When relationships break down between partners and spouses, sometimes children in the family are unwittingly used to inflict emotional pain.
Encouraging a child to turn against a parent can have severe consequences, not just for the person being alienated but also for the child(ren) and extended family.
But what can be done about parental alienation?
In this blog, we’ll take a look at five key steps you can take to help deal with the situation.
What is Parental Alienation?
Parental alienation is a form of emotional abuse that occurs when one parent tries to undermine or damage the relationship between the other parent and their child.
This can involve speaking negatively about the other parent, limiting contact or access to the child, or manipulating the child's thoughts and feelings towards the other parent.
The goal is to turn the child against the other parent, making it difficult or impossible for them to have a healthy relationship. This behaviour can have harmful long-term effects on the child's emotional well-being and their ability to form healthy relationships in the future.
We discuss more about the definition of parental alienation and the impact it can have on children and parents alike in our other blog, What is Parental Alienation?
How To Deal With Parental Alienation: 5 Key Steps
Here are some tips which will hopefully help.
1. Get early legal advice:
If the alienating parent is trying to limit the time you spend with your child, act immediately.
The less time you spend with your child, the more your relationship will deteriorate. If the other parent will not agree to maintain or increase the time you spend with your child, you need to seek legal advice right away.
If necessary, you may need to seek a Child Arrangement Order from the Family Court specifying what contact you should have with your child.
This order can have compliance clauses attached to it such as the threat of a fine or even a prison sentence in the event that the other parent does not make the child available for contact. Court proceedings may however take some time so it is important not to delay in the hope that things might get better on their own.
2. Rise above it:
If you realise that the other parent is saying horrible things about you, it is easy to do the same.
It is really important, despite what the child may have heard about you not to react and say something nasty about the other parent in retaliation. Dealing with separating parents is hard enough for children without them having to listen to two people they love undermine one another.
Hearing further negative things from one parent about another is only going to cause them further confusion and upset.
3. Don’t blame your child:
It will be infuriating when your child parrots nasty comments the other parent has made and says they don’t want to see you whilst they seem to be devoted to the alienator.
Remember, they are a child and you are the adult in this situation. Take a big breath and remind yourself that the child is being brainwashed. Being annoyed with your child will only reinforce the alienation.
4. Be there regardless:
No matter how many appointments are cancelled or calls not made, make yourself available.
Don’t be late and don’t cancel previously agreed contact. That will only entrench what the child has been told about you.
Buy gifts and birthday cards even if you won’t see your child on special occasions. When you do see them again, you will be able to show them how you have been thinking about them the whole time you have been separated.
5. Get help:
Being alienated from your child is a traumatic and difficult experience.
You need to get help, whether it be from a trained counsellor, family members or through support groups. You are not alone in this experience. Unfortunately, many individuals find themselves being alienated through no fault of their own. Support from others is crucial to help you get through this experience.
How To Deal With Parental Alienation: Summary
In conclusion, parental alienation is a serious issue that can have long-lasting negative effects on both the parent and the child.
It is essential to recognise the signs of parental alienation and take immediate action to address the situation.
This blog post has provided some practical tips on how to deal with parental alienation, such as seeking professional help, keeping a detailed record of all communication and interactions, and prioritising the child's well-being.
If you are a victim of parental alienation, it is essential to know that you are not alone and that there are resources available to help you navigate this challenging situation. By taking proactive steps and seeking support, you can overcome parental alienation and rebuild a healthy relationship with your child.
Should you be affected by the issues in this article, you can contact us using the links below.
This page was first published in June 2019.