Parental Alienation in Child Custody Cases

parental alienationCauses of Parental Alienation

In our blog series on parental alienation in Austin, Texas child custody cases, we have looked at signs of parental alienation and also what a parent can do when they see those signs. This time we will take a look at causes of the alienating behaviors by parents. It is important to try to understand why a parent may resort to this type of behavior since it can have a huge impact on the relationship of their child and the other parent.

What Causes Parental Alienation?

Why would a parent want to damage their child’s relationship with the other parent at their own child’s expense? The reasons and intentions change from parent to parent, but many psychologists feel that the following reasons can be motivators for this alienating behavior:

  • There may be unresolved anger toward the other parent for perceived wrongs during the relationship by the alienating parent. The alienating parent may not be able to separate their feelings from parenting issues.
  • There may be unresolved issues from the alienating parent’s own childhood that the alienating parent projects on the other parent.
  • The alienating parent may have a personality disorder, i.e. narcissism, bi-polar, or paranoia, which prevents them from seeing the harm to the child and the other parent that their behavior is causing. A parent with a personality disorder may also be unable to empathize with the feelings of the child.
  • An alienating parent may project their own insecurities in theirown parenting skills on the other parent.
  • An alienating parent may have boundary issues and be so involved in their child’s life that he or she has no separate identity. In such instances, they view the child’s relationship with the other parent as a threat.
  • Sometimes new spouses or grandparents influence a parent into inappropriate or alienating behavior for their own reasons or issues, and the alienating parent isn’t strong enough to resist the influence of the new spouse or grandparents.

In addition to some of the causes of the behavior of a parent, it is also important to look at why a child would go along with this behavior.

Some Common Reasons for Why Children Buy Into Alienating Behavior

What causes a child to buy into the alienating parent’s behaviors that can go as far as being characterized as brainwashing? Some common reasons why a child may go along with the alienating behavior is the child may:

  • Feel the need to protect a parent who’s depressed, panicky or needy;
  • Want to avoid the anger or rejection of a dominant parent; and/or
  • Want to hold onto the parent the child is most afraid of losing, such as a parent who is self-absorbed or uninvolved with the child.

If you see the signs of parental alienation in your Austin, Texas custody case it is important that you contact an experienced family lawyer immediately. It is important that you address this issue immediately and not let the behavior continue. Leaving this behavior unchecked can lead to devastating harm to a parent’s relationship with their child.


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