- Doesn’t inform you of upcoming school activities (especially unexpected ones)
- Expresses no enthusiasm for fun events you’re doing with the child (vacations, amusement parks, etc)
- Limits child’s cellphone and computer usage, so you’ll rarely get a call, text, or email
- Refers to you by your first name in their home (Dad becomes “David;” Mom becomes “Julie”)
- Accomplishes a post-visitation shakedown, extracting as much info as possible to find negatives
- Hands the phone directly to the child when you call, avoiding even civil conversations with you
- Pops anti-depressant pills (as many have a history of depression)
- Able to hold resentment towards young, innocent children (ie, your children from another marriage)
- Never calls you when the child is sick or taken out of school
- Teaches the child adult things to tell you, such as “I don’t feel comfortable about the duration of our summer visitation, Dad”
- Teaches the child how to despise or hate another human being
- Labels themselves the “good” parent; labels you the “bad” parent
- Tells the child false stories about their childhood
- Tells the child in vivid detail how he or she was victimized by you (while taking no blame at all for the divorce)
- Teaches the child how to lie to you (coating their little hearts with false malice and scorn)
- Diminishes your extended family’s worth
- Neglects to have the child call you for your birthday, on New Year’s Eve, or other important dates
- Refuses to help the child reach and call/email/mail cards on relatives’ birthdays on your side of the family tree
- Uses child’s cellphone as a leash
- Rarely if ever a call to you on Father’s Day or Mother’s Day on behalf of child
- Never gets the child excited about seeing you
- Reminds the child of all that he or she will be missing while with you and away from them
- Inflicts his or her unhappiness onto the child (as alienators are deeply unhappy people)
- Attempts via a lawyer to reduce visitation to that even below family court minimum standards
- Takes the child out of state without a peep, while demands precise details whenever you travel with them
- Monopolizes the child’s time for hours on the phone (if you let them)
- Views any event in the child’s life– a distant Aunt’s birthday, a friend’s birthday, etc– as more important than their time with you
- Teaches the children from their current marriage to despise you
- Informs children of alienator’s plans for them past 18 (you’ll go to college at X, and will stay here with me)
- Is jealous of anything fun and memorable you do with the child (as they view the good times as a threat)
- Gripes about things you’re doing as a parent to the child, but says nothing to you about it
- Has outbursts around the child (extremely dramatic ones)
- Lacks a filter, spilling any adult topic into the child’s head
Two extremely unfortunate but common tactics an alienating parent will use to further damage the child’s connection to the targeted parent is to:
- Teach the child to call the targeted parent by their first name
- Eliminate the targeted parent’s last name
Teach the child to call the targeted parent by his/her first name only
This is very common. The aggrieved, victimized (in his or her eyes), brainwashing parent can’t stand the thought of the targeted parent being in the child’s life. So since labels and words matter so much in a child’s world, a quick way to devalue that parent is to label them by their first name. Not “Daddy,” and not “Mommy.”
This is destructive to a child’s soul, as now they’ve stopped having a Mom or Dad to address (of course, that label will be used on the alienator’s new spouse if they have one). Since what kids label becomes their reality, over time this causes their feelings to become at minimum muted towards this “Justin” or “Christine.” Imagine calling your own mother “Christine” for years, and never muttering the words “Mommy…” do you think you’ll have the same feelings towards someone who’s not being labeled your mother?
It’s yet another way of instilling false feelings in children, and it’s abusive.
Eliminate the targeted parent’s last name
Another unfortunate effort by an alienating parent is to eliminate or modify the child’s last name. Of course, we’re talking wiping out or dropping the targeted parent’s last name.
So Elizabeth Tracey Smith, whose father’s last name is Smith, is taught to stop using Smith and substitute the mother’s maiden name, Johnson, instead.
Or John Paul Warren-Stevens, whose mother’s last name is Stevens, is taught to drop Stevens.
Some parents even teach their children that once they’re 18 that they can legally drop the targeted person’s last name.
In my case, my son’s name was modified by the judge to have two last names. When I brought a hearing before the judge showing that my son is being encouraged to not write his last name anywhere (with lots of evidence, including testimony and actual school homework and folders), unfortunately the judge (Judge Gary Coley in Waco, Texas) didn’t care about my concerns and ignored my pleas. So today my son, if his name were George Herbert Walker Bush, has an effective name of George Herbert Walker. My last name,”Bush“, has been eliminated from everything.
How to effectively respond to a de-identification campaign
De-identifying a parent is the cornerstone the parents who are brainwashing their child to get revenge at an ex. If you’re on the receiving end of these techniques, here’s what you need to remember:
1. Do not allow your child to call you by your first name. You don’t allow him or her to use profanity, do you? No difference here. It’s profane to call your own parent by his or her first name.
