Four Habits That Encourage Parental Alienation

Law Blog

Some divorced parents manipulate their children to get them to show unwarranted fear, hostility, or hatred towards the other parent. This is called parental alienation, and it is a form of psychological abuse. Parents who engage in parental alienation do it with the intention of kicking the other parent out of their children's lives. Here are four ways a parent may encourage parental alienation:

Demeaning Talks

A classical sign of parental alienation involves one parent saying demeaning things about the other parent. The demeaning words can be said directly to the child or within their hearing. For example, your ex can tell your teenage child that you don't have money for their summer vacation because you are spending it all on your romantic partner.

Discussing Divorce Issues

Another common tactic some parents employ is to discuss the circumstances of the divorce in such a way that the other parent comes out as the bad guy. For example, your former partner may tell the child that you no longer live together as a family because you were no longer committed to the family. Your soon-to-be-ex may talk about how you always fight and have hired the best lawyers to take everything away from them. Note that it is still parental alienation even if what the parent is telling the child is true.

Being Rigid About Visitation Schedules

Your partner may also alienate the children from you if they are (intentionally) too rigid about the visitation schedules.  Some flexibility in these schedules is necessary if either of you are to spend adequate time with the child. For example, rescheduling a visitation may be necessary if you develop a toothache and have to see the dentist. However, your former partner may refuse to reschedule so that the child thinks you don't want to spend time with them.

Blame for All Negative Changes

Lastly, some parents take it as far as blaming their partners for all the negative things happening in their household. No money for piano lessons? It's because you used all the money during your vacation. Can't afford the latest sneakers? It's because you aren't paying adequate child support. Through these kinds of talks, the child soon begins to hate you because your partner has taught them you are responsible for their prevailing bad luck.

As bad as alienation maybe, the first thing you should do is to try to talk with your former spouse and iron out your differences. However, you shouldn't suffer in silence if you believe your former spouse's actions are hurting (physically or psychologically) your child. In that case, contact an experienced attorney from a firm like Haslam & Perri LLP to see what can be done.


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