One of the troubling aspects of parental alienation is the manner in which the children are enlisted on the “side” of the alienating parent.  Because the alienating parent has successfully convinced the children that the other parent is their enemy, the children are presented to the court, therapists, and the general public as being “independent thinkers” and have concluded, on their own, that the need to talk to someone such as the judge, therapists, police etc. in order to let the authorities know how horrible the target of alienation is.  This is known as the “independent thinker” phenomenon.

The children are seen as angry, and they will often express to others how angry they are.  At therapy, therapists will often direct the targeted parent to ask the child why they are angry at the parent.  This question makes sense if indeed the parent has done something for which the child is angry.  But with alienated kids, the kids aren’t mad  at the targeted parent.  The alienating parent is.  And the children are simply an extension of that anger, another way to express that anger in a hurtful, harmful way.

Often the alienating parent will be extremely eager to present the children to the authorities, at times even bringing them to court and offering their testimony, while simultaneously being not so eager to have themselves interviewed.  Family courts are very poorly suited for dealing with this dynamic because all testimony usually comes in the form of written declarations and rarely is there ever any live testimony requiring cross-examination and the presentation of evidence.   Nothing could be better for the alienating parent, who can avoid being challenged at all.

What is more amazing is the manner in which therapists approach the conflict.  Rather than attempting to make a factual determination based upon the available evidence, they insist upon playing the “you are all to blame” game, which is probably true more often than not.  The problem arises when one of the parties really IS the problem.

In those cases, the therapists and the courts simply enable the alienator to continue to function.  Aware that the court will give them continuance after continuance after continuance, and also aware that they will be given the same credibility as the targeted parent, they can continue the charade on until the alienation becomes so entrenched that there is no hope for the relationship.  Although therapists who study parental alienation all agree that immediate intervention is the only hope to salvage the relationship, the courts simply will not do that.  It is fair to ask why.

In dealing with the emotional issues that surround family law, it is often impossible to tell by listening to parties who is telling the truth.  A brief review of the internet will reveal thousands upon thousands of parents who all are wronged at some level or another, standing on all sides of the issues.  Obviously, they cannot all be correct.  Some of them must be liars, abusers, perpetrators of child abuse and domestic violence, etc.

One of the interesting aspects of this debate is this delusional belief that domestic violence and false charges of domestic violence, or child abuse and parental alienation, cannot all be occurring at the same time.  This either/or thinking does reality no justice.  Isn’t fabricating allegations of domestic violence providing aid and comfort to actual perpetrators of domestic violence, by redirecting police and court resources away from actual perpetrators?  Aren’t false allegations of child abuse providing aid and comfort to actual abusers?  This is what I mean when I say parental alienation is the “left hand of child abuse”.  Parental alienation IS abuse.

You can read an interesting article from psychology today at the above link.