Are You Guilty of Parental Alienation?
Some parents work over-time at alienating their children from the other parent. Some are guilty of parental alienation and don’t realize what they are doing. Whether or not you are deliberately alienating your child from the other parent the result will be the same. Your child will be damaged emotionally.
A divorcing parents first concern should be the welfare of the children. Children need two parents who are 100% invested in making sure that child’s needs are met. You may not like your ex but you should never allow that to get in the way of taking care of your child.
Below is a list of behaviors parents do that purposefully or unwittingly alienate a child from his/her other parent:
1. Sharing information about the divorce. I NEVER talked to my children about the specifics of any legal divorce issues I had with their father. I was dumbfounded a few months back when in court with my ex over custody of our youngest. I looked over at my youngest and his father and the child had his father’s files, files pertaining to legal issues and was reading them.
I think I’m safe in assuming that those files were full of negative information about me. What purpose other than trying to shed a negative light on me could my ex have for showing the files to my son?
2. Withholding contact information. Parents have a right to know how to contact their child. Withholding email addresses or phone numbers is a clear attempt to interfere with a parent’s right to communicate with his/her child. If your child doesn’t want to talk to the other parent fine. The other parent still has a right to leave messages and write emails. They have the right to let that child know, that they are loved.
3. Allowing your child to decide whether or not to visit the other parent. This is another one that played a role in my divorce. I’m the guilty party. My ex angered my children. He did some very hurtful things and they had a right to be angry. My children were in therapy, the therapist told me to not force them to visit their father.
I was torn. Part of me knew that they needed their father, part of me was afraid of damaging them by forcing them to spend time with someone who had hurt them. I called my ex MIL and she said, “don’t make them see him until he behaves like a father.”
Guess what, the therapist was wrong, my ex MIL was wrong and I was wrong for not forcing them to visit and build a relationship with their father. I’ve recently realized that I allowed my children to make a choice based on emotion not logic.
I was the parent; it was my place to be the logical one. Instead, I let emotion win out and unwittingly did my children and their father harm. If your child is angry and refusing to visit the other parent do everything you can to promote visitation. Don’t give your child power and control over a situation they are viewing through eyes that are clouded by eomtional pain.
4. Saying negative things about the other parent. If you’ve got a beef with your ex, keep it to yourself. Don’t say negative things to your child or to anyone in front of your child. Something as insignificant as, “your father never shows up on time,” sends a negative message to your child about the other parent. Keep such thoughts out of reach of tiny ears!
Whether you are purposefully or unwittingly exposing your child to parental alienation it is time to stop and think about what it means to your child. Parenting after divorce means being hyper aware of the consequences of your words and actions have on your children.