If it feels like your child has suddenly turned against you, then you’re probably wondering why. Although children’s behaviors and personalities may change over time, sudden shifts in these characteristics that affect your bond with your child may be more problematic than you think. This is because it may be indicative of parental alienation.
The basics of parental alienation
Parental alienation is a process where one parent utilizes manipulative tactics in order to intentionally damage the relationship between the child and the child’s other parent. An alienating parent may then use this breakdown of the relationship as evidence justifying a request to limit or even completely eliminate the child’s time spent with that other parent.
In other words, parental alienation can be harmful to the child and devastating to your relationship with him or her.
Parental alienation tactics
But how, specifically, does parental alienation occur? There are a lot of ways that a parent can try to manipulate their child in this regard. One way is to simply lie to the child. The alienating parent may tell the child that the other parent doesn’t love the child or doesn’t care about the child, sometimes even supporting such claims with false evidence.
An alienating parent may also intentionally keep the other parent out of the loop on important events involving the child, such as school and extracurricular activities and medical procedures. Intimate details of the marriage that paint the other parent in a bad light might be shared, and contact between the child and the other parent might be limited. In the worst cases, the alienating parent even makes bogus claims of child abuse or neglect, brainwashing the child to believe that such allegations are true.
Signs that your child may be subject to manipulation
If you’re worried about parental alienation, then you’ll want to be on the lookout for the following signs and symptoms:
- Incessant criticism of you and your family
- A lack of justification for that criticism or justifications that are irrational
- Hostile behavior toward you
- Automatic and unwavering support of the alienating parent that is almost reflexive in nature
- An insistence by the child that the behavior exhibited towards you and the feelings about you are independently held
- Instant support for the alienating parent during parental disputes
- Use of language that seems borrowed from adult conversations
What can you do about parental alienation?
If you’ve seen any of the signs and symptoms of parental alienation, then you need to take action, probably in the form of a motion to modify custody. But to succeed on one of these motions, you’re going to have to have evidence supporting your legal arguments. This means that you might need to present your child’s statements and behaviors, your child’s other parent’s responses to those statements and behaviors, and even expert testimony about parental alienation. Opinions from your child’s mental health professional may be helpful, too, if he or she has one.
Don’t let parental alienation ruin your relationship with your child
Parental alienation can be extremely harmful to your child and your relationship with him or her. However, not all hope is lost if you suspect that alienation is occurring. That’s why you need to be prepared to fight to protect your child’s mental well-being and his or her best interests. It’s not an easy battle to win, but with the help of a qualified legal professional, you might be able to increase your chances of obtaining the outcome that is best for you and your kid.