Divorce can take a tremendous toll on your relationship with your children. The stress of having to switch homes, the anxiety that comes with watching their parents fight, and the pain of knowing that their beloved parents will never be together, can strain relationships that have already been affected by distance. However, psychologists have identified a condition known as “parental alienation” which can cause even more severe, long-lasting harm to the relationship between the parent and child. Below are some facts about parental alienation, and signs that your relationship with your child may be suffering from parental alienation.
What is Parental Alienation?
Parental alienation is the result of the custodial parent undermining the child’s relationship with the noncustodial parent by consistently speaking negatively about that parent; painting that parent as dangerous; limiting contact with the parent or encouraging the child to skip visits with that parent; forcing the child to choose between parents; and limiting the child’s contact with the other parent’s extended family. Essentially, the child is brainwashed into believing the noncustodial parent is “bad” and not worthy of a relationship with the child. One study showed that parental alienation is present in 11-15% of divorces involving children. This has a very harmful effect on the child. Not only does the child lose the support of a relationship with a loving parent, but the child often ends up internalizing the disdain that their custodial parent has for the other parent, which can result in depression, anxiety, and poor self-esteem for the child.
What are the signs of parental alienation?
Children who are being subjected to parental alienation can suddenly become cold, cruel, or disrespectful to a parent they once loved and trusted. The child will be unable to summon anything positive to say about the alienated parent. When asked why the child has such negative feelings for the alienated parent, the child will be unable to offer rational, cogent reasons for their hatred. The child may start making excuses not to attend scheduled visitations with the alienated parent, and the other parent will facilitate this avoidance. If you notice signs of this condition, speak with your attorney so that you can raise the issue in court and insist that your visitation rights be upheld, and your relationship with your child be free from sabotage.
If you are looking for experienced and compassionate legal help with your custodial dispute in New Jersey, contact Union family law attorney John B. D’Alessandro for a consultation on your case, at 908-964-0102.