There’s a thin line between love and hate — and that’s never more obvious than when someone channels all of their anger, grief and disappointment at a failed marriage into demonizing the spouse they supposedly once loved. When they involve the children in that process, ultimately playing games with their affection and turning their ex-spouse into the enemy of all, that’s parental alienation.
Parental alienation doesn’t just hurt the victimized parent. It also damages the psyche of the children involved in permanent ways. It usually destroys or deeply damages their relationship with one of their parents for good and does not make for a loving, supportive childhood — which naturally affects their adult lives.
But parental alienation doesn’t occur in “normal” divorces. Psychologists say that it most often occurs when one spouse is either narcissistic or has borderline personality disorder. The narcissist tends to only focus on their needs and their desires and their perceptions of events. They cannot see things from other people’s points of view, so they expect everyone (even their children) to adopt their views. Since they see their ex-spouse as “evil” or “bad,” the children must, of course, see that parent the same way.
The borderline parent, on the other hand, cannot easily regulate their reactions and often sees themselves as a victim. Their anger at a spouse often manifests in a “win at all costs” mentality and they may stop at nothing to get their revenge. The effect they may be having on their children in the process simply doesn’t matter to them.
With these facts in mind, you’re in the best position to know if your ex-spouse is likely to engage in parental alienation. If you feel like it is a possibility, it’s smart to be watchful for signs of trouble. Discuss the issue with your attorney as soon as possible. It may be important to your custody battle down the line.