Parental alienation cases are some of the most challenging kinds of child custody matters. In a parental alienation case, the children do not want anything to do with one of their parents for illogical reasons.
Parental alienation is the opposite of realistic estrangement. Realistic estrangement is when a parent has behaved in a way that the children do not want to be around the parent. Logical reasons typically involve severe instances of abuse or neglect.
In parental alienation matters, one parent has either overtly or indirectly engaged in actions that cause the children not to want to be around the other parent. In the overt cases, the parent says and does things to alienate the children from the other parent. A parent may not even know consciously that they are alienating the children from the other parent.
What is parroting?
One phenomenon in parental alienation is where the children parrot something one of their parents tell them to say. In other words, a parent tells their child to say something to the guardian ad litem, protective services, or in court to the judge. Most of the time this involves false allegations of abuse or neglect about the other parent.
The child then repeats it like a parrot. When the child repeats it, it sounds scripted. The language they use might not be normal for a child at that age. It might sound like somebody has a bug in their ear and is reading them what to say.
Frequently, when a child is parroting, they are not responding to a question that asked of them. The child blurts out the allegation. They might say something unprompted like, “My dad drove intoxicated with me in the car”. Or the child might blurt out, “My mom is sexually abusing me.”
The possibilities are endless in terms of what a child might parrot. But where a child blurts out or volunteers allegations of abuse or neglect, one may need to be skeptical. The child is not merely parroting what their preferred parent told them to say. Typically, it is hard for a child to open up about abuse or neglect. Most children want and need approval from their parents. Most will not blurt out allegations in a scripted manner that is not in response to a direct question.
Every case is indeed different. Courts, guardian ad litems and protective services should not merely dismiss allegations of abuse or neglect without looking into them. At the same time, when a child appears to be parroting allegations of abuse or neglect, it could be a red flag.
If you are going through a child custody matter where there is parental alienation, Stange Law Firm, PC can help. You can reach us at 855-805-0595.