The most damaging story was my father raped her, she had to marry him. One day my father and I had a big fight, in anger I blurted out what she said. The truth was on his devastated face. My father was a bastard but he went to his grave without saying one negative word about my mother.
It’s sad when a parent focuses on turning a child against the other, not thinking about what the child needs. One of the hardest times in a child’s life and all the energy is faulting the other parent, sad. M
Parental alienation is a hot topic right now, particularly among separated or divorced parents, but there are a lot of misconceptions of what it actually is.
In fact, if you ask Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC, she says, “There is hardly a day that doesn’t go by in my counseling practice where someone brings up the concept of parental alienation.” However, according to her, the term is often misused.
According to Hammond, “Parental alienation occurs when one parent encourages their child to unfairly reject the other parent.” Now, this might seem pretty clear-cut, but it’s actually far more complicated than one parent asking their child who’s their favorite: mom or dad? And it can result is some pretty nasty side effects, such as unwarranted fear, hostility, and/or disrespect toward one parent while displaying signs of loyalty, unconditional trust, and/or empathy toward the other.
Parental alienation boils down into three categories:
First, there is naïve alienation.
This is when one parent tries to alienate the child from the other parent through passive-aggressive comments. For instance, when my mother would say, “Your dad makes more money than me, so he can buy you a bike.” While this was probably true, I was only 10, and her comments caused a rift between me and my father when he didn’t buy me a bike.
While this all seems pretty subtle, passive-aggressive comments towards the other parent can add up and create long-term problems. Other examples could be a parent saying something like, “Your father doesn’t work, so she can attend your parent teacher conference. He obviously has the time.” Or “I bet your mother could help with that. She studied English and needs to use it for something.”
The second category is active alienation.
This is when one parent actively tries to alienate one parent by creating feelings of loyalty. For example, one parent might try to get their child to keep secrets from the other. Like when I discovered that my father was writing child support checks, making copies to use in court, and then throwing the checks away without sending them to my mother. He asked me to keep that a secret. I was 11, and felt that I owed it to him to keep quiet (yes, my father was a sleaze-bag, but that’s another essay).
Now, according to Hammond, what my father did by asking me to keep his secret was create a “private bond from which the child learns to withhold parts of their life from the other parent.” Not a good way to raise a child, right?
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