In their post-divorce lives, mothers and fathers may not be at their best. The simplest of misunderstandings can become blown out of proportion. However, many ex-spouses outright sabotage the relationship the other enjoys with the children.
In their book, "Working With Alienated Children and Families," Amy JL Baker & S Richard Sauber detailed specific parental alienation strategies. One of the more common, yet sinister of those strategies is badmouthing.
Badmouthing can be done with both verbal and nonverbal communications. The alienating parent (AP) manipulates a child into believing that the targeted parent (TP) is unloving, unsafe and unavailable. With sincerity, frequency and intensity, the PA exaggerates existing flaws and manufacture non-existing shortcomings.
Other forms of badmouthing include:
Convincing The Child That The TP Is Dangerous
The AP convinces the child that the TP is trying to harm them. With constant repetition of these false allegations, the child believes them to be true even if they have no memory of it.
Convincing The Child That The TP Does Not Love Them Anymore
The child comes to believe that the TP does not love them. The AP convinces the child that the end of the marriage equaled the end of love for the child. Once that seed is planted, the AP with continue to foster that belief and distort every situation to continue the charade.
Referring To The TP By Their Name
While seemingly a minor act of badmouthing, the AP will "demote" the TP to the status normally given to a peer or neighbor. The AP will replace "mommy" or "daddy" with the TP's first name and the child will mimic the new designation. For them, the parental bond is broken and the TP is no longer an authority figure worthy of respect.