Dividing time with your children is typically one of the most painful adjustments to make after divorce. It can be especially upsetting if you feel like the other parent is manipulating your child to turn him or her against you.
This is called parental alienation, and it can have a devastating impact on parents and children alike. As such, it is crucial to know what to look for if you are concerned about parental alienation affecting your child.
Signs to watch for
There are numerous symptoms and signs of parental alienation. Perhaps the most common signs of alienation include:
- The alienating parent interferes with your parenting time by keeping a child longer than allowed, monopolizing a child’s time with phone calls or texts, or planning activities for the child when he or she should be with you.
- Your child knows intimate or inappropriate details of your marriage that you did not share and uses them against you.
- The alienating parent forbids your child from leaving things at your house.
- Your child uses the same language and criticisms against you that your ex uses.
- Your child withdraws from or distrusts you without reason.
- The other parent keeps information from you, including school records, medical events or other details of your child’s life to keep you in the dark.
- Your child suddenly or inexplicably refuses to spend time with you, making parenting time and custody exchanges especially stressful.
What can alienated parents do?
Because parental alienation can be heartbreaking for both the child and the alienated parent, it is crucial to act quickly if you suspect that your ex is attempting to manipulate and turn your child against you.
Keep records of custody violations or unusual behavior in your child. Retain messages and other exchanges with your child and the other parent. Talk to your attorney. This information can be the foundation you need to support requests for custody modifications and possibly contempt charges.
You might also consult a therapist familiar with parental alienation syndrome or child mental health professional to discuss your concerns. Not only can this allow you to understand what your child might be experiencing, but it could also make it easier to get your child the help he or she may need.