Sometimes there is no other option but to divorce with your partner. Unfortunately, this major life event can have a negative impact on your child and your ex. As a form of retaliation, your ex-spouse may turn your child against you by taking a number of steps to damage your relationship.
Understanding parental alienation
It is a horrible feeling to pick up your child, only to have them be hostile or refuse to come with you. Because you do not know what happened, you may start to feel helpless. Your ex may be manipulating your child against you.
Parental alienation happens when a child rejects the targeted parent due to emotional manipulation by the other parent. Because the affected children begin to mimic the other parent in hating or rejecting the targeted parent, some specialists refer to it as parental brainwashing.
What does parental alienation look like?
Parental alienation can be as subtle as interrupting your time with your child or appearing sad whenever you pick them up. Here are some other signs to look out for:
- Your ex limits your child’s contact with you
- You or a third party overhears your ex badmouthing you to your child
- Your child stops wanting to spend time with you
- Your child refuses to talk to you about their day
- Your child always seems angry with you
- Your child sides with your ex
There are different motivations for parental alienation. An ex-spouse may simply be resentful of you and want to punish or extort money from you.
Moreover, divorce is emotionally exhausting, and sometimes a parent may come to rely on their child for emotional support. The child may feel obligated to keep offering support and start isolating themselves from the source of the emotional pain, the other parent.
If you are the targeted parent, the best course of action is to stay composed and avoid retaliating against your ex. Parental alienation is a form of child abuse. You may consider working with a therapist to help break down the barrier between you and your child or talk to a lawyer if you want to pursue legal action.