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Children of Parental Alienation Suffer as Adults


children of parental alienationAs incidences of Parental Alienation Syndrome increase, therapy professionals are looking at the long-term impacts on the children of high-conflict divorces.

Children of Parental Alienation Suffer Later in Life

According to Edward Kruk, Ph.D., “Psychiatrist Richard Gardner developed the concept of “parental alienation syndrome” 20 years ago.” Now, decades later, the children identified as being the subjects of Parental Alienation are becoming young adults and encountering difficulties in the own marriages and parenting relationships. It manifests itself in narcissistic behaviors, addictions, and difficulty co-parenting.

The term Parental Alienation is used to describe a perpetual pattern of one parent brainwashing the child to hate or avoid the other parent. A parent may bad-mouth the other parent, spread damaging lies, use the children as pawns to exact revenge or keep the kids from seeing the other parent. It is a serious issue that undermines the child’s ability to form trust-worthy relationships later in life.

“The severe effects of parental alienation on children are well-documented; low self esteem and self-hatred, lack of trust, depression, and substance abuse and other forms of addiction are widespread, as children lose the capacity to give and accept love from a parent,” according to Edward Kruk, Ph.D. who authored, “The Impact of Parental Alienation on Children: Undermining Loving Parent-Child Relationships as Child Maltreatment” in 2013.

A 2015 book titled, “’Nasty Divorce: A Kid’s Eye View’ will open your eyes to the true-life tragedy that comes with high conflict divorce.” The author, Marina Sbrochi, has written for The Huffington Post for since 2012 and advises, “Parental alienation, abuse and mental illness are a common theme in many of these stories. After reading this book, there will be no doubt in your mind, high conflict divorce is incredibly damaging.” She writes, “Sprinkled throughout the book are helpful tips and advice to help you have a better divorce for your children. It’s never too late to change direction. Your kids will thank you.” The book is available on Amazon.

For years, so many articles have focused on the impact on the adults as they struggle to co-parent. What is now coming into focus is the life-long impacts on the children of Parental Alienation.

Experienced Howell Divorce Attorney Kathryn Wayne-Spindler says, “Unfortunately I see vengeful parents all the time who are so hurt by a disloyal spouse that they think they are protecting the children against the same emotional pain they endured by blocking the relationship. What they don’t realize is that they are creating a situation where children learn that one of the most important adults in their life is scary and harmful.” That is tough to outgrow.

For those teenagers or young adults who have already had their child-parent relationship disturbed by Parental Alienation, therapy is available. Experts advise acknowledging that Parental Alienation is a serious matter. Children of Parental Alienation may not feel like their abandonment issues are valid. But many find that self-esteem and trust cannot be built as long as they have doubts that what they endured was nothing short of abuse.

Livingston County Divorce Lawyer Kathryn Wayne-Spindler sees the early-stages of Parental Alienation frequently during High Conflict divorces. She advises clients to keep the children’s long-term mental health in mind. She keeps her eyes open to potential Parental Alienation. She encourages her clients to seek co-parenting training like ADEPT if divorce conflict impacts the children’s relationships.

The Milford, Michigan Law Office of Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates handles high-conflict divorces throughout Southeastern Michigan including Oakland, Washtenaw, Wayne, Genesee and Livingston Counties. Contact the law office at 248-685-8888 if you need help with a contentious divorce. The law team handles cases in Milford, Highland, Hartland, Waterford, White Lake, Commerce, Wixom, South Lyon, New Hudson, Howell, Linden, Holly, Grand Blanc and many more local communities.

Written and Posted by Christine Donlon Long
Communications Specialist for Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates