What is parental alienation? Parental alienation is when a parent uses psychological manipulation of a child to damage his or her view of the other parent, often by speaking negatively about the other parent, keeping the child from seeing the other parent, and/or continually questioning the child about the personal life of the other parent. Because of these behaviors, the child often allies him or herself with one parent and rejects a relationship with the other parent without legitimate justification. While not always, parental alienation occurs in high conflict divorces when a parent cannot separate conflict in the marriage from the well-being of the child.
For some divorcing or separating couples, parental alienation is a concern. In an article for DivorceMagazine.com, Russell J. Frank, Esq. discusses how to recognize parental alienation. Behaviors such as listening in on a child’s phone conversation with the other parent, excluding or withholding information about the child from the other parent, using the child as a spy, and refusing to grant reasonable requests to a change in the custody schedule, may lead to parental alienation. These behaviors create a moral dilemma for the child as they struggle to remain loyal to both parents.
Sharing inappropriate or misleading information with the child about the divorce and/or the other parent is another red flag. Allowing the child to determine whether or not they see the other parent, despite having a timesharing schedule also leads to alienation. These behaviors can be emotionally and psychologically damaging to the child. If allowed to continue, the child may become physically, emotionally, and psychologically, separated from the other parent.
If you suspect that your spouse is alienating the children, it is important to seek professional advice from a licensed therapist and/or a family law attorney such as Hess Family Law to discuss your specific case and concerns.