Coping with Alienation – What TO Do:

Parental Alienation

  • Get support – talk to a friend or therapist and describe what you are dealing with. Break the silence and get a reality check and some constructive feedback.
  • Talk to the people you are being alienated from. This takes courage – but go talk to the people whom you have been told are monsters, or who have been told what a flaky, dysfunctional, abusive person you are. Make up your own mind about them, and let them do the same.  Perhaps they are monsters, perhaps not – you may be surprised by what you learn.
  • Stand up for your needs. Confront attempts at alienation abuse with a calm, yet firm, resolve not to allow someone else’s dysfunction cause dysfunction in you. Try saying, “I care about you deeply – and I also care about my own health – this is something I need to do.”
  • Visit loved ones and healthy…

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10 Lessons learned from Parental Alienation

Parental Alienation

1. Dont marry a lair, thief and a cheat!! I was very young only 18 very naive and stupidly mistook love for pure narcissism.

2. Do not ever allow a residence order if you have married a narcissistic type of personality. If they have lied and cheated on you within the marriage or relationship they are not going to be FAIR when it comes to the children. They will use and abuse. Remember a narcissist is only interested in themselves.

3. Get yourself and your children away from the environment asap it is an extremely unhealthy situation for children of any age. I did not, I was trying very hard to keep the family together and exposed them to the horrors of Divorce Poison.

4. If you find yourself without your children, once you get over the initial shock, put all that energy and anger into something

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Hostile Aggressive Parenting often leads to Parental Alienation

Hostile Aggressive Parenting, also known as HAP, is a pattern of behavior that acts in conflict with a child’s best interest and can constitute as abuse or maltreatment. Generally Hostile Aggressive Parenting is exhibited in child custody cases where there is high conflict, the parents are unable to co-parent, or the parents differ greatly in their parenting styles. The HAP parent uses their behavior to align a child caught in a dispute with them and to effectively turn the child away from the target parent. Parents that act out in HAP will generally do everything in their power to cause interference in between the child and the other parent. Furthermore Hostile Aggressive Parenting is the pattern of behavior that leads to Parental Alienation Syndrome or characteristics exhibited by the child that they prefer one parent over the other as a direct result of HAP.

A party exhibiting Hostile Aggressive Parenting may exhibit one or more of the following characteristics:

• Badmouthing, disrespecting, or demeaning the target parent in front of the children.
• Refusing to answer phone calls when the target parent calls.
• Using the children’s feelings of guilt or sympathy in their favor- treating the children as a pawn in a game.
• Manipulating the child into not answering the phone when it rings- through threats or treat incentives.
• Using the child as a weapon against the target parent or other family members.
• Consistently telling the target parent that the child does not wish to speak to them.
• Encouraging the child to defy the other parent intentionally.
• Or encourage a child to legally alter their last name from connection with the target parent.
• Prevent a child’s access to belongings coming from the target parents’ home.
• Make false claims of parental conflict while doing nothing to reduce conflict.
• Threaten a child with loss of love if aligning with the target parent.
• Take children to their own doctors/ psychologist/ therapist without permission of the other parent and or convincing a professional to write disparaging remarks against the other parent without cause or proof.
• Failing to participate or preventing participation in additional visitation outside of court ordered visitation.
• Failing to include the target parent in life events, school, summer schedule, holidays, etc.
• Consistently selling or discarding gifts or belongings of the child coming from the target parent.
• Intercepting letters or mail communications coming from the target parent or the target parent’s family members.
• Abusive forms of questioning – tape recording children for coerced and/or rehearsed questions and answers.

[Source: ]

How to Cope With a Difficult Ex-Spouse

We found this insightful article on and thought we would share it:

I’m addressing a question today I received from a reader. How do you cope as a stepmom when you’re dealing with a biological mom who is belittling to you and doesn’t want you in her children’s lives?

The stepmom role becomes harder when the bio mom makes every effort to exclude you from her children’s lives and unfortunately, it’s not uncommon, particularly in the beginning. It helps to understand that at the root of this issue lies the fear that the bio mom feels the children are going to bond with the you – the stepmom, and form a deeper relationship with you than they have with her.

It’s an unfounded fear because children almost always have a stronger relationship with their biological parents than they have with a stepparent, but she is reacting out of her own fear and communicating to her children that she wants their loyalty. Women are territorial when it comes to their children. If you have children of your own, you understand these feelings, but it doesn’t give the bio mom the right to act belittling or antagonistic  toward the stepmom.

To help alleviate the threat the bio mom is sensing, the stepmom needs to send a message that she has no intention of interfering with the relationship between the bio mom and her children and isn’t trying to replace her in any way. In their book, The Smart Stepmom, Laura Petherbridge and Ron Deal give an example of how to communicate this message which they call “The No-Threat Message.” They suggest doing it in person or via e-mail if the relationship is already strained.

