Decatur Family Law and Probate Attorney

How parental alienation can damage your child

| Mar 15, 2021 | Divorce

People can use some nasty tactics when it comes to child custody disputes. Far too often parents throw mud at each other in hopes of damaging each other’s character, and they sometimes blow things out of proportion. But perhaps the most damaging things that can happen in these matters is one parent pits the child against his or her other parent. Sometimes this manipulation can be severe.

What is parental alienation?

Parental alienation is the process whereby a parent programs or brainwashes a child so that he or she becomes distanced from his or her other parent. In its simplest forms, parental alienation occurs when a parent tells a child false things about the other parent that paint that other parent in a bad light. For example, a mother may consistently tell her children that their father doesn’t want to see them when, in fact, he does.

These false statements can be severe, too. In some instances, parents program their children to believe that they have been physically or even sexually abused by their other parent when no such abuse has occurred. This falsely held belief on behalf of the child can have tremendous ramifications for his or her relationship with the other parent, as well as his or her own physical, emotional, and psychological wellbeing.

Symptoms of alienation

Signs of alienation can appear in a variety of ways. A child might unfairly criticize a parent without evidence or examples to justify it, and he or she may present unquestionable support for the parent who is performing the alienation. A hallmark sign of alienation is the use of language that is beyond the child’s age or making statements that simply sound like they’re coming from someone else.

How alienation occurs

You might be surprised by some ways that alienation can occur, too. For example, an alienating parent might disclose intimate details such as an affair. These disclosures can leave the child feeling distanced from the parent. Additionally, an alienating parent may keep the child from having contact with the other parent. This often occurs by indicating that the other parent is too busy to talk or see the child. This can leave the child feeling unwanted by the other parent and build resentment.

Another common tactic used to alienate children is to plan appealing activities during times when the child is scheduled to be with the other parent. When this happens, the child may build resentment toward the alienated parent because they blame him or her for missing out on fun activities.

These are just a few of the ways that alienation can occur. There are many other strategies that a parent can use to program a child and distance him or her from the other parent. That’s why you need to be observant, ask questions, and take notes.

Be strong in your child custody dispute

Parental alienation can have a tremendous impact on your family, and it may just be one of the many issues that you face in your dispute. That’s why it’s critical that you know how to build the strongest child custody case under the circumstances and be prepared to rebut the other side’s claims. This might involve taking depositions, speaking with mental health experts, and using the law to support your position.

It can be a long and grueling process, but your child deserves every ounce of fight you have. Fortunately, you don’t have to enter the arena by yourself. Skilled and aggressive legal teams like the one at our firm can guide you through every step of your cases, competently advocating for you and your child’s best interests along the way.