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What is parental alienation?

Losing access to and time with your children because of a divorce can be devastating. Feeling like your ex is attempting to turn your children against you makes the situation even more painful.

Under these circumstances, it is crucial to determine if parental alienation is a factor. Below are signs of parental alienation, as well as some suggestions on what parents can do to address the situation.

Signs of parental alienation

Parents who attempt to turn a child against the other parent often do so with manipulation, lies and threats.

They might discuss inappropriate details of their marriage or divorce with the child to paint the other parent in a negative light. They might make a child feel guilty for spending time with the other parent, or, as this article suggests, shower a child with gifts and promises to manipulate the child’s affections.

The alienated parent may notice the child:

  • Making the same criticisms of the alienated parent as the alienating parent makes
  • Suddenly refusing to spend time with the alienated parent
  • Rejecting the alienated parent without any rational explanation
  • Rejecting displays of emotion and gifts from the alienated parent
  • Unconditionally supporting the alienating parent, even when he or she is unreasonable or lying
  • Lacking any feelings of guilt or remorse for turning against the alienated parent

Consequences of parental alienation

When a child is manipulated to act this way, the relationship between the child and alienated parent can suffer irreparable damage. A parent may unfairly lose time with the child, and any hopes of peacefully co-parenting can become impossible.

Further, children can feel immense sadness, isolation and guilt as they grow up. They can have difficulty forming their own healthy relationships. They can also struggle with low self-esteem and possibly addiction as a result of being manipulated as a child.

Protecting a child and the alienated parent

Considering the immense pain that parental alienation can cause, it is crucial to act on it immediately. Actions can begin with securing a fair parenting schedule that allows a child to spend meaningful time with both parents.

And if concerns regarding alienation arise, parents should document their concerns and speak with a lawyer about legal remedies to stop the alienating behaviours and protect the child.

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