Parental alienation is defined as one parent attempting to alienate his or her child from the other. They either physically take the child away and deny the other from seeing the child, or influence the child into disliking or fearing the other until the child does not wish to have a relationship with them. Parental alienation turns into an issue of the preferred parent against the rebuffed parent. As a result, the children very much favor one parent over the other.
What Is Parental Alienation, Exactly?
Legally, children must have a good relationship with both parents. To accomplish that, each parent should have considerable quality time with the child. Regrettably, divorce is normally a nasty affair, and many parents permit their anger to overflow into their children’s lives. When a parent proceeds to separate a child and incites anger or fear in the child against the other parent, it is termed alienation.
The main weapons parents utilize to isolate their children against the other can include the following:
- Badmouthing. This consists of condemning and demeaning the other parent, or telling the child that the other parent is threatening, insane, or in some way undeserving of the child’s affection.
- Restricting the Child’s Contact. This consists of bringing the child to the other parent late, picking him or her up early, making excuses to detain the child during the other parent’s planned time, forbidding the child to get in touch with the other parent, or unreasonably phoning the child while he or she is with the other parent.
- Making the Child Snub the Other Parent. This consists of causing the child to experience shame for loving the other parent, producing conflict between the child and the other parent. The child may feel compelled to decide between his or her parents, and the alienating parent may speak with the child about unsuitable issues like information concerning the marriage or divorce.
- Damaging the Relationship of the Child with the Other Parent. This consists of interrogating the child for information about his or her stay with the other parent, or soliciting the child to snoop on the other parent. The alienating parent may also urge the child to refer to the other parent by his or her first name, or alter the name of the child to disregard the other parent.
- Challenging the Role of the Other Parent in the Child’s Life. This could consist of declining to give the other parent information concerning the child’s education, medical treatment, and activities, declining to inform the school, sports-team coaches, physicians, and others of the other parent’s contact details, or having a stepparent call him or herself “Mom” or “Dad” when handling the child’s public affairs. The alienating parent may fail to invite the other parent to significant activities like birthday parties, graduation, parent-teacher meetings, school plays or concerts, and so on.
What Are the Signs?
Children need and have a right to an intimate and adoring relationship with both parents. Those who have been compellingly separated from a parent—supposing that parent did not abuse them—have been discovered to be extremely susceptible to PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Children who are parental alienation victims show specific indicators of parental alienation, and the actual emotional and mental damage that has been imposed on them. This damage may include:
- Anger. Children who have been alienated from one parent may harbor anger against this parent. This can occur due to the tremendous anxiety the child is placed under when constantly subjected to one parent’s reproaches and allegations against the other. The child may develop inadequate skills for handling conflict and emotional agony, and can be easily angered.
- Lack of Confidence. Being made to think one parent is in some way bad or undeserving makes the child think that half of him or herself is also undeserving. This causes a severe lack of confidence, which can result in harmful actions.
- Inability to Control Impulses. The isolated child might lack the personal control needed to assess situations prior to deciding an action. This can make them strike out angrily or engage in spontaneously impetuous actions like fighting, throwing things, or deciding rashly.
- Separation Concern. Children who are trained by one parent to dislike, dread, or mistrust the other exhibit nervousness about leaving or being separated from the alienating parent. This anxiety is revealed not only when spending time with the other parent, but when the child tries to engage in other activities like slumber parties or summer camp.
- Fears. A few isolated children become afraid of things that remove them from the alienating parent, like attending school. They sometimes start concocting physical ailments to stay home—and keep the parent at home with them.
- Depression and Thoughts of Suicide. Parental alienation elevates the agony of the divorce for the children, resulting in depression and even suicide.
- Sleep Disorders. Children might find it hard to sleep, or even have nightmares, as they both fear the hazards the besieged parent presents to them and experience remorse over their part in the alienation.
- Eating Disorders. In their endeavors to get control over their lives and the actions of their parents, many isolated children develop eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, and obesity.
- School Problems. Isolated children are more inclined to have more difficulties in school, from an incapacity to focus to trouble remembering their lessons. They might also frequently get in trouble for disobeying.
- Abusing Drugs and Alcohol. Even at extremely young ages, isolated children are more likely to use drugs and alcohol, which frequently results in other criminal activities.
Parental Alienation Syndrome
When a parent always takes part in tactics or acts to alienate a child from the other parent, it is possible that this will seriously damage the child’s mind. Coerced by the isolating parent, most children submit and pick a side. This results in specific improper actions of a psychological matter called Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). These consist of the following:
1. Crusade of Defamation. When picking a side, the child becomes preoccupied with the flaws of the besieged parent and starts to hate that parent. This first step happens so fast that the besieged parent is frequently shocked by the shift assumed by his or her child. Disliking a parent who has abused the child is regarded as acceptable and rational, and thus is not an indicator of PAS.
