Evidence from afar that your child is being brainwashed against you

When you’re the noncustodial parent, days and weeks go by without you being around your child or children. During this time the custodial parent– your ex– who’s hell-bent on sabotaging your relationship with your child has ample opportunity to do so.

There are some strong signs that appear in most brainwashing households. You can’t be there in person to observe all the things said, the lies told, or the subtle put-downs, so you will have to look elsewhere– to the telephone, cellphone, text messages, and emails.

The openness and normalcy of the electronic communications with your child is in most cases directly related to the level of mental abuse taking place in the other house. Evidence that your child is being coached and lied to include:

  • Your child is flat, monotoned, or sad when he or she gets your phone call
  • Your ex is often heard speaking to your child in the background (and your child will frequently cover up the phone with his or  her hand)
  • Your phone calls or texts are not returned
  • Cellphones you buy for your kid are rarely used to call you, but used routinely by your ex to contact your child when he or she is with you
  • No calls on your birthday or Father’s/Mother’s Day, and rarely or never a card or e-card
  • Your child asks you questions inappropriate for their age
  • Your child is used as a messenger by your ex
  • Your child complains about his or her last visit (usually of trivial things)
  • You rarely get a call, email, or text out of the blue from your child
  • Your child claims out of the blue that “I don’t want to see you”
  • Your child seems unable to echo any “I love you’s”
  • Your child echoes the words of your ex (words a child of that age would never use)
  • Your child refers to you by your first name, either to you directly or at home while away from you
  • Your ex refers to you when speaking to your child in the background by your first name
  • Your child will say “Why haven’t you called me” when in fact you’ve tried
  • You rarely get an acknowledgement of any cards of presents sent

How to fight this? The short answer is to call your child on a regular basis (once a week, twice a week, etc), and stick to it. Also send texts and emails, even super short ones, when you think of your child. If you’ve been unable to get through to speak to him or her, make sure you let them know that you’re excited to finally reach them. If you’ve left a voicemail, ask them “So did you get my voicemail?” That way, if they didn’t (as is likely), they’ll realize that you did reach out to connect with them. Older kids will even figure out on their own that a parent is withholding messages from them.

The big picture, of course, is to get the child into counseling. Even call Child Protective Services if your child’s emotionally wrecked. Make sure you document everything– to include tape recording phone calls (if legal in your state), logging all the times you’ve tried to reach your child, etc.

If your child custody decree doesn’t mention anything about telephonic or electronic access, then consider hiring an attorney who can make a “motion to modify” the decree. Some decrees include specific hours whereby your ex must make your child contactable. That way if your ex doesn’t comply, he or she could face the wrath of a judge.

It’s a very difficult thing to have to suffer through month after month after month, with the only let-off being when  you have possession of your child. But hang in there. Keep a steady flow of calls, emails, and texts to your brainwashed child. One day your child will see the “unhappy” parent for who she is, and your consistent actions at reaching out will be rewarded in 95% of cases.



About John

John Thomas Steinbeck is a parental alienation consultant. He and his son's relationship was under attack in a deplorable campaign of parental alienation. In this blog, John shares his insights, techniques, and tools in combating emotional child abuse. He did it-- today his son's love has been restored-- and you can too!
  • Lee

    So my ex husband and his gf- but mostly his gf are manipulating my kids. They are the fun ones- because they don’t do anything directly related to parenting. Turns out that the gf was going to take my 11 year old to a function at her school- without wven telling me. Thankfully my child told me and when I informed her no worries mommy took time off we can go- she told me “oh so and so said they would take me” I replied that now she doesn’t have to because I was able to take the time from work. Something my ex husband never ever does. Well when my daughter informed so and so about me going she told my daughter ” ugh I knew this would happen I was waiting for this text why is this a big deal” my daughter replied with “idk” and the gf then said “doesn’t she work”? Why wouldn’t she be positive and say “oh that’s great your mom can take time off, I wish you dad could do that so easily too” but no instead she did that- then after I messaged the gf myself and told her she wasn’t needed because I had the time off she texted my daughter “your mom told me I can’t go” now why would an adult who cares about a child say that to a child unless it’s in the hopes of alienating and disparaging the relationship with mother and child?

  • Lee

    Oh and another kicker is they are trying to take custody from me and the motion is based on lies and I’ve got proof and the judge is allowing my kids to be interviewed which isn’t fair- but I’ve got truth on my side. They go there and have fun. They don’t go to be taken care of or nurtured. He even lied about my daughters medical past and I have the records to prove that too now. So I’ve got proof and the gf disparaging me to my own daughter- which thankfully my daughter never saw. I actually had her phone and texted gf myself from her phone and told her “this isn’t very nice of you”.

