Parental Alienation is a serious issue that can occur during a contentious divorce. Parents from Jupiter to Wellington and throughout Palm Beach County should know the warning signs that parental alienation is occurring and how it may impact their children.
What is parental alienation?
Parental alienation occurs when one parent purposefully encourages a child to disengage with the other parent and/or denigrate the other parent. It can often be one of the most damaging effects of a difficult, highly contested divorce.
What are some examples of alienating behavior?
Typical methods include:
- Badmouthing the parent
- Limiting contact with that parent
- Using the psychological threat of detachment
- Forcing the child to reject the other parent
- Forcing the child to choose between parents by threatening withdrawal of affection
- Creating the impression that the other parent is dangerous
- Belittling and limiting contact with the extended family of the targeted parent
How does parental alienation impact a child?
Parental alienation can have severe and long-lasting effects on children including:
- Low self-esteem
- Self-hatred. Children internalize the hatred targeted toward the alienated parent, are led to believe that the alienated parent did not love or want them, and experience severe guilt related to betraying the alienated parent.
- Lack of trust
- Their depression is rooted is in feelings of being unloved by one of their parents, and from separation from that parent, while being denied the opportunity to mourn the loss of the parent, or to even talk about the parent.
- Substance abuse and other forms of addiction
- Loss of the capacity to give and accept love from a parent.
- A cycle of alienation. Alienated children are at high risk of becoming alienated from their own children when they are parents.
What can be done to prevent parental alienation?
Preventing parental alienation is much more effective than trying to overcome its effects. Be aware of the following alienating behaviors and try to avoid them in order to ensure your child’s emotional health.
- Over-sharing. Negative information about the divorce and your ex should not be discussed with your child.
- Giving false choices. Don’t let your child choose whether to go to the other parent’s this weekend when legally they can’t. It will only encourage resentment in them and your ex.
- Keeping information to yourself. Everything from school information to sports schedules to medical records should be shared between you and your ex.
- Using your kids as spies.
- Sabotaging your ex-spouse’s time. Planning fun activities for time your ex is supposed to have the kids or over-scheduling kids so they have little to no free time with your ex causes hard feelings.
- Rescuing your kids from nothing. Acting like you’re saving your children physically or psychologically from their other parent when you don’t need to.
- Blaming your ex for the divorce.
What should be done if parental alienation is already taking place?
It is essential to take immediate action in your child custody case as soon as you recognize any form of parental alienation, even the mildest forms. The difficulties in remedying a parental alienation case dramatically increase as the behavior escalates.
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Parental alienation is a serious issue. If you believe parental alienation has impacted you, please contact The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, P.A online (hotlink) or call 561-478-0312. Board Certified Marital and Family Law Attorney Charles Jamieson has extensive experience in the area of parental alienation and can accurately evaluate your situation.