Do you feel like your child has become distanced from you? If so, it’s easy to focus on what you’ve done wrong to stunt the development of a strong relationship. But you may not be at fault. In fact, in far too many divorce cases, children are subjected to parental alienation as a tactic to distance them from their noncustodial parent. Read on to learn more about parental alienation, how it occurs, how to spot it, and how to stop it.
The basics of parental alienation
In its simplest terms, parental alienation occurs when one parent manipulates a child in an attempt to put a wedge between that child and the child’s other parent. This programming of the child can devastate his or her relationship with his or her other parent. Parental alienation can be so severe that some experts consider it to be a form of child abuse.
How does parental alienation occur?
Parental alienation can occur in a number of ways. One of the most common tactics used by alienating parents is to simply provide false information to the child on a constant basis. For example, a child may be told over and over that their other parent doesn’t love them or doesn’t care about them. This action can be coupled with other deceptive maneuvers, like preventing access to the child.
But parental alienation can be even more severe than that. An alienating parent may provide intimate details of the marriage to the child, but filtered through that alienating parent’s perspective. As a result, the child can develop a distorted vision of the truth without giving the alienated parent the opportunity to explain things and set the record straight. In the worst cases, alienating parents lead their young children to believe that they have been abused in one form or another.
All of these manipulating behaviors have serious ramifications, too. Not only does it harm your child and your relationship with him or her, but it can also have a tremendous impact on your custody arrangement. In most of these cases, alienating parents use their child’s statements about and behaviors toward the other parent to justify a custody modification that further restricts that other parent’s access to the child. That’s why it’s important to recognize the signs of alienation and take action to stop it.
The signs to look out for
There are a lot of ways that indications of parental alienation can manifest in a child. Most commonly, children who have been manipulated will unfairly and unrelentingly criticize their parent. Oftentimes that parent doesn’t have the opportunity to clarify matters or dig deeper. The child oftentimes uses language that his beyond his or her normal language, and he or she may show unwavering support for the alienating parent. Look for other actions by the child’s other parent, too, such as scheduling fun activities for the child during times when you’re supposed to have visitation. This strategy can paint you as the bad parent who only takes the child away from the fun things that he or she wants to do. This can breed resentment in your child.
Putting an end to parental alienation
The only way to stop parental alienation is to take legal action. This most frequently looks like some sort of child custody modification. Fortunately, family courts around the country are becoming more aware of the prevalence of parental alienation, and as such are more receptive to arguments centered on it. To succeed in a modification, though, you’re going to need strong evidence that shows that the proposed change is in the child’s best interests. If you think that you could benefit from some guidance on how to do that, then consider reaching out to a firm like ours that is experienced in handling complex child custody cases.