Dont want to see you

They Just Don’t Want to See You

Brig, Soren and Reidar : These are exactly your mother’s words to friends, Peter, Dani, Shannon… everyone.

“Of course I am encouraging the children to spend time with you. I want them to see you, but they just don’t want to… and I can’t force them.”

This is typically what most alienating parents say to the other parent, and sadly many judges and professionals don’t realise what is going on behind the scenes in these families, because they are not educated in parental alienation. Professionals who are not educated in parental alienation only see a child rejecting a parent, unsubstantiated claims of bad parenting and/or abuse and a very distressed targeted parent who is being rejected. Meanwhile the alienating parent hides behind the alienated child acting like they are the perfect protective parent.

Professionals need to look deeper… the protective parent could be emotionally confiding in the child about adult their feelings about the other (targeted) parent, information on court proceedings, financials and child support. Or they could be repainting history as being all bad when it wasn’t. Alienators will often disclose very private things about the targeted parent to the children and make them feel like an adult. The child is so informed and is encouraged to make adult decisions, they can appear to be very mature when they present in therapy when in fact they have been adultified or parentified. In other parental alienation situations the child can be infantalised because the alienating parent sees their children’s sense of independence as they age as a threat to their relationship.

The alienating parent can openly and subtly denigrate the targeted parent in front of the child, although they say they never talk bad about the other parent, when in fact they do. They will often say that the targeted parent denigrates them (projection). If they repeat it often enough to the child, the child begins to believe it. The repetitive comments are very much like a cult leader programs their followers. Say it enough, like learning the old school way of the times tables, and it will become ingrained and accepted.

The alienating parent has no regard for the targeted parents parenting skills or rules and they will encourage the children to be defiant towards the targeted parent. Everything the targeted parent does that is positive gets turned into something bad, and anything even minutely wrong gets blown out of all proportion. The alienating parent rewrites history to the child to portray the targeted parent as neglectful, a bad parent and/or abusive. Children in these situations are often put under so much pressure or interrogated for information, they will begin to accept the false narrative and tell lies just to take the pressure off them and please the alienator.

Whenever the targeted parent makes plans for something special, the alienator undermines it by arranging something even more impressive. The children are encouraged to show no interest and everything is kept secret from the targeted parent. Special events like award nights, school reports, medical records and the like are all kept from the targeted parent. Then the targeted parent is represented to the child and others as not being involved or interested in the child’s life. Parental alienation happens to both mum’s and dad’s. Even friends and family associated with the targeted parent can get misrepresented and erased from the child’s life.

If and when the child does spend time with the targeted parent and they return having had a great time with their dad/mum, the child see’s the alienating parent respond in a negative way by being angry, sad or displeased (non-verbal communications). Wanting to appease and make the alienating parent feel better the child will start changing their responses and tell the alienating parent they had an unhappy time with mum/dad just so they don’t get a negative response. Then the child is rewarded emotionally for saying they had had a bad time and criticising the other parent. Then the alienating parent will use this as ammunition to fire at the targeted parent and make comment about it whenever the targeted parent want’s to see the child again.

“I know you don’t like spending time with mum/dad. You don’t have to go if you don’t want to. I am not going to force you to do anything you don’t want to.”

It is no wonder the child doesn’t want to go and visit their other parent. Oh, but they say they are trying! But they can’t force them to. Why would any child want to go and visit a so called bad or abusive parent, or visit a parent with an end result making the alienating parent all anxious, upset or angry? They don’t want (or simply can’t handle) the emotional pressure, so they push away the parent they least fear being rejected by.

The children spend their life trying to please their unhappy alienating parent, become very protective of them and push away a parent they love in order to make the alienator happier and not see them suffer. The alienator will often play the victim and they can come across as very believable. The child will even tell lies to protect the alienating parent if the alienator is accused of doing anything wrong. The child strongly asserts that the decision to reject the other parent is their own. This is what is known as the “Independent Thinker” phenomenon. The child will protect the alienating parent just like victims of cult abuse protect their leader. They are bonded to the abuser. The child is used as a human shield by the alienator.

