Just like any other form of abuse, parental alienation can have some devastating effects on children, sometimes even through to adulthood. It's important we try to prevent this.
With parental alienation we often look at the alienated (or target) parent as the victim, which is of course true however more often than not the child(ren) tend to be the worst affected victims of this abuse.
It's important to point out that parental alienation is absolutely, unequivocally a form of abuse.
There may be growing popularity amongst new wave feminists to discredit parental alienation as a form of abuse but you can't discredit the millions of victims worldwide just because the perpetrators of this abuse are more often women.
I don't see it often but when I do see it, I have to laugh otherwise I'd cry at the staggering lack of empathy for the millions of children and parents that have to suffer this torrid level of abuse.
There's actually a growing number of mothers being alienated from their children, so regardless of the perpetrator in any given case, we have victims who are men, women and even more devastating; children.
As a teenager and young adult, before I was a father myself, I had already been witness to the devastating impact of parental alienation, to one degree or another.
My step father was continually in and out of court with his ex wife as she would often withdraw contact in order to demand more money from him. Even as a child at the time, it was excruciating to watch.
The lies she would tell in order to "gain the upper hand" were truly awful at times such as "your dad has a new family now, so doesn't want you". One of which, I was made part of. My step brother who was a few years younger than me at around age 11 or 12 wanted to move and live permanently with his dad, wrote a letter to his mum explaining that and gave it to her. I was then blamed for this and she told everyone she knew that I forced her son to write this letter (I, of course didn't), so I called her at the time (I was around 14 or 15) and she flatly denied ever accusing me.
I didn't know it at the time but this was my first experience with a narcissistic, alienating parent.
Perhaps the saddest part of all is that with all her lies and behaviours she's managed to have a lasting impact on both of their children. One of which was a compulsive liar throughout primary and high school and the other hasn't spoken to my step dad in years as a result of her constant meddling and brainwashing.
I think that's every alienated parent's worst nightmare and I really feel for my step dad, who's a good man and the closest I had to a father figure growing up. It's sad to see what his son has become and how frayed their relationship is. He still maintains contact with his daughter but she also has a lot of psychological damage so it's not the relationship that it should be.
I think that's also another reason why I stay motivated to keep PAPA moving forward as what's happened to my step dad is probably my worst nightmare so I want to make sure myself and anyone else doesn't have to go through the same.
I'm still hopeful my step dad and his children will reconcile in a meaningful way, there's still plenty of time for that to happen.
In order for us to counteract the negative consequences of parental alienation we need to be educated on the matter and we need to continue to support one another and spread awareness.
Children require love and affection from both parents, they need this to continue to develop cognitively and emotionally. When one parent alienates the child from another parent, the child becomes disturbed and may have psychological, emotional issues, addiction and a plethora of other long-lasting effects.
Below are some long-term effects on alienated children to be aware of:
Anxiety and depression: Children want to love both parents, when they are unable to freely do this it causes extreme upheaval in their emotional ability to function. It could be confusing for a child to assess what is right and what is wrong. The confusion may leave the child lonely, cause anxiety issues and sometimes severe depression.
Anger issues: When a parent manipulates the child or instils negativity and hatred for the other parent in their mind it has an adverse impact and makes the child upset or even angry with the parent. Eventually, they may develop anger issues and experience frustration, distress and aggression. Some children may turn rude and even disrespectful as they grow up. This could go on for years.
Fear: Parental alienation may make the child feel rejected by a parent. This may develop into fear, which could aggravate as the child gets older. The fear can lead to them cutting off emotionally and not able to connect with the targeted parent. They may fear about the future, about how the parent would react and assume problems that don't exist.
Addiction and/or disorders: When a child is worried and stripped of a parent, they tend to form other coping behaviours in order to mask their pain. Some may turn to drugs or alcohol to experience some relief from this while others turn to food, either in excess or eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia.
Lack of focus: When a child is disturbed they may have trouble focusing. They might not seem present for activities they used to love. Some of them could even lose interest in school, thereby resulting in bad grades.
Low self-esteem: Not getting proper care and the deserved attention from both parents may make the child doubt themselves. They may be afraid of trying new things in life. Generally keeping their lives very small allows them to continue to function when this is exasperated. Alienated children may end up having low self-esteem or low confidence.
The above is just a baseline as there are so many potential long term effects of parental alienation such as panic attacks, self destructing behaviours, personality disorders, social identity issues, poor relationships and many more.
With all that in mind I think it's very clear that parental alienation is a child safeguarding issue and perhaps the most important given how prevalent parental alienation is.
As a society we need to do all we can to protect our children and we need to demand our governments and the family courts to stamp out parental alienation as a matter of urgency, in order to save our children.
Let us know your thoughts below in the comments and if you're a parent or perhaps even a previously alienated child in need of help and support or looking for a safe space then please join PAPA today. Everyone is welcome to make use of our free to use forum as well as our upcoming free family court and mental health resources.
Thank you for reading.