2. Ridiculous, Feeble, or Idle Reasons for Defamation. The complaints that a child makes throughout his or her crusade of defamation are frequently baseless or insufficiently severe to make a child dislike a parent. For example, a child may claim that the parent does not permit him or her to consume spicy food or watch certain kinds of movies as his or her main reason for disliking the besieged parent.
3. Lack of Uncertainty. Typical child development involves some level of uncertainty about both parents. No parent is ideal, and children are disposed to dissatisfaction and antipathy for the restrictions they establish. A child experiencing PAS does not articulate uncertainty about the isolating parent. As an alternative, the child instinctively and unconsciously throws him or herself into favoring that parent, exhibiting no mixed emotions about rebuffing, or disliking, the besieged parent. A child experiencing PAS views one parent as completely good, and the other as completely bad.
4. Free Thinker and Decision-Maker. When interrogated about his or her excessive opinions of the besieged parent and the actions of the isolating parent, a child experiencing PAS frequently maintains that his or her emotions are totally his or her own. The isolating parent is prompt to defend the child’s right to decide whether he or she wishes to see his or her parent.
5. Remorseless. Children experiencing PAS usually maintain that the besieged parent is unworthy to see them. The child experiences remorseless about excluding the parent and articulates no appreciation for the things that the parent does for him or her, or the gifts bestowed. Most children experiencing PAS will try to influence the situation, obtaining whatever they can from the besieged parent, absolutely believing they can have such gifts because the besieged parent is such a horrible individual. PAS children are frequently egotistical, devious, and nasty.
6. Isolating Parent’s Total Support. PAS children are reluctant to have a neutral opinion of arguments between parents. Such children unconsciously support the isolating parent, declining to hear the besieged parent’s viewpoint.
7. Used Scenarios. When communicating with the besieged parent or court officials, PAS children frequently utter phrases and notions that come straight from the isolating parent’s discourse. The younger the child, the more probable his or her discourse includes words and notions that he or she cannot even comprehend. For example, a child may maintain that he or she dislikes his or her father because he is a philanderer, not knowing what a philanderer is.
8. Resentment Toward the Extended Family of the Besieged Parent. Sometimes, a child experiencing PAS can broaden his or her animosity of the besieged parent to the extended family of that parent. The child will likewise complain about these relatives, which might consist of grandparents, aunts, and uncles, and even decline to visit them. PAS children frequently come of age missing significant family occasions like weddings, funerals, birthdays, and anniversaries.
Proving Parental Alienation
Since parental alienation has enduring injurious effects on the child, it is assumed to be very serious by the family court system. A parent who aggressively isolates his or her children against the other parent is extremely probable to lose custody of those children, and might even be limited to supervised visitation.
A parent who is being sought out for alienation has both the right and obligation of notifying the court, although he or she will need to establish themselves as a victim of parental alienation. Taking specific steps will assist a parent in proving parental alienation. These consist of the following:
- Keep a Journal. Record any issues that happen when talking with the isolating parent, and things the children say that have clearly originated from the mouth of the other parent. Jot down dates and times of anomalies in visitation, like the other parent making plans that clash with visitation, failure to bring the children as planned, and other occurrences.
- Write Down the Actions of the Children. It is imperative to record atypical conduct and remarks made by the children, which can show the matter of alienation.
- Write Down Special Requests or Alterations Requested by the Isolating Parent. Isolating parents frequently request alterations to be made to visitation schedules, in addition to occasions with the children, then hold the besieged parent accountable.
- Heed the Warning Signs. Notice the indicators that a child is experiencing PAS. Record suspicious behaviors, as well as dates, times, and specific words or acts. Notice whether the child has secrets with the isolating parent. It is common for such parents to advise the child to keep something completely innocent, like going to a baseball game, secret to create a bond with the child.
- Keep Unrestricted Communications with the Child. It is imperative for both parents to keep unrestricted communication with their children, clarifying that both parents love them. This does not imply questioning the children about the other parent, but to engage in a discussion on various subjects.
- Follow and Implement Every Custody Order. While this consists of actual visitation dates and times, it also consists of revealing details about the children. For example, custody orders usually demand both parents to permit the other access to the child’s school records and activities, in addition to medical records and appointments. Refusing a parent access to such things is viewed as contradicting the child’s best interest.
When the evidence has been collected, the besieged parent can file a motion with the court to evaluate or alter child custody orders. In a few cases, the court might assign a guardian ad litem to stand for the best interest of the child, distinct from the parents’ representation.
Parental alienation is not a wise tactic for a parent to use when he or she wants to have complete custody of their children. It is only a means of punishing one parent at the expense of the child’s mental wellbeing. In other words, it is wrong for one parent to keep the other parent completely out of his or her child’s life. If this parent has a perfectly good reason, such as the child’s safety, then he or she can pursue sole custody in family court.