Oct 19, 2021
Parental Alienation in Divorce
Article written by Mike Routh
Parental alienation is the term used to describe the emotional and psychological abuse of children by one parent against the other with the goal the child will reject the non-custodial parent. It is common in situations involving divorce and characterized by the child refusing to visit the non-custodial parent, the child speaking negatively about that same parent, and the child refusing to communicate with the ostracized parent. It is often hard to recognize as the majority of this behavior takes place without the negatively affected parent’s knowledge.
Harm Caused to the Child
Parental alienation, although not classified as abuse, can be considered as dangerous. It manipulates the child’s mind and prevents them from forming necessary attachments to each parent. The prevention of these bonds slows their social development. It creates chaos within the family unit and the grief, anger and despair created by the divorce becomes more complicated for the affected child. The alienation causes the child to form an unnatural alliance with the seemingly abusive parent while ignoring the other parent. This can continue into adulthood as the child continues to stay away from the alienated parent. Obviously, the whole family unit can be affected by this behavior.
Harm Caused to the Parent
The unaware affected parent can contribute to the division as well. If they do not recognize the alienation, some tend to respond with anger directed at the child for the rejection. Understandably, this sends the child scampering back to the parent to blame for the alienation, thus strengthening the division. These non-custodial parents are often subjected to shame and stigma, lack of access to their children, and devaluation of their role as parents.
Identification and Treatment
Some of the early warning signs of parental alienation include being excluded by the child, no longer being listed by the child as a contact on school forms, increased argumentative behavior and general opposition, a sense of entitlement and superiority, and the child begins to think the rejection is their own idea, not the behavior of the opposing parent. The best response is love not anger. Do not react to the child or parent’s provocations. Do your best to take the moral high road and if needed, seek help from a professional. Remember, if the child’s behavior is changing, there is normally someone lurking in the background pulling the strings.
Accepting guidance from a firm that specializes in the practice of divorce mediation will ensure a smooth path along the difficult road of divorce. Alpha’s mediation program removes the adversarial approach found in litigation and can help create a foundation for the family unit free from alienation. Let our expertise help ensure the best possible outcome for you, your spouse, and your family.
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