Researchers connect parental alienation to partner abuse

On Behalf of | Oct 22, 2021 | Parental Alienation

In Michigan, around the country and all over the world, parental alienation is a common problem. For parents who are in the middle of a divorce, the may be an irresistible temptation to place blame on the other parent and let acrimony influence the parent-child relationship. This is being studied and analyzed by many entities. In divorce cases, it could be a key factor in determining child custody, visitation and ensuring that the child has a fruitful relationship with both parents. A researcher in Colorado has made a connection between parental alienation and another problem that is common in contentious marital relationships: abuse. This could be a factor in the entire family law case.

Research suggests power and control at the center of parental alienation

A social psychologist from Colorado State University who has been a longtime researcher into parental alienation found similar behaviors between parents trying to coerce the child into feeling negatively toward the other parent and the controlling aspects of abuse. In the study, 79 people were interviewed. All had suffered from parental alienation. Fifty fathers and 29 mothers took part. Most were found to have differences in the power dynamic in the relationship. This gave rise to the perception that exerting control with abusive acts and alienating the parent from the child is linked.

With parental alienation, it seemed to coincide with terrorizing and battering the other person as opposed to violence that occurs in specific situations. When this type of alienation happens, it creates an imbalance of power. Tactics to achieve these ends include harassment, intimidation and threats. The other parent tends to feel as if he or she has few alternatives. Approximately 80% of the cases that were studied had the hallmarks of unequal power. Interestingly, gender is largely irrelevant in parental alienation as it happens around the same percentage of the time with mothers and fathers. Since this could be categorized as a type of abuse, it is wise to remember that it also has the propensity to inflict damage on the child in various ways.

Specific legal assistance is needed for parental alienation cases

The concept of parental alienation and how it impacts children is still evolving. This study suggests that it is simply an escalation and different form of abuse and control. For parents who are dealing with allegations that they are committing parental alienation and others who are confronted with it, it is useful to know how to ensure there is a positive and ongoing relationship with the child. Having professional help is crucial to deal with these circumstances and it should be handled aggressively from the start.