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Hatred is not an emotion that comes naturally to a child; it has to be taught. Parental Alienation is the obvious estrangement of the child from the "targeted" parent by the language and/or actions of a "malicious" parent. A malicious parent who would teach a child to hate or fear the targeted parent represents a grave and persistent danger to the mental and emotional health of that child.

Parental Alienation is equivalent to extreme psychological maltreatment. Studies have been conducted to ascertain how the victimizing a child through alienation by a malicious parent, carries long lasting negative effects well into adulthood. Generally speaking, victims of Parental Alienation have “difficulty forming and maintaining healthy relationships” in adulthood and are at risk for “depression, suicide, substance abuse, antisocial behavior, enmeshment, and low self-esteem.”

Dr. Amy Baker is a nationally recognized expert in parent child relationships, especially children of divorce, parental alienation and emotional abuse of children. In 2005, Dr. Baker conducted a retrospective study on the long term effects of parental alienation on adult children.. She identified several problematic areas in these subjects:

  • high rates of low self-esteem to a point of self-hatred;

  • significant episodes of depression in 70 % of the subjects;

  • a lack of trust in themselves and in other people; and

  • alienation from their own children in 50% of the subjects.

  • about 1/3 reported serious problems with alcohol/drugs while growing up.

  • 2/3 had been divorced once, 1/4 had been divorced more than once.

She further found that most of the adults distinctly recalled claiming during childhood that they hated or feared the targeted parent, the child did not want that parent to walk away from them and secretly hoped someone would realize that they did not mean what they said.

Dr. Baker's findings were supported in 2013 by two other well respected professionals in: Children Held Hostage: Dealing with Programmed and Brainwashed Children.* The harmful effects of Parental Alienation were found to be: –

  • Loneliness

  • Conflict with Parents

  • Depression

  • Sleep problems

  • Substance Abuse

  • Speech Problems

  • Sexual Promiscuity

  • Poor Body Image

  • Poor Eating Habits

  • Eating Disorders

  • Weight Loss/Weight Gain

  • Disheveled Living Space

  • Poor Executive Function (Disorganization)

  • Diminished Activity

  • Psycho-Somatic Distortions

  • Feelings of Isolation

  • Increased Use of Technology as an Escape

  • Lack of Friends

  • Sibling Conflict (Including Violence)

  • Heightened Fantasy Life

  • Diminished Attention Span

  • Social Identity Problem

  • Regressive Behaviors

  • Anxiety

  • Conflicts in Peer Relationships

  • School Dysfunction

  • Memory Loss

Parental Alienation can serve as a basis for limiting residential time in a Parenting Plan under Washington State law. Referred to "abusive use of conflict", the statute authorizes the imposition of limitations upon a parent who engages in such harmful behavior. RCW 26.09.191(3)(e). Determining whether a malicious parent's alienation efforts rises to the level of "abusive use of conflict" to justify limitations on that parent will depend heavily on the facts.

Family law litigation can be emotionally difficult and complex. Decisions made about each step of the litigation can affect you for many years. At Bains Law Firm, we have decades of experience helping our clients through the difficulty of family law matters, including parental alienation cases and can help you through the process. Contact us today at (253) 838 – 3377 or email at, to talk about your case.

Disclaimer: All materials provided on this website have been prepared by Bains Law Firm for general information purposes only and no representation is made as to their completeness or accuracy. Information on this website is not intended as legal advice, and may not be relied upon as such. Only an attorney who can review the unique facts of each case and apply them to the statutes, case law and court rules can provide legal advice. Nothing in this website shall be construed to create an attorney-client relationship.

* Children Held Hostage: Dealing with Programmed and Brainwashed Children by Stanley S. Clawar, Ph.D., C.C.S. and Brynne V. Rivlin, M.S.S., L.C.S.W., M.S.M., Section of Family Law, American Bar Association, 1991 and Second Edition, Fall 2013.

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