One of the most difficult decisions to make during a divorce is who gets custody of any children involved. Under ideal circumstances, couples share physical and legal custody for a united parenting front.
In other cases, one parent has custody while the other receives visitation. If the custodial parent attempts to withhold visits or skew the child’s perception against you, your relationship will suffer greatly. This is parental alienation, according to Healthline, and you must take the proper steps to stop it from having a lasting effect.
Understanding parental alienation
Parental alienation occurs when one parent unfairly influences their child against the other. The parent may say the other does not love the child anymore or does not wish to have a relationship with them. The parent may lie or exaggerate about issues that led to the divorce. These actions range from subtle to severe, but all can have an impact on a child-parent relationship
Signs to look for
Children usually lack sophisticated language about their feelings regarding divorce. With parental alienation, the child might use words or phrases to describe their dislike of their parent that are above and beyond their normal range. This indicates they are being influenced or coerced by an adult in their life.
These criticisms are not usually backed up by concrete evidence, such as a slight the child experienced. They also lack nuance, meaning the child is not conflicted in their feelings at all. This is very odd during a divorce, as most kids prefer to maintain a bond with parents even when treated poorly.
What you can do to protect your child
Children often require therapy and counseling to undo the harm caused by the alienating parent. A counselor can help the child understand their own thoughts and feelings, without outside influence getting in the way.
If your ex-spouse is actively withholding visits from your child, bring the issue to the attention of the court that handled your divorce. The parenting agreement in place should stipulate visitation times and frequency, and the court will intercede when violations occur.