In the blink of an eye, your child can turn against you, hitting you with unexpected and undeserved criticism, thereby threatening to disrupt your relationship with them for years to come. Where did this behavior come from? It might be hard to tell at first blush, but there’s a chance that your child’s other parent is steering the ship from afar.
In fact, in many instances, parents, whether intentionally or unintentionally, manipulate their children. When they do so, they can crack the foundation of the relationship between the child and their other parent. This manipulative behavior is known as parental alienation.
Why does parental alienation occur?
There are several reasons. In some cases, the manipulating parent wants to use the damage they cause as a justification to further restrict the other parent’s access to the child.
For example, a manipulating parent may lead the child to believe that the other parent is a liar, which then causes the child to distrust the other parent. This lack of trust creates friction and disagreement between the child and the other parent. The manipulating parent then uses this contention to go to court to argue that a more restrictive parenting time arrangement is in the child’s best interests.
In other instances, the manipulating parent is simply being vindictive. They’ve been hurt at some point, and now they want to use the child to get back at the other parent. Of course, the child doesn’t detect this, and they instead act on information that they believe to be true.
How does alienation occur?
An alienating parent can utilize a number of techniques to manipulate their child. Here are just some of the most commonly utilized strategies:
- Telling the child intimate details about the parents’ failed marriage
- Lying to the child about statements that the other parent has made
- Withholding information from the other parent about important information about the child, such as medical appointments and diagnoses as well as extracurricular activities
- Fabricating stories about egregious actions taken by the other parent, including even going so far as to lie about child abuse or neglect that occurred in the past.
- Preventing the other parent from having contact with the child, whether through canceled visitation or refusal to allow phone communication
There may be other creative ways that a parent may engage in manipulation, so make sure that you’re being observant and taking action if you believe that parental alienation is occurring.
What can you do if you think that your child is being subjected to parental alienation?
Fortunately, there’s a lot that you can do. Start taking notes of every event that you think might be indicative of alienating behavior. Also, ask your child questions about their behavior to try to get to the root cause. Also, be on the lookout for these signs of alienation to determine if you need help from an expert or a mental health professional:
- Your child suddenly starts criticizing you without proper justification
- That criticism extends to other members of your family
- The child shows unwavering support for the other parent
- The child believes in falsehoods
- Your child doesn’t have any sense of guilt over the way they treat you
- Your child uses language that isn’t in line with their age when making statements against you
- The other parent blames you for everything
- The other parent talks badly about you to the child
Do you need legal help?
If you suspect that alienation is occurring, then you may need to take legal action. After all, modifying your existing custody arrangement might be the only way for you to bring this alienation to a stop. If you’d like to learn more about how to go about doing that, then now may be the best time for you to research the process and what it can do for you and your child.