Differentiating Affiliation and Parental Alienation
With acknowledgment and thanks to Kelly and Johnson (2001)
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Positive Relationship Between Parents and Children-Ambivalent and Accepting
- Equal affinity with both parents
- The child has positive relationships with both parents, child wants to be with both parents whether they are separated or not
- Child may affiliate with one parent
- child wants to relate, have continuity, and contact with both parents
- Child has ambivalent and accepting relationships with both parents
- Child wishes to have contact and relationship with one parent, usually as a result of separation and divorce
- May involve intense relationship conflict
- May involve a child’s strong moral condemnation of the parent with whom they are not aligned
- Such alignments may be temporary and a reaction to immediate and intense circumstances.
- The alignment may resolve once the conflictual environment dissipates
- Child does not wish to sever contact with the parent with whom they are not aligned
- Child may place limits on the contact they have with the non-aligned parent
- The child may have unresolved feelings of sadness, anger, love, with the non-aligned parent
- The child is ambivalent and accepting towards the parent with whom they are not aligned
- The aligned parent is not involved in the formulation of the child’s ambivalence an alliance with them and their non-alliance with the other parent
No Ambivalence-A Child Rejects a Parent
- Children who reject a violent and/or abusive parent
- Reaction of children who have witnessed intimate partner abuse, or family violence and its traumatic aftermath for a loved parent
- Reaction of children who have been the target of abuse themselves
- Parents who take action to remove children from the abusive influence of another parent are protective parents, NOT alienating parents
- The parents from whom the children are estranged have generally contributed to the estrangement through violence and abuse.
- Child’s anger, rejection of the parent is reasonable under the circumstances
- This may be a healthy reaction in children to protect themselves from family situations that are intrinsically hostile or indifferent to them.
- This IS NOT PARENTAL ALIENATION
Parental Alienation-Alienated Children
- Extreme and non-ambivalent rejection of a parent without sound reason
- Rejection based upon distorted, exaggerated or blatantly untrue perspectives of the rejected parent
- The rejected parent may have contributed through their personality and style of parenting that an alienating parent exploits
- The process of alienation is implemented and affected by a hostile and alienating parent intent on targeting the rejected parent by using the child against them