In Michigan, across the United States and all over the world, child custody and family law cases can quickly descend into rampant dispute with the child in the middle. Parents who are having a difficult time with their divorce and are battling over child custody and parenting time could either intentionally or inadvertently place the child in jeopardy with their behavior. Parental alienation is a real problem that should be addressed to smooth the process of the divorce, make it easier to communicate for the good of the child after the divorce is over and to ensure the child is in a positive environment. Still, knowing the details of parental alienation is fundamental to recognizing it.
Recognizing the signs of parental alienation
Children are innocent bystanders in a divorce. That, unfortunately, does not prevent parents from trying various tactics to boost their own position during the case and cause problems for the child. People often misinterpret certain acts as parental alienation when they are simply part of the process of a divorce. For example, it is common for there to be lingering tension even in relatively amicable divorces. With people who are embroiled in a contentious case, there is likely to be a gap between them. People not being on the same page is not the same as parental alienation.
Statistically, parental alienation might happen in up to 15% of divorces. Some of the behaviors that parents might take part in include speaking negatively about the other parent; encouraging the child to perceive the other parent in a harsh light; taking complaints the child might express and trying to make them worse; discouraging and preventing contact between the other parent and the child; fostering a perception that the other parent is not focused on the child and his or her best interests; encouraging a feeling of victimhood in the child and blaming it on the other parent; dismissing the other parent and his or her family; and making false accusations of abuse.
These issues are clearly damaging to the child. If a parent who tries to provide for the child and takes an active role in being a good role model finds him or herself enduring a change in behavior from the child, it could be a sign of attempted parental alienation. Spotting the signs of parental alienation requires attentiveness. Once those signs are spotted, it is wise to consider how to prevent it from festering. There can also be false accusations of parental alienation and parents must be well-versed in combating that.
Parental alienation is a specific challenge that requires experienced assistance
Manipulating a child to turn against the other parent is a major problem that should be addressed as soon as possible. Parents who are in the middle of a family law case or have a marriage that is heading toward divorce should recognize when this could be occurring and take the necessary steps to deal with it. Parental alienation can take a significant amount of time to undo, so it is crucial to be cognizant of when and how it might be taking place. Since it is such a narrow area of family law, those who are concerned about it should seek experienced guidance from the start. This is critical to prevent the damage it can do and seek a workable outcome for everyone involved, especially the child.