Understanding Child Coercive Control and Parental Alienation

A Deep Dive into Family Dynamics

In today’s society, we are becoming increasingly aware of the complexities that lie within family dynamics. Among these complexities, two concepts that have drawn significant attention are child coercive control and parental alienation. These phenomena, rooted in family relationships, particularly between parents and their children, are unfortunately prevalent and can cause considerable harm. However, it is crucial to note that while these terms may appear to share similarities, they are distinct concepts that sometimes overlap.

What is Coercive Control?

Parental alienation is a process where a child becomes estranged from one parent due to the psychological manipulation of the other parent. This manipulation uses parental alienating behaviours to paint a negative image of the targeted parent to the child, leading to the child rejecting or resisting a relationship with the targeted parent without legitimate justification, and that is incongruent with the relationship history.

Parental alienating behaviours can be devastating for the alienated parent and the child. The alienating parent uses various strategies, including belittling the other parent, limiting contact, and creating false narratives. False narratives include reinterpreting a previously loving relationship history as neglectful or abusive and constricting deliberately false and misleading allegations of mental illness, violence or sexual abuse.

Understanding Parental Alienation

On the other hand, parental alienation is a process where a child becomes estranged from one parent due to the psychological manipulation of the other parent. This manipulation often involves painting a negative image of the alienated parent to the child, leading to the child rejecting or fearing the alienated parent without legitimate justification.

This process can be devastating for the alienated parent and the child, who is caught in a loyalty conflict. To achieve this undesired outcome, the alienating parent can use various strategies, such as belittling the other parent, limiting contact, and creating false narratives.

The Intersection of Coercive Control and Parental Alienation

Understanding these concepts is the first step towards healthy family dynamics and preventing harm. Awareness of coercive control and parental alienation and their specific behaviours can help parents, educators, and mental health professionals identify problematic behaviours and intervene when necessary.

Remember that children have the right to be safe, loved, and respected and to have a relationship with all of their family. Any form of manipulation, control, or alienation violates these rights.


If you or someone you know might be experiencing these issues, don’t hesitate to contact professionals for help. It’s always possible to seek support and make a positive change. Call our FREE Helpline at 1300 853 437 and visit our website PBB – Parents Beyond Breakup

The Importance of Awareness and Intervention

Understanding these concepts is the first step towards creating healthy family dynamics and preventing harm. Awareness of child coercive control and parental alienation can help parents, educators, and mental health professionals identify problematic behaviours and intervene when necessary.

Remembering that children have the right to be safe, loved, and respected is crucial. Any form of manipulation, control, or alienation starkly contrasts these rights. As a society, it’s our responsibility to ensure that children are protected from such harmful dynamics, and that starts with understanding and acknowledging the existence of child coercive control and parental alienation.


If you or someone you know might be experiencing these issues, don’t hesitate to contact professionals for help. It’s always possible to seek support and make a positive change. Call our FREE Helpline 1300 853 437 and visit our website PBB – Parents Beyond Breakup