Divorce can awaken a sense of loss, leading a person to grasp at anything within reach for personal support or to lash out at their former spouse. Sadly, some parents use their children as a weapon of vengeance, manipulating them against the other parent and relying on them emotionally. This phenomenon is known as parental alienation, and its effects can be detrimental to a child.
What parental alienation looks like
As your marriage comes to an end, your spouse may feel resentment toward you and want to punish you for their suffering.
One of the ways a disgruntled spouse retaliates against their former partner or tries to gain the upper hand in divorce is through parental alienation, a manipulative tactic that involves turning the child against the other parent. The offending parent will use various schemes to earn the child’s favor and ruin the image of the alienated parent.
If your former spouse is using your child against you, there’s a good chance you’ve noticed a change in your child’s attitude toward you. By knowing what parental alienation looks like, you may have a better chance of stopping it before it permanently damages your family.
Here are some signs of parental alienation you may want to look out for in your child:
- Expresses hatred for you when asked by others but behaves normally otherwise
- Mimics the way your former spouse speaks or uses words that are too advanced for their age
- Refuses to spend any time with you and your extended family
- Denies having any good experiences with you
- Believes you are the reason why their other parent is in pain or is suffering
- Gives irrational explanations for why they dislike you
- Borrows other people’s experiences or opinions to justify their reasoning
- Knows what is happening regarding your divorce
- Automatically comes to the defense of your former spouse and rejects anything you say
How parental alienation hurts you and your child
Severe parental alienation, if left unchecked, can result in mental health issues for both the child and the alienated parent. Additionally, without proper help, the child’s worsening behavior may force the alienated parent to consider abandoning the relationship.
If the signs start to show, it is crucial to act quickly to protect your child and hold your former spouse accountable for the damage they’ve caused.
What you can do
A firm resolve and initiative may help you overcome parental alienation. Start by documenting your interactions with your child, both the positive ones and the concerning ones. With this information in hand, you may consult with a family lawyer who can advise you on your next steps.
Parental alienation is difficult to fight, but early intervention may give you a better chance to repair your relationship with your child.