What is Parental Alienation (PA)?
Parental Alienation occurs when a parent knowingly and purposely turns a child against the other parent after a divorce or separation. The child can begin believing the alienating parent and could potentially build an alliance, which then results in a damaged relationship with the victim parent who has been alienated.
Child has bad behaviors after visiting with other parent?
The effects of PA can be seen after the child returns from timesharing with the alienating parent. Some children may be vocal enough to say hurtful things like “I hate you” or “I’m not supposed to like you or have fun with you.” This could be a result of coaching done by the alienating parent. Other children may just misbehavior or become defiant by not listening to directions or ignoring the victim parent’s requests.
The other parent took my child!
Unfortunately, it is all too common when the alienating parent takes the child and fleas to another city or state. Depending on state laws, child custody terms, and circumstances, this can be considered kidnap. In this situation, an attorney is needed to provide legal guidance.
Is there something I can do about it?
Depending on your current parenting plan, child custody terms, and the relationship you have with the other parent, your child may benefit from therapy. In PA cases, it is important to choose a skilled and knowledgeable clinician who has experience working with children with PA issues. Because the child may believe that one parent is the enemy, it important to rebuild that relationship with that parent. Additionally, it may be beneficial for both parents to seek co-parenting therapy or attain a parent coordinator.
How do I cope with Parent Alienation (PA) without seeking treatment?
If a parent isn’t doing their part in making sure the child spend time with the other parent, then there may be an issue with the child custody agreements. Typically, most co-parenting issues can be rooted back to a poorly planned parenting plan. If you believe that this may be the cause of issues, you may want to consider seeking legal advice.
As a parent dealing with a child who has fallen victim to PA, it is important to show unconditional love for the child and refrain from bad mouthing the other parent. Bad mouthing the alienating parent to a child, may worsen the situation. Keep in mind that choosing between parents can be very confusing for the child, therefore, showing them consistent and unconditional love may help to ease symptoms for a short period of time.
My exchanges get heated because of what the other parent is doing!!
When exchanges become heated (i.e. verbal aggression), then that should be a sign that a third neutral party needs to be involved. Sometimes, parents just need a professional to remain neutral to monitor exchanges to ensure that the child is not exposed to toxic language, behaviors, or emotions. Keep in mind, just because the child can’t hear you in a vehicle, doesn’t mean they can’t see or sense the aggression between parents. Bringing along family members or friends to monitor exchanges is never a good idea either! Friends and family can sometimes add to the emotions or situation and cause the exchanges to go wrong also.