Parental Alienation: What is it and How Does it Affect Children of Divorce?
Many couples seeking divorce are dealing with severe emotional strain, arguing, and sometimes a barrage of emotional, mental, and physical abuse. Understandably, a spouse can be so frustrated with their ex that they speak negatively and disparage the ex in front of the child. They may even encourage the child to make negative comments about their other parent or foster an environment in which discussing the other parent or even acknowledging their existence is forbidden. This scenario is not uncommon. It is called parental alienation, and it sets a dangerous precedent.
When you are divorcing a spouse and you have children together, that spouse will never stop being that child’s father or mother, and your child is made up of half of you and half of the other parent. Making disparaging comments about the child’s mom or dad can cause a child to internalize the comments themselves. Try to approach divorce amicably and with an attitude of civility. If you believe your child is experiencing parental alienation or you need help navigating a contentious divorce process, contact the attorneys at Eveland & Foster, LLC.
How Parental Alienation Affects Minors and Adult Children
Disparaging comments about a child’s parents can be internalized by the child. The child may feel caught in the middle. Often minor children blame themselves for their parents’ separation even though they are not at fault at all. If you have a split physical custody arrangement, you and your ex are expected to communicate and cooperate for the benefit of the child, their safety, and their happiness. Children are not meant to act as a referee, a therapist or social worker. Even adult children of divorce should not be saddled with negative comments and feedback regarding one parent from the other parent. Young children need space to grow and explore, and they need to know that both parents love them and want to work together to provide a loving environment. If your child comes to you with comments that the other parent has made about you, or they seem depressed or withdrawn, you should take notice and take action.
Keep the lines of communication open. Encourage your child to speak freely about what is on their mind, even if it is negative or about the other parent. It is possible your ex is trying to manipulate your child or weaponize them to your detriment. This is abuse. Do not speak negatively about your ex-spouse in front of your child and do not tolerate the behavior from them either. Journal your thoughts, seek family counseling or offer to meet with your ex in a public place for a frank discussion.
Even if you or your ex still harbor feelings of angst against each other, understand that your child still loves both parents. Your child’s needs are paramount. If you know your child is exposed to negative feedback from the other parent or is being forced to choose sides, keep a log of this activity and contact our attorneys. Sometimes a simple phone call can help, but other times you might need assistance from a third party to get the message across. Do not tolerate an environment for your child that is not safe and encouraging.
Contact Eveland & Foster for Help
If you or a loved one need the services of a seasoned family law attorney, please do not hesitate to reach out to Eveland & Foster, LLC for help. We only practice family law and we can assist no matter where you are in the divorce process. Even if your divorce is finalized and you are seeking a modification, or if you believe your child is being abused by your ex-spouse, you do not have to suffer alone. Contact us today for a consultation.