It occurred to me today to think about parental alienation from a different angle. How do people become the person that stops one person from being involved in their child’s life when they are divorced?
Perhaps its stems from problems they already have? Please don’t think for one moment that I’m condoning their behaviour; I’m not, but by knowing the enemy you have a better chance of out manoeuvring them right?
I started doing some research and came up with this – gatekeeper parenting. My understanding of this is that one parent, normally but not exclusively, in first time parent situations, ends up taking control of the family unit.
A gatekeeper parent exhibits the following behaviors:
- Criticizes the way the other parent, spouse, or ex-spouse parents
- Creates unbending or unrealistic standards in order for the other parent to spend time with the children
- Demeans or undermines the other parent’s efforts at being an authority figure in the child(ren’s) lives
- Controls all the organizing, delegating, planning, and scheduling in the home
- Becomes reluctant to let go of some of the responsibility for caring for the family
- Needs a great deal of validation of their identity as a parent, both from the other parent, spouse, or ex-spouse and from outside the marriage or parenting relationship
- Believes in the traditional roles assigned to husbands and wives
- Views the other parent, spouse, or ex-spouse as a helper and not an equal when it comes to household chores and child-care responsibilities
- Asks the other parent, spouse, or ex-spouse for help and then gives explicit directions on how to accomplish a task
Inside a marriage, the characteristics and symptoms of a gatekeeper may already be apparent, with one parent being relegated to second tier status and disenfranchised with regard to their parenting skills or their ability to practice and nurture their own set of skills. This lends itself to the dominant parent taking complete control of the household, and it causes severe resentment and sense of helplessness in the other parent’s relationship with the children.
In a post-divorce situation, the gatekeeping parent may limit contact between the other parent and the child(ren), abuse the child verbally and psychlogically, or utilise derogatory remarks regarding the other parent, including threats in order to maintain control.
This would explain a lot of some of the behaviours that have happened to a lot of the parents, in a lot of the cases of divorce!
In 2013, the National Office of Statistics in Britain stated that of the 114,720 couples that divorced, 94,864 had children involved.
Being an optimist, but also trying to make the math easier, I generalised that of the 94 thousand couples with children, half would be reasonable and try to sort something out with each parent. That leaves 47,432 possibilities that didn’t work out, and that could be subjected to parent alienation.
That works out at five children, every hour of every day of every week of the year. That works out to just one child every ten minutes.
This takes me back to the title of this blog ‘Dungeons and Dragons’. This means that one parent every ten minutes or so, is effectively locking their child away in the dungeon of their construction, gatekeeping their interactions with the rest of the world.
Now, I’m not suggesting that they might be dragons (God forbid!), but from their perspective they may well be looking after their children, just like Smaug did the goblins hoard. And we all know what happened to him!
Perhaps these gatekeepers need to look towards the film Tangled. If you keep someone locked away from their natural curiosity, all you will be doing is just prolonging the inevitable. They will find out for themselves what you have done and you will lose them for ever.
Take this as a clarion call; work with the parent you have disenfranchised from the child you BOTH created. Or else you too could end up like the woman from Tangled, losing everything you’ve ever worked towards. The choice is yours…
Please do visit psychman’s blog at
I am an alienated parent of three. Part-time psychiatric nurse, part-time writer. I am also an online activist against parental alienation. I use my knowledge of mental health and lived experience of parental alienation to promote awareness of parental alienation.