woman holding child's hands

What Is Parental Alienation?

It is an unfortunate reality that divorces can get messy. They are personal and emotional. When children are involved, the impacts can run particularly deep. Sometimes, parents cannot separate the hurt they are feeling and it comes out in unproductive and even emotionally harmful ways. For instance, a parent may make it a mission to villainize the other parent and chip away at a child’s relationship with the other parent. The parent may try to justify and rationalize such behavior as much as possible, but it does not change the fact that such behavior can be indefinitely damaging to the child. As such, courts do not tolerate such behavior and will be swift to intervene when necessary.

What Is Parental Alienation?

When a parent takes actions that negatively influence or impact a child’s relationship or attitude toward the other parent, this is referred to as “parental alienation.” When the parent-child relationship is harmed due to the way a parent speaks about or acts towards the other parent, then this is parental alienation. It can have dire consequences and even cause irreparable harm to the relationship the child has with the other parent. In order to prevent permanent damage to the parent-child relationship, parents should be aware of what parental alienation is as well as some of the signs that parental alienation is occurring.

A parent can accomplish parental alienation through a variety of tactics and strategies. The goal is usually to get the child to be distanced from the other parent. Such tactics of parental alienation can include:

  • Consistently making disparaging comments to the child, or when the child is present, about the other parent
  • Limiting the child’s contact with the other parent
  • Banning discussions about the other parent
  • Forcing the child to choose one parent over the other

When two parents have separated or divorced, the children involved can be understandable upset or emotional about this major life change. It is normal for children at this time to have some pretty strong and complex feelings which may make it difficult to really identify some of the symptoms that can act as red flags that parental alienation is taking place. It is still important, however, to be on the lookout for such symptoms. Some of the symptoms of parental alienation may include:

  • The child displaying strong and constant hostility towards a parent he or she once shared a positive relationship with
  • The child constantly and unfairly criticizing a parent
  • The child failing to justify the feelings of animosity towards a parent when confronted about the behavior
  • The child being unable to see any redeeming qualities of a parent
  • The child being insistent that the animosity is his or her own and not something that came from the other parent

Family Law Attorney

Early recognition of parental alienation can be the key to preventing substantial and lasting effects on the child and on the parent-child relationship. The dedicated team at Cohen Family Law is here to help. Contact us today.