Parental Alienation Syndrome Symptoms
How to Recognize That Your Child
Is Alienated from You

Dr. King

by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.

Parental alienation is hard to understand mostly because it’s hard to wrap your brain around how one parent would do this to your child and to you. It seems unconscionable that someone would position your own flesh and blood to perceive you as his or her enemy.

And moreover, it is utterly cruel to inspire a child to have disregard for his/her very foundation. But, it happens everyday—globally. It’s most prevalent in divorcing couples in which there is domestic violence.

One might notice that parental alienation is a form of child abuse and, of course, as you can feel, it’s a form of spousal abuse/ex-spousal abuse. Would you recognize parental alienation if it was happening to your child and to you?

Here are some basic signs and symptoms of parental alienation that you will want to be aware of if you suspect this is happening to you and your children.

1) Redefines Their Perception of You

You hear your child make comments suggesting that he/she thinks of and sees you different from they way they knew you to be all along. For example, you could be perceived as poor, mentally ill or a social outcast of sorts.

I have seen children who are victims of parental alienation adopt a belief that their financially thieving parent is financially destitute. Or, their well-respected parent who has never had a problem with the law is now a criminal. Or, their heterosexual parent is now a lesbian or a homosexual. Or, their health-minded parent is an alcoholic or a drug abuser…and in many cases, emotionally unstable or outright mentally ill.

Their belief is so strong that they become preoccupied in checking out this perception and they struggle with the incongruence. And then the day comes when they adopt their belief as fact...and from where they stand, you are their new perception of you.

2) Redefines Their Perception of Themselves

In the same way that they come to see you differently, they see themselves differently. They can purport new interests and a disregard for things and activities they once shared with you.

They may go so far as to say that they no longer do such and such...or they are not interested in that which lit them up with excitement and pleasure, weeks, months or years before.

The struggle they have in this new persona is that it is only a persona. Deep down inside, they know it and they also know there will be consequences if they don’t go along with the alienating parent.

Over time, they come to believe in their new identity. And they insist that you see them as they now see themselves.

3) Your Child Is Afraid of You

Essentially, you become their object of fear and that supports their keeping their distance from you. You are not to be trusted because you may “hurt” them.

They are the vulnerable party with respect to you and you are their source of endangerment. You might recognize this in their guardedness in your presence. You may feel it in a lost, limp hug. Or, you may blatantly see it in their refusal to eat food that you have prepared.

Their fear of you can be so severe that they operate from a belief that you may kill them. Or, you may interfere with their relationship with their alienating parent. The irony here, of course, is ridiculous. It’s the internalized projection of the alienating parent.

If you are an estranged parent or see the beginning signs of parental alienation setting in, know this is not about you. Rather it is about the alienating parent. Your child is a victim of the parental alienation, as are you.

For more information on healing domestic abuse and parental alienation, see and, and claim your Free Instant Access to Survivor Success eInsights. Psychologist Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps people nationwide recognize, end and heal from domestic abuse. Copyright 2010, Jeanne King, Ph.D. Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention

This series of eInsights is presented to you by Partners in Prevention, a nonprofit organization. If you find this eInsight article useful, we invite you to contribute to the maintenance and growth of the Survivor Success Tips & eInsights. To make a tax-deductible donation, please visit

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.