How to Recognize Parental Alienation

Child custody agreements usually stipulate that neither parent may disparage the other in front of the child. Since children are extremely impressionable, it isn’t difficult to influence them into hating and fearing the other parent. This is known as parental alienation, and it has the potential to permanently destroy the parent-child relationship. It’s difficult to reverse parental alienation, which is why divorced parents need to quickly recognize the signs that the process is happening. If you suspect your child’s other parent is trying to turn your child against you, talk to a family attorney right away to find out about your legal options.

Changes in Behavior

Alienated parents will likely notice that their children are behaving differently toward them. These changes can occur abruptly or gradually over time. A child may become belligerent toward the alienated parent. Some kids will display uneasiness, especially if the alienating parent is teaching them that the other parent is dangerous, evil, or unstable. It’s possible for the alienating parent to convince the kids that the victimized parent was abusive, even if this never happened.

Lack of Ambivalence

Few things in life are truly black and white, with no middle ground. If a child isn’t being influenced by an alienating parent, he or she will generally say both positive and negative things about each parent. During psychological interviews, however, it may be found that a child being influenced by an alienating parent will have only negative, harmful things to say about the alienated parent. The child may give ridiculous reasons for not wanting to see the alienated parent, such as, “Dad never has string cheese in the fridge.” One indicator of parental alienation is that the child will complain of things that only an adult would care about. The child may say, “Dad’s living room is always messy,” or “He never makes sure I brush my teeth correctly.”

Consistency of Narratives

As part of a custody evaluation, the child and parents may meet separately with a mental health provider. If parental alienation is occurring, the child and the alienating parent may both share the same story about what the other parent did wrong. The consistency of this narrative from the child and parent raise red flags about parental alienation and the possibility that the child has been coached on what to say.

The father’s rights lawyers at Singer & Associates are committed to helping our clients maintain strong relationships with their children. We provide vigorous legal representation, both in and out of court, to protect the rights of fathers. Call our law office in Sacramento, CA at (916) 922-5985.

The information presented in this article should not be construed to be formal legal advice by Singer & Associate Law Office, or the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Because of the changing nature of this area of the law and the importance of individual facts, readers are encouraged to seek independent counsel for advice regarding their individual legal issues.

Categories: Tips for Fathers


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