2. Ensure that your child is using his or her legal last name at school and at sports activities. Speak to the teachers and principal and let them know that you’re concerned that your child is not writing his or her last name correctly.
Do not go heavy on your child with the last tip, as they will just hunker down and resent you further. Use the school to enact the change… not the child.
The following is a clip from the Dennis Prager Radio Show. Dennis talks about parental alienation, and plays for his views a powerful exchange between a woman and her daughter (from the TV show Desperate Housewives).
The daughter doesn’t want to see her Dad as she’s being dropped off. However, her mother gets composed and gives an excellent example of how to talk to your child about an ex-spouse– even one she is angry at.
Dennis Prager says after the clip:
Unfortunately, tragically, sadly, it is not what a lot of Moms say to their sons or daughters if they’re angry about a divorce.”
(He does mention that fathers alienate children as well, but that he’s referring to this specific dialogue in the film)
The most gripping part of the exchange occurs after the car door closes. The daughter runs towards her Dad…
This is a testament to the power of a parent’s words to their children. If a parent expresses encouragement about seeing the other parent, children naturally follow this lead (even if there has been some badmouthing up to that point).
If every parent acted this way at exchanges, there would be a whole lot less abused children in the country.
- “There are subtle ways and overt ways of alienating a child from a parent, but either way it’s evil”
- “I do think that the badmouthing and alienating of a child from a parent is one of the few unforgivable sins. I do think those people will have to answer to God who will say, “You allowed your anger to destroy the relationship of your child to the other parent? Isn’t that why I gave you a conscience?”
- “Badmouthing your ex-spouse rips the child apart”
- “Changing a child last name (away from the father’s) is an act of venom”
- “Alienators think they’re a victim, and when you think you’re a victim, moral rules don’t apply to you”
- “I can’t think of a greater single vehicle to goodness and a better world than if everyone battled their own natures”
- “I don’t understand how any person could humiliate a spouse”
- “A lot of women do a lot of harm because they don’t control their emotions. But in terms of violence, men seem to have a monopoly”
- “Nothing is as contagious as unhappiness”
- “The badmouthing of the other spouse does not come to be good for the badmouther in the long run”
- “If what this woman (view clip) said was said by all Moms and Dads to their children with regard to the other parent, there would be so much more harmony in this country”
- “For many people, there is an additional battle they have to wage– with their natural tendency to be angry. One prevalent example is the angry mother or father who poisons his/her children against the other parent after a divorce, thereby often irreparably damaging both the children and the other parent”
Mothers are generally quite nurturing, and the easiest way to melt their heart is through a child. Even the most jaded of mothers will smile when a child does something cute. A mother’s instinct is to care for, love, and protect children– even a child they don’t even know.
However, there is a type of mother who is capable of displaying actual contempt and hatred towards a child (even one they claim they love).
All children act out at times, some worse than others, but a normal mother is able to separate the behavior of the child from the child’s core. So a rambunctious, difficult 8-year-old boy, for example, is viewed by most mothers as being a typical boy, but his core is never, ever attacked. Nor is he maligned, denigrated, or otherwise put down.
But mothers with a cold core conflate the annoying, frustrating, and perplexing actions of a child with the child’s worthiness as a human being. And mothers who are with a man who has a child from another woman will often take out any jealousy or contempt they have for that woman onto the child. Rather than viewing the child as an extension of the new man she’s with, it’s a constant reminder of the woman he was with before her.
This is extremely common, but rarely talked about. An emotionally healthy mother will go out of her way to make children– all children– feel accepted in her world. She’ll even sometimes neglect her own kids’ needs to meet the needs of the new child of the family.
If this is not happening, and she plays favorites with her children over her man’s from a previous relationship or marriage, that’s a serious problem. These mothers have rotten cores, and the damage they can do to a man’s children is not something to take lightly.
To reject a child is to abuse a child.
Mothers who are capable of having contempt for children on any level are also capable of other forms of abuse. In order to hold hard feelings towards a child, a mother is missing part of her conscience. And if that moral compass is impaired, they are capable of doing anything. Bottom line: this is the type of mother who can look at a child in pain and feel………….. nothing.
So why do some mothers have this cruel resentment towards our little ones? It’s simple. It’s a outward display of a mother’s own insecurities, which are based on the child’s birth mother (her man’s ex-wife or ex-girlfriend), and the relationship he had with her. And the easiest target for her to take out her hostility is his child.
The thing that’s so sick about this is that a man didn’t even need to have had a good relationship with the ex. It’s the fact that he had one at all!
