Has your loving child suddenly become angry and hostile? Your child may simply be expressing anger about the divorce. However, this behavior could also be a sign of parental alienation.
Parental alienation syndrome is a deliberate attempt by one parent to distance the children from the other parent and destroy the parental relationship. A parent can cause parental alienation by speaking poorly about the other parent. They might also tell lies, limit contact, and/or interfere with communication. Further, the parent might emotionally punish the child for any positive interactions with the other parent. Some parents may also fraudulently accuse their ex of neglect or abuse.
Signs of Parental Alienation
Behaviors that may indicate parental alienation include:
- Unusual animosity. Your child seems to fear or despise you. He or she may be unwilling to spend any time together. Your child may also refuse to acknowledge good experiences from the past.
- Everything is your fault. You become the bad guy. Your child acts like your ex can do no wrong, even forgiving inexcusable behavior.
- Your child repeats your ex’s words and phrases. He or she seems to be following a script. You may hear the same labels your ex has used to describe you.
- Your child rejects your family members. Your child’s anger extends to your family members. The child avoids important family events or refuses to spend time with grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins.
- Your child denies being influenced by your ex. When you ask your child about his or her words or behavior, the child may vehemently deny influence from the other parent.
Parental alienation is common during divorce and custody battles. If you suspect your ex’s behavior is causing alienation, discuss the situation with your child custody attorney. You may need to take legal action. Parents who are willing to manipulate their children are rarely willing to negotiate through mediation. Ask your attorney about counseling or filing a contempt petition of your custody order.
Every child deserves a healthy relationship with both parents. Likewise, no one should manipulate your kids. Take steps now to protect his or her well-being and your relationship.