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Impact of Parental Alienation ¦ Children

Impact of Parental Alienation – On Children

This first in my serious of “Impact of Parental Alienation” videos focused on the most important people – the children.

A child who is subjected to parental alienation is going to be affected in numerous ways, all of which are negative.

The first is the damage to their attachment. John Bowlby did a lot of work on the impact of attachments on children and found that it is a key feature in the early development of babies and how they view themselves and the world. It affects their physiological brain development as well as their internal working model (internal representation of themselves). The quality of the attachment may be secure, ambivalent or insecure to the alienated parent but the attachment is still like an elastic band, it gets stretched but remains as it is an innate part of our development. We learn how to trust, about love and security and our own worth. A break in this attachment can be very damaging for a child and is why social services follow a certain process (child protection proceedings) before removing a child – because they aim to reduce the impact on the child. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has done a lot of work on the impact of separation and broken attachments so if you want to know more do look them up. Parental alienation involved one parent deliberately causing untold damage to that attachment which in turn can lead the child to struggle with relationships, unable to trust and feeling faulty.

The second impact for a child is on their trust. Not only has their attachment to a caregiver (who they had some level of trust with) been severed, they are being fed lies by the other parent which do not match up to their own memories. They therefore are unsure who to trust – themselves or their parent. This can cause long term problems for children who may end up not trusting anyone including themselves and can result in anti social behaviour and self harming.

The third main impact is guilt. A child feels guilty for saying horrible things about their parent. Even if they have been manipulated to say these things, internally they will hate the way they are treating their parent. Children understand morality and know right from wrong and hate to upset anyone, it’s a joyous quality of youth and a child who is made to say untrue things about their parent or dismiss them will be wracked with guilt and will often think that THEY are to blame and internalise that guilt. Again this can result in self farming and self loathing.

Finally parental alienation is child abuse. It is emotional abuse as you alienators are brainwashing their children with lies, using manipulation and fear to control what they say and ruining their emotional connection to a caregiver. It is also neglect as they are not focusing on the welfare of the children at all, solely on their own needs.

Professionals involved in these cases should be aware that children lie to protect abusers. We are trained to know that and to spot that. We do that by listening to their language and looking for “black and white” thinking. i.e. their abuser is ALL good and the other parent is ALL bad. No child thinks like that, they can see good and bad in everyone so when they start talking in this way, it is a sign of being manipulated to say what suits the abuser. Leaving a child in this environment is subjecting them to further abuse.

What are your thoughts? Does this match your own experiences? I’d love to hear from you if you are experiencing this to offer you support and advice. Please do get in touch at



  • Tamela Ash

    When you have used all of your resources on an attorney who came "highly recommended", and she is not taking PAS seriously, what is your next step? Local law enforcement always seem to side with him. Our custody is 50/50, but order hasn't been updated since our child was a toddler. Most of my time was daytime. He is in 6th grade now. I have been saving to go back to court while my ex has been alienating him. I'm suing for full custody. He's counter suing for abandonment. Isn't that ironic?

  • Kyla Verville

    What was the foundation that has done research about separating siblings? I would love to share with you my situation. It’s all sorts of messed up! I’m trying to do some research and collect evidence to rake my ex abuser/son’s current abuser back to court. Thank you for this video.

  • Mike

    The problem isn't just the alienating parent. It's the alienating regime. Comprising the alienators family, and friends, complicit social workers who get sucked in. I am sure that this kind of thing could be stopped if the family of the alienators just said what the hell are you doing, and just stop it. But that doesn't happen. The encourage it, normalize it.

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