3 things to avoid when dealing with parentally alienated children

On Behalf of | Feb 22, 2024 | Family Law

Divorce has a lot of potential for conflict, especially if the split is not amicable. Minor children can get caught in the crossfire.

One way some parents retaliate against their former or soon-to-be former spouses is parental alienation. This is when one parent turns the children against the other through emotional and mental manipulation, using tactics such as lying, leveling false accusations, irrationally assigning blame and just generally badmouthing the targeted parent. Such behavior can have serious negative implications for children and their parent-child relationships. As alienated parents deal with their children, but they still need to avoid certain behaviors.

1. Talking negatively

Speaking negatively about the alienating parent in an attempt to counteract the alienation can be a tempting idea. However, this can be counterproductive and may further alienate the children, as well as further damage their relationship with that parent. Engaging in negative talk, true or not, is also equivalent to sinking to the other parent’s level and entering into a game that has no winners.

2. Reacting emotionally

It is natural to feel hurt and frustrated when dealing with parental alienation, especially in situations where children refuse to see the alienated parent or act hostile or disrespectful to him or her. However, it is important to remember that the children do not have fully developed brains and are under the influence of manipulation by a trusted adult and avoid reacting emotionally. Parents need to remain calm and composed when interacting with alienated children and the alienating parent and show love, patience and support.

3. Giving up

Dealing with parental alienation can be an exhausting and disheartening endeavor. Alienated children may blame the targeted parent for everything without reason, display hostility, revulsion and even hatred and be cruel. They may try to refuse to follow the visitation schedule. However, it is important not to give up on them, because children need to know their parents will always love them unconditionally.

Parents who see indicators of parental alienation need to investigate. Alienation can cause mental and emotional harm and create a hostile environment, and the court may need to step in.