Bringing It to Life #3: Dealing with Parental Alienation

Parental Alienation: What It Is and How to Handle It

In this episode of It’s All Your Fault, Bill and Megan dive into the complex topic of parental alienation in divorce and separation cases. They answer a listener’s question about an extreme case of alienation and provide insights on what alienation is, how it differs from estrangement, and most importantly, what can be done about it.

Understanding Alienation and Estrangement
Bill explains that alienation occurs when a child resists or refuses contact with a parent, not because of that parent’s actions, but due to the other parent’s influence. In contrast, estrangement happens when the child’s resistance is caused by the rejected parent’s own behavior, such as violence or emotional abuse. Bill emphasizes the importance of taking a scientific approach rather than a blame approach to understand what may be happening in each case.

Treating Alienation and Estrangement
Bill discusses the different treatment approaches for alienation and estrangement. In estrangement cases, the focus is on helping the rejected parent learn new skills and rebuild the relationship with the child through step-by-step counseling. However, in alienation cases, the child needs to be removed from the alienating parent’s influence and have intensive time with the rejected parent to re-establish their normal relationship.

Bringing the Listener’s Case to Life
Bill and Megan analyze the listener’s question, which involves an extreme case of alienation where the father shot the mother’s new husband in front of their son. They discuss the importance of investigating the case thoroughly and ensuring the mother is a safe and stable parent. 

Questions we answer in this episode:

  • What is parental alienation and how does it differ from estrangement?
  • What are the different treatment approaches for alienation and estrangement?
  • How can a child heal from the effects of parental alienation?
  • What steps can be taken in extreme cases of alienation?

Key Takeaways:

  • Alienation occurs when a child resists contact with a parent due to the other parent’s influence, while estrangement is caused by the rejected parent’s own behavior.
  • Treatment for estrangement focuses on helping the rejected parent learn new skills, while treatment for alienation involves removing the child from the alienating parent’s influence.
  • In extreme cases of alienation, the child may need to spend intensive time with the rejected parent, possibly in a psychiatric hospital setting, to re-establish their relationship.
  • The goal is to achieve a healthy balance in the child’s life, with both parents supporting moderate thinking, behavior, and emotions.

This episode provides valuable insights into the complex issue of parental alienation and offers practical advice for those dealing with this challenging situation. By understanding the differences between alienation and estrangement, and learning about effective treatment approaches, listeners can take steps to help children heal and maintain healthy relationships with both parents.

Links & Other Notes

Note: We are not diagnosing anyone in our discussions, merely discussing patterns of behavior.

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