Recognizing parental alienation: What to notice

Parental alienation is a major issue in some families. It occurs when one parent starts to poison a child's understanding of his or her relationship with the other parent.

Parental alienation is more common during divorces or separations where there is animosity. For instance, if one parent believes the other was committing adultery or is untrustworthy, that parent may accuse the parent of being dangerous or being a liar. Saying these things to a child can color his or her perception of the parent over time, making him or her less likely to want to be in that parent's life.

Parental alienation can happen abruptly

Alienation can happen seemingly overnight. If you have your child at home and overhear him or her state that his or her father or mother has called you dangerous or stated that you don't love your child, it's a sign to get into contact with your attorney and the court immediately. Parents who want to force a gap between their child and other parent's relationship may make assertions that aren't true to make your child upset or hateful toward you.

Some parents use this to their advantage and then begin to offer rewards for the child not seeing the other parent. For example, "If you don't go to see your mother, we'll go on vacation." A parent may offer new toys, an upgraded bedroom, more time for the internet or other rewards for ignoring or otherwise avoiding the other parent.

Parental alienation has many negative side effects on children. It deflates their confidence, and it hurts their relationships. In the future, children may discover what happened and turn on the parent who alienated them against the other parent. It's a generally negative situation that should be stopped as soon as it's recognized.

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