Do you feel like your child’s attitude towards you has changed and now he or she is being more distant from you? If so, then your child’s other parent may be engaging in parental alienation. This is a serious process that can cause long-term damage to your child and your relationship with him or her. That’s why it’s critical that you understand what constitutes parental alienation, how to spot the signs of it, and how to bring it to a halt.
What is parental alienation?
Parental alienation is manipulation of a child, typically by a custodial parent, such that it distances that child from his or her other parent, thereby destroying their relationship. This process is more common than many people think, and it’s oftentimes undertaken in hopes of modifying a custody arrangement to further limit the alienated parent’s access to the child.
What does parental alienation look like?
Parental alienation can present itself in a variety of ways. In some instances, the alienating parent simply feeds the child information that isn’t true, such as by constantly telling the child that the alienated parent doesn’t love him or her, or that the alienated parent never asks about the child or tries to contact him or her. In other cases, the alienating parent uses parenting time with the alienated parent to schedule activities that are fun for the child. This leaves the alienated parent with the choice of foregoing parenting time so that the child can participate in the activity or take the child away from the activity. Either way, the alienated parent’s relationship with the child is damaged.
Sometimes, though, the alienation is more severe. An alienating parent can even lead a young child to develop false memories of abuse or neglect. This can have serious ramifications for the alienated parent and the child, sometimes even leading to criminal investigations.
How to spot signs of parental alienation
You might be able to spot red flags of parental alienation that need further analysis. For example, in a lot of cases, the child starts to unfairly criticize the alienated parent in an unrelenting manner. The disdain for the alienated parent may reach other members of the alienated parent’s family, too.
The child might also show consistent support for the parent who is engaged in the alienating behavior along with a disbelief that the alienating parent is doing anything wrong. If you see this happening, then you should consider investigating the matter further.
How to stop parental alienation
Stopping parental alienation often requires formal legal action, typically in the form of a child custody modification. Since the court is going to assess a child custody determination based on what’s in the child’s best interests, you’ll have to show how the alienating parent’s behaviors are against your child’s best interests, which may be easier said than done.
You’ll want to make sure that you have evidence of the alienating behaviors in question, along with other evidence that may support your position. This could include testimony from witnesses who have witnessed your child’s behavioral changes as well as a mental health professional who can speak to alienating behaviors and the harm that it can cause to a child. If that mental health professional has personal experience working with your family, then his or her testimony will be even stronger.
Don’t let your relationship with your child be ruined
Parental alienation can cause short and long-term damage to your child and your relationship with him or her. Don’t let that happen. Instead, be aggressive in protecting your child’s best interests by knowing about parental alienation, how the law applies to your situation, and how you can aggressively advocate for the right position.