Separating from or divorcing your child’s other parent is rarely easy, and it can lead to considerable stress and strife between you and your former partner. If the situation between you and your child’s other parent is especially acrimonious, you may have valid concerns about your former partner trying to turn your child against you.
While regrettable, this pattern of behavior is common enough to warrant its own term, and if it is happening within your family, you may be a victim of parental alienation. Parental alienation can have devastating effects on family relationships, and it can make an already tough time even harder by disrupting or harming the relationship between you and your child. If you suspect your child’s other parent may be working to turn him or her against you, be on the lookout for signs of parental alienation, which might include the following:
Oversharing with your child
In many cases, and particularly when children are young, it may hurt them, more than help them, to know every last detail surrounding their parents’ divorce. For example, say you cheated on your former partner. He or she may talk about your infidelity with your child to make you look like the bad guy (or girl) who was responsible for dissolving the family unit.
Using your child as a “spy” of sorts
If you get the impression that your child is spying or gathering information about you or your home life during visits and then reporting it back to the other parent, know that this, too, may indicate parental alienation.
Letting your child decide matters the court already has
Your child’s other parent may also attempt to alienate you from your child’s life by making it seem as if your son or daughter has a choice about whether to visit you when an existing court order says otherwise. For example, if your spouse tells your daughter she can sleep over at a friend’s house, but then your daughter, per a court order, must visit with you instead, this can lead to disharmony between the two of you.
Parental alienation can prove extremely hazardous to the parent-child relationship, so if you are a victim, do not hesitate to take prompt action.