5 Ways of Dealing With Parental Alienation
In This Article
When the relationship between a child and their parent, which was once healthy, becomes frosty, then something has to be responsible for it.
Sometimes, it might be that one of the parents is trying to get the child on their side by manipulating them. This situation is called the narcissistic parental alienation syndrome. In this article, you will learn the signs and some effective tips for dealing with parental alienation.
What is Narcissistic Parental Alienation Syndrome?
Narcissistic parental alienation syndrome occurs when one parent manipulatively tries to detach their child from the other parent.
The child then shows aversion or dislike to the alienated parent. It is important to mention that narcissistic parental alienation occurs over time. It involves brainwashing the child with different ideas and opinions about the other parent, which are largely untrue.
Suzanne Verhaar and other authors explained how narcissistic parental alienation affects children’s mental health. The study is titled The Impact of Parental Alienating Behaviors on the Mental Health of Adults Alienated in Childhood.
Related Reading: How Does Narcissistic Parenting Affect Children?
What are examples of narcissistic parental alienation?
If you are intentional about dealing with parental alienation, you need to spot the different ways it might look. Here are some possible examples of narcissistic parental alienation
- The narcissistic parent tries to prevent the targeted parent from spending alone time with their child.
- The narcissistic or alienating parent feeds the child with untrue stories about the other parent to sow the seed of hatred or disgust.
- The narcissistic parent looks away when the child does something wrong
- The narcissistic parent nudges the child to stand up to the other parent
Related Reading: 10 Effects of Narcissistic Parents and How to Deal
5 clear signs of parental alienation
In a healthy home, children are supposed to have genuine affection for their parents.
Also, parents are not expected to do things that make their children prefer one parent over the other. However, in some situations, narcissistic parental alienation could occur where the child is manipulated to dislike one parent and love the other.
Here are some of the common signs that parental narcissistic abuse is in play
1. The child sees one parent as perfect and the other as flawed
One of the ways to spot narcissistic parental alienation syndrome is when the child sees the narcissistic parent as perfect and thinks that the targeted parent is defective.
The child may find it hard to think that the targeted parent has anything good to offer them because they might have been sold a lie.
When they need help, the child will likely approach the narcissistic parent instead of the targeted one. The child could even think the targeted parent might worsen their situation, so they may not bother requesting help.
Hence, the narcissistic parent uses this opportunity to draw the child further away from the other parent so that they would have no use in the child’s life.
The child will likely grow up and resent the other parent because they feel they were not involved in their life.
2. The child will always support the alienating parent
In a conflict between parents, the child will likely support the alienating parent and stand against the targeted parent.
The alienated child might not be bothered to discover the issue or who was at fault, but the child will stand with the alienating parent because they have been manipulated over time.
Since the child sees the targeted parent as an imperfect being who probably has no beneficial use, they believe they are likely to cause conflict in the home.
Whenever a decision is made in the home, the child will support the opinions of the alienating parent because they think they have the family’s best interest at heart.
This can ultimately affect the child’s behavior and decision-making because as they grow up, they may likely be one-sided instead of listening to the accounts of two people in a conflict setting.
3. The narcissistic parent supports the child’s negative habits towards the other parent
When dealing with parental alienation, one of the signs you will notice is that the narcissistic or alienating parent will always support the child when they display negative attitudes to the other parent.
The alienating parent probably knows that if the child continues that way, it will affect their relationships with other people. However, to get back at the other parent, the alienating partner will overlook the long-term effects of their child’s inactions.
They may not attempt to correct the child privately because they want them to repeat it. Additionally, the offensive parent will not apologize to their partner for their child’s behavior, as they will either remain indifferent or outrightly support the child.
When the targeted parent wants to discipline the child, the narcissistic parent will shield the child to ensure they are safe. This will make the child almost totally support the narcissistic parent when push comes to shove.
4. The child may not love the targeted parent’s family and friends
On the parental alienation syndrome checklist, one of the signs is that the child may not want to relate with the targeted parents’ family and friends. This is most likely because the narcissistic parent might have said unpleasant things about them that will paint a picture in the child’s head.
Hence, at every opportunity when the child is meant to be around them, they will try to avoid being in the same physical space.
The child might want to refrain from speaking to them on the phone or even being friends on social media. However, the interesting part is that the narcissistic or alienating parent will ensure the child is on good terms with their family and friends.
The child will grow up close to one side of the family. As they get older, they may find it hard to figure out why they are not close to the family and friends of the targeted parent.
