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How Does an Alienated Child Behave? 


You can look at a child with parental alienation like a believer in a cult. Here, too, there is faith and blind admiration for a charismatic leader, total devotion, exclusion and erasure of external factors. The child is captive to the alienating parent's concepts and beliefs, and declares that those are his/her choices.  

The 8 Manifestations of Parental Alienation Syndrome

  1. A Campaign of Denigration
    ​Alienated children are consumed with hatred towards the targeted parent. They deny any positive past experiences and reject all contact and communication with the alienated parent.  Parents who were once loved and valued, seemingly overnight, become hated and feared.

  2. Weak, Frivolous, and Absurd Rationalizations
    When alienated children are questioned about the reasons for their intense hostility toward the targeted parent, the explanations offered are not of the magnitude that typically would lead a child to reject a parent. These children may complain about the parent’s eating habits, food preparation, or appearance. They may also make wild accusations that could not possibly be true.

  3. Lack of Ambivalence About the Alienating Parent
    Alienated children exhibit a lack of ambivalence about the alienating parent, demonstrating automatic, reflexive, and idealized support. That parent is perceived as perfect, while the other is perceived as wholly flawed. If an alienated child is asked to identify just one negative aspect of the alienating parent, he or she will probably draw a complete blank.  This is a stark contrast to most children, who have mixed feelings about even the best of parents and can usually talk about each parent as having both good and bad qualities.

  4. The “Independent Thinker” Phenomenon
    Even though alienated children appear to be unduly influenced by the alienating parent, they will adamantly insist that the decision to reject the targeted parent is theirs, and theirs alone. They deny that their feelings about the targeted parent are in any way influenced by the alienating parent and often invoke the concept of free will to describe their decision. 

  5. Absence of Guilt About the Treatment of the Targeted Parent
    Alienated children typically appear rude, ungrateful, spiteful, and cold toward the targeted parent, and they appear to be impervious to feelings of guilt about their harsh treatment. Gratitude for gifts, favors, or child support provided by the targeted parent is nonexistent. Children with parental alienation syndrome will try to get whatever they can from that parent, declaring that it is owed to them.

  6. Reflexive Support for the Alienating Parent in Parental Conflict
    Intact families, as well as recently separated and long-divorced couples, will have occasions with disagreements and conflicts. In all cases, the alienated child will side with the alienating parent, regardless of how absurd or baseless that parent’s position may be. There is no willingness or attempt to be impartial when faced with inter-parental conflicts. Children with parental alienation syndrome have no interest in hearing the targeted parent’s point of view. Nothing the targeted parent could do or say makes any difference to these children.  

  7. Presence of Borrowed Scenarios
    Alienated children often make accusations toward the targeted parent that utilize phrases and ideas adopted from the alienating parent. Indications that a scenario is borrowed include the use of words or ideas that the child does not appear to understand, speaking in a scripted or robotic fashion, as well as making accusations that cannot be supported with detail.

  8. Rejection of Extended Family
    Finally, the hatred of the targeted parent spreads to his or her extended family. Not only is the targeted parent denigrated, despised, and avoided but so are his or her extended family. Formerly beloved grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins are suddenly and completely avoided and rejected.


-Amy J.L. Baker PhD

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