Parental alienation is an insidious form of abuse in which one parent psychologically manipulates a child into showing unwarranted fear, disrespect, or hostility towards the other parent. The alienating parent will use different tactics to groom the child into pushing away from the alienated parent.
The manipulative parent will allow rude and offensive behavior or language towards the other parent. They will constantly insult the other parent in front of the child. They will show a lack of empathy towards the child’s love of the other parent and coach the child to see the other parent as a bad person that doesn’t love them.
Parental alienation is a mechanism the narcissist will use to prove their dominance. Not only do they use it during a divorce but they use it during the relationship as well.
Often it’s a no-win situation for the loving, honest, targeted parent.
I was never married to my abuser and we did not have children together but that did not stop him from trying to slowly take over my role as a parent to my children.
What drives a narcissist to use their children as pawns?
The first thing that needs to be considered is do narcissists even love their children?
Narcissists perceive their children as accessories rather than as an individual with unique qualities and personalities. The child must be whatever the narcissist needs them to be in that moment.
The child will go from being a best friend to a punching bag, then to a success story often without any notice.
My abuser had a son who came every other weekend to my home and my children and I grew to love him. My abuser would always grill him when he picked him up and asked lots of questions like,
“Did you miss Daddy? Do you love Daddy more than your step-dad?”
I found his questioning weird and manipulative. He never expressed how he had missed his son but rather wanted to hear how much his son had missed him. It was all about getting supply.
If you ask the narcissist if they love their children, they will act outraged. “Of course, I love my children! My children mean everything to me!”