“Dear Meghan, since we are both involved with your kids, I wanted to take a minute to communicate with you. I want to share that I totally understand and respect that you are the only mother of these children. I’m not their mom, and I will never try to take your place. They are your children. I am honored to be an added parent figure in their lives. I view my role as one of support to their father, and my desire is to be a blessing to them. I promise to speak well of you and work together for their benefit. I desire to make their lives easier, not more difficult. Please know that I pray for the entire family. If there’s anything I can do to help the situation or if you have any questions, feel free to contact me.”

Sending the no-threat message doesn’t guarantee the bio mom will accept your position in her children’s lives but it offers her some perspective on how you feel about your role. She is more likely to allow a relationship between you and her children if she doesn’t feel threatened by your behavior and sees you live out the No-threat message.

Unfortunately, some bio moms are mean-spirited and vindictive. In this case, there’s not a lot the stepmom can do to have an amicable relationship. For further insight, I suggest reading the chapter from The Smart Stepmom, “Meet Your Ex-Wife-in-Law: Friend or Foe.” It gives additional scenarios of how to cope with a difficult ex-spouse.

Providing Emotional Support for An Alienating Parent

Our last post ended with the following suggestion for dealing with Parental Alienation:  Providing emotional support. The AP [Alienating Parent] may need a great deal of emotional support for correction to take place, as the breakdown of the alienation may bring to the surface serious problems for the AP.

Our alienating parent survived an incredibly traumatic situation from her childhood.  Many people who have had contact with her over the ensuing years have commented about her need to get some sort of psychological or emotional support.  We, obviously, are the last people who can provide that support.  All we can do is keep her in our prayers and hope that, someday, she finds some relief from her ongoing issues.

But, for those in a position to help someone who has chosen to alienate their children from the other parent, here are some suggestions:

How to be there for someone who isn’t ready to get help

If you’ve been offering advice and support to someone, and they haven’t been responding very well, there are some things you should avoid doing, and some new strategies you can try.


  • Try and force the issue
  • Put pressure on them
  • Avoid them

When people try and pressure or force a friend to get help, it always comes from a good place, but it can actually have the opposite effect to what they intend – and could turn their friend off help seeking altogether. Avoiding a friend is also not a great idea –it’s likely to make them feel isolated, and it means if they do become ready to seek help, they might not feel comfortable about going to you for support.


Continue to be supportive. You can:

  • Be available to listen to your friend when they need.
  • Offer help or suggestions if and when your friend reaches out to you and asks for your advice.
  • Get informed. Do a bit of research into what help is available in your area that could be useful for your friend. That way, if they decide they’re ready to seek help, you’ll be able to give them some direction about who they can go and see.
  • Talk to someone yourself. You need to look after yourself as well, and feeling like you can’t help someone is really frustrating and can make you feel pretty helpless. Talk through how you’re feeling with someone you trust.
  • Set boundaries. You need to look out for yourself, and you’re not going to be able to be there for someone at every moment of every day. Set some limits on things you are willing and not willing to do – and stick to them! (e.g. work out if you’re comfortable accompanying them to appointments).

If things are really serious

While in most circumstances, it’s a good idea to give a friend time to ready themselves to seek help, if you think someone is in danger or at risk as a result of what is going on, it’s important that you seek help immediately.

If you think your friend is in danger or at serious risk, but they don’t want help, you might be worried about going against their wishes. However, it’s better to have an angry friend than a friend who is in serious trouble or is seriously hurt.

[Source: ]

Parental Alienation: Causes and Possible Solutions

Dealing with our particular Alienating Parent (AP) for so many years, we have come across all of the following aspects of Parental Alienation.

“The Family System

The PAS is a family system defense mechanism. The function of the defense is not always obvious, but there is often a subtle underlying complicity on the part of the family members in the drama. The research provides clues to some defense functions:

  • to protect the AP’s self-esteem (for example, when PAS escalates as the TP [Targeted Parent] becomes more “successful” after the separation, including getting on with life and remarriage);

  • to help the AP cope with his or her difficulty “letting go” of the marriage (for example, when the AP can’t stop thinking about or talking about the other parent; or when PAS escalates around birthdays, holidays, vacations, etc.);

  • to maintain the AP’s symbiotic dependence on the child (for example, when the AP calls the child every day when he or she is with the TP–one of the authors had a case in which the AP would tell the child that she “couldn’t stand to go into your room while you were away, it makes me so sad”);

  • to deal with anger and revenge (for example, when the AP expresses moral outrage at the exposure of the child to a new romantic partner, when the real issue is anger for an affair, or simply at being so easily replaced);

  • to help the AP through what he or she perceives to be a “grown up” version of a childhood experience; and

  • to help the family cope with the AP’s tendency to turn on the child or anyone else who disagrees, or to abandon the child if there is a change (the child fears having feelings independent of and in opposition to the AP and becoming a target of the rage and rejection he or she has seen the AP direct at others who disagree).”