The “Parental Alienation Handbook for Mental Health and Legal Professionals” has some very helpful questions the alienating parent should be asked in court. It is not the questions themselves that are the emphasis here, but how the parents respond that will reveal a lot about their influence. (Lorandos, Bernet & Sauber, 2013)

1.    Are you concerned about your child not going on visits?

2.    How have you changed your conduct when you see your encouragement is not working?

3.    What have you done differently to show your concern?

The focus of the questions is: guidance – boundaries – incentives – consequences.

a.    Guidance – ask the parents to tell the court (put this on the record), “What guidance do you give to your child about the other parent?”

b.    Boundaries – ask, “What boundaries are in your household, what do you do when they are broken, what are the rules of the household?”

c.    Incentives – ask, “What incentives do you have for doing chores, and so on?” then ask, “What incentives do you give your child to go on visits?”

d.    Consequences – ask, “What are the consequences in your household for low grades, not cleaning the room, and so on. What are consequences if you child does not go on the visits?”

What you want to look for: They are either lying about their good faith efforts to foster visitation or they are a completely ineffective parents. It may be that unless there is a transfer of custody, the situation cannot be turned around.

Order transcripts that document the case if necessary. It is important that the next judge see it before alienators have a chance to clean up their testimony.

So next time you hear a parent say, “I am trying to encourage the child to see their other parent”… think again and consult Clawar & Rivlin, (2013) List of Detection Factors of brainwashed children.

1.    Contradictory statements;

2.    Inappropriate and unnecessary information;

3.    Character assault;

4.    Collusion or one-sided alliance;

5.    Child becomes ‘spy’ or conduit of information;

6.    Use of indirect statements;

7.    Restrictions on permission to love or be loved;

8.    Un-childlike statements;

9.    Good parent versus bad parent;

10. Comparative martyr role;

11. Fear of contact with the other parent;

12. Anxiety arousal;

13. Cohort in secret keeping;

14. Child appears as mirror-image of programmer;

15. Confusion of a birth parent’s importance;

16. Manifestation of guilt;

17. Scripted views;

18. Unmanageability for no apparent reason;

19. Radical changes and dysfunctional behavior manifested in other spheres;

20. Nonverbal messages;

21. Coaching behavior;

22. Brain twirling;

23. Child threatens parent;

24. Child as parent’s best friend;

25. Physical survival.

Alienated children need authorities to step in and take the pressure off them. They should never be coerced, brainwashed, manipulated or forced to choose one parent. Or be denied the guidance, affection and love of a parent. Children are left to carry this guilt for the rest of their lives. Children who are alienated are less likely to reach their full potential in life.

In our effort to protect children from physical and sexual abuse, we cannot ignore the hidden suffering of children who are manipulated to take sides in their parent’s disputes. ~ Dr. Richard A. Warshak


Lorandos, D., Bernet, W., & Sauber, S. R. (2013) The Parental Alienation Handbook for Mental Health and Legal Professionals

Clawar, S. S., & Rivlin, B. V. (2013) Children Held Hostage: Identifying Brainwashed Children, Presenting a Case, and Crafting Solutions

Published By

Amanda Sillars

Amanda Sillars

Education | Research | Generational Lived Experience | Parental Alienation | Psychology Student | Advocacy

Follow50 commentsarticle-comment__guest-imageSign in to leave your commentSharon Beaulieu

Sharon Beaulieu

Director Curriculum and Scheduling at Southern New Hampshire University

Great article Amanda! Alienated children often become alienated adults because the abuse and rewriting of history to erase the targeted parent has been encouraged for so long. These alienated children are put in an extremely difficult position because they cannot have a loving relationship with both parents. The alienating parent exerts tremendous control and will not tolerate the child/adult contacting or spending time with the targeted parent. Over time the alienated child/adult has repeated their “story line” to friends, co-workers, spouses, etc. and it takes too much effort to correct the story. It’s just easier to keep it going. How does one explain to others that they’ve been brainwashed for so many years and had no idea? Or had an idea but didn’t know how to stop it? Acknowledging that abuse has occurred makes it difficult to continue a relationship with the alienating parent and a relationship with the targeted parent is uncertain because of all hurtful things the alienated child/adult has done to the targeted parent to please to alienating parent. It’s difficult to overcome the tremendous guilt associated with the way the child/adult has treated the targeted parent. Amazingly, through all this rejection, the targeted parent has always loved and continues to love the child/adult! The alienating parent exhibits conditional love while the targeted parent demonstrates unconditional love. Unfortunately, alienated children/adults often suffer long-lasting consequences of the abuse.LikeReply1yMatthew Gray

