As a parent who has to spend time away from your child, you may fear that he or she will change his or her attitude toward you. In many cases, those fears are unfounded. However, there are times when children do seem to change and act out against one parent. Sometimes, this is due to parental alienation.
Parental alienation is a very serious problem and one to address as soon as you recognize signs of it. Parental alienation occurs when a child's mind is manipulated, making him or her adjust the way he or she thinks about the other parent. For instance, the child's mother or father may encourage others to speak poorly about the other parent, making the child also react negatively toward the other parent. The child may not understand that the negativity is a way of manipulating him or her, but it still has that effect.
How does alienation begin?
The first thing people notice is that a child's behavior begins to change. The child may hear many derogatory statements about the other parent or be told that he or she is dangerous. This can be subtle or obvious, but the impact is the same.
Alienation can continue if the custodial parent (or parent with the child at the time) begins to make excuses to prevent the child from seeing the other parent. For instance, he or she may state that the child is ill to keep him or her longer than the custody arrangement allows. This further separates the child from the parent and severs the relationship bit by bit.
Alienation can get so bad that children reject their parents. If you fear this is happening in your situation, you can reach out for help. Our site has more on divorce and what to expect with custody arrangements.