Don’t underestimate how powerful of a driver jealousy can be in a mother’s life. While most mothers can put aside their unhealthy, negative thoughts and deal appropriately and lovingly with their man’s children, there’s a good amount of mothers out there who can’t.
A child in the midst of a brainwashing campaign is learning more than just to despise and think negatively of a parent. He or she is being taught how to hate in general.
If a child is taught to hate or have contempt for his or her own parent, they will start paying attention to the negative aspects rather than the positive. The child won’t notice the good traits or actions of the other parent, but focusses instead on anything that can be framed in a bad light. This is fueled and encouraged by the alienating parent because they do not want to hear the child talk about anything positive about the ex.
Teaching a child to hate is also teaching them how to be a negative person in general. And this takes years of therapy to eventually overcome, if it can be overcome at all.
If a child is taught to despise a parent over perceived personality or parenting “flaws” due to a hostile ex’s brainwashing, this outward hostility doesn’t just stop there. It also moves towards other people the brainwashing parent can’t stand (due mostly to jealousy or fear).
The best example is the targeted parent’s extended family. Not only is the targeted parent badmouthed and maligned, but in most cases so are his or her relatives (and thus the child’s, too). Enlisted in the demonization of the ex and the ex’s family also are any other children the brainwasher might have from another marriage or relationship. The lies never get hoisted only onto the ex’s child or children, they get spread like a manure spreader to every other member of the family tree.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Since most brainwashing parents are very insecure people, they dish out their feelings of disgust towards a lot of people in their lives. And who picks up on these feelings? The child who has to listen to it (the only children who can rise above the badmouthing are teenagers who who are harder to convince, especially over people they have known their entire life).
Over many months and years, a child can’t help but share the brainwashing parent’s beliefs and contempt. It’s hatred that’s been taught to the child, and instilled in their very core (and this isn’t severe child abuse?). You can think of this indoctrination as a hate bootcamp.
What happens next, over time, is these children see other people– not just the parent they’ve been taught is bad– through the abusive parent’s eyes. Labels are quickly thrown on people, and if the parent is a narcissist (view this post on narcissistic parents), watch out. Their kids will also absorb many of their toxic traits.
Don’t underestimate how closely our actions as parents are watched, and eventually mimicked, by our kids. If you tend to yell, they yell. If you beat them with a belt, they’ll lash out physically at others as well. If you lie a lot, don’t expect them to be amazing little truth tellers. So it doesn’t take much effort for a parent who’s hating an ex-wife or ex-husband to get his or her young child to join in fully on the hatred bandwagon.
Kids develop into adults through a combination of their own inherent nature (DNA) and nurture (parenting), but when they’ve been marinating in false feelings of hatred for a decade or more, it’s extremely difficult to reverse even for an experienced therapist. The damage to their psyche is tremendous, and the perpetrators of this abuse are committing an evil act.
Teaching a kid to hate is child abuse, and the only remedy for these young and innocent victims is to remove them from that abusive home. Unfortunately, this is a major uphill battle to undertake, as family courts, CPS, and child therapists today simply don’t understand this form of abuse.
Mental child abuse is the most common form of child abuse in America, and the most difficult to stop” – BrainwashingChildren.com
Many parents faced with an ex who’s assaulting their parent-child relationship feel helpless, and think that taking legal action is too costly. While it can indeed be expensive, it can also end up costing you nothing… and the alternative is simply not acceptable, which is the continued emotional abuse of your child.
If your child is being abused in a campaign of parental alienation, you need to get legal help. Many decrees have standard language addressing badmouthing the other parent or discussing other adult matters, but many do not.
Here’s an example from a Texas decree:
Minimize Exposure to Harmful Parental Conflict
The conservators agree that any discussion regarding the child(ren) will not occur in the presence of the child(ren). The conservators further agree not to discuss any any conflicts that may be occurring between the conservators with the child(ren).
Family courts are aware that many parents will drag their kids through the divorce drama, so most have standard language like the above depending on what county and state you’re in.
If your decree doesn’t have such language, it needs to be inserted. Consult an attorney, who will be able to advise you on how to add this (usually called a “Motion to Modify,” which is a written request to the court to change a prior order regarding custody, child support, etc) to your decree.
But before you take the legal route, consider getting CPS involved first. Although CPS doesn’t deal with many parental alienation cases, you could get a caseworker who does understand this form of abuse (sadly most CPS caseworkers do not). Be prepared from blowback from your ex, but don’t let that stop you from taking every effort to protect your child. I suggest having some audio or video evidence to back up your call to them. Being that abusers frequently abuse on multiple levels (see this post), the caseworker could end up discovering abuse that you were unaware of.
