Being on the receiving end of a rejection can be devastating. Whether it’s a boss, a parent, or a relative, the pain can be very difficult to contend with. If it’s your child, you tend to feel particularly vulnerable.
Most parents, when rejected by a child, tend to think of everything they did wrong, or maybe that “one” thing they did wrong that could have caused the rift, playing over and over in their minds how they could have changed that “one” thing.
I have observed some common characteristics of people who are on the receiving end of parental alienation. These three main traits are:
- They are available
- They are guileless
- They are powerless
Following is a discussion of each of these traits.
Available: Children rarely reject unavailable or abusive parents. Usually when that happens it is not without a great amount of anguish and grieving. When a child alienates a parent, he/she does so with impudence. He/she experiences no sense of loss or regret. Instead, he/she feels relieved. Internally, the child knows he/she could have the rejected parent back at any time. This emboldens the child and helps him/her realize that there is no great risk in rejecting the available parent.
Guileless: People who are guileless tend to be “innocent and without deception.” Guileless individuals usually project their innocence onto others and don’t see why they are being rejected, because it is not something they, themselves would ever do to anyone. Alienated parents are usually not interested in playing dirty or fighting unfair.
The rejecting child is usually psychologically manipulated by the other parent or other important person (who is willing to fight dirty) to reject the guileless parent. It is a form of propagandizing the child and is akin to the mob effect of bullying.
Powerless: The rejected parent has somehow demonstrated a feeling of low power to their rejecting child. The shrugging of the shoulders and the attitude of, “what can I do?” comes to mind. This parent has insinuated to their rejecting child that the child has the power, not the parent. This usually happens in narcissistic relationships where the other parent imputes power into the child, causing the child to believe that he has more power than the rejected parent.
Trump Card: This nails the coffin on the relationship. It is not a characteristic of the rejected parent, but it is an essential ingredient in the alienation process.
This involves the occurrence of a flaw, mistake, or failure on the part of the alienated parent. This failure is capitalized on by the narcissist or other alienating other as evidence of the rejected parent’s inadequacy. The alienated parent usually “owns” his/her failure and everyone believes it is so egregious that that parent has lost his/her value in the parent-child relationship.
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