. They are not there. They are in a fused state with the other parent. They are experiencing what the other parent feels and thinks, as if it is their own thoughts and feelings. You are not actually being rejected by them. You are being rejected by the other parent through the shell of them. Take a look at how the child feels towards you… that you are mean, awful, that you hurt them, that they are superior to you, that you deserve to suffer. They keep judging you from a place of moral righteousness, etc. It is simply how the other parent feels about you and your relationship. All the insecurities and core sense of inadequacy that is inherent in the other parent is being projected onto you via the child. Your actual child is like a pearl that has been buried deep beneath a shell. And that shell is a replica of the other parent and what the other parent wants.  
  3. Your child does not feel safe. And is not in a safe situation. You cannot expect your child to expose vulnerable things that are deeply suppressed within them, such as their love for you and desire to be close with you or their authentic thoughts, feelings, needs, wants and fragile subjective experience when doing so absolutely WILL lead to HUGE consequences from the other parent. There will be retaliation towards them. They will be treated as if they are betraying the other parent. Your child is essentially an emotional and mental hostage of the other parent. Look at what you are expecting from your child to risk and what danger you are putting them in or asking them to put themselves in, regarding anything you are asking from them. This is the real reason why so many children of alienated parents don’t “change their tune” or restore their relationship with the alienated parent until they get far enough into adulthood that they are no longer in the same situation and therefore can break free from the hostage dynamic that a relationship with an alienating parent ultimately is. Unless you can actually protect them and put them in a safe situation, their actual, authentic self cannot come out and neither can their love for you. It’s too dangerous for them. But keep in mind that doing whatever it takes to get them into a safe situation is not the same as engaging in a power struggle against the other parent. Nor is it a straightforward process, especially in today’s world, where because of the ignorance of the mental health field and legal field, trying to get an alienated child safe, may just make them more unsafe and harm them more.
  4. Your child does not have the capacity to understand or process the severe level of manipulation or abuse that is happening to them. It can feel like they are under a spell. And trying to break the spell by trying to reason and logic your child out of it will not work. They are deeply engaged in a coping mechanism designed to deal with a very, very unsafe situation. Taking up the strategy of defensively trying to set the record straight, trying to get them to see the truth and trying to get them to see what the other parent is doing, because you thinking that your child will be able to see through the whole game and not only stop playing into it, but stand up to it, will not work. Why? Because you are not in a normal situation. This child is not in a normal situation. They are a hostage, navigating a very dangerous situation for themselves emotionally and mentally. 
  5. Parental alienation is a control tactic. You have been put in a lose, lose, lose scenario. Take a moment and pause this video and think about what you would have to do to make all the problems with your child and the other parent go away. Hopefully you can see that you’d have to give into everything so they are in complete power and control and could have everything their way. Some parents choose to do this out of the desperation to have a relationship with their child. But if you do this, you must know that everything will not be ok. To avoid the horrible consequences that you are now facing and the ones you deeply fear, you are in fact agreeing to other consequences. You will be agreeing to put yourself and your child in an emotionally and mentally unsafe dynamic at the very least, where you will be controlled, none of you can be authentic and where placation will be the name of the game. As you’ve now seen, your child is the leverage that will be used against you. And you will be signing yourself and them up to maintaining a dysfunctional social system. Damage will be done both ways. 
  6. The situation must change for there to be any change. Most people who are facing alienation dynamics severely, and I mean severely underestimate the situation they are in. This situation is much, much more complex than a normal divorce situation with a child involved. It is much more complex than simply trying to find ways to have a positive relationship with your child. Or trying to logic your way out of the situation you are in with your kids. This is going to be a methodical fight. And you are up against something so much bigger than you realize. Do not minimize the problem. If you decide to fight this fight, step one of changing the situation is to gain support from mental health professionals. Step two is to use those mental health professionals in a legal fight. If you do not go down that road of fighting to get your child into a different situation, one where they are not an emotional and psychological hostage to the alienating parent, what you are choosing is to let your child go to the alienating parent, and to let them deal with that unsafe situation in any adaptive way they can, including a continuation of many of the behaviors you have already seen them display, with the hope that things will change in the future.
