What is Parental Alienation?

If you are going through a divorce and have children, or have already divorced and are trying to figure out how to work together as co-parents, you are likely well acquainted with the potential difficulties and hardships of this situation. In some cases, unresolved issues and resentment can strain your relationship and affect your behavior toward your children, whether consciously or subconsciously. Sometimes a parent’s actions can lead to parental alienation, which causes a child to hate or vilify the other parent, and is incredibly damaging.

Here are some of the behaviors parents should be aware of that can cause your children to develop this condition:

  1. When parents give their children a choice regarding visits despite there being a court order that says otherwise, it creates a situation ripe for conflict. The child might end up blaming the non-custodial parent for not being able to make a decision to visit. Simply follow the court order and it will avoid this complication.
  2. Divulging all of the details about the reasons for divorcing can have some severely detrimental effects on a child and is very alienating. A parent might try to justify this behavior by claiming a need to be honest, but this practice is often less about honesty and more about driving a child to perceive the other parent differently and in a less favorable way.
  3. Blaming the other parent for financial issues, for the family’s current situation, changes in lifestyle, or for having a new partner can also lead to parental alienation.
  4. An alienating parent often refuses to be flexible with the visitation schedule and might schedule so many activities for the child to minimize the time the other parent has to visit. When or if that parent complains, he or she is often described as selfish or uncaring.
  5. Outright asking a child to choose one parent over another is one of the cruelest and most alienating acts a parent can commit, inflicting a great amount of distress. A child typically does not want to reject a parent, so do not put them in a position where they feel they have to.
  6. If a parent uses a child to spy on or gather information about the other parent, it sends a bad message to the child that demeans the alienated parent.
  7. Setting up tempting alternatives to visiting the parent to prevent a child from spending more time with that parent will harm the relationship and alienate that parent.
  8. A parent can also cause his or her own alienation by making a habit of breaking promises to a child. The co-parent will grow tired of having to make excuses for such behavior.

Some signs you should be aware of in a child that indicate parental alienation include:

  1. A child stays angry at a parent over a minor issue that would have otherwise healed relatively quickly.
  2. A child is unable to give reasons for feeling angry toward a parent, or the reasons provided are vague.

Even if you are angry with your ex-spouse and are not concerned with his or her feelings, parental alienation ultimately harms the child more than anyone else involved, so try to remain aware of your actions and refrain from alienating your ex-spouse.

Contact Us For Legal Representation

Family law can be a difficult area of law to navigate without skilled and experienced legal assistance. To ensure a favorable outcome for your family’s situation, you need representation that provides a perfect mixture of personal, legal, intellectual, and compassionate advice. At Family Law San Diego,  we are dedicated to providing exactly that.

Contact our firm today at (619) 577-4900 for a consultation.