Parental Alienation Part 3: The 8 Behaviors

Last week’s blog talked about the four factor model. The fourth factor is the presence of eight specific behaviors. These behaviors are unique to alienated kids. Even abused children do not behave in these ways toward the abusive parent. So, if these behaviors are present it can make it a lot easier to show that parental alienation is likely happening.

The 8 Behaviors

Campaign of denigration against the targeted parent.

Simply put, this means that the child is continuously complaining about the targeted parent. It doesn’t matter what the parent does or does not do, it is always wrong in the child’s eyes.

Weak, frivolous, or absurd reasons for the rejection of the targeted parent.

If you ask an alienated child why they have so much disdain for their parent, they give strange reasons. For example, “They wear ugly clothes,” or “I don’t like their neighborhood.”

Lack of ambivalence towards both parents in which one is viewed as all good and the other as all bad.

Most people, including children, can usually list good and bad traits about the people in their lives. However, alienated children are not nuanced in the appraisal of their parents. They won’t be able to say anything negative about the favored parent. And they won’t be able to say anything positive about the rejected parent.

Lack of remorse for the poor treatment of the targeted parent.

The alienated child treats the rejected parent horribly. Worse, possibly, than the meanest bully at their school. However, they show no sorrow or guilt for their behavior.

Reflexive support for the favored parent.

The alienated child will always side with the favored parent over the rejected parent no matter what.

Use of borrowed scenarios.

The child will repeat stories or opinions about the targeted parent they have heard from the favored parent. They will say things children normally would not say, like, “My dad was a sorry excuse for a husband.” Usually this means they are repeating word for word things they’ve heard the favored parent say over and over.

 The “independent thinker” phenomenon.

The alienated child will always deny that they are being influenced by the favored parent. They will be adamant that they came up with their own opinions about the rejected parent without any help.

Spread of animosity towards the friends and family of the targeted parent.

It isn’t just the parent the alienated child will turn against. It is the extended family of that parent, the friends of that parent, and anyone who defends or speaks well of that parent.

A Word of Hope

If your child is displaying these behaviors toward you, life is probably very painful at the moment. You may feel like giving up. Maybe it seems like your kids would be happier if you were just out of their lives. This is not true.

Children love their parents. Underneath these behaviors lies a great deal of love for you. Children long to feel that their parents love them and will always be there for them. Because of the selfish actions of the other parent, your children fear that you don’t love them and you may not be there for them. Prove them wrong by being a steady and stable presence.

Do not play the same game and engage in any of the 17 strategies against the other parent. This is not in your best interest or your child’s best interest.

When your child attacks you, do not focus on defending yourself. Try to seek to understand their feelings, even if they don’t make sense to you. It’s hard to do, and you will mess up from time to time. But the more you help your child feel that you really care about them and not getting back at the other parent or showing that you are a good parent, the stronger their trust will be in you, even if you can’t see it right now.

If the favored parent is engaging in some or all of the 17 strategies, and the four factors are present, and your child is showing some or all of these 8 behaviors, you have a good case for parental alienation. Proving parental alienation to the court will be the next challenge. Find an experienced family law attorney to help you.

For more information on parental alienation, research what Amy Baker has written on the subject.

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