When a marriage ends, this impacts the relationship between the spouses. However, a divorce should not impact the relationship a parent has with their children. Unfortunately, when a tumultuous split occurs, this can make co-parenting beyond difficult. As such, it could cause one parent to target the other parent through the child.
Using a child as a pawn to hurt the other parent is damaging to the child and their relationship with that parent. Furthermore, when their conduct causes a child to no longer want to see the other parent, this could be considered parental alienation and give them grounds to take legal action.
Understanding parental alienation
Often occurring in a high-conflict divorce, parental alienation occurs when the child or children involved identifies strongly with one parent, usually the custodial parent, and has formed hatred against the other parent or rejected them altogether without justification.
The cause of parental alienation is the conduct of the alienating parent. Often, this parent will pressure the child to carry the same opinions, views and hatred toward the other parent. This parent will often systematically program the child to despise the other parent, often through criticism and conduct that interferes with the relationship they have with the other parent.
Parental alienation could be mild, which is often done by a child who is reluctant to visit with the other parent but enjoys their time with the parent once they are there. It could be moderate, which is when the child will strongly resist any contact with the other parent, maintaining resentment and opposition toward them while they are together. Finally, it can be severe, which is when the child strongly resists any contact while also running away or hiding to avoid having to visit with them.
Three signs to look for
While there is no clear and ultimate sign that parental alienation is occurring, the following three signs could be strong indicators and give reason to explore it further.
The first sign is when a child criticizes you severely and without cause. The next sign is the child having unwavering support for the parent you suspect is alienating. The child has only bad things to say about you but only good things to say about the other parent. The final sign to look for is when a child has no feeling of guilt after mistreating you.
Family law matters are notoriously emotional and complex. However, in order to ensure your parental rights are protected and the best interests of your child are served, it might be necessary to take legal action.