Your children mean the world to you. That can make it that much harder when your kids seem to suddenly turn against you. But if that happens, you shouldn’t necessarily blame yourself or your strained relationship with your children’s other parent. Instead, you should carefully consider whether you and your kids are being subjected to parental alienation.
What is parental alienation?
Parental alienation is nothing short of manipulation of a child in hopes of distancing him or her from his or her other parent. The rift that’s created by alienation can be quite extensive, too, causing your children to lose interest in interacting with you altogether.
How does alienation occur?
There’s no one approach to alienation. Some strategies are simple and straightforward, such as the other parent lying to your child by telling him that you no longer love him and that you don’t want to talk to him anymore. The other parent might also tell your children intimate details about your marriage that cast you in a negative light.
But parental alienation strategies can be even more severe than that. In some instances, a parent will lie to a child about domestic violence or drug use, and in the worse cases a parent convinces a child that he or she was abused by the other parent even thought that isn’t the case. Remember, children are highly susceptible to manipulation, which means that there are a lot of ways that your children’s other parent may implement strategies that harm your relationship with your kids.
Signs of manipulation
The first step in stopping parental alienation is identifying symptoms of it. Here are some things that you should be on the lookout for:
- Your child’s behavior suddenly turns against you
- Your child’s criticism of you is incessant and unjustified
- Your child fully supports the other parent without reserve
- Your child’s disdain for you extends to your family members
- Your child uses language when criticizing you that doesn’t fit his or her age
- Your child uses false information as a justification for the criticism
- Your child’s other parent is withholding contact between you and your child
If you see these or any other signs that have you feeling suspicious of manipulation, then you need to consider whether legal action is warranted.
Protecting your children
Parental alienation is considered by some to be a form of child abuse. If you want to protect your child, then you might need to take legal action in the form of a custody modification. To succeed on your argument, though, you’re going to need evidence that sufficiently shows that alienation is occurring. This evidence can take many forms, including any of the following:
- Statements made and actions taken by your child’s other parent
- Your child’s own statements
- Your account of events in question
- Mental health evaluations of your child and your child’s other parent
- The results of a child custody evaluation
- The opinion of your child’s therapist
This means that you’re going to have to be diligent in building your alienation case, ensuring that you’ve left no stone unturned. The good news is that family law courts across the country are becoming more receptive to parental alienation arguments, which means that presenting compelling evidence may lead to a favorable outcome for you and your children.