  • Agrandmothersheartbreak

    I want you to know you are not alone. After I left my ex in 2001, I realized that my ex and his family talked bad about me to my then 16 year old daughter. One day my daughter finally admitted that the ex and his family told her that I her mother didn’t love her. I had noticed my daughter treating me bad. And she stopped telling me she loved me.
    The one day as I spent quality time with her, that’s when she finally opened up to me.
    My daughter is 30 now with two daughters of her own. Well my ex lived with her and her boyfriend. The next thing I know, my daughter won’t allow my grand girls to come to my house. My first born granddaughter that was born in 2007 she was a grandma’s girl. Now that she is nine my daughter boyfriend has brainwashed my grand girl. He is not the real dad of my grand girl, but he is the real dad of my daughter’s second daughter.
    I have never felt this heartbsick in my life. I am a wonderful grandma that showed my granddaughter so much love. At age two when I had her for a week, when it was time for her to go home, she started crying, reaching her arms out to me. It was like she was telling me, ” grandma please don’t leave me.
    I never thought my daughter would keep my grand girls out of my life. These girls have been brainwashed against me. The last time I seen my oldest granddaughter, she wouldn’t speak not one word to me. She was to afraid to talk to me.
    Before, it use to be ” grandma, grandma” with such excitement. I asked her if she was afraid to talk to me, she just shrugged her shoulders. I have distant myself from the girls so they won’t get into trouble. Its my daughters boyfriend that has made my oldest granddaughter to not communicate with me. Because I know she would get into trouble for telling me the truth to what is going on.

  • Agrandmothersheartbreak

    Know this abusers are using covert hypnosis on the innocent children. My believe, someday this evil people will give an account to God Almighty.

  • Nilesh Mogal

    My ex-wife meets my 6 year old daughter every 2nd and 4th Sunday of ever month and takes my daughter to stay for a day at her home in which my ex stays with her Parents and Brother. Her Sisters and there kids visit often there. I have observed that My ex-wife is telling some nasty things about me to my daughter, because of which when my daughter comes back in the evening she is always unhappy to come back and looks suspiciously at me and my family as if whatever bad happens it is because of us and my ex-wife doesn’t stay with us because we have done something bad. My ex-wife’s parents have told my daughter that “Your dad is a thief and he had thrown you and your mother out of his house hence I have had him and his family arrested and my put in jail”. I don’t expect anything better than this from that family. My main concern is I am the custodial Parent and my family never gets in such mind poisoning games with my kid but my ex-wife if non-custodial parent who is also not contributing for the child support. Still what makes her think that she can do all such things and get away with it. As she meets my daughter at her home I have no way to monitor their meetings. It’s been almost an year that I have got divorced but the torture still continued. I had to pay a huge Alimony also to get ride of all the cases against my family. I am thinking of changing the city now, that is the only way by which there meetings will be reduced. I really don’t know how to ask my kid what has been told to her that made her go mad on my family.

  • Defected Salvations

    I think my father was brainwashed, because he acts like the problems stated in this article. Left my mother for some weird person and his character changed into something horrible.

    Extreamly out of place.

  • Breezy

    Its not only the custodial parent that does this. I’m in a situation with my five year old son, and my ex who is abusive, an alcoholic and more is definitely doing all he can to brainwash my son and has since he was 2. He'[s caused a lot of damage to kme and my son and now is re4ally wreaking havoc. He would never consent to counseling for my son and I can tell by my sons reactions and ways of speaking after going to his dads for a weekend after a few weeks of not being there that his dad is doing some heavy damage. My son tonight came home and said something’s and was soooo emotional unlike himself in all ways. I kept thinking I did something. Its my fault then I realized I hadn’t ever said to him or had he ever heard me say anything close to the words that came out of his mouth. These were alarming things , things a five year old does not say and links back to another time when he came back from his dads. So look, its not only custodial parents. In my situation the non custodial who should not be allowed alone with my son is doing the parent alienation, the coaching and so much more. He shuts me out. Turns things on me , will not communicate with me in any way regarding anything and now he’s really shown himself bc my son has never said a thing or had a thought like he did tonight. My son has been emotionally stable, fine and surprisingly so due to when we lived with his dad and all he went thru but Ive done all I could and can to protect my son. I told him tonight that the main thing I wanted to always protect him from was feeling like this and he looked at me with his tired eyes and said, “Thank you, Momma” That right there shows me , now that I’ve thought over it logically that another person started this up in him and he was thanking me so I will keep trying to protect him. How unlike himself, my son was acting t tonight was after coming back from his dads and it’s too coincidental. Especially since he hasn’t been around his dad in weeks per his dad choice. I am his mother and I can feel it in my bones and thank God I caught this because I was dying inside thinking it was bc of me, and driving myself crazy thinking what I said that brought this but I didn’t. My son tried to say it was bc of something I said but he couldn’t finish his sentence or tell me what I said except the word soul. My son tends to say one thing is the reason he’s upset when in actuality its not that he’s using to blame at all. I know this for a fact and abusers are hard to go up against but nothing is too hard for God. I guess I just wanted to vent this somewhat but also express that it is not always the custodial parent. The non custodial if malicious enough can do more damage in an hour than many can imagine. Unfortunately my sons father is very sick. Along with all else I have documented now I have to add this , get my child back into counseling asap and idc if his dad consents. My child is going through something that’s baffling me and I am going to do all I can to obliterate this from his life. No child deserves this and I’m telling you what my son said tonight — No one at that age could come up with on their own and how he was acting ?? This is going to stop and Ill never give up trying to protect my son from things especially his father. Some fathers are better off not in a child’s life and sadly that’s fact for our situation and I tried my hardest for it not to be but I cannot control another person. But I can myself, and I can fight for my son.

    Thank you for reading if you did.

    A custodial parent not brainwashing