1. Bad-mouthing: The target parent is portrayed as unloving, unsafe, and unavailable. Flaws are exaggerated or manufactured. Such statements are made frequently, intensely, and with great sincerity.
2. Limiting contact: The target parent has few opportunities to counter the bad-mouthing message.
3. Interfering with communication: Phones are not answered, e-mail messages are blocked, and messages are not forwarded.
4. Interfering with symbolic communication: Thinking about, talking about, and looking at pictures of a parent are prohibited. The alienating parent creates an environment in which the child does not feel free to engage in these activities. The child’s mind and heart are preoccupied with the alienating parent and there is no room left for the child’s thoughts and feelings about the target parent.
5. Withdrawal of love: What angers the alienating parent most is the child’s love and affection for the target parent. Thus, the child must relinquish the love of the other parent. The child lives in fear of losing the alienating parent’s love and approval.
6. Telling the child that the target parent is dangerous: Stories might be told about ways in which the target parent has tried to harm the child.
7. Forcing a child to choose: The alienating parent will compel the child away from the target parent by scheduling competing activities and promising valued items and privileges.
8. Telling the child that the target parent does not love him or her: The alienating parent will foster the belief in the child that he or she is being rejected by the target parent and distorts every situation to make it appear as if that is the case.
9. Confiding in the child: The alienating parent will involve the child in discussions about legal matters and share with the child personal and private information about the target parent. The alienating parent will portray him/herself as the victim of the target parent, inducing the child to feel pity for and protective of the alienating parent, and anger and hurt toward the target parent. The confidences are shared in such a way as to flatter the child and appeal to his/her desire to be trusted and involved in adult matters.
10. Forcing child to reject the target parent: Alienating parents create situations in which the child actively rejects the target parent, such as calling the target parent to cancel upcoming parenting time or request that the target parent not attend an important school or athletic event. Further, once children have hurt a target parent, the alienation will become entrenched as the child justifies his/her behavior by devaluing the target parent.
11. Asking the child to spy on the target parent: Once children betray a parent by spying on them, they will likely feel guilty and uncomfortable being around that parent, thus furthering the alienation.
12. Asking the child to keep secrets from the target parent: The alienating parent will ask or hint that certain information should be withheld from the target parent to protect the child’s interests. Like spying, keeping secrets creates psychological distance between the target parent and the child.
13. Referring to the target parent by first name: Rather than saying “Mommy/Daddy” or “Your mommy/Your daddy” the alienating parent will use the first name of the target parent when talking about that parent to the child. This may result in the child referring to the target parent by first name as well. The message to the child is that the target parent is no longer someone whom the alienating parent respects as an authority figure for the child and no longer someone who has a special bond with the child. By referring to the target parent by their first name, the alienating parent is demoting that parent to the level of a peer or neighbor.
14. Referring to a stepparent as “Mom” or “Dad” and encouraging the child to do the same: The alienating parent will refer to that parent as the mother/father to the child and create the expectation that the child will do so as well.
15. Withholding information from target parent/keeping target parent’s name off relevant documents: This includes medical, academic, and other important documents. The target parent will be at a decided disadvantage in terms of accessing information, forging relationships, being contacted in emergencies, being invited to participate, being provided with changes in schedules/locations, and so forth. This marginalizes the target parent in the eyes of the child and important adults in his/her life. They also make it considerably more difficult for the target parent to be active and involved.
16. Changing child’s name to remove association with target parent: The target parent may feel that the name change represents a rejection of him/her and will experience hurt, sadness, and frustration.
17. Cultivating dependency/undermining the authority of the target parent: Alienating parents develop dependency in their children rather than help their children develop self-sufficiency, critical thinking, autonomy, and independence. At the same time, they will undermine the authority of the target parent to ensure that the child is loyal to only one parent.
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