When a couple with a child breaks up, it is very possible that the child will bond with one parent (the alienating parent) while completely rejecting the other (the target parent) for no legitimate reason. This is referred to as parental alienation and can be extremely harmful to the children, according to a study conducted by two psychologists at the University of Tasmania.
The psychologists reportedly interviewed adults with a history of parental alienation to determine the long-term effects of alienation. The now-adults in the study reported various alienating behaviors and experiences, including:
- Alienating parent emotionally and physically abused child when they did not go along with the alienating parent’s opinion of the target parent
- Alienating parent unfairly criticized target parent and made communication between child and target parent difficult, damaging relationship between child and target parent
- Neglect of child
- Alienating parent sought support from child during custody disputes and otherwise treated child like an adult
- Child suppressed memories and feelings related to target parent
Parental alienation caused mental health and relationship issues in adult participants
According to the study, adult participants who experienced alienating behaviors as children, often