Parental alienation is one of the most toxic things that anyone will ever have to be exposed to. And if the alienating parent is a narcissist, the situation can feel completely dire and impossible. So if you are dealing with a narcissistic parent who is also alienating, what can you do about it? By the end of this article, you will have some tips and strategies so that you can put in your arsenal to learn how to deal with this particular type of situation.
So narcissistic parental alienation, what does that mean? So parental alienation in general means the psychological manipulation of one parent, against the other, to the child by causing the child to reject, disdain, hate the other parent, in a very complete way that that child actually ends up feeling like the other parent is enemy, is disgusting, is horrible. So that’s parental alienation. What narcissistic parental alienation is, is when you have this alienating parent, who also happens to be a narcissist. It’s probably the most lethal, toxic, horrible situation that you can possibly have.
So before I get into what you can do about it, let me give you some indicators that may be parental alienation may be going on for you. So number one is that they send poisonous messages to the child about the, what we call the targeted parent. And they portray the targeted parent as unloving, unsafe, unavailable, things like that. So they’re manipulating the child into believing that this parent, who even maybe once was very loving, into believing that this person hates you, hates the child. And that the environment is unsafe, that the parent doesn’t want the child. Something like that. So they send these poisonous messages to start basically brainwashing the child into believing how horrible the targeted parent is.
So the second thing that they do is they start limiting contact and communication between the child and the targeted parent. They’ll start saying that the child doesn’t want to come over to your house, that the child is too tired, that the child is sick, that the child has one homework, anything that they can dream up. They start limiting that contact, limiting that communication. They’ll even start saying things like, “Well, the cell phone wasn’t working,” Or, “The battery died,” or, “I shut it off because I don’t want you tracking me.” Something like that. So they start limiting communication between the child and the targeted parent.
The third thing that they do is erasing and replacing the targeted parent in the heart and mind of the child. So they basically will start saying that this is your new daddy, this is your new mommy, or we don’t need the old daddy in our life anymore. We don’t need new mom in our life anymore. You have me. I’m the only one that you can count on. I’m the only one who’s here for you all the time. Daddy or mommy, whoever the targeted parent is, doesn’t want you. And besides, they never wanted you, and you’re just a father in their life. And I’m the one who loves you. I’m the one who wants to be with you all the time. Things like that. So they start replacing and erasing the targeted parent.
The fourth thing that they do is encourage the child to betray the target parent’s trust. So in other words, they’ll have the child spy on the targeted parent and get back to the alienating parent, “What’s going on in daddy’s house? What’s going on in mommy’s house? What are you doing over there? Tell me what’s happening. Tell me what you had for dinner or tell me if daddy or mommy is seeing someone else, Tell me what you’re seeing in the house.” Things like that. So basically they become this little like spy for the other parent so that the other parent, the alienating parent has more ammunition to use against the targeted parent.
And the last thing they do is they undermine the authority of the targeted parent. And how they do that is the targeted parent might say, “No, you’re not allowed to go out until 3:00 in the morning with your boyfriend.” And then the alienating parent will say, “Oh, you can go ahead and do that. Daddy or mommy is a stupid, or they don’t know, or they’re not the boss of you, I am.” Things like that, so they’ll undermine the other parent’s authority.
So you know, you may see one or two of these things happening with you, but every parent when they’re in the middle of a divorce or in the middle of breaking up or something like that, they engage in some of these things. So, if you just see one or two, it may not be parental alienation, it’s the whole, when they’re all taken together, then these parental alienation strategies foster conflict and they create that psychological distance between the child and the targeted parent. And that’s what it is that they want. And sometimes it’s just because they hate the targeted parent, they want to punish them. Sometimes it’s just because they want the kids to love them more. And especially if they’re a narcissist, they want to feed their ego. They want to show the targeted parent that, “I’ve got you, I got the kids to turn against you.”
Narcissists often triangulate and try to gather a support team and get people to go against you. And so in the middle of a divorce, they do that with the children, and with anyone else that they can get on their side as well unfortunately.
So what can you do about it? First, you can do about it is do something ASAP. The thing is that when it’s gone all the way to where the child is fully alienated, absolutely hates the other parent, then it’s so hard to turn that around. I’ve seen some of the worst possible cases. I’ve actually had clients that have had to go to parental alienation camps, reunification camps with their children so that they can try to reunify. You’re basically deprogramming the children at this point. It’s almost like as if they’ve been in it cult. So it’s really, really difficult.
So if you are seeing any of these signs, do something immediately get help and make sure that you are considering your strategies and your interventions absolutely right away. Don’t brush it off. Don’t say, “Well, she was angry or he was angry, or we’re just going through a divorce, or I’ll get the kids back at some point.” Just be really, really mindful of doing something as soon as you can at the beginning of the process.
The second thing that you can do is don’t engage. And what I mean by that is first of all, you’re not going to engage at the level that the narcissistic alienating parent wants you to. I have a whole video on how to negotiate with the narcissist ex, where I talk about the BIFF method: brief, informative, friendly, and firm. And I will drop a link to that video below as well. You’re definitely going to want to check that out, but you don’t want to engage and don’t employ the same tactics with the children that the other parent is employing.
Parental alienation is a form of child abuse and I want to make sure that I say that. Dr. Amy Baker actually said that it’s harder for children to get over parental alienation syndrome than it is sexual abuse. It’s that traumatic. So the children of parental alienation syndrome who’ve been targeted, who are the victims of that, have anxiety, depression, their grades suffer. They sometimes have eating disorders, they sometimes drop out of school, they have a higher incidence of teen pregnancy. They have a higher incidents of being on drugs. All kinds of really, really bad things because this is a form of child abuse.
So don’t respond by engaging in the same type of behavior. Just keep letting the children know that you’re there for them, that you want to see them, that you love them, that the problems with the other parent have nothing to do with them. Just keep letting them know that, even though they say they hate you or whatever. It still goes in there and they still see it. They still hear it as much as they don’t communicate that with you. So just don’t stop telling your child that you love them but don’t engage with the other parent.
And the last thing that you can do is make sure that you have a really, really strong support team. You’re definitely going to want to have a lawyer that understands parental alienation, one that has had experience in dealing with parental alienation. And then you’re going to want to hire or get involved with, hire a good coach, or a therapist, or somebody who really knows parental alienation. And also get involved with some support groups, other people who have dealt with it and not people that are going to get to how to help you on the hate wave because that’s not really going to help you.
So what you really want is somebody who can give you information, advice on how they were able to reunify with their children.
If you are dealing with a narcissist and you want to know more about how to communicate with them, come join me at my FREE Webinar, the 3 MUST HAVE Secrets for Communicating with a Narcissist. You can sign up for that RIGHT HERE.