5. The child may not appreciate the targeted parent’s positive experiences
Some parents want the best for their children irrespective of how the latter behaves towards the former. This means that many parents are ready to overlook their child’s shortcomings, hoping they will drop some of their negative attitudes and become better adults.
With time, some children recognize the efforts of their parents and usually appreciate them as a form of positive feedback. However, when dealing with parental alienation, the case is different.
Even if the targeted parent does good things for the child, the narcissistic parent will find every way to invalidate their good deeds.
So, even if it benefits the child, they might need help understanding the level of sacrifice it took their parents to satisfy them.
This is one of the reasons why the child might not show a good level of appreciation to the parent whose actions are being smeared in a bad light by the alienating parent.
5 ways to deal with Narcissistic Parental Alienation
If you are in a situation where you are the targeted parent and you have a narcissistic partner, then you need all the help you can get. Here are some important steps in dealing with parental alienation.
1. Confront the narcissistic parent
One of the ways that help with dealing with parental alienation is to confront the narcissistic or alienating parent. You might need to tell them you know their tactics to turn the child against you.
When you want to call them out, you can do it when they least expect it. This is because when a narcissist knows you are unto them, they might prepare to refute all your claims.
As you have an honest conversation with them, ensure your points are laced with facts they won’t be able to deny.
So, how to overcome parental alienation?
If you are no longer with your narcissistic ex, you still have a responsibility to your child to nurture them. In Aurora Morris’ book titled Co-Parenting with a Narcissistic Ex, you will learn how to protect your children from emotionally abusive relationships.
2. Think before you act
Before you discuss with the narcissistic parent, one of the tips for dealing with parental alienation is to think properly before acting out.
It would help if you went through all your plans to be sure they will be unable to have the upper hand. Remember that you are trying to provide a solution for yourself, your child and the relationship.
Your actions can make or mar what you are trying to build with your partner. Additionally, if you carefully think about how to go about it, you can win your partner over and make them adjust their selfish behavior.
Watch this video on how to think before you act:
3. Don’t compete with the narcissistic parent
Another way to learn how to deal with parental alienation is to avoid competing with the alienating or narcissistic parent. If you compete with them, you might lose because they are often prepared to go the extra mile to win.
You need to address the issue from a partnership standpoint. Remember that they are still the partner you fell in love with. Hence, handle the issue like two lovebirds instead of competing with them for the love of your child.
Also, be patient with them because solving the issue of parental alienation in your home can be won in the long term.
4. Practice self-care
Sometimes, experiencing parental alienation can be overwhelming and discouraging because you may gradually lose your child due to reasons that were not your fault. Hence, ensure you take care of yourself while seeking a solution.
You can engage in some of your hobbies or interests to take your mind off the problem.
Also, spend more time with your friends, particularly the positively-minded ones, so that you can be comfortable opening up to them. Practicing self-care is one of the effective ways that help in dealing with parental alienation so that you will be in the perfect state of mind.
5. Get help from a counselor or therapist
Seeking help from a therapist or counselor could also assist when dealing with parental alienation. Usually, when you present a problem to the therapist, one of the things they will do is uncover the root cause of the issue.
The therapist or counselor will help you understand why parental alienation exists in your home and some crucial steps to tackle it.
More so, they will create a therapeutic alliance with you, allowing you to reach out to them for support when you are stressed by the ongoing problem caused by the narcissistic partner. With a parental alienation therapist, you can rescue your home and child.
Some commonly asked questions
Here are some revealing answers to pressing questions about narcissistic parental alienation that help clear out your doubts on the topic:
How do narcissists use parental alienation?
One of the ways to learn how narcissists apply parental alienation is by getting the child gifts they love.
Also, they will give them the unlimited freedom to do what they want because they know that the other parent may not be comfortable with the excess freedom. Ultimately, they will support the child in anything they do, even when it is disadvantageous to them.
What does parental narcissistic abuse look like
You can spot parental narcissistic abuse when the child is very close to one parent and detest the other. Also, the alienating parent might speak ill of the other parent to the child, creating an emotional and physical distance between the targeted parent and the child.
Remember that the issue might not be solved instantly when dealing with parental alienation because narcissistic individuals can be tough to crack. However, remember to stand your ground and avoid being manipulated.
Be committed to engaging in an honest and open conversation where you will lay bare all the facts so they won’t be able to repudiate them. Consider seeing a relationship therapist to help you learn how to heal from parental alienation.
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