Parental alienation is a strategy used by perpetrators of abuse to create a divide between the other parent and the child or children. It is a form of emotional abuse that can impact the quality of attachment and bonding between the ‘victim’ parent and their children.

The perpetrator will undermine the co-parent, they will be consistently negative which can lead to the child refusing to see the victimised parent and this is when estrangement can occur.  Estrangement between child and parent can go on for years. This can be extremely distressing for both the child and estranged parent.

The child can be struggling with mixed loyalties and may ‘identify with the oppressor’ in the family as a coping strategy to manage a difficult parent.

The child will have witnessed an unhealthy dynamic between their parents already, so this becomes an extension of what has already been going on within the family.

Unfortunately, family courts aren’t the best at spotting alienation when it happens.

Both mothers and fathers can become estranged from their families as they have a narcissistic co-parent.

What I can offer is an understanding of this dynamic and situation. I am familiar with the behaviour that occurs and can validate the experience for you.

I can offer the awareness required if a child should attempt to re-connect, it is important to not be too defensive, even when it seems the most natural response.

We need to offer empathy to the estranged child as this can allow them to feel safe enough to bond again and for healing of the relationship to begin.

When the relationship has some security, then we can look at what really happened to create the divide.

Alienation can also occur between adult children and their parents if the adult child is in a relationship with a narcissist. The narcissist needs to control in order to feel safe and in charge and that can mean the destruction of relationships in their ‘victims’ life.