Parental alienation is a form of mental abuse where one parent actively seeks to manipulate a child's emotions toward their other parent in a negative way following a divorce. The manipulative parent usually wants to demonize the other parent and permanently sever the emotional attachment between that parent and the child.
This can cause lasting damage not only to the targeted parent but also to the child involved. Studies have shown that children subjected to this kind of abuse suffer well into adulthood from low self-esteem, substance abuse problems, trust issues, and depression, among other things.
When should you worry about parental alienation?
If your ex-spouse has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder or narcissism (or you suspect that he or she has such a disorder), be on your guard. Mentally healthy parents don't usually engage in parental alienation.
What are the early signs of parental alienation syndrome?
No parent-child relationship is perfect, but you've probably enjoyed a fairly good relationship with your child up until your divorce. Absent any obvious reason that the relationship should change, be on the watch for the following:
- Your child suddenly doesn't want to visit you, despite always enjoying your time together before.
- Your child asks you not to attend important events, like graduation from preschool or a ball game.
- Your child begins to talk to you in a dismissive, snide, or overtly rude manner for no reason.
- Your child starts to accuse you of things that you didn't do, particularly if those things are supposedly actions that hurt your ex-spouse.
- Your child begins making statements that sound more like something your ex-spouse would say about you or toward you, like "If you weren't so lazy, you'd have a better job," or "It's your fault that mommy has to work so much."
- Your child starts to rewrite your history together -- overlooking good times and focusing in on one or two arguments or bad times and blowing them out of proportion.
What can you do if you're the targeted parent?
Part of a parent's responsibility when they have custody of a child is to foster a healthy relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent. If your ex-spouse is clearly failing to do so -- and even sabotaging your relationship with your child -- it's time to get a child custody lawyer's services.
With your attorney's assistance, you can seek an order that will require family counseling, extended time with your children, or even a complete overhaul of the custody order. Family courts take parental alienation seriously -- and so should you. Find out more about your legal rights today.
Reach out to a company like Cragun Law Firm to learn more.