What is Parental Alienation, And What Are Some Signs To Watch For?
The breakup of a marriage or partnership can lead to major changes in not just your life, but the lives of your children. A parent in the midst of divorce proceedings will, naturally, have many things on their mind and on their plate. Not least of which is the weighty priority to ensure your child and your relationship with that child comes out of the situation untarnished.
Regardless of what custody or visitation arrangement is agreed upon, unless your ex-partner is completely out of your child’s life they will be spending some amount of time with them. In most situations, it is beneficial for children to have the support of multiple caregivers and role models in their lives to look up to. However, situations can arise where one parent’s actions while the child is in their care could profoundly affect your child’s view and opinion of you, and could damage the relationship between the two of you.
Parental Alienation: What is it?
Generally speaking, parental alienation is the act of one parent turning the child against the other parent. This can occur through any number of things, such as:
- Telling the child that the divorce is all the other parent’s fault
- Blaming the other parent for any problem in the child’s life
- Not enforcing the same rules while the child is in their care
- Lying about the other parent, particularly in ways that make the child feel less loved by the other parent
- Buying the child extravagant gifts
As is evident by the list above, parental alienation is a manipulative tactic. By engaging in actions that foster parental alienation one parent is essentially trying to bolster their own relationship and sense of worth with the child while tearing down the other parent/parent-child relationship. The other parent may not even realize that this is what they are doing. However, unfortunately, this tactic is too-often used as a way to further limit the amount of time (or the quality of the time) the child spends with a parent, in spite of any agreed upon or court-ordered custody arrangement.
What are Some Signs that Could Indicate Parental Alienation is Affecting Your Relationship?
- Irrational Criticism of you
Every child will criticize their parents. It is no secret that teenagers, in particular, seem to find a particular joy in letting you know how little they think of you. However, children who have been subjected to parental alienation may be severely and irrationally critical. They will rarely, if ever, have anything positive to say about you or what you do for them. If they do say something positive or have a good time with you, they will likely ask you not to tell the other parent.
- A Sense of Righteous Anger
Most children, even teenagers, will seem guilty and even apologize later for lashing out or making you sad. An alienated child, however, will feel completely justified in their actions. They have been led to believe that your own bad behavior led to their – proper – reaction.
- Staunch Support for the Other Parent
As hard as they are on you, your child will not tolerate any slight to the other parent – real or imaginary. This support is highlighted by the uber-critical lens they apparently have fixed on you, the alienated parent.
Our Attorneys Can Help You Stop – or Prevent – Parental Alienation
If parental alienation seems to be a part of your divorce journey, you may feel like your children are slipping away from you. Even when it is your time to see them, they don’t listen to you, don’t want to be around you, and no matter what you do things don’t seem to get better. Whether this is your reality or you fear it will be, our experienced Franklin divorce lawyers at Fort, Holloway & Rogers can help you make sure you know what legal options you have to combat parental alienation and guide you through the complicated landscape of child custody. Call our office to discuss the details of your case today.