Matthew Gray

Logistics at Glencore

You are absolutely right.. This article is just like you have been watching my life for the last 13yrs,  it it is without doubt spot on in every aspect.. It’s unfortunate, enraging and so upsetting that in this country we have biast and outdated Judges like Janet Terry from Newcastle Circuit Court closing her eyes and ears to this and ultimately destroying family lives due to her own inability to see past her own life’s struggles, and rewarding them to parents that she seems to resignate with, regardless of the professional clinical psychology reports written by top practitioners such as Dr Chris Lennings that clearly state in the report that the mother is Alienating, aliening, activity restricting and severing the relationship with the father. Unfortunately, with Judges like Janet Terry at the realm of making life changing decisions for alienated parents and victimised children, you may as well save your money and walk away, these sort of people are sheep to the seasoned, narcissistic alienator. LikeReply2ySusan Reed

Susan Reed

Director at Alan Reed Art

This is an excellent article and so absolutely true in every sense. I can verify that with first had experience and it’s just utterly heartbreaking to be on the receiving end to witness a loved one being changed so drastically. Child abuse is an understatement!!! 😢😢😢LikeReply1 Like2yStewart Cook MBA

Stewart Cook MBA

Consultant and Life Coach at The NPD Coach

Great article AmandaLikeReply1 Like2yAntonia Ledesma

Antonia Ledesma

100% the sad truth!!!LikeReply2yRob Underdown

Rob Underdown

Owner and professional photographer of Northwestpix

I’ve only just found this and it could have been written for me as it is exactly how things are at the moment. One weird coincidence is that you published it on my eldest daughters birthday. My final court date is in two months and has been put back after I suffered a double heart attack which resulted in me having a triple heart bypass. Are the PA and my hospitalization connected, quite possibly.LikeReply1 Like2 RepliesRob Underdown

Rob Underdown

Owner and professional photographer of Northwestpix

Amanda Sillarsi will and thank you Amanda.LikeReply2yAmanda Sillars

Amanda Sillars

Education | Research | Generational Lived Experience | Parental Alienation | Psychology Student | Advocacy

Hello Rob. I am very sorry to read about your situation and your ill health. We meet people for reasons sometimes. I have sent you a connect request as I may be able to share some resources with you. Please take good care of yourself. Lots of self-care physically and emotionally to get you through this tough time.LikeReply1 Like2y2yAnne O Regan

Anne O Regan

Thanks,you have helped me as an alienated grandmotherLikeReply2yKenneth Lane

Kenneth Lane

ADR Consultant and Counsellor at Dispute Resolution Consultancy T/a ‘Contact Matters’

Excellent thought provoking article! “They just dont want to see you” – must be boldly inscribed over the gateway to Parental Alienation. It’s the abusers catchphrase – the alienator’s defence; all too often endorsed by those purporting to support ‘the childs best interests’. Yet, its invariably not the childs view.LikeReply1 Like2yMichael Allen

Michael Allen

Clinical Coordinator at Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Arizona

Reshared!!LikeReply2yMARIE PANZARELLA



TRUE, they dont see usLikeReply2yKay Johnson

Kay Johnson

Certified ADA Advocate at The National Alliance for Targeted Parents, Inc.

Your always on target Amanda!  Hope it’s going well.   KayLikeReply2yErin O'Donnell

Erin O’Donnell

Artist, Graphic Designer, and Organizational Support Professional

I agree with every word of this with the exception of “sadly many judges and professionals don’t realise what is going on behind the scenes in these families, because they are not educated in parental alienation.” Judges, attys, law guardians and GALs, forensic psychs, and all other cottage industries that feed like vultures of the FC system are well-aware of the problem but will not correct as it is far too profitable for all professionals involved. Otherwise this article was 100% correct.LikeReply1 Like