After a divorce, parental alienation occurs when one parent turns the children against the other parent. A parent may use his or her children as a weapon.
Psychology Today explains how to identify parental alienation.
Parental alienation begins before divorce
Even before the divorce occurs, you may have noticed that your spouse’s relationship with your children served his or her emotional needs rather than the children. Alienators may put pressure on children before the divorce occurs. If you notice that your children often parrot your spouse’s believes or that he or she has taken on a caretaker role, then parental alienation may be underway.
Alienators have some traits in common
Alienating parents tend to have similar motivations among them. Most want to punish the other parent. The best way for them to upset you is to work through your children. Not only will their actions hurt you, but it also puts the children in a position to care for their emotional needs.
Your former spouse may have a short temper and easily lash out. He or she may blame you for the outcome of your marriage or become anxious at the idea of losing contact with his or her children for even 24 hours.
The biggest common factor between alienators is that they talk bad about the other parent. They want the children to believe falsehoods about them. They will share inappropriate stories with the children to paint the other parent in a bad light. They may also stress that they cannot live without their children to make the children feel guilty for being with the other parent.