In 2006, authors Baker & Darnall catalogued 66 behaviors that alienating parents use to convince their children of the wrongness or badness of the other parent. Here are nine examples of these tactics:
- The alienator interferes with communication between the child and the other parent.
For instance, he or she may read and delete your emails, prevent phone conversations, or even get in the way of so-called “symbolic contact” by, for instance, prohibiting the child from referring to you as “dad” at her house.
- The parent engages in gossip designed to create alliances.
For instance, let’s say that you’ve recently started dating again. The alienating parent might encourage your child to become friends with your new girlfriend on Facebook, so that she can spy on her, “get the dirt,” and make fun of her to your child.
- The alienator can recruit other people, such as doctors, coaches and teachers, to participate in the process.
For instance, at a parent-teacher conference, the alienating parent might indirectly hint (or outright discuss) your problems with alcohol or gambling or your tenuous money situation, in order to arouse anxiety or suspicion about you.
- The alienating parent ignores court ordered constraints on parenting time or interferes with your custody time.
For instance, the parent may encourage the child to “ditch” spending time with you, in favor of shopping or going to a theme park. Or the parent may disrespect the time-sharing boundaries by arriving early to take the child back and/or dropping the child off late.
- The parent may get in the way of the exchange of information about the child.
Let’s say your child has a medical condition, and you need her new doctor’s name and number, so that you can ask questions and obtain prescriptions. The other parent might purposefully fail to pass this information to you to make you look bad or negligent.
- The parent engages in emotional manipulation.
For instance, if your child comes to your defense, the other parent may withdraw or act hurt or angry and say things to the effect of “you think your father’s a nice guy, but what you didn’t know is that, when my uncle died, he was ‘too busy’ at work to go to his funeral. How disgusting is that behavior? That’s not something a man who cares about his family does.”
The badmouthing and manipulation can take many forms, including exaggerations, outright lies and the divulgence of private information that shouldn’t be shared with children.
- The parent encourages the child to be scared or disgusted by the other parent.
In very extreme cases, aggressive parents might use drugs or alcohol to manipulate the child’s behavior or might fake bruises or injuries to convince the child that “he hurt me.”
- The parent withdraws, emotionally.
If the child stands by the targeted parent, the alienating parent might withdraw love, affection, favorite toys, privileges and even essentials, such as quality food.
- The parent switches tactics at random.
An obsessed alienator may intentionally deploy many different tactics to see what works, when, and under what circumstances. In less severe cases, the alienator might behave erratically because her feelings are genuinely torn. She might badmouth you to the child one day, then express regret, then badmouth you again, and so forth.
This back and forth might not be a deliberate attempt to confuse or destabilize the child, but the behavior often leads to that result. To get the unpredictable behavior to stop, the child often sides with the alienator.
For skillful, experienced assistance handling your Parental Alienation case, call the Williams Law Group, LLC immediately at (908) 810-1083.