How to recognize parental alienation

Sharman L. Brooks

Maintaining healthy relationships with both parents is important for children who are coping with divorce. Both parents should encourage these connections, but this is unfortunately not always the case.

If your divorce has been acrimonious, you should be aware of the warning signs of parental alienation .

Your children know too much about your divorce

Your children do not need to know all the details of your marriage and divorce, but your ex might share these details to influence your children’s feelings toward you. Although oversharing is inappropriate, it does not always indicate parental alienation. However, if your ex is only sharing the details that reflect badly on you, this may be cause for concern.

Your children resent you for no reason

It is normal for children to feel angry or to act out while adjusting to their parents’ divorce. However, constant anger and resentment with no apparent justification might be a sign of parental alienation. In an extreme case, your ex-spouse might lie or make false accusations to turn your children against you.

If you question your children about their behavior, they might emphatically deny the other parent’s involvement. Unquestioning devotion and defensiveness toward the alienating parent are common in parental alienation.

Your children refuse to spend time with you

Your ex may try to gain your children’s trust and admiration by giving them inappropriate choices, such as whether or not to follow your court-ordered custody and visitation schedule. This pressures your children into choosing sides and can create conflict between you and your children when you insist on following the schedule.

Parental alienation can cause lasting harm to you and your children. Knowing the warning signs can help you recognize this behavior before it does irreparable damage to the parent-child relationship.

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