A Quick Survey of Parental Alienation Behaviors and Their Severity

There are 3 basic types of alienating behavior.

1. The parent can positively reinforce the alienation.

The parent rewards the child when he or she agrees with a critical statement about you or makes fun of you. For example: “You’re so right that your father looks ridiculous in that picture. He was never able to control himself around alcohol.”

2. The parent can negatively reinforce the alienation.

The parent can scream or become emotionally agitated when the child refuses to go along with the criticism of you. For example: “What are you talking about? Your father does NOT look like he lost weight. I’d be surprised if that fat slob has even moved from that couch of his. You can never excuse that kind of lazy behavior!”

3. The parent can partially reinforce the alienation.

This is the most vexing and psychologically harmful strategy. The parent mixes up positive and negative reinforcement, so that the child never knows what to expect. To stop this chaotic behavior – and regain a sense of control – the child may agree with the attacks to mollify the alienating parent.

Even when a child just “goes along with” the alienating parent just to get the unpleasant behavior to stop, over time, he or she may come to believe the lies and distortions. In such cases, reversing the brainwashing can be quite challenging. Once the false narrative has been fully implanted, the child may resist attempts to rewrite that narrative and may start even inventing new details to embellish and support the stories made up by the alienating parent.

Three Levels of Parental Alienation

1. Mild Alienation

This is characterized by the following:

• The alienating parent occasionally says or does things to make the other parent “look bad” in the eyes of the child but then later regrets the actions and often tries to engage in repair of the relationship;

• The parent generally complies with court orders and engages in respectful conversation with the targeted parent;

• The alienating behavior typically occurs during the most challenging times of a divorce and then later stops;


2. Moderate Alienation

This is characterized by the following:

• The alienating parent often loses control and engages in rage-fueled alienating behavior, which he or she often later deeply regrets.

• The parent will comply with court orders, but the relationship with the targeted parent is very rigid, or there might not be much civil conversation between them;

• The parent is able to understand that the child is separate; that is, they’re not a “team” designed to “fight back” against an “evil” parent – an attitude that a severely alienating parent might have;


2. Severe Alienation

This is characterized by the following:

• The alienating parent may be mentally ill and/or incapable of rationally discussing the situation. Even when neutral third parties (e.g. an attorney or a therapist) brings up the behavior, the parent may get furious. The parent will refuse therapy, for instance.

• The parent often disobeys court orders, under the pretense of “I’ll do whatever it takes to protect my child,” and solicits others into his or her “us vs. them” paradigm;

• Reversing this kind of alienation often requires removing the child from the custody of the alienating parent;

For skillful, experienced assistance battling back against untrue allegations of child abuse or neglect, call the Williams Law Group, LLC immediately at (908) 810-1083.

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