You love your child and will do anything to protect him or her. But doing so can be difficult when your mere access to your child is limited by your child’s other parent. This gatekeeping function can serve as just one of the many ways in which a parent can engage in parental alienation, which can cause significant harm to you and your child. Knowing about parental alienation can be key, too, as it may be the only way that you can take appropriate action to protect your child and your parental rights.
The basics of parental alienation
Parental alienation is the process by which a child is manipulated by a parent in hopes of creating physical and emotional distance between the child and that other parent. Parental alienation can occur in a variety of ways, too, including through the excessive and aggressive use of the custodial parent’s gatekeeping role. Here, the non-custodial parent is kept in the dark about the child’s extracurricular activities and medical appointments, and the non-custodial parent is oftentimes denied access to the child altogether.
But parental alienation can be much more severe than that. An alienating parent can feed false information or intimate details of a failed marriage to a child in order to warp the child’s perception of the other parent. For example, the child may be told over and over that the other parent doesn’t love him or her or that the other parent never wants to speak with the child, even when the other parent makes valiant efforts to make contact.
In some instances, an alienating parent will even manipulate a young child into believing that he or she was abused by the other parent. False allegations of domestic violence may also be made while in the child’s presence, again distorting the child’s view of the other parent.
Troubling signs of parental alienation
The symptoms of parental alienation can be readily apparent in your child if you remain observant. They might include:
- Incessant criticism of you without justification
- Weak rationales for this criticism
- A sudden and unexpected dislike of your extended family members
- Unwavering support for the alienating parent
- Use of language that is inappropriate for the child’s age, especially when criticizing you
- Your child doesn’t show any guilt when being harsh toward you
There could be other behaviors that you pick up on that may be indicative of parental alienation. What’s important is that you remain vigilant and follow up on anything that seems suspicious. After all, only you can protect your child and your relationship with him or her.
Taking formal action
Since the onus is on you to take action to stop parental alienation, you’re probably going to have to prepare yourself to take the matter to court. This most likely will take the form of a request to modify an existing child custody order. To best position yourself for success on this motion, you’re going to need strong evidence. This can include witness and documentary evidence, but focusing on your child’s mental health can be key.
You might want to consider seeking a court order for normal therapy or reunification therapy, or perhaps even having a child custody evaluation conducted. That way you’re better able to portray to the judge how parental alienation is affecting your child.
We know that it’s hard to face parental alienation, especially given how your child is behaving towards you. But you can get through this and rebuild your relationship with your child. It’s going to take some time, effort, and legal knowhow, but you can find the support that you need to confidently navigate this difficult time in your and your child’s life.