The kids weren’t at fault – they shouldn’t be involved in the dispute

Sharman L. Brooks

Divorcing couples often struggle to figure out how to adjust after they part ways. Those who share children face increasingly difficult decisions.

Successful co-parents eventually establish a routine that allows them to live in relative harmony – not only with each other, but also with their children. However, not every family handles their changed dynamic as well.

Sometimes, one parent’s actions destroy the relationship between their children and their former spouse. Unfortunately, that behavior is neither right nor heal

Parents should think long and hard about what they say around their kids

When children accept the negative viewpoints of one of their parents, they may become withdrawn. Likewise, a sudden, unnatural preference for one parent over the other could indicate parental alienation. Yet, it’s unlikely that one parent bears sole responsibility for the family’s demise.

Although it’s natural to harbor anger and resentment at the end of a marriage, turning kids against their mom or dad is unconscionable. As a recognized psychiatric disorder, some courts may consider parental alienation a form of abuse.

For a former partner, this kind of manipulation is devastating. Meanwhile, as children grow up, they may:

  • Experience feelings of depression
  • Be at an increased risk of drug or alcohol abuse
  • Develop trust issues that interfere with developing interpersonal relationships

Should parental alienation factor into divorce, going to court may offer a viable solution. Though, by the time anyone gets to that point, unnecessary damage has likely taken root.

Consider the kids’ perspective

No matter how amicable a divorce is, most children already question whether, or how, they contributed. The age-old concern that they’re no longer loved need not be amplified by the loss of contact, though seemingly by choice, of their non-custodial parent.

Protecting kids’ best interests is intrinsic to child-rearing. If one parent displays a lack of understanding about what this entails, it may be necessary to seek help to develop strategies both for accepting change and facilitating the best possible future for everyone involved.

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