Parental Alienation Harms Children by Using Undue Influence

This past week, a very important legal custody case was decided which involves Infowars’ Alex Jones and his ex-wife Kelly. Kelly Jones was able to successfully show that her children had been turned against her and unduly influenced by Alex Jones. The judge awarded her the power to decide where her children will live from now on. She will now have the opportunity to re-establish relationships with her own children. Parental alienation is real and its results are devastating. My friend and psychiatrist Nick Child’s site is filled with wonderful resources.

Through my work, I have had the opportunity to learn from and train with Dr. Amy J. L. Baker, a developmental psychologist and expert on Parental Alienation and its long-lasting negative effects.

According to Dr. Baker, there are seventeen primary parental alienation strategies that have been scientifically identified. They fall into the following five categories:

  • poisonous messages to the child about the targeted parent in which he or she is portrayed as unloving, unsafe, and unavailable
  • limiting contact and communication between the child and the targeted parent
  • erasing and replacing the targeted parent in the heart and mind of the child
  • encouraging the child to betray the targeted parent’s trust
  • undermining the authority of the targeted parent

Parental Alienation is a form of undue influence in which one parent deceives and manipulates the child to feel fear, anger, disgust, or other negative emotions towards the other parent. The alienating parent may attempt to instill false memories of abuse or phobias about the other parent in the child’s mind. They may encourage the child to spy and tattle on the other parent. In other words, parents who unethically alienate their child against the other parent use similar tactics that cults use to distance their members from family, friends, and ex-members.

Experts have long studied the effects of divorce on children. A landmark study was detailed in the New York Times best-selling book, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce by Wallerstein, Lewis and Blakeslee. It can harm identity formation, disrupt secure attachment, create insecurities about trust and relationships, and more. When a family is broken by divorce or separation, children will usually feel stressed or confused. They may not understand what is happening. Or they may wonder if they are to blame for the break-up. Good parenting will always put the best interest of the child’s well–being as a top priority. It is especially more important than the parent’s ego. Therefore, relationship experts always tell divorcing parents to avoid saying negative things and to encourage a positive relationship with the other parent.

Cult Programming That Causes Parental Alienation is Absolutely Dangerous

Systematic mind control programming of children against their non-custodial parent is absolutely dangerous. As a mental health professional, I have long worked with children and adults who have suffered from parental alienation as a result of exiting a destructive cult, like Scientology and the Jehovah’s Witnesses (but is a very common practice of all cults). The Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, have a documented history of efforts to manipulate ex-members by threatening disfellowshipping and legal wrangling to keep children inside the Watchtower group. Children are told that anyone who rejects the Witness lifestyle is dangerous and “part of Satan’s world”–even immediate family members. Watchtower has even published a guide for followers to use when facing a non-believing parent in court to get custody of the children. A PDF of this document can be accessed here. Scientology has their total disconnection policy if someone is declared a Suppressive Person (SP).

Add the component of active negative programming that the child’s parent has betrayed God, or become possessed, or has gone insane. This can cause powerful thought and emotional problems as well. People have had nervous breakdowns, psychotic breaks, suicide attempts, or manifested migraine headaches and other debilitating psychosomatic illnesses.

How Can You Heal Your Own Family?

If you find yourself struggling with parental alienation in your own life, please remember it can be overcome by taking the time to learn and get qualified help. Children have an innate desire to love their parents. Just like cult members, kids who have been unduly influenced can be helped to regain their authentic selves. I recommend educating yourself about undue influence and its effects. Both of my books, Combating Cult Mind Control and Freedom of Mind, can be useful in helping you understand.

I also recommend that family therapy with a specifically trained professional be attended. Using my BITE model, children and other family members can be given tools to recognize when manipulation is occurring. They can also be educated on what healthy parenting is and how to establish a good relationship with both parents that respects the family structure.

It’s never too late to regain the bonds that have been severed by Parental Alienation. Though it may be difficult, I believe that strategic steps can be taken to repair broken relationships. I personally hope that anyone who is dealing with parental alienation in their own lives will take the time to do their own research and work towards mending the damage that has been caused.

For additional resources I recommend the following books by Amy J. L. Baker PhD:

Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome: Breaking the Ties That Bind

Co-parenting with a Toxic Ex: What to Do When Your Ex-Spouse Tries to Turn the Kids Against You

Surviving Parental Alienation: A Journey of Hope and Healing

More Links on the Alex Jones Case:

InfoWars’ Alex Jones Loses Custody Case, Ex-Wife Wins Right to Decide Where Children Live

Alex Jones’ Ex-Wife Wins Ugly Custody Battle

Kelly Jones finishes testimony in custody dispute with Alex Jones