A child’s behavior can change over time, but if you notice a stark change where your child has suddenly become overly critical of you and he or she has expressed a desire to no longer spend time with you, then you may be facing a problem bigger than just normal childhood development issues. In fact, your child’s other parent may be actively trying to turn your child against you through a process known as parental alienation.
What is parental alienation?
Parental alienation is a manipulation tactic that some parents use to try to cut the child’s other parent out of the child’s life. There are many ways that this alienation can occur, such as by lying to the child about the other parent and even causing the child to believe that he or she was abuse by that parent in the past. In many instances, communication between the alienated parent and the child is severely restricted or entirely cut off, and the alienated parent is left out of important events in their child’s life.
Signs that parental alienation is occurring
If your child is being subjected to parental alienation, then he or she may exhibit some of these symptoms:
- Excessive criticism of you that can be extremely hurtful
- That criticism is applied to members of your extended family
- Your child is oftentimes mad at you
- Unwavering support for the other parent
- Your child uses language that doesn’t fit his or her age when criticizing you
- A lack of desire to spend time with you
These are just some of the signs that parental alienation is occurring. Other signs may include your child’s other parent asking you questions about your private life so that he or she can share that information with the child and your child knowing intimate details of your marriage and your divorce.
What can you do to stop parental alienation?
A lot of people who ask this question and feel hopeless. But there are steps that you can take to protect your child and your relationship with him or her. To do so, think about doing each of the following:
- Document everything from statements made by your child or your child’s other parent to behaviors that seemed out of character for your child.
- Ask your child questions about why he or she makes hurtful statements or acts a certain way.
- Talk with your child’s other spouse about the behavior that you’ve observed.
- Consider getting your child into therapy where he or she can discuss the beliefs that has turned him or her against you.
- Try not to take your child’s behavior toward you personally, and instead work to build an even stronger loving and trusting relationship with your child so that he or she feels safe with you.
- Stay neutral so that you don’t end up on the receiving end of alienation allegations and you can avoid worsening the relationship with your child.
Obtain the help that you need to deal with parental alienation
Dealing with parental alienation can be a complicated endeavor. But if you think that your child is being subjected to alienating behavior, then now is the time to take action. While putting an end to parental alienation and protecting your relationship with your child may mean pursuing a child custody modification, the process can be more challenging than it seems. That’s why in addition to taking the action steps mentioned above, you may need help from experts who can provide testimony that is beneficial to your position.
If all of this has you stressed out and overwhelmed, don’t worry. Family law attorneys who are experienced in child custody matters can help guide you through the process so that you know that you’re doing everything you can to protect your child and your relationship with him or her.