Any attempt at alienating the children from
the other parent should be seen as a direct
and willful violation of one of the prime
duties of parenthood.
– J. Michael Bone & Michael R. Walsh
- Teaching hate
- Indoctrinating the child in hate
- Attack on the child’s soul
- Parental alienation
- Sabotaging the parent-child bond
- Aligning the child against the parent
- Poisoning the child’s mind
- Inducing false hatred
- Stealing the child’s soul
- Crushing/killing the child’s spirit
- Relationship is under attack
- Erasing or rewriting the child’s good memories
- Bashing the parent
- Denying a loving relationship
- Flooding their brain with lies
- Squashing the child’s desire for a relationship
- Mental torture
- Mental torment
- Badmouthing the parent
- Instill hatred where love once existed
- Campaign to destroy the parent-child relationship
- Mental or psychological child abuse
- Emotional child abuse
- Denying the child the love of one of his/her parents
These phrases can be helpful in describing to your child’s counselor, your lawyer, CPS, and any judges what you’re facing.
Children want to be loved by both of their parents. – www.brainwashingchildren.com
A few months ago I watched with interest an episode of Dr. Phil that dealt with the topic of brainwashing of children by a parent. Dr. Phil summarized the bad parental behavior that hurts children, and I jotted down the main points he made. Here they are:
- Using child as pawn
- Talking bad about the other parent
- Using child to gain information
- Transferring hurt feelings and frustrations onto the child
- Treating the child like an adult
All of them are great points. In my case every single one of them are being done. How about you? It’s my guess that a parent that you see deploying at least two of these actions is likely to be doing all five.
When your child is dropped off with your ex following your weekend or other multi-day visitation, a brainwashing parent will usually give your kid(s) a post-visitation “shakedown”.
The goal of the parent doing this is to extract all the details, looking for those that put the other parent in bad light.
The poor child knows the parent wants to hear only the bad (nevermind that he/she just learned how to, say, ride a bike for the first time during this visit). So the child states the case the alienating parent wants to hear, often exaggerating or even lying.
How do you combat this? You can’t, mainly because you know it’s going on but you can’t prove it. Moreover, you simply can’t control the other parent’s behavior. So what you do is not think about the “shakedown” event. As long as you’re being the best parent you can be and do not engage in the awful behaviors the alienating parent is, you’ll come out fine in the end. And the child will remember the campaign against you eventually, and how fraudulent it was.
This, in turn, turns into the brainwashing boomerang.
It’s a shame what parents will do following a child’s time with a parent. The attempt to strip the bonding moments down and label them something different is without question child abuse.
Parents who are indoctrinating their children to spite the ex will also enlist the child to become a surrogate spy. This can range from simple information about the ex’s new girlfriend, all the details of every breakfast and dinner (“what did you eat? What restaurant did he take you to?”) to doing complete hard drive searches looking for bank info, emails, or incrimining web sites.
Vindictive ex’s would love to be able to rummage through your home to get interesting details on your life, including any and all “dirt.” They’re still very angry from the divorce or separation. But since they can’t break into your house without risking jail time, they recruit your child to act as a spy on their behalf.
This is very damaging to the child, for a number of reasons. First, it makes the child believe that the parent and their house can’t be a normal environment. There must be something wrong with it if one parent needs all the details of what’s happening there. Second, it teaches that it’s OK to be sneaky and spy on somebody. Remember, kids model their parents’ behaviors. So a continuance brain bath in spying around a parent’s house for information to share with the other parent is very damaging to the child long term.
Finally, by aligning the child in this manner, the vindictive ex slowly tears down the bond that exists between the other parent and the child. This intentional act of abuse on the child is terrible– it creates conflict and discomfort in a relationship where little to none even existed!
Parents that do this are terrible parents. Period.
When you catch your child reporting everything back to the other parent (I discovered mine through child therapist progress notes), it’s time to let the child know that you understand they want to “help Mom/Dad, but reporting back everything you do in such detail isn’t fun for them, it upsets the other parent, and it makes you work too hard, having to carry around a mental note pad every day.” Or words to that effect.
