When people think of parental alienation, the image that comes to mind is one of Mom or Dad regularly trash-talking the absent parent in front of his/her offspring. But that’s not always how it happens.
The process of alienation can begin before a couple separates. This is one of the reasons I feel so strongly that divorce can be a positive change for a family- that is, as long as Mom and Dad are able to handle their separation in a responsible manner.
Another way that kids are taught to believe one parent is “bad” is through non-verbal signals. Alienators can send a loud and clear message simply by making a face or turning away in a dismissive manner when a child mentions the other parent.
Transition times present another opportunity for alienators to communicate their feelings. Imagine Mom acting extremely sad or panicked when Dad picks up the kids for the weekend. Imagine Dad telling his children that he’s “relieved” they made it home from their mother’s house. Given such a sendoff or homecoming, how is a child supposed to feel confident loving and visiting both parents?
It’s important to remember that children are extremely sensitive and perceptive. And although alienation may not always be intentional, it is always painful. Please don’t forget the lasting impact of the little things, and share this message to raise awareness in others.