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What is parental alienation?

While most people would prefer to go through an amicable divorce, this is not a possibility for all couples. When splits are contentious, due to financial issues or because of infidelity, it can be hard for both spouses to agree.

When children are involved, divorce becomes all the more complicated. Some parents even have to deal with parental alienation issues, which an have a real impact on the relationship you have with your child. This guide explains how to identify parental alienation so you can take the right approach to prevent it from having a lasting effect.

Signs of parental alienation

While situations vary from couple to couple, the following are some common signs that one parent is alienating a child:

  • The alienating parent claims the other parent does not attempt to see their child, when the alienating parent is actually preventing visit from happening.
  • If custody rules are in place, the alienating parent will constantly overstep or ignore them. This often happens when a parent schedules fun activities for the child (such as a trip to an amusement park) when the child is supposed to be spending time with the other parent.
  • The alienating parent may attempt to control all aspects of communication between the other parent and their child.
  • The alienating parent may tell the child personal details about the breakup, even though these details are appropriate for young ears.

These attempts can cause the child to behave differently towards the other parent. An alienated child will have a uniformly negative opinion about their parent, while also fully supporting the parent doing the alienating. The child may also use language that seems inappropriate for their age, which signals that they are mimicking things said by the other parent.

Steps to take if you fear your child is being alienated from you

When the parent-child relationship has been damaged by alienation, counseling is necessary to fix the relationship. An experienced counselor will work with the child to overcome the influence of the alienating parent, which can occur in individual therapy sessions or with both the child and the parent being victimized. It may take time, but with professional assistance it is likely that the relationship will be mended.

When it comes to court-ordered visitations, the parent ignoring orders can be held in contempt. In this case, it is best to address your problem with your lawyer and the court itself. The court may choose to modify orders or hold the other parent accountable for not following them, which should prevent future issues.

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