Divorce is stressful for both spouses, but when children are involved, the process can be especially challenging. Parents with kids should shield them from the conflict of a divorce and give them the freedom to interact with both parties. Unfortunately, the messiness of a divorce sometimes leaks into children’s lives, and an unthoughtful parent can take advantage of that. An individual may even purposefully cultivate a divide between the child and the other parent.
Dr. Richard Warshak, a psychologist and respected authority on this subject, defines alienation precisely: “Some children… do not crave more time with an absent parent. Instead, these children reject one parent, resist contact, or show extreme reluctance to be with the parent. These children are alienated. In some cases, children have good reasons to reject a deficient parent. In other cases, children reject a parent with whom they previously had a good relationship, often paralleling their other parent's negative attitudes. The children's treatment of the rejected parent is disproportionate to that parent's behavior and inconsistent with the prior history of the parent-child relationship.”
Causes of Parental Alienation
When one parent influences a child to come to his or her side during a separation, it can cause that child to become alienated from the other parent. Since children are vulnerable during a divorce, it can be easy to convince them to support one spouse over another.
Unwinding the damage can take months or years or even lead to permanent estrangement between the child and the targeted parent. Alienation is horrific for the victimized parent and the child alike; it essentially robs the child of a loving parent.
Complexities of Parental Alienation Cases
Parents who brainwash their children should seek counseling, but they often don’t realize that they need help, and they don’t understand the nature and extent of the damage they cause. Some psychologists consider this behavior abusive. Alienating parents can also attempt to manipulate the court system by doing things like falsely accusing targeted parents of abuse or neglect. A therapist who understands parental alienation as a syndrome can validate a child’s experience without confirming the negative view of the targeted parent.
How Our Legal Professionals Can Help
Families going through this kind of trauma often need competent child custody attorneys and therapists to heal the family conflicts and prevent problems from reemerging once they’ve been resolved. Unfortunately, debate over how or why alienation occurs, or whether it even exists in the first place, can get surprisingly heated and political. Many cases come down to divisive “he said, she said” arguments that lead to nasty accusations and counteraccusations.
Our experienced legal team can help you navigate a strategic course of action, whether you stand falsely accused of abuse or neglect, or you believe the other parent is alienating your child against you. Call or email us today for a confidential consultation.