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Parental alienation is a serious problem

by | Jul 8, 2022 | Family Law Blog

For parents thinking about divorce or going through the process already, their primary concern is usually child custody, co-parenting and the well-being of their child. But, what many of these Winston-Salem, North Carolina, divorcing parents may not realize is that once the couple splits, one of the parents may engage in parental alienation (PA) to the detriment of both the other parent and the child’s healthy development.

Parental alienation?

PA is essentially when one parent makes a concerted effort to alienate the other parent. In other words, through some methodology, they manipulate the child into rejecting, avoiding or even hating the other parent. And, to counter PA, the child may need intensive mental health services, which is why most states consider PA child abuse, and it may be the basis for changing North Carolina child custody arrangements.

Purposeful and direct alienation

One method of PA is purposeful and direct (often called the triangle method). In this way, the alienating parent purposely disparages the other parent to the child, in a deliberate attempt to change their perception of the other parent.

Focusing on the child’s development

Another method of PA is directed at the child’s own well-being, where the alienating parent attempts to tear down the child or use negative reinforcement to inhibit the child’s independence and sense of self. This is often called the differentiation of self method. Once this is done, they then try to make the child dependent on their own positive reinforcement and approvals.


Another common method of PA is projection. In this method, the Winston-Salem, North Carolina, parent does not direct negativity at the child or negativity about the other parent at the child. Instead, they passively attempt to project their own emotions about the other parent onto the child.

This can be done through conversations that the child overhears, passively mentioning negative things or fears about the other spouse and generally creating a sense of fear of the other parent. Essentially, the child then imposes these views and begins to believe that the other parent is bad.

Speak up

The moment you notice a change for the worse in your child, get them counseling. If you suspect PA, let the counselor know of your fears, and they can do an evaluation. You may need to go to a Winston-Salem, North Carolina, PA expert. If you do receive a diagnosis of PA, call your attorney to learn about your options.