What is parental alienation? How to handle it as a co-parent

On Behalf of | Sep 12, 2023 | Custody & Parenting

Parental alienation is a phenomenon that occurs when one parent engages in actions that deliberately estrange or distance a child from the other parent. It often involves manipulation, coercion or emotional pressure, which can lead the child to develop negative feelings or beliefs about the targeted parent.

Read on to explore parental alienation, how it manifests and most importantly, how co-parents can effectively handle this challenging situation.

Recognizing the signs

Children who are victims of parental alienation may exhibit certain behavioral changes. These can include sudden hostility or withdrawal from the alienated parent, reluctance to spend time with them and a refusal to acknowledge positive experiences shared with the targeted parent.

Verbal and emotional indicators can be subtle but are crucial to recognize. These may include a child consistently referring to one parent by their first name instead of “Mom” or “Dad,” making baseless accusations against the alienated parent or echoing negative statements made by the alienating parent.

Dealing with parental alienation

Parental alienation can stem from various motivations. It may be driven by anger, resentment or a desire for revenge following a separation or divorce. In some cases, it can also be a manifestation of one parent’s attempt to gain sole custody of the child.

You can address mild parental alienation by communicating openly and honestly with your child. It would help if you encouraged them to express their feelings and thoughts without fear of judgment.

However, in cases where parental alienation is moderate, seeking the assistance of a mental health professional or therapist can be invaluable. A therapist can work with the child and parents to address the underlying issues and facilitate healthier relationships.

Legal action may be necessary if parental alienation becomes severe and the child’s well-being is at risk. You might want to modify custody arrangements before your co-parent’s actions psychologically affect the kids.

Parental alienation is a distressing issue that can have severe consequences for children and families. Recognizing the signs of parental alienation and taking legal action to address it is crucial for the well-being of all parties involved.

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