Divorces can be highly emotional events for everyone involved – including both spouses and the children they may have together. However, some parents can use divorce to vent their frustrations about their ex to the child, leading to some children developing a negative picture of the other parent. This act is known as parental alienation and can cause significant damage to a relationship between a parent and a child.
Signs of Parental Alienation
Parental alienation occurs when a child turns away from his or her parent, often occurring in divorced families. Typically, the parent that the child lives with is the person who attempts to degrade the relationship that the child has with the alienated parent. Alienation can occur when a parent speaks negatively about the other in front of the child, tries to make the child take sides in the divorce, and keeps the child away from the alienated parent.
It can be difficult to identify whether or not your former spouse is engaging in parental alienation. Look for the following signs when interacting with your child to determine if alienation may be occurring.
- Your child tells you not to come to any of his or her games, school events, or other activities.
- Your former spouse keeps you from being involved in important milestones in your child’s life, such as school meetings and parent/teacher conferences.
- Your child becomes argumentative, combative, and angry with you whenever you interact with each other.
- Your child has a sudden knowledge of private events that led to the divorce, such as infidelity.
- Your child believes facts about you that are not true, such as unsubstantiated allegations of abuse.
- Your child suddenly develops a co-dependence with your former spouse and acts very protective of him or her.
Tips to Avoid Parental Alienation
Parental alienation is a form of emotional abuse that can lead to lasting impacts on your child and your relationship. It can be difficult to cultivate a healthy connection with your child if his or her custodial parent is attempting to harm your relationship.
However, there are ways you can prevent this phenomenon from occurring.
- Seize every opportunity you can to spend time with your child. Remind your child that you love him or her and you want to spend time together.
- If you know what your former spouse is saying to your child about you, prove him or her wrong. Show your children that you are hardworking, calm, and caring. Always take the high road and set an example for your children.
- Do not play into your former spouse’s anger. Remain calm and collected and do not attempt to alienate your child from his or her other parent. Instead, remind your child that you and your former spouse love him or her equally and that he or she doesn’t have to choose sides.
- Under your divorce agreement, the court gives you visitation and custodial rights. If your former spouse refuses to let you contact or spend time with your child, document every instance. You can use this evidence to show that your former spouse is violating your rights.
- Do not be afraid to involve the courts if the alienation violates your custodial or visitation rights. You have the right to have a relationship with your child free from your former spouse’s influence. Contact your attorney to assist you.
- Do not attempt to compete with your former spouse. This can lead to an emotionally difficult, confusing situation for your child and plays into your former spouse’s alienating behavior. Instead, focus on yourself and being the best parent you can be.
Parental alienation can cause a lot of damage to the child and the alienated parent alike. All children deserve to have a relationship with both of their parents, and divorce should not get in the way of developing these healthy connections. If you believe that your former spouse is alienating your child from you, contact an Indianapolis parental alienation lawyer as soon as possible.