Estranged Parents and Abused Children
The Conditioning of Parental
Disrespect and Hate
by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.
“What’s going on between you and me has little to do with us; rather, it is more about the dynamics between you and your father/mother.” Sound familiar?
If you are a woman, you may know this as “domestic violence by proxy.” If you are a man, you more likely call it “parental alienation.” I am not suggesting that these two terms (domestic violence by proxy and parental alienation) refer to the same syndrome.
If you are familiar with the domestic abuse literature, you know that they grew out of two completely different worlds. So let’s keep them separate and look at the impact on the strained parent-child relationships.
Conditioning of Parental Hate
In practice, the way the two syndromes present is that children (both minor and adult) are groomed to reject the estranged parent through conditioning. They are rewarded for both experiencing and expressing distaste, disgust and distain for the target-alienated parent. And they are punished overtly and subtly when they reach out with love and affection for, or parenting from, the forbidden parent.
What begins to develop over time is a relationship between the estranged parent and the manipulated child that is more about the relationship between the child and their controlling parent. These children learn that it is not safe to love, admire or respect the alienated/violated parent.
The fallout for these children (both minor and adult) can be so severe that the patterns of behavior solidify even in the absence of the controlling parent. This conditioning remains within them as an alter ego within themselves.
Often times these small children and young adults are unaware of how their contradictory experience with respect to the targeted parent originates. However, they do know that their reward/punishment system is clearly tied to the controlling parent’s agenda.
The natural tendency for most parents on the receiving end of these dynamics is to internalize their child’s conduct as though they have the ability to influence it. Yet, this more often proves not to be so. Why? …Because, as noted, the dynamics impacting their relationship with their children are not about them or about their relationship with their children.
Once again, it is more about the internalization of the conditioning. It is all about their relationship with the controlling parent. If you are in an estranged relationship due to domestic violence by proxy or parental alienation, cease to attach to the expression of this family abuse.
Recognize that your children are their own people even when a controlling parent manipulates them. Love them anyway, and know that your well-being is not dependent on their expressed and/or unexpressed feelings for you.For information about
© Dr Jeanne King — Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention
Dr. Jeanne King is a licensed psychologist and domestic abuse consultant. Feel free to contact us if you need help with physical and/or emotional pain, stress-related illnesses, or relationship abuse issues at home or in court. Contact Us to reach Dr. King.