When most of us think of parental alienation, we think of the removal of children from the lives of their fathers, of kids being brainwashed into thinking ill of dad, to disrespect and devalue him, and being slowly poisoned into emotional distance and even hatred.
All of this is true.
However, one of the things about parental alienation that we don’t discuss as often is when children, particularly during adolescence, begin emulating the abusive treatment of the alienating mother toward their father.
Teenagers who treat the father like he is an emotional dumping ground, shoveling out disrespect in the same way modeled by mom, often still maintain the expectations that dad will act as a selfless provider. He is expected to either open up his wallet on demand or drop whatever he is doing in life to attend to desires for which they have not bothered to plan in advance.
Failure to comply often results in more hostility and more demonization. Sadly, alienated fathers often cave in to this kind of abuse and manipulation and are rarely, if ever, rewarded for it. If and when they finally set boundaries, like telling the teen, “I would love to see you, but I have other plans for this evening. How about tomorrow night,” the teen then uses that to justify hurling abuse at dad and as proof that dad is as bad as mom says.
Yes, teenagers can be abusers, just like the crazy ex wife.
Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD helps individuals work through their relationship and codependency issues via telephone or Skype. She specializes in helping men and women trying to break free of an abusive relationship, cope with the stress of an abusive relationship or heal from an abusive relationship. Coaching individuals through high-conflict divorce and custody cases is also an area of expertise. She combines practical advice, emotional support and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Schedule a Session page for more information.
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