Ideally, when parents get divorced, they can handle the split amicably and minimize the impact the divorce has on their children. In the real world, many divorces are bitter affairs.
When parents attempt to get revenge on an ex-spouse by manipulating their children, there can be serious consequences for both the parents and the children.
What is parental alienation?
Parental alienation happens when a parent manipulates a child into refusing to maintain a relationship with the child’s other parent. Often, the manipulator will lie to the child about things the other parent has said or done or exaggerate the truth.
What are the consequences of parental alienation?
Parental alienation can have long-lasting psychological and social implications for children. Children may feel sad, lonely or confused. Parental alienation can cause children to feel guilt and self-hatred and struggle with self-esteem. It can also lead to depression and substance abuse.
The targeted parent may also experience depression and confusion about why their relationship with their child is dysfunctional. If the targeted parent can prove that parental alienation is happening, the court may modify the custody agreement to reduce the amount of time the child spends with that parent.
Parental alienation is difficult for both parents and children. However, you can rebuild your damaged relationship with your child through therapy and by increasing your time with your child and reducing the amount of time your child spends with the alienating parent. However, be careful about blaming the alienating parent. This can backfire and slow the recovery process.