Unfortunately, holiday time can turn up the volume on tactics of parental alienation, in which children of divorced parents are systematically conditioned to put distance between themselves and the parent targeted by these strategies. The winner in a child custody battle may often be the instigator of such a negative campaign, with rhetoric being turned against the noncustodial parent with the intent of harming the children's relationship with that parent. This has been recognized as an increasing problem for children all over the United States.
These techniques can range from unpleasant comments directed at the other parent to malicious intent involving accusations leveled in court. It can be considered emotional abuse, one child welfare expert said, and speaking ill of a parent is tantamount to speaking ill of the child as well.