Dr. Gardner identified eight factors that can contribute to alienation.
- The alienating parent engages in a “campaign of denigration” against the targeted parent.
In other words, PA is not a spouse saying one mean or spiteful remark out of context. The parent has to systematically say or do things to convince your child of your wrongness.
- The depreciation is based on weak or absurd reasons.
It’s one thing for a parent to say: I’m so furious at your father for feeding you nothing but Kool-Aid and cupcakes over the weekend. That’s completely irresponsible, and I’m scared for you to go over there again. It’s quite another thing to say: I can’t believe your dad gave you an ice-cream sundae for dessert. You know how I feel about sugar! I can’t let your father keep poisoning you like that! As with many things in life, the dose makes the poison.
- Lack of ambivalence.
Even happily married spouses sometimes snap at each other and say less than flattering things in front of their children. However, there’s a big difference between losing your temper and then later reflecting and repenting, and engaging in a relentless, non-ambivalent campaign. For instance, the alienating parent might always call the other parent Mr. Liar or Dr. McCheatOnMe and use these insulting nicknames frequently with the child.
- The child claims to come up with negative thoughts about the parent on her own.
This is also known as the “independent thinker” phenomenon, and it’s a real hallmark of Parent Alienation. Disturbingly, a child will tell other people – and even come to believe – that he or she invented reasons not to like the targeted parent independently.
- The child exhibits “reflexive support” for the alienating parent.
This is somewhat related to factor #4; it speaks to the depth and breadth of the brainwashing, as well as the malleable psychology of young kids and adolescents.
- The child expresses no feelings of guilt regarding the rejection of the targeted parent.
For instance, let’s say the child says “I hate daddy” or “daddy is a mean liar, and I never want to stay at his house.” Even though kids sometimes naturally fight with their parents — or go through periods where they prefer one parent over the other — they usually moderate these stances or at least later “feel bad” about saying mean things. But in Parental Alienation, this guilt or shame over the denigration never arises, often to the targeted parent’s devastation.
- The child uses “borrowed scenarios.”
In other words, the alienating parent develops stories or narratives about you (the targeted parent), which the child then borrows and coopts as his or her own.
- The rejection extends to the friends and family members of the targeted parent.
In addition to no longer wanting to spend time with you, the child may want to avoid going to your parents’ house or hanging out with your brother or sister or close friends.
Not all eight of these symptoms must appear in order to build a compelling case that alienation is occurring. In fact, usually only in severe cases do all eight factors come into play. For instance, your child may not want to see you, but he may still have a perfectly healthy relationship with your parents. That doesn’t mean that alienation isn’t occurring.
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.