Let’s say you’re a warm, loving parent who wants nothing but the best for your children. They are your entire world and you can’t imagine life without them. Unfortunately, things between you and your spouse didn’t work out and you both decided it’s best to go your separate ways. Upon separation, things suddenly took a turn for the worse.
Bitter and angry towards you for whatever reason, your husband or wife decided to drag your kids into it. Out of spite, they decided to launch a full-blown campaign against you. They started saying hurtful, negative things about you to your children all with the intention of consciously turning your children against you. This is “parental alienation” at its finest and not only does it hurt you, but it really hurts your kids.
“Parental alienation syndrome, a term coined in the id 1980's by child psychiatrist Dr. Richard A. Gardner, occurs when one parent attempts to turn the couple's children against the other parent. A parent who is angry at the spouse or ex-spouse accomplishes this estrangement by painting a negative picture of the other parent via deprecating comments, blame and false accusations shared with the children. They may also hoard the kids, doing all they can to thwart the other parent's parenting time,” Susan Heitler Ph.D. writes in Psychology Today.
In Miss Heitler’s clinical practice, she said the mother is usually the alienating parent, turning the children against their father. However, she’s also had multiple families where the father was the toxic parent who poisoned the children against their mom. Interestingly, Miss Heitler pointed out how the alienating was the “least emotionally healthy” and in many cases, he or she was wealthier and could afford the legal challenges.
In general, children can be manipulated by one parent to the point where they reject the other parent who is a loving parent and has done nothing to deserve the rejection.
What You Can Do About Parental Alienation
If you are suffering from parental alienation, your situation is not hopeless. There are two things that you can do: 1) make sure that you are not alienating your children against their other parent, and 2) ask for the court’s help with child custody issues.
Often, the product of parental alienation is the custodial parent will convince the children that they no longer want to see the non-custodial parent. If this has happened to you, or if you foresee it happening in the near future, contact our family law attorneys for help enforcing your court-ordered parenting time.
The solution is to not let your former spouse let you be forgotten. You cannot necessarily control what your former spouse says, but you can control what you do. This means be the best parent you can be. Be active in your children’s lives. Be involved. Don’t badmouth your former spouse to your children, and don’t let the kids slip away. You have a right to your parenting time – don’t let the other parent deprive you of your parental rights.