Then, it’s time to find a good attorney. If you’re a father, find a male attorney, and if you’re a mother, find a female attorney. Why? Because sexes tend to side with and have a better understanding of each other.
Call at least five or six attorneys. Since an attorney’s job is to fight for the best interest of children, make sure you mention that your child is being abused. Any good person/attorney is not going to say, “I can’t help you” just because later in the conversation you mention that you don’t have the money immediately available.
There are many options for paying attorneys that you and your attorney can agree to. Don’t be shy in suggesting one or more of these. In most attorneys’ eyes, some money now or over time is better than no money at all.
Here are some ideas and tips:
- Don’t go with big-name law firms. Go with the smaller firms or independent lawyers as their odds of needing you as much as you need them are pretty good
- Dig deep: use your credit card, sell some possessions on eBay or Craigslist, take out a home equity loan, downsize your $30,000 car, borrow money from a friend or relative, etc.
- Suggest bartering if you’ve got some talent, skills, or a product that could help the attorney
- Your attorney should advise you that you’ll be suing the other parent for attorney fees (as he or she is the guilty party, and the reason for the legal action in the first place).
With the divorce rate as high as it is and the amount of parents that are unable to control their emotions, parental alienation is a common problem. And in the mind of a parent who’s capable of abuse, the best way to hurt the other parent is to turn the child against them.
There’s always a way to legally help your child who’s a victim of parental alienation. Lack of money is no excuse for not fighting for your child.
Bonus tip: Remember, if your decree has any wording addressing keeping the child out of conflict, your legal efforts should be an easy fight for your lawyer because he or she would be likely setting up a contempt hearing. Get as much evidence as you can, including therapist notes, audio/video evidence (complying with the law, of course), other witnesses, etc. The more evidence, the better.
What keeps a parent who is capable of damaging a child mentally and emotionally from damaging them physically or sexually as well?
Parents who are mentally abusive lack the ability to control themselves. Which means they’re unable to contain their emotions, which then spills into doing what’s right for their child, which is sheltering them from harm– any harm. A parent who is OK knowing that their child is suffering (especially over lies that the parent creates) is a toxic father or mother, and toxic fathers and mothers are bad people who have few limits on what they’re capable of doing.
What I’ve noticed in my own experiences and in the experiences of blog commenters is that parents who can harm kids on one level frequently harm them on others, too.
These “manure-spreading” parents are capable of damaging kids across the spectrum of child abuse: physically, mentally, sexually, medically, and educationally. To be fair, few toxic parents damage via all of the five categories.
A parent who is physically or sexually abusive is also mentally abusive. Comments are made such as:
“Look what you made me do, don’t tell anyone about this or else…”
“This is your fault because…”
Name calling also goes hand in hand with these forms of abuse.
Here’s the thing: You can’t have a physically or sexually abusive parent who isn’t also mentally abusive. Any attack on a child’s body also is an attack on their mind.
To restate something important, not all parents who are mentally abusive are physically or sexually abusive. However, they have the potential to be, and too frequently are.
Bottom line? Once someone’s an abusive parent in one of the categories, they very often abuse on one or more of the others.
I got some insight from a Child Protective Services worker here in Texas the other day. She told me that kids and teenagers that are regularly in counseling or therapy usually have one or more parents that are abusive. Most of the time, kids that are in counseling are there due to bad parenting of some sort (there are exceptions, of course).
I believe that kids placed into counseling regularly are the product of parents that are passing along their own issues. Emotionally healthy parents generally don’t have kids who are so out of alignment that they need regular, ongoing professional therapy. Kids who are exceptionally difficult even with outstanding parents need correction and adjustment from their parents, not from an outsider who is at a complete disadvantage.
I look at my own situation: my son is placed into counseling every month at least once with a psychologist (who unnecessarily told my son about my book on mental child abuse. Causing yet more confusion to my son) by his mother, and my son is with his mother the vast majority of the time. His issues are his mother’s. One of my son’s “issues” is the fact that I wasn’t there at his birth.” Yes, a matter where he wasn’t even consciously aware, is an issue 12 years later. It’s deplorable. When I ask Mom why he’s in counseling she only will say “He won’t tell me; he just says he wants someone to talk to.”
“Abusive parents frequently will use counseling as a deflective shield to what they’re doing to their own child; it’s a cover for their own abuse. For who would question a parent who’s seemingly trying to “help” their child with counseling?” – BrainwashingChildren.com
The sad irony is, the people that should be in counseling aren’t, while the innocent children are. It’s almost as if the parents are conditioning their child to get used to their abusive behaviors…