Parental Alienation Strategies

Parental Alienation Strategies

There are two primary strategies (typically used in conjunction with each other) that alienators employ to punish and erase the other parent. The first strategy involves the manipulation of the legal system (we’ll get to this later), and the second involves the direct psychological manipulation of the child. Psychological research reveals that narcissistic personality traits are prone to dominate the alienating parent’s behavior because  these personalities are generally incapable of separating their own needs from those of their children, and, are quite comfortable with using and exploiting them to achieve their goals.  Narcissists are incapable of empathy toward others (including their own kids) and are largely unconcerned with the welfare of anyone but themselves. They don’t have genuine relationships, because to them, people tend to be objects to be manipulated for their own ends.  With a narcissist, there is no real love, no genuine caring for others. They give only if it gets them more in return, and once a person ceases to be useful they’ll usually be discarded. Narcissists aren’t difficult to spot once you know the personality markers:
  • Highly controlling
  • Consistently insist you prioritize their needs above others
  • Regularly employ emotional threats and punishments to get what they want
  • Are unable to see a perspective other than their own
  • Become enraged when their manipulations are disrupted or when they are criticized (commonly known as “narcissistic rage”)
  • Absent empathy toward others, especially where their own behavior is concerned
  • Possess an exaggerated sense of self-importance
  • Commonly portray themselves as both the victim and the hero
This kind of behavior may be an existing dominate feature of the alienator (Narcissistic Personality Disorder), but it can also be the case that the pathological nature of the family court environment encourages and rewards it when the behavior might be otherwise more subdued. The truth is parental alienation is a form of narcissistic abuse toward both children and the targeted parent.  Psychologist and clinical researcher Amy J.L. Baker, Ph.D. summarizes the narcissistic process of parental alienation as a three part message to children:
    1. I am the only parent who loves you and you need me to feel good about yourself.
    2. The other parent is dangerous and unavailable.
    3. Pursuing a relationship with the other parent jeopardizes your relationship with me.
She further notes there are seventeen primary and clinically-validated parental alienation strategies employed by toxic parents that fall into five broad categories:
    1. Poisonous messages to the child about the targeted parent in which he or she is portrayed as unloving, unsafe, and unavailable.
    2. Limiting contact and communication between the child and the targeted parent.
    3. Erasing and replacing the targeted parent in the heart and mind of the child.
    4. Encouraging the child to betray the targeted parent’s trust.
    5. Undermining the authority of the targeted parent
Wholesale deceit is a fundamental part of the alienator’s arsenal. All these strategies aside, perhaps the most destructive tactics used are what is left unsaid, what is deliberately misrepresented, and what is blatantly manufactured. Children are told the alienated parent is willingly absent, under investigation, etc.  No mention is made of the endless flood of motions requesting denied visitation, how the court finds on false allegations, all the phone calls neglected, messages deleted, gifts re-labeled, the custody orders ignored, or, that the targeted parent simply became incapable of continuing fighting because their finances have become exhausted. The alienating parent manipulates everything the child sees and controls what information they get so the child comes to believe and feel things that are not true; about the alienator, about the targeted parent, and sadly, about themselves.
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