Pt. 1 Get Educated About Alienation: How Parental Alienation Manifests in a School or Educational Setting

The kids will be out of school for MEA Weekend…while other families are enjoying a weekend getaway or a visit to the apple orchard or some special activity, this will be just another holiday, another weekend, another day without my children.

Missing my kids on MEA weekend got me thinking about how parental alienation manifests in the educational setting…that those who perpetrate alienation not only manipulate the child but often manipulate other people, even professionals, in their war against the targeted parent. This commonly happens as “triangulation” – when one parent (usually the abuser or alienator) uses a third party, like a teacher or school principal, to play against the other parent.

Parental alienation has various definitions but in a nutshell is when one parent works to damage a child’s relationship with the other parent (known as the “targeted parent”). As a result of alienation, child who previously had a close, loving, healthy (not abusive) relationship with the “targeted parent” then becomes estranged, hostile or rejects that parent. Many consider alienation a form of child abuse. The alienator may also elicit others—like educators—to similarly hate, reject or become hostile toward the other parent.

When alienation occurs in the school setting, the results are devastating: usually there is breakdown in communication between one parent and the educators (who have taken the side of the alienating parent, and may view the “targeted” parent in a negative light). The school may consciously or unconsciously reinforce the power and control tactics of the alienator, and sometimes the educators will even become personally involved in family court or custody litigation. There are cases where an educator has become so aligned with one parent that they will give that parent a favorable impression to the court while becoming hostile towards the “targeted parent”; finding fault, blaming and criticizing that parent, even in areas that have nothing to do with the child’s education. The child is always caught in the middle—they sense the hostility at home, and again in school. The child is given negative messages about the other parent, or senses a negative message, and as a result, their relationship with that parent erodes. The quality of the child’s education suffers, as does their ability to function in school and social settings because the trauma and stress created by alienation causes profound, even lifelong damage, to a child’s health and well being on all levels.

Parental Alienation Occurring in an Educational Setting: The school should provide a safe setting for a child to learn and grow. Unless a court order prohibits parental involvement in some way, it is not serve the best interests of a child when a teacher or educator is hostile to one parent, and unwilling to include that parent in the child’s education. It is not the job of the school or educators to become personally involved in the family dynamic but, rather, to provide quality education to children. Structure, stability and new experiences benefit children. For child who experiences family dysfunction, school can be an escape or provide a needed respite.

Educators who are aware of parental alienation (and family violence in general) are better equipped to maintain appropriate boundaries and avoid being drawn into conflict. Similarly, educators who are knowledgeable about abuse dynamics can better support children, if needed utilize programs and services for the child or if there are indications of harm or endangerment, alert authorities.

— Emily Court, 2014

Pt. 2 Get Educated About Alienation: Examples of How Alienation Manifests in an Educational Setting

Pt. 3 Get Educated About Alienation: Tips on How to Handle Alienation Dynamics in an Educational Setting


About Emily Court

It takes "Just Us" To Fight Injustice in Family Court. I blog to raise awareness about problems existing in the family court system, and use my own story as a personal example of how the systemic failures in family court, and the Guardian ad Litem Program, affect families, in an effort to encourage needed reform. Written by a survivor of domestic violence and homelessness working to create a better life for her children, in a stable home free of violence. In her efforts to rebuild her life, she has not only encountered harassment and intimidation from her alleged abuser but faced systematic failures in family court that have empowered her alleged abuser and put her children at risk. She has spent over a decade trapped in family court until her children finally aged out of the system. Through writing and blogging, FCI is working to raise awareness about domestic violence, and the urgent need for family court reform. She is currently working on a memoir titled "'Til Prayers Are Answered".
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6 Responses to Pt. 1 Get Educated About Alienation: How Parental Alienation Manifests in a School or Educational Setting

  1. Thank you. I will send this to my daughter’s school, thought the alienation between us is tragically complete. My daughter’s step “mother” , my ex’s 5th wife, is a classmate and friend of the school counselor. The principal pressured me to turn over school records so my daughter could attend there before permanent custody had been settled. I have been completely kept out of communication even though my court ordered status is that I share custody. My daughter’s piano teacher (was it for money from her dad?) also participated in the alienation even though she did not know him and knew he never brought other family members or even his wife to the recitals. I always included everyone. The only time my daughter’s paternal grandmother saw her in a production was when I invited and paid her ticket.

    • Emily Court says:

      So sorry you are going through this too… My ex told the school all sorts of lies about me in order to try to get an ally against me. Whenever I work to repair the relationship and get involved, the ex will do things to cause a disruption, file a court order against me or interfere with my kid’s education. I don’t know if there is an easy answer when the school is being triangulated. But I do know the school should be a safe setting for kids, and their education and needs come first. xo

      • Yes, and part of their education is healthy relationships & coping with abuse, I hope. If there’s a group that speaks to your school about abuse (in my daughter’s area, an organization called SAFEPLACE speaks to students about abuse), it may be a good idea to send them articles about how moms are abused this way. Thank you for what you’re doing.

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