Parental alienation is a devastating disease. It slowly corrupts the family system and starts interrupting normal family dynamics. Naturally, there are all kinds and extents of this pathology. Some of us lose complete contact while others try to navigate this minefield. Below are three tiers that might be useful to ascertain where you are on the spectrum of parental alienation.
The Three Tiers of Parental Alienation (PA)
Mild Parental Alienation: Children or young adults will object to spending time with the targeted parent and denigrate them to some form, but yet still enjoy their presence. This generally has a time factor as it takes the children a little while to warm up and re-attune to the target parent once in their company. Proximity to the alienating parent is a factor as well, generally when the child has some distance they can relax and enjoy their time with the targeted parent.
Moderate Parental Alienation: All eight of the primary factors of PA may be present, and with several degrees more intensity than in mild alienation. These children express consistent negative feelings and attitudes towards the targeted parents, even when the alienating parent is not around. Attunement is generally possible and the child will not acknowledge this to the alienating parent. Proximity is still a major factor and things might seem normal with some distance, usually this starts to disintegrate at this level.
Severe Parental Alienation: Severely alienated children have no positive memories or thoughts connected to the targeted parent. It like their hard disks got erased. There is a complete lack of empathy and they seem content to have no contact with the target parent. It is not uncommon that they reject the whole targeted side of the family. They have re-written all their memories with the targeted parent generally in concert with the alienating parent.
There is an opportunity to address these tiers in real time. The most important component is getting help for yourself, learning about parental alienation, adding resources such as professionals, and joining a self-help group like PA-A where folks are going through the same thing. We need support, hope, and a shared reality during this time.
Parental Alienation is such a perverse disease that it is often missed by professionals and parents alike. The eight symptoms of parental alienation were developed by Amy Baker, a renowned expert in this field. They are incredibly useful in discerning if your child or young adult child is being alienated.