Recognizing & Stopping Parental Alienation

The grieving process associated with divorce is as emotionally complex as experiencing the death of a loved one. You are learning to cope with the end of your marriage, and many people are brave enough to connect with a mental health professional to help them process their pain. Parents face the immense challenge of supporting and nurturing their children during this time.

Although no one expects you to shield your child from the divorce, you do, however, have to from being pulled into the dispute that you and your soon-to-be former spouse are having. We will identify what this looks like in a moment, but we do want to highlight that this conversation centers around parental alienation. It’s when one person does something (intentionally or unintentionally) to harm the child’s relationship with the other parent. Grandparents, stepparents, or even family friends can be a source of parental alienation.

What Does It Look Like?

It appears in various ways, and we will start with things that can be said. For example, consider the people whose marriages ended because of infidelity. Explaining this situation to a child, especially without guidance and advice from a trained therapist, can change their view of their parent. Don’t bring your child into an adult relationship. In other words, don’t ruin their image of their parents by telling them they would still be a family if their husband or wife hadn’t cheated. That is a complicated statement to process, even for an adult. 

Another version is when you use your child to send messages or pull information. For instance, you tell your child how much better your new house is or how much happier you are now that you are divorced with the hope that the child tells that to your former spouse. 

Not every form of parental alienation occurs verbally. Think about how you can fracture a child’s relationship with their parent without ever expressing a negative thought.

  • Preventing the child from talking to their parent (e.g., phone calls, FaceTime, etc.).
  • Booking camps or activities during the other parent’s visitation time.
  • Deliberately allowing the child to break the rules such as bedtime, screen time, and dietary choices to show that you are the better parent. Although this may happen with the best of intentions, children crave structure. It also forces the other parent to be a disciplinarian. 

Put an End to Parental Alienation 

Parental alienation can have serious and long-lasting effects on a child. They can develop depression, struggle to make friends, and feel isolated. Though these are only a few mental health issues that could form, it is critical to understand that parental alienation harms your child. If you are in this situation, get in touch with a family law attorney and talk with a mental health professional. 

Depending on the severity of the alienation, you may be able to modify your existing custody order. Allow an attorney to listen to your situation’s specifics so they can explain your legal options. If you have questions about parental alienation, modifying custody orders, or want to speak with an experienced family law attorney, contact Csépes Law Offices to schedule your consultation.

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