  7. While you are going through this process, and without expecting for it to improve their behavior at all, it is critical to behave and communicate with your child in consistent, caring and loving ways. This means send them consistent messages of your love. Offer support, even if it isn’t taken. You can think of this like leaving bread crumbs for them to find their way home. These things exist as proof of your presence, love and support. Keep offering this no matter if they reject it. The child also needs to see this kind of proof that contradicts the vilifying narrative being fed to them by the alienating parent. Even if the worst happens and they only break free from the psychological hostage situation as adults, they need to know that you are always available to them, wanting that connection with them should they ever want it. They need to know that you will not abandon them. Do so knowing that the alienating parent will see every single thing you say or do and will use it against you. The other parent will be doing their best to negatively re-frame everything for the child. 
    It is important to know that you cannot be nice enough that suddenly, everyone will see through the dynamic and the problem will go away because the kids will see through their other parent. Remember that even in the worst-case scenario, you are a parent for the totality of a child’s life, not just their first 18 years. The job simply changes. Consistent demonstrations of love, have a way of eventually breaking spells.        
  8. Your child is already and will be emotionally and mentally damaged by this experience. This is important to accept because many alienated parents harbor a self-comforting illusion that a child can somehow escape this damage. They can’t. This situation will alter the structure of their personality. They are learning how to have dysfunctional and unsafe relationships. They too will need to overcome a core self-concept of inadequacy. They have been systematically trained into inauthenticity. They have lost a relationship with you, who deeply, deeply matters to them. And so, so much more. On top of this, the burden of the other parent’s transgenerational trauma, which has been passed on to them, is now on their shoulders to repeat or heal from. This will be a core foundational experience in their life. And they will have A LOT of healing to do. The good news is, children heal very quickly. And in a safe environment, their authentic truth comes to the surface quite easily. Given that the situation wasn’t prevented, prepare yourself to be an advocate and ally to a healing process that is likely to reach far into their adulthood. The more on board you are with that reality and process, the better.         
  9. At its root, parental alienation is not about the child. It is about a conflict between you and the other parent. The child is simply being used as a pawn in that game. Usually everyone involved, including professionals, are effectively fooled by this and keep focused on the children. Do your very best to get out of this game. You do need to focus on getting your child safe. But keeping the child the focus of the conflict, keeps the strategy alive and distracts from the actual issue. What’s going on with the kids is a way of the other parent avoiding the vulnerable feelings they harbor regarding what happened in their relationship with you. That conflict, as well as the deep childhood wounds that surfaced as a result of it, is the actual issue. This doesn’t mean that you can get them to go there. A person has to be willing to face reality, including their own vulnerabilities and insecurities, to do that work. And with an alienating parent, this is the last thing they want to do.
  10. Parental alienation is not recognized or understood by the very systems that would enable you to protect them and cause them to be safe enough to drop their shell and bring their actual authentic self out to be seen and be in a relationship with you. The mental health system and the legal system most especially. And alienating parents are able to exploit this ignorance to no end. This means, the alienating parent will likely be able to manipulate these systems and use them better than you can. Without their support, you don’t have the power to protect your child from the other parent. And so, you cannot “get your child back”. As a side note, this serious failing in the field of mental health is why I am focused on parental alienation as an important dynamic for all mental health professionals to recognize and deeply understand; especially those that work with children, families and with court systems.
    If you can’t protect your child, so they are in a safe situation to be authentic, they must do what they have to do in order to stay as safe as possible in the situation they are stuck in. For this reason, the most important thing to do is twofold. 1. Find people to support you in the mental health system and legal system who understand the complex abusive dynamics of parental alienation and who can see through the elaborate deception game.
    If you are involving professionals in the alienation dynamic you are in, you must know that not any professional will do. The vast (and I mean really vast) majority of professionals do not understand the processes and patterns involved in parental alienation. They aren’t good at seeing through smokescreens, deception and veneers. They don’t recognize a child’s “one parent being all good vs one parent being all bad” as a huge red flag. They are easily manipulated. Any professional you involve must demonstrate that they deal with alienation dynamics specifically. As a special awareness, therapists who are trained specifically to work with children as a class of therapists, often lack the training for and experience of working with the kinds of severe adult issues (a therapist would call them pathologies or disorders) involved in parental alienation. So, they don’t even recognize what they are looking at. In essence, they are not sensitized to these behavioral patterns and processes and how they affect the behavior of the child. This means, they miss a great deal. 2. Be part of the game of changing the system itself so that it becomes one that recognizes and understands the complex abusive dynamics of parental alienation and who can see through the elaborate deception game. Right now, you are in the dark ages relative to parental alienation. And that, is one of the saddest realities and also the hardest things to accept as an alienated parent. If you cannot protect your children with the help of the mental health system and legal system, then you are playing a long-term game regarding getting your relationship with your child back.  