Some helpful suggestions that we read in this same article are:


Once the evaluation is complete, the mental health professional and the attorneys involved must collaborate on a plan. Each plays an important role in this process. This should be an open process, since the process itself models for the family a healthy problem-solving approach. The intervention plan must be based on the factors in the individual case, though in all cases there will be some similarities in approach, including but not limited to the following steps:

  1. Establishing the benefits of ongoing contact between the children and the TP. Some of these are inherent in the parent/child relationship. Others may be family specific (e.g., “My father may be more willing to contribute to my college expenses if he has ongoing contact with me”). With all family members contributing to the process of identifying the benefits of contact, they begin to incorporate a family culture of valuing the contact rather than disputing it. The family also needs to identify any drawbacks to contact between the child and the TP, but these ought to be reframed as obstacles to be overcome rather than as reasons for elimination.

  2. 2. Establishing structure around the contact. This may include behavioral contracts regarding concerns and problematic behavior. Frequent telephone calls by the AP to the child, for example, may prevent the child from having an independent experience with the TP. Contracting to a certain number of calls at certain times may reduce the anxiety. If the TP makes bothersome statements to the child, contracting can include limiting these. The structure, particularly initially when the system is fragile, must have a reliable system of reporting and enforcement.

  3. 3. Avoiding the use of placement as a corrective tool. In most cases, the child’s relationship with the AP is important. In many instances, the AP has played the role of primary caregiver, and the threat of breaking that attachment may drive the destruction deeper into the family system. However, frequent contact with the TP provides counterbalancing influences to the PAS process and may also provide the child reliable contact with other people (for example, grandparents) who are respected by and important to the child. If necessary, therefore, placement may be a tool to provide corrective experiences for the child.

  4. Encouraging the TP to have expert counseling in approaching the child with sensitivity, cool patience, and loving persistence. The TP, often the weak link in the destructive system, may be required to provide delicate explanations of the situation to the child without denigrating the AP. Drawing the TP out of the family process first provides the child with some sense of relief from the pressures.

  5. Eliciting some permission, even if insincere, from the AP for the child to love and be involved with the TP. If the AP is on record as giving such permission, the child may have the courage to progress. This may also provide some reassurance to the child at times, in that others can point out that while the AP may in part be reluctant, there is at least some wish for the relationship between the child and the TP to be successful.

  6. Having an outside professional take a strong role in protecting the child by giving a powerful message that the TP is nor a bad person, directly opposing the message of the AP. This must fit the real experiences of the child, however. If the TP has misbehaved, this should not be ignored or glossed over.

  7. Conveying a clear, strong message to the family that the alienation process is harmful to the child. In some instances, it may be wise to identify PAS as a form of psychological abuse and to indicate that the courts will not tolerate its continuance. Not all cases require a court order; in some, this may be counterproductive or an exercise in futility. Some cases absolutely cannot proceed without the external authority of the court order, but only if the court is willing to enforce. The judge or family court commissioner, therefore, must be included in the collaborative assessment of the family and the recommended plan of intervention.

  8. Developing a clear picture of the benefits to the child in maintaining contact with the TP. These include both the general benefits (e.g., the biological needs of the child for the parent; benefits to the identification process; maintaining a reality foundation for the child’s fears [no contact will almost always lead to an irrational increase in the fear level, and the fantasies about the TP almost always become irrational]; and prevention of the loss of a love object [which most often leads to self-resentment by the child and guilt, regardless of the cause of the loss]) and the specific benefits given the AP, the TP, the TP’s associates, and family. A clear picture of these benefits will help the collaborating professionals take the unambiguous approach required. Any ambivalence regarding the benefits will feed the polarization in the family. If there are no clear benefits to the child, given the nature of the family, treatment may prove fruitless.

  9. Realizing that confrontation rarely helps. For example, if the issue is loss, focusing on reducing the loss is more likely to help than confronting the alienation and bringing on the threat of more loss.

  10. Providing emotional support. The AP may need a great deal of emotional support for correction to take place, as the breakdown of the alienation may bring to the surface serious problems for the AP.”

Source:  American Journal of Family Law. Vol. 10. 121-133 (1996)

Understanding and Collaboratively Treating Parental Alienation Syndrome

Kenneth H. Waldron, Ph.D. and David E. Joanis, J.D.
Madison, Wisconsin

Narcissists are particularly nasty

Parental Alienation

During the sickening lengthy divorce battles, narcissists are particularly nasty. They fear that they won’t get everything to which they are entitled. They expect to win over the opposing spouse and if this involves devastating the lives of their children and other family members, this is of no consequence to them. They are in a no prisoners mode, nothing is going to stop them; they are heavily lawyered up and hell bent to take everything in reach, even if they are not legally entitled to it. Custody battles are particularly nasty. Narcissists often drag them out over many years to wear the other party down, manipulate the children to their side and attempt to destroy any positive relationship with the other parent. They play games with the children, ensuring them that they are the good parent, can and will provide the kids with whatever they want and need. This puts…

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