Few relationships are more significant than that between parent and child. After all, you have an opportunity to instill good moral character in the young one in your life. If you are sharing parental duties with an unscrupulous co-parent, though, you may become the victim of parental alienation.
Parental alienation occurs when one parent tries to turn a child against the other parent. While it can take many forms, parental alienation often involves mental and emotional manipulation. Eventually, the child prefers one parent over the other. The child may even develop deep-seated hatred or resentment toward the rejected parent.
Identifying parental alienation
Like with other types of manipulation, parental alienation may range from minor to severe. If your ex-spouse engages in this type of conduct, he or she may make disparaging remarks, ask a child to act as a spy, allege unfounded abuse or take other steps to paint you in a negative light. Either immediately or over time, parental alienation may take a tremendous toll on your relationship with your child.
Fighting parental alienation
Allegations of parental alienation are becoming more common in family courts in the commonwealth. If your son or daughter begins to reject you, you must respond quickly. In minor instances of alienation, you may be able to resolve the issue by talking with your former partner. If manipulation is extreme or ongoing, you may need to pursue a mental health evaluation. You may also decide to seek legal intervention.
Modifying a custody agreement
You and your child’s co-parent probably have a custody agreement that outlines obligations, rights and responsibilities. Parental alienation likely runs counter to the agreement. As such, you may need to document inappropriate behavior and ultimately ask a judge to modify the custody order.
Parenting in a post-divorce family can be challenging. You should not, however, have to put up with parental alienation. If you suspect your former spouse is trying to turn your child against you, you must take immediate steps to protect your parent-child relationship.