How to Overcome Parental Alienation
Divorce can be difficult for everyone involved, including the spouses and the children. It can put stress on all relationships, including between parents and their children. Parents can start to feel alienated from their children, especially if they no longer have physical custody and are restricted to visitation or more limited physical custody such as every other weekend. The problems can be amplified if the custodial parent works to undermine their child’s relationship with the other parent. How can you work to reconnect with your children and preserve your relationship? We offer some tips based on what we have seen in our practice representing divorced and divorcing parents. Talk to a compassionate and understanding New Jersey custody and parental rights lawyer.
Keep Up Regular Contact
One of the strongest yet simplest ways to prevent or mitigate the effects of parental alienation is to ensure that you have a regular, direct line of communication with your kid. Send them daily text messages, share social media posts, call them regularly. Even something as simple as a “good morning” text at the start of the day and a text at the end of the day can ensure that your child has a concrete, regular relationship with you. The longer they go without speaking to you or hearing from you, the more likely you are to become an abstraction, and the easier it will be for them to believe any falsehoods your co-parent may be feeding them.
Encourage Your Kids to Talk to You Directly
Especially if you catch wind that your co-parent is badmouthing you to your children, it helps to regularly remind your children to come to you directly if they have any issues or if they hear anything about you that they find upsetting. Keep an open dialogue and ensure them that you will not be angry with them. It furthers alienation if they go through your ex or another third-party to talk to you or address any concerns.
Manage Your Emotions
It is easy to get angry, scared, or defensive during and after a divorce. If you hear your child repeating untoward things about you that they hear from their other parent, or if you have simply been arguing with the other parent about some issue, it can be easy to let those negative emotions escape while you are with your kids. Do your best to manage those emotions. If your child sees you getting mad, upset, or defensive, they might be more reluctant to spend time with you, and even worse, they could start to believe any badmouthing they hear from their other parent. If you find yourself struggling to keep your emotions in check, get external help: exercise, talk to a family member or friend, get counseling, or do whatever else is necessary to ensure that you have a venue to get out your excess frustration.
Schedule Regular Events
Even if you do not have regular physical custody, you can still schedule events to ensure that you see your kids face-to-face. Go to their sporting events and other extracurricular activities. Schedule a weekly dinner, movie night, or other regular event. If you don’t have a parent-child tradition yet, now is the time to start.
Keep Witnesses and Evidence
If intentional, targeted alienation by your ex gets to the point that it severely impacts your relationship with your child, you might need to go to court for intervention. Keep track of the things you hear your ex saying about you to other people, on social media, etc. If other family or friends hear your ex badmouthing you to your children or spreading falsehoods, keep track of those statements as well. You may need to bring in those folks as witnesses, which means having your attorney interview them about what they’ve seen and heard. You may be able to put together an argument to modify your custody arrangement as a result of the intentional alienation. Courts do not like to hear that one parent has been trashing the other to their shared children; judges view such behavior as harmful to the child’s wellbeing.
Trusted Advice and Representation for Your New Jersey Family Law Matter
If you need effective legal help with child custody, divorce, child support, alimony, or other family law matters in New Jersey, contact the Union offices of family law attorney John B. D’Alessandro at 908-964-0102.