It may be snide comments, interference, lies about their ex or more insidious behavior that a parent in Michigan uses to try to turn their child against their ex. Parental alienation can take place when one parent tries to prejudice their child against their ex. Through parental alienation, a parent can turn their child’s emotions against their ex to the point that the child wants nothing to do with their other parent.
Parental alienation causes psychological harm to a child. The child may have depression and problems later on in life with intimate relationships. Moreover, parental alienation deprives the child of the opportunity to forge meaningful, loving relationships with both parents. In extreme circumstances, the “targeted” parent can move the court to give them custody of their child.
Is parental alienation a psychiatric disorder?
According to some experts, “parental alienation syndrome” is a diagnosable psychiatric disorder. However, other experts disagree and point out that a child who denounces a parent may be doing so due to abuse or neglect. In one study of 27 cases in which a court initially ignored allegations of abuse that were later found to be valid, over one-third of the mothers in these cases allegedly had “parental alienation disorder.” These experts claim that at its worst, those accusing their ex of alienation sometimes do so as a cover for abuse. And, even if abuse is not present, with cases of “alienation” both parents are contributing to the harmful dynamic between themselves and their children.
Does therapy help?
Some may wonder if therapy can help alienated parents and children. One attorney who represents alienated parents states that after years of manipulation, a child will truly believe the alienated parent is the “bad guy.” If the child and parent go to family therapy, the alienated parent may be encouraged to validate the child’s feelings against them. Ultimately, this attorney believes that the child will rarely reconcile with the alienated parent in such circumstances.
What about reunification programs?
Some reunification programs are meant to help children who have been subject to alienation. Unfortunately, sometimes a child ultimately switches allegiance, favoring the previously unfavored parent. And, according to some experts, reunification programs can cause more trauma than help.
Ultimately, alienation only harms the child
In the end, when an alienating parent loses custody of the child, they often drop out of the child’s life. The alienation was meant to harm their ex, not protect the child. Children are better served when parents respect each other, despite their divorce.