It cannot be said enough, that children do not need to be put in the middle of parental disputes. Shielding them from the “divorce fallout” can be a challenging job, especially if the other parent tries to keep the conflict going, and engages in “alienating behavior”. Of course, there is no “parental alienation” as long as the children have contact with both parents….these behaviors seek to groom a child for hating one parent. Why? What does anyone benefit by promoting hate? No one wins in this game.
The following list of “alienating behaviors” comes from (goodtherapy.org). You can see that by the end of this list, the children just give up seeking the truth, and give in to the toxic parent. It is so important to teach children to think critically at young ages….to look for evidence….watch for words that match or don’t match actions.
Document toxic behaviors and actions. Do not engage in the spreading of the toxin….
Here are some examples of alienating behaviors, from more benign to more egregious:
When it is time for children to go to the other parent and they refuse to go, the delivering parent does not encourage them to go to the other parent, stating they do not want to force them to go against their will.
When one parent calls to talk to the children, the parent who answers stages a loud conversation about responsibilities for financial difficulties, while the children wait to “have to” get on the phone.
Unwillingness of one parent to attend events where the other parent will be in attendance, letting the children know their unwillingness and the reasons for it.
Letting the children know that he or she will feel badly if the child goes to the other parent when he or she feels ill, there is a relative visiting from out of town, etc.
Telling the children he or she does not want to hear about what they do when they are with the other parent.
Ripping up photographs or letters from the other parent with no regard for children’s awareness of the activity.
Telling the children information about the other parent, such as issues regarding finances or infidelities—sometimes admitting that they should not have said anything.
Telling lies about the other parent, like “Your father had an affair” or “Your mother is an alcoholic” when statements cannot be supported with evidence.
Telling the children they can’t repeat things to the other parent about who they spend time with, how they’re doing in school, trips they have taken, or other information.
Threatening to stop loving the children if they continue to have a relationship with the offending parent.
Creating an environment that is so toxic to the children that they find it easier to believe the lies and innuendos and choose one parent to align with—usually the parent exhibiting the alienating behaviors, effectively ending the relationship with the other parent.
This is clearly not an exhaustive list. Hopefully, you will not find yourself represented in any of them.
The casualties of divorce are real.