Although they want the best for their children, parents sometimes let their feelings affect them when going through a divorce. Unfortunately, in some cases, people go as far as to manipulate their children to affect their relationships with the other parents. Referred to as parental alienation, such situations often have profound repercussions on more than just familial relationships.
Stopping parental alienation only accounts for half of the battle. Families in which this situation occurs must also deal with the aftermath.
Effects on children
According to Psychology Today, parental alienation sometimes imparts a heavy toll on children. When this type of situation occurs in families, kids sometimes struggle with mental health issues such as depression, as well as substance abuse. They also may experience struggles with guilt, self-hatred and self-esteem.
Effects on parents
For alienated parents, situations that create estrangement from their children often cause deep emotions. Feelings of frustration, anger and even rage at the circumstances may affect how they approach interactions with their kids. For some, this only furthers the divide. Therefore, parents should seek the support of family, friends, groups of others with shared experiences or mental health professionals. Managing the strain the alienation causes them often aids in staying compassionate and calm with their children.
Repair the relationship
Although often a challenging road, paths exist to repair relationships affected by parental alienation. Often increasing the time spent with the targeted parent and cutting down the time with the alienating parent helps to rebuild those bonds. During the time spent together, doing things such as discussing similarities and differences relating to neutral topics helps to open lines of dialog. Eventually, this may aid children and parents in opening up about feelings in a way that allows the child to understand his or her own feelings as separate from the parent’s.
When parental alienation happens, people may consider all their options for putting a stop to it, so they may preserve their ever-important bonds with their kids.