  11. Because parental alienation is a game of deception, the name of the game for you, is to be very sure that your behavior contradicts the narrative that is being spun. To not fall into the trap of appearing to be the way that the other parent wants you to appear to everyone involved. This is not about arguing with everyone for yourself and against the other parent, especially when it comes to your child. Remember your child cannot wake up out of the spell of this kind of psychological manipulation while they are still in the situation. And making sure your behavior contradicts the narrative being spun is way, way easier said than done because parental alienation is enough to make even the most composed parent lose it. And this is way easier said than done because of how good the alienating parent is at spinning things, negatively reframing things and putting you in soul boggling lose-loses where a self-supportive choice you make, or a genuine need you have, may just condemn you. You need to make sure to keep a record of literally every single thing related to your ex and kids. Receipts, records of communications. Anything that can serve as proof to contradict the narrative. And you need to keep that proof. And should you need to present that proof, as impossible as it feels to do so, you need to do so in a non-defensive way, like someone simply presenting counter-proof. Not only will this help you in your battle now, when your kids are adults and should they start trying to weed through all the deception, it will benefit them to have the open opportunity to see these things. You need to be the one who takes the high road and displays no ill will at all times. And other adults involved in the situation need to see proof that this is the case. Remember that in perfectly disgusting fashion, any angry or upset reaction that you have will be used against you.    
  12. As I said earlier, one of the most important things for alienated parents to see is that parental alienation is a triangulation dynamic. For this reason, it may benefit you to watch my video titled: Are You Being Triangulated? A Common Manipulation Technique in Relationships. And a skilled triangulator, which an alienating parent is, will use what is REAL to disguise themselves. They will capitalize on actual issues or weaknesses. This means, they will target any real issues that you may have, including issues with your child. Your job, if possible, is to resolve those things as quickly as possible so they are not issues anymore and therefore can’t be used by the alienator against the child anymore. In this way, alienation can be a real fire under your butt to fix issues and positively change relationship patterns and repair ruptures. For example, say that you are a workaholic who spends so much time at the office that you never have time for the kids and have come to learn that this is a source of pain for your child. In order for the alienating parent to not be able to use that as a means of triangulating your child against you, you need to actually change this pattern with your child. Perhaps acknowledge the pain you’ve caused through this dynamic and make it so that the child does not make it mean anything about them. And make a real dedicated effort to spend more quality time with them. Parental alienation will fan the flames of any real problem that does exist in you or in the relationship you have with your child and you have power when it comes to this, which is a big deal because when it comes to parental alienation, you have very little power to do anything.
  13. No matter what, do not play the same game of debasement. The alienating parent is using the child as a pawn in their own game against you. They have in essence, just sacrificed their own child. If you grab onto that child and use them as a pawn back, trying to get them to see the other parent as bad, you’ve just done the same thing. Remember that it is intensely tormenting and deeply damaging for a child as well as their development to be caught between their parents and to feel like it is a problem for them to be close with the other parent. This means, don’t fall into the trap of trying to get your child to see the other parent as bad. Do not triangulate back. On top of this, part of this game is to try not to activate the alienating parent’s deep feelings of inadequacy, shame and poor self-esteem. Remember that they are covering up a deep self-esteem wound, which has been there since childhood and was added to in their relationship with you. They are covering it up with the exact opposite… A personal narrative of themselves being amazing and good. You are a huge threat to this inflated positive personal narrative that is protecting them from this deeper insecurity. And the more this deep sense of poor self-esteem is touched and challenged, the more they will fight like hell to preserve it and they will employ all kinds of defensive processes against you.   
