Signs Of Parental Alienation: How to Spot Them and Take Action

Signs Of Parental Alienation: How to Spot Them and Take Action

Divorce is a rollercoaster ride of emotions, and for children caught in the middle, it can be especially confusing. In fact, it happens more often than you think. Statistics show that about 50% of children in America have witnessed their parents’ divorce or separation. And if there’s one thing even worse than separating from your spouse, it’s when your soon-to-be ex starts turning the children against you.

It’s called parental alienation; it’s a form of psychological abuse that can scar kids for life. This happens when one parent manipulates the child into rejecting the other parent, and it can have lasting consequences on a child’s mental health. Imagine having your own child suddenly despise you for no good reason. It’s a nightmare countless parents face.  

In this post, we’ll break down the red flags to watch out for in both the alienating parent and your child’s behavior and offer steps you can take to protect your connection with your kids. 

What are some of the common signs of parental alienation? 

Look out for these warning signs to recognize parental alienation

Changes in your child’s behavior and affection 

Among the most heartbreaking signs of parental alienation is when your child’s behavior or affection towards you suddenly changes negatively. Maybe they used to adore spending time with you, but now they refuse to even look at you. Or perhaps they’ve started calling you names or blaming you for everything wrong in their life. This change in behavior can be a clear indication that someone has been poisoning their mind against you.  

Remember that children, particularly young ones, are highly susceptible to influence, and an alienating parent may be exploiting this vulnerability to turn them against you. What’s more, studies show that this kind of manipulation brought by parental alienation can cause alienated children to develop mental issues in the future, such as trauma reactions and anxiety disorders. So, if there’s anyone more affected by this, it’ll be your children.  

So, a way to make this divorce easy for your child and enforce healthy relationships is to trust your instincts about the potential signs of alienation and investigate further.   

Unfounded or exaggerated allegations from your kids 

When a child makes unfounded or exaggerated allegations against a parent, it can be a devastating experience. These claims can range from false accusations of abuse or neglect to exaggerated stories of mistreatment or unfair discipline.  

In some cases, the alienating parent may have coached the child to make these allegations. Or, the child may have internalized the negative messages they’ve been fed and genuinely believe them to be true. Either way, it’s essential to take these allegations seriously while also recognizing the possibility of manipulation or distortion. 

Signs Of Parental Alienation: How to Spot Them and Take Action

Interference with communication and visitation 

Parental alienation can also manifest when the other parent tries to control or manipulate communication and visitation. Suddenly, phone calls or messages go unanswered, visitation schedules are constantly changed or canceled, or your child is coached to be unresponsive or hostile toward you. It’s essential to recognize that this interference is often a tactic to further the alienation and reinforce the negative narrative about the target parent. 

As much as possible, don’t give up! Keep trying to communicate and schedule parenting time with your child, even if it feels like a brick wall. Document any attempts to reach out or schedule visits, as this can be important evidence if you need to seek legal action. 

Limiting or denying access to information 

Have you noticed how you’re slowly losing access to your child’s information? Perhaps your child is starting to withhold their school report cards, medical records, or social media posts from you. Or maybe, they’re hesitant to even share or talk about their daily schedule or routine with you. This tactic is often used by the other custodial parent (or sometimes even by extended family members) to make you feel powerless and disconnected from your child’s life. It’s like being kept in the dark, and it can be incredibly frustrating and hurtful. 

As a parent, you have a right to access information about your child’s well-being, education, and health. If you’re being stonewalled or denied access, speak up and assert your rights, even if you’re both past the divorce process. Be aware that about 20% to 25% of divorced parents still engage in alienating behaviors for as long as 6 years post-divorce, so you must be alert in spotting the signs.

What actions to take if you spot these signs? 

Once you recognize these signs, it’s essential to act promptly. Here are some steps you can take: 

Document incidents and behaviors 

Communicate with your child in a loving and supportive manner 

Encourage open and honest communication 

Seek professional help, such as therapy or counseling 

Remember, addressing parental alienation requires sensitivity, patience, and persistence. Successfully recognizing the signs and taking action can help mitigate the effects and work towards a healthier, more loving relationship with your child. 

The Bottomline 

In the end, overcoming severe parental alienation requires courage, love, and determination. By acknowledging the signs, seeking help, and taking action, you can begin to heal, be a healthy parent, and rebuild your relationship with your child. More importantly, don’t forget to take care of yourself along the way. It’s a tough journey, but with patience and persistence, you can create a loving and healthy bond with your child once again. 

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