Whenever children live between two households, the potential for parental alienation exists. It often occurs during or after a divorce when bad blood between parents spills over into their relationships with their children. That said, it can happen at any time and in any situation when parents share custody or visitation rights.
In case you are unfamiliar with the term, parental alienation occurs when a child’s relationship with the target parent is adversely affected by the undue influence of the alienating parent.
The reasons why parental alienation is harmful are self-evident and numerous. For one, the bond between a parent and their child is unlike any other, providing both with all kinds of enrichment. For another, the alienating parent objectifies the child by using them to harm the target parent, which can have untold consequences on the child’s psychological development.
Fortunately, parental alienation isn’t invisible or silent. Once parents targeted in this manner notice the signs, they can take action to stop it and repair their relationships with their children.
By far, the most common way alienating parents damage a child’s relationship with target parents is by badmouthing them. Whether intentional or not, alienation often begins when a child is exposed to disparaging comments about one of their parents made by the other. Such comments serve to undermine a child’s perception of the target parent as well as that parent’s authority.
Confiding in the Child
Telling a child private information about the target parent is inappropriate, even if it’s true. This often goes hand-in-hand with undermining a parent’s authority because it can paint them in the child’s mind as financially irresponsible, reckless, or even dangerous.
Children with parents who live separately need to feel safe and secure with both of them, and efforts to the contrary (on the behalf of an alienating parent) can generate fear or resentment in the child.
Limiting Contact Between a Child & Their Parent
Another common way for alienation to begin (or escalate) is when the alienating parent artificially limits contact between the child and the target parent.
Custody and visitation orders should clearly define time-sharing agreements between parents. If there is a pattern or identifiable tendency for one parent to defy these orders to limit the contact a child has with their other parent, it’s very possible the former parent is attempting to alienate the child from the latter parent.
Using the Child as a Spy
Especially following a divorce, people may be very curious about their parent’s life apart from them. This can involve a lot of unhealthy behavior such as social media snooping or even outright stalking, but at no point should a child be involved.
Unfortunately, some parents may be inclined to use their children to gather information about their ex. When this information has no relevance to the child’s health and safety, it can be particularly problematic. Parents might ask their kids to tell them about their ex’s routine, financial status, or any new partners they may be seeing. Of course, such requests might be cloaked in language that a child would understand and not considered to be problematic.
Are You Concerned About Parental Alienation?
If you are concerned that you’re a target of parental alienation or have been unfairly accused of attempting to alienate your child, you need legal representation that can help.
Our attorney at Kay Polk, Attorney at Law has the experience and skill necessary to help you protect your interests in matters as serious as these. Rest assured that our personalized approach to legal action can help you take the necessary steps toward achieving your goals.
For more information, ask to arrange a consultation with our attorney when you contact us online.