In many instances, child custody is extraordinarily contentious. This is because many parents think that they know what’s best for their children, which drives them to disregard and fight against their child’s other parent. While a little bit of tension is to be expected in a child custody dispute, sometimes parents go too far, making false allegations against their child’s other parent and driving a wedge between that parent and their child. This sometimes constitutes parental alienation. You need to know how to spot alienation and put it to a stop, lest you suffer damage to your relationship with your child.
The basics of parental alienation
In its simplest terms, parental alienation is the process whereby one parent manipulates or “programs” a child with the intent of distancing that child from his or her other parent. Some people refer to this as brainwashing. This can be accomplished a number of ways, but is commonly achieved by feeding false information about the other parent to the child. Sometimes this information goes so far as to allege abuse or neglect. In some instances the child is even led to believe that the other parent has abused him or her when in fact no abuse has occurred.
Other ways parental alienation occurs
There are many other ways that parental alienation can occur. True but intimate information that shouldn’t be shared with a child, such as adultery, may be openly discussed with the child, but an alienating parent might use other tactics, too. For example, an alienating parent might schedule fun activities for the child knowing that it is set for a time when the other parent is supposed to have visitation. This causes the child to resent the alienated parent for making him or her engage in visitation rather than allowing him or her to partake in the fun activity.
Parental gatekeeping can play a major role, too. A custodial parent has a lot of power over a child and his or her life. That parent can control what information the child receives, who the child interacts with, and what information about the child is shared. Therefore, a parent who engages in gatekeeping might refuse to share information about the child’s education and medical condition with a noncustodial parent, and he or she might simply refuse the non-custodial parent to have visitation despite the fact that there’s a court order for visitation. Sometimes these gatekeeping tactics are intentional, but in some instances the custodial parent simply thinks that he or she knows what’s best for the child.
Signs of parental alienation
If you suspect alienating behavior, then you need to keep your eyes open for confirming symptoms. Your child might unfairly criticize you without justification while demonstrating unwavering support for his or her other parent. Your child might also use language and phrases that aren’t appropriate for his or her age and are clearly statements that have been fed to him or her from the other parent. Lack of access and indications that your child is always “sick” when you’re supposed to spend time with him or her can also be indicative of parental alienation tactics.
Protect your and your child’s interests in your child custody case
Parental alienation can be a difficult topic to tackle in a child custody dispute, but it’s not impossible. You can diligently work to gather evidence of alienating behavior to show a judge how you and your child have been wronged. It’s important to note that parental alienation can be considered child abuse, so taking immediate action might be necessary to protect your child’s safety and wellbeing. If you’d like help developing a strategy to do just that, then consider discussing the circumstances of your case with a family law attorney who can aggressively advocate for you and your child.