Children need both parents involved in their lives. Parents who divorce and have an amicable co-parenting relationship can have a positive impact on their children. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
When one parent harbors anger at their former spouse and lets that anger show in front of the children, that anger can carry over and influence a child also to be angry at that parent. This can be harmful to the children and result in what is termed parental alienation.
What is Parental Alienation?
Parental alienation can have different definition depending on who is using the term. It can be when one parent disparages the other in front of the children. The disparaging parent tries to turn the children away from wanting to spend time with the other parent. This behavior can affect the children and drive a wedge between them and the other parent. Some call this emotional abuse while others call it justified; however, the sad result is that sometimes, it takes years to mend the parent-child relationship and in some cases, the relationships are never repaired.
How to Deal with Parental Alienation?
Repair with therapy. One way to deal with this is to arrange for reunification therapy for the family. This generally involves the parent from whom the child has been alienated going with that child to therapy. If started soon enough, it can be very helpful in mending a relationship.
In some cases, where the alienation has been going on for a long period of time, and the child is older and has already turned their back on the parent, therapy may not be enough.
Custody may become an issue. If the alienation goes on for an extended period of time, the parent who is the object of the alienation may go to court and seek a change in custody. This is a touchy issue. Older children may resent the change and run away or become aggressive.
Although attorneys see the result of parental alienation in their clients’ lives, they are not equipped to deal with the emotional issues that arise. It is wise to get a therapist involved who has experience in parental alienation, whether to assist the client through the situation or for reunification purposes.
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