This is a good question with no simple answer. Alienators vary widely in their motivation(s) and the aggressiveness with which they practice alienating behaviors. A few of the more common reasons for engaging in parental alienation are given here.
- Some alienators may feel insecure in their relationship with their child, and hope that by denigrating the other parent they'll somehow strengthen their bond with their child.
- Some alienators are acting out of emotional distress (often stemming from the divorce), and the children happen to be easy and convenient targets to involve and/or manipulate.
- Some alienators are bound up emotionally with extreme hatred for their former spouse, and want to validate their feelings by causing the children to also hate their former spouse.
- In a similar vein, some alienation is driven by simple revenge and/or the desire to hurt the other parent at any cost. Destroying the relationship between the other parent and the children is an effective way to hurt the other parent and cause them pain. This kind of alienator will typically go to any length to achieve their goal, including making false allegations of abuse.
- Some alienators believe that by alienating the children from the other parent, they will gain some sort of advantage in litigation (or perhaps in an evaluation). This is nearly always untrue, but alienators are often unaware of the actual effects of their actions.
- Some alienators genuinely believe that contact between the children and the other parent should be prevented because of perceived 'bad' qualities or deficiencies in the other parent. Although this person was good enough to sleep with and have a child with, now they are suddenly deemed 'not good enough' to help raise or parent the child.