Not every parent handles a divorce or separation well. Unfortunately, many
parents take their anger, hurt, and frustration out on their child, whether
they are aware of it or not. Parental alienation is an aggressive behavioral
issue that occurs when one parent attempts to alienate the other parent,
blocking him or her from their child’s life. As a result, the child
may turn from the parent in an extreme measure, sometimes blocking all
communication and refusing to see that parent.
Children often have a difficult time fighting manipulation, especially
when the person holding the puppet strings is their own parent. If you
suspect your co-parent may be attempting to turn your child against you,
make sure you know the signs of parental alienation and what you can do
to protect your child.
About Parental Alienation
There are many different types of abusive behaviors out there, and not
all of them leave physical evidence. However, that doesn’t mean
abuse that causes emotional or psychological harm is any less threatening
or damaging. If a parent tries to turn their child against their other
parent, it could seriously confuse the child, causing extreme distress,
emotional upheaval, and pain. Whether the child goes along with the parent’s
manipulation or not, parental alienation can be very hostile and aggressive.
A parent may try to alienate their ex for any number of reasons. Parental
alienation typically occurs in high-conflict divorces or separations where
one or both parents exhibit high levels of anger or hurt. Sometimes the
parent may seek to alienate the other because he or she is jealous of
their relationship with their child, or jealous of something else that
person has. Or, the parent may use parental alienation as a tactic to
intentionally hurt the parent by using their relationship with their child
as a pawn.
Signs of Parental Alienation
Whatever the reason for this antagonistic behavior, parental alienation
can be very harmful. In order to protect your child, and yourself, it
is crucial that you know how to identify parental alienation when you
see it. Remember, the parent planning the alienation is manipulating the
child, often planting seeds of doubt in the child’s head, maybe
telling the child that their other parent does not love them. The parent
could brainwash their child, using fabricated or embellished stories to
create whatever illusion he or she wishes to paint the other parent in
a bad light.
Behaviors a child suffering from parental alienation might exhibit include:
- The child knows specific details about their parents’ divorce or
- The child has become suddenly hostile, angry, or cold
- Child custody or visitation schedules might be affected, shorting the alienated
parent’s time with his or her child
- The child shows sudden, uncharacteristic mood changes
Additionally, the child may confront you with false accusations or anger,
blaming you for any number of unfortunate circumstances the child or their
other parent has encountered. Typically, these complaints or frustrations
will align with those of your child’s other parent. For example,
if your ex blames you for the loss of her job, your child might begin
accusing you of making their mother lose her job.
In many cases, you might be able to identify signs of parental alienation
by examining your relationship with your co-parent. If your ex has been
especially contentious or argumentative, it could indicate a rise in anger
and thus a willingness to take drastic measures, such as alienating you
from your child. Additionally, your ex might begin ignoring court orders
as they pertain to child support, child custody, or visitation rights.
They might also try to make your child chose one parent over the other,
or tempt the child to remain with them through various bribes.
What Can You Do?
If you notice any signs of parental alienation, it is important that you
take immediate action to protect your child and yourself. Parental alienation
can severely hurt your relationship with your child, not to mention the
serious emotional damage it could do to your child. If your ex is breaking
court orders, you can discuss the situation with your attorney and try
to take legal action to enforce those orders. Also, you can go to the
court with a case for emotional abuse. Again, parental alienation is very
damaging, and many courts consider this type of aggressive parenting to
be abusive. You might consider fighting for full custody of your child
to prevent such treatment in the future.
Contact the Law Office of Kathryn Marteeny
to discuss your case with our family law attorney.