Whether intentionally or unintentionally, it’s possible that your child could be influenced to dislike or hate one of their parents after a divorce. Sometimes, one parent is just upset about the divorce and says things they shouldn’t to their child without thinking of the consequences. Other times, a parent intentionally tries to make the other seem “bad” or “evil,” so that their child will rally against them.
Children in this position may be victims of parental alienation. If you share custody of your child with your ex and have noticed that they are starting to be disrespectful to you or are stating that the other parent told them to be rude or not to listen to you, it’s time to look into how you can help them get through this and how you can put a stop to the other parent’s behavior.
Understanding parental alienation syndrome
Parental alienation syndrome happens when a child is turned against a target parent. When this is done intentionally, the child is manipulated into believing that the other parent is dangerous, harmful or hurtful. They may be told that the other parent doesn’t love them or be bribed to act out against them to get gifts or special treatment from the alienating parent.
At the core, alienation occurs because one parent is angry or frustrated about the divorce. They may want to hurt the victim parent, and they may try to “hoard” their children to make this happen.
What should you do if your child shows signs of alienation?
To start with, remember that some amount of adjustment will need to take place even if alienation isn’t happening. For example, your child may lash out, but it might have nothing to do with the other parent. However, if you notice that the other parent is complaining about you, using your child as a messenger or intentionally trying to undermine you, then you may want to look into your options for handling this situation before it gets out of hand.
Child custody modifications, children’s and family therapy and other options may be beneficial to parents and children struggling with this situation.