Losses experienced by children alienated from a parent

Curr Opin Psychol. 2022 Feb;43:7-12. doi: 10.1016/j.copsyc.2021.05.002. Epub 2021 May 25.


Parental alienation occurs when a child aligns with one parent and unjustifiably rejects the other as a result of parental alienating behaviors. This article provides an overview of current research and theory regarding the losses alienated children endure. Parental alienating behaviors alter the child's beliefs, perceptions, and memories of the alienated parent, triggering a cascade of profound losses for the child. These losses include loss of individual self, childhood experiences, extended family, community, and activities and relationships essential for healthy development. Consequently, alienated children often experience ongoing and ambiguous losses and thereby suffer disenfranchised grief in isolation.

Keywords: Grief; Isolation; Loss; Parental alienating behaviors; Parental alienation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parents*