  14. In order to go through this horrific experience, you are going to need support. You are going to need multiple people and professionals, who are helping you through the experience emotionally, mentally, physically and legally. But here is a huge warning. All of them need to be able to support you in playing this horrific game (that you are now in whether you like it or not). Believe me, no one involved, including the alienating parent is playing this game for fun. Remember that they are caught up in a re-play of their own trauma. This game, is a game of emotional and mental survival for everyone involved. And it is a social attachment nightmare. The people involved will have to be able to play this game too. This alienation game will put incredible pressure on and stress on any other relationship you have, most especially your relationship with a significant other. Your significant other is likely to be targeted by the alienating parent because they are the biggest trigger for the deep self-esteem trauma they experienced in childhood. They are in essence, a source of re-traumatization for them. In truth, a significant other can even be the trigger for the entire parental alienation dynamic to occur. So, they will be enrolled in this game whether they like it or not. Some people that I have helped through alienation dynamics have gone so far as to settled on the opinion that a parent who is being alienated should not be in a partnership dynamic when they take on an alienation fight. Or should do everything to keep the relationship secret. The alienating parent is likely to make any harmony or happiness between you and a significant other, which is a source of suffering for them, impossible. They want to stir up conflict between you. What I will say is that your significant other must be not even willing, but able to do so. 
    It's very important to not expect that if a significant other loves you, they will support you through such an ordeal. Because this will be much more than supporting you to have a good relationship with your child. This will be signing up to be targeted on a daily basis by someone bent on not only punishment but also debasement. Not only debasement, but alienation. And not only of you, but of them too. It will feel superbly unfair that you have been put in this position. But now, being in this position, you are also putting them in an unfair position. You are asking them to choose pain and danger for your sake and for the sake of your child. Some couples do manage it. But it is like trying to build a sand castle in a hurricane. This would be impossible for a great many partners who have a secure attachment. But anyone who has an insecure attachment, or even worse, trauma from their own childhoods (which the alienating parent will hone in on and use to their advantage) will be re-traumatized and damaged by this experience and you could quickly find yourself dealing not only with being alienated from your kids and so many other people, but consistent conflicts with and the breakdown of your relationship with your significant other.
  15. Commit to the process of facing yourself and resolve unresolved traumas in your own past. Do your own deep, healing work, most especially shadow work. As tempting as it is for every one of us to think of ourselves as having ended up in such a situation by accident. Believe me, it is no accident. I have never, and I mean ever, met an alienated parent whose alienation experience was not directly related to a childhood trauma or many. And the many patterns they developed as a result of it. These traumas are at the root of why a person even ends up in a relationship with a person like an alienator. Doing this work is very different than blaming yourself or taking the responsibility for what is the responsibility of the alienator. Instead, it is freeing yourself from the very patterns that feed into the painful dynamic you are now in. Doing this work is difficult. But it will keep you sane through this process. It will enable you to make much better decisions in this alienation situation itself. It also has the potential to put you in the position to have a better and more authentic relationship with your children than you even could have if you stayed in all of your patterns because none of this ever happened.
    On top of all of this, nightmares happen in parental alienation dynamics when the alienated parent is understandably so emotionally and mentally damaged by this experience that the entire fight to stay connected with their child becomes about their own needs. When this happens, the child is effectively ripped in half by two parents who are both stuck in a state of narcissism. Your job is to be the safe parent for this child. And a big part of this is to genuinely evaluate what is best for that child in all steps of this process, completely separate from what you want and need on an emotional level. As hellish as it is, the need you have for your children, a need which is about your emotional needs, cannot mean more to you than what your child needs.    
  16. A final note is that when it comes to parental alienation, which is a deception game, your best ally is knowledge and information. This means, research, research, research about it. Connect with professionals who are aware of parental alienation and with parents and adult children who have gone through the experience themselves. The more you learn, the better. And the more you research, the more resources you will find to assist you. 

Parental alienation is one of the single most painful things that a person can experience. And there is nothing I could say to make the pain you are in go away. But I will tell you that in this universe, three very powerful things prevail. Those things are love, truth and the drive to heal. And so, even though it doesn’t feel like it right now, you have three very powerful allies working against everything that the other parent is doing. You also have professionals like myself across various fields who are dedicated to blowing the lid right off of this whole dynamic, so that our society and the systems that are a part of it, are no longer unknowingly enabling parental alienation to take place.


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