Don’t embarrass or punish the child, or the behavior will continue and get even worse. Point it out without pointing a hard finger, explain why it’s not a fun or positive thing to do, and then drop it.
I’m experiencing in my case severe programming in a desperate attempt to sever my son’s relationship with me. One of the things my son’s mother does is place him into counseling after every father-son time we have. That’s right, usually the very next Monday or Tuesday after the Sunday evening exchange he is placed into child therapy. This has been going on for many months now.
It’s very frustrating to see my 9-year-old son go from a highly enjoyable visit with me (my tactics in fighting back the brainwashing are slowly working, thank God), to being dropped into counseling.
I set myself an appointment with the child therapist a day after my son was placed there, and the therapist said there were no issues in my son’s nearly 3 weeks with me.
So why was he brought in? Counselor couldn’t answer.
I believe that his mother thinks that time with me is harmful to him, that my being in his life is harmful to him, and that the way to “recover” from the awfulness of spending time with a (unwilling to be acknowledged by her) loving father is to get help from a therapist.
Unfortunately in my case the therapist is completely clueless to the brainwashing mother is doing– so clueless that he denies any active brainwashing is going on! Just some “influencing” in my son’s mind. By whom? I ask? “Perhaps a parent”… Please… This after the countless stories I’ve told him and the video and audio tape showing my son’s anguish. It’s a “he said; she said” thing according to him.
When an ex places your child in counseling after nearly every visit with you, what message is that sending the child? That being with you is not a normal, OK thing. That obviously something not good or harmful certainly happened to the child during that time.
If this happens to you, you need to be assertive in standing up to the child therapist on what exactly it is he or she is treating. See what codes are being documented on the billing to the insurance company. Sit in on sessions like I have, and take good notes. There are many incompetent child therapists out there.
In my case, the therapist didn’t have much to say, and even prevented me from seeing the progress notes when I asked to see them– he needed to see legal proof of my rights to see them. Can you imagine any divorce decree where a parent is specifically denied access to medical records? Amazing.
My battle is just beginning with that incompetent child therapist. Never assume that a therapist knows what he/she is doing and isn’t aligning with one parent over the other. Get your own trusted child therapist always.
Brainwashing a child usually begins as frustrations, hurt, and contempt towards you by your ex. He or she feels betrayed, wronged, is quite bitter about the separation or divorce, and believes the child needs to know about these strong feelings.
Here, emotion trumps logic and good parenting. A parent makes a decision to bring the child into the separation/divorce mix, and from there the trend is rarely good—- in fact, the trend is usually towards more and more badmouthing the other parent. No matter how frustrated a parent becomes, getting the child to align against the other parent is terribly wrong. A mature parent would instead deal with the ex, and keep the child out of it.
This good parent would think, “Well, one day the child will see their parent for who he/she is, and I’m not going to be the one to slant my kid in one direction. It’s not right for me to do so, and it could even backfire one day.”
People involved in separations and divorces WILL have negative feelings towards the other parent, but it’s time for parents to act like adults and stop putting children in the crossfire. Getting a child to dislike or outright despise the other parent isn’t just wrong—it’s child abuse.
Scorched Earth Alienation (n) – intentionally trying to destroy a child’s relations with a parent and associated family tree.
There are different levels of brainwashing children, the most extreme of which is Scorched Earth Alienation.
When the ex tries to poison the relationship with not only the other parent but with that parent’s sisters, brothers, father– the entire family tree essentially, this is called Scorched Earth Alienation.
In my case, my son’s mother tries to deny him a normal relationship with his own half-sister, his Daddy (me), his grandpa (denied him an exchange– which I promptly filed a motion with the Court), and cousins.
She’s not just satisfied with getting him to hate his own Daddy, she’s going after the entire family tree. It’s truly sad… I hope your situation isn’t nearly as far-reaching as mine.
So when it comes time to discuss with your lawyer or the jury your plight, use this term– it’s perfect for what the malicious behavior it’s describing.