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Question “Parental alienation” why it works on some kids and not others

pissedstepmom11's picture

Someone just posted about their DH bad mouthing/blaming BM to SS and the SS not liking it and calling DH out about it. 

Now in my case it's BM who is bad mouthing/blaiming DH to SS BUT SS is falling for the BS and getting Alienated from DH. 

So my question is WHY does Parental alienation work with some kids/teens and other kids/teens see right through it? 

CastleJ's picture

I think it depends on the child's relationship with that parent. Our BM tries to alienate SS8, but he doesnt really fall for it because SS sees during visitation that what BM says about DH isn't true. I think he is too scared to call her out on it. She has, however, convinced SS that BM's Gf is SS's "other Mom" though, so that's been a fun one to deprogram. She tried to convince SS that DH was just a sperm donor, but he doesnt believe that either. SS often seems conflicted because of BM's alienation tactics, so DH puts no pressure on him to sort through those feelings and is always open if he needs to talk. Since BM hasnt been able to successfully alienate SS from DH, she turns to other people like the school, sports coaches and other public entities to alienate and bad mouth DH.

tog redux's picture

Kids who are more anxious and feel a need to care for the alienating parent are more susceptible to it. 

Kes's picture

This is spot on, and in the early days of my relationship with DH, this was going on and continued for many years, up until comparatively recently, in fact.  I think it is only in the last few years that SD23 and SD25 are able to start seeing NPD BM for what she is, and not as a golden angel and DH as the devil incarnate.   

The_Upgrade's picture

Yep, SD spoke about how it was her job to "stay strong" for her mother. When she was 12. It became an "us against the world" theme that BM pushed. Nevermind the fact that a child has no business propping up a parent. 

SeeYouNever's picture

Yep, this is a common thread. BMs teach skids to be victims with them and then some transform the kids into caretakers. My SD also is very anxious and feels responsible for her mom's moods and happiness. It's becoming less as she gets older. I think younger kids who spend more time with mom as most suseptible to this. 

SD learned to play it both ways. BM would bad-mouth her dad then SD would bad-mouth her mom to DH. She was trying to bond with her parents by talking trash about the other. I had to explain to my husband that is she bad mouths her mom with us she is probably bad mouthing us to her mom. My DH was just flattered and thought he was winning SD back. Nope. SD was playing him.

Dogmom1321's picture

Yep. This right here. BM has brainwashed SD that she is the victim and the world is against her. BM is 10 hours away from her hometown and "has no one." Both of her parents are dead before 34. She works night shifts. Her boyfriend cheated on her, Money is tight, but "we're going to work through it" etc. etc. etc. BM emotional manipulates SD into feeling bad for her, in turn, SD10 feels the need to constantly defend her mother, even though she is just a terrible mom with constant excuses. 

Lndsy747's picture

Good points above but also there are different levels of alienation. Some parents don't realize they're doing it, others want to be the favorite, and some want the other parent cut out completely. 

I read an article recently that suggested that SDs are more susceptible to alienation than SSs. In my SDs case although we always saw alienation from the time she was a kid it didn't work until she was a teenager which seems to be common. 

strugglingSM's picture

I agree with tog. It depends a lot on the personality of the child. I have two SSs. They are twins, so same age, but one is very much a people pleaser. He wants people to be happy with him and he wants people to like him. Therefore, he is more susceptible to BM's attempts to get him to see DH as evil. He's also someone who is more likely to go along with what others think. This has gotten him into trouble at school, etc, when he's gone along with stupid things his friends wanted him to do. He hasn't been fully alienated from DH, but he is pretty close and is constantly telling DH and others how terrible DH is to BM. That said, he also wants DH to be happy with him, so when DH will call him out on things, he will back off a bit. He is also enmeshed with BM and often can't separate her feelings from his own feelings. 

The other SS is less emotionally effusive, so he doesn't meet BM's own emotional needs and she spends less time talking to him about DH. She'll periodically tell DH that this SS is also unhappy with him, but when DH talks to this child and asks him if he is unhappy coming to our home or upset with DH, this kid always says no, he isn't. He rarely texts or calls BM when he is with opposed to the other one who texts and calls her multiple times a day. Because of all this, he is less of a target for BM and is less alienated. 

I will also add that I believe that both children's personalities and emotional dysfunctions were shaped by their relationship with BM as babies / young children. According to DH, she was very overwhelmed by being a mother and would often leave the room when they would cry. I think one of them (the one enmeshed with her), responded to this rejection by seeking to make her happy and seeking even more attention from her. DH said he would be inconsolable often as a baby and toddler. The other responded by having extreme anxiety and avoiding interacting with people. This also means that he avoids a lot of BM's current attempts at emotional manipulation and is therefore more immune to her attempts at alienation. 

MissK03's picture

My case is different. Someone from the outside might think that we PAS the skids because what kids don't want to see their mother anymore?!! This couldn't be any further from the truth. We don't bring up BM at all in our house. Never. We just live our every day life and BM lives her. Yes she texts them and calls once in awhile but she has not taking her visitation time in two and half years now. Her choice. She sees them maybe a handful of times a year. No sleepovers just like bday lunches and Xmas. 

They skids didn't want to go to BMs because she never did anything with them, they hated her bf(then) now husband. He didn't show much interest in them. They were getting older so they wanted to hang out with friends on the weekends. BM would tell them no because she didn't want to "drive" around all weekend. (She lives 10 minutes from us in the next town over) Skids started planning sleep overs and her weekends to avoid going to her house. The skids made their decisions on their own. They saw who she was. 

Then her and I had our falling out when I called her out on her bs trying to get in the middle of SO and I, she threatened court, we took her up on the threats, she lost, stopped taking the skids. She never wanted custody she didn't want to have to pay child support. Once she realized SO wasn't going after her for child support, they agreed SO primary custody with joint Sat/sun every other weekend and SO financially responsibile for needs 100% (must be nice right) Well, what she agreed on never happened. She just stopped because she didn't want to force the skids to go to her house. Honestly, it's better that way for everyone. 

shamds's picture

And white truth that they saw with their own eyes, they still side with mum and excuse her behaviour... 

then you hear sd’s ranting in about bio mum and stepdad like they’re the holy grail when they’re just pure idiots. You see how behind developmentally they are brain wise and in life skills and it hurts my husband to see

shamds's picture

And white truth that they saw with their own eyes, they still side with mum and excuse her behaviour... 

then you hear sd’s ranting in about bio mum and stepdad like they’re the holy grail when they’re just pure idiots. You see how behind developmentally they are brain wise and in life skills and it hurts my husband to see

Rags's picture

IMHO it has to do with how informed the kids are with the truth and facts.  The alienator cannot alienate the kids if the kids are continually informed of the facts regarding the crap dished by the alienating parent.  Even kids that fight the facts tooth and nail will eventually find their alienating parent lying to them and the house of bull shit manipulative cards will come crashing down around the kid's head and the alienating parents head.

Even if this epiphany never happens, it forces the kid to eternally choose to ignore the lies and manipulation of the toxic parent and have to stand before the quality parent and repeatedly accept the toxic manipulative crap from the asshole parent.

IMHO of course.