How do you explain parental alienation to a child? It is an almost impossible task as the child loves both parents and any criticism of their parent is felt like a criticism of themselves. They NEED to love and attach to parents in order to survive. This is not dependant upon gender. It is the quality and availability that is important.
This post summaries the main points from this YouTube Live. Do watch for full details.
When the a relationship with the narcissist ends though, the narcissist believes that becoming an ex-partner/spouse means you also become an ex-parent, which goes against all the child’s natural instincts.
So the narcissist will triangulate the child into the conflict and ensure that you take on the role of “abusive parent”. They may send messages through the child which leaves you in a position of having to either defend yourself or remain silent and leave the child believing YOU are the problem. This plays into their need to be seen as the hero or the victim.
This is damaging for the child because they should NEVER be brought into adult issues. They do not have the cognitive and emotional skills to deal with it and so it is damaging.
So how do you explain what is going on?
- Answer their questions in an age appropriate way without criticising or blaming the other parent
- Model putting boundaries in place for yourself
- Acknowledge and validate the child’s feelings without getting drawn into the argument
- Condemn the BEHAVIOUR not the person
- Think about how the narcissist will parent and do the EXACT opposite
- Teach your child the skills they need to deal with the narcissist rather than trying to wrap them in cotton wool
- Get expert support for you and the child
- Learn to deal with your own stress
It is one of the hardest things for parents – to protect the child from being triangulated whilst not being labelled as the abusive parent. The narcissist is absolutely determined to tie you into this role because that enables them to play the “protective parent” role. Their whole narrative depends upon you being the bad guy. But you can put those boundaries and give them the skills to deal with the narcissist.
If you are struggling with any aspect of parental alienation, please do get in touch. What are your thoughts? How has this matched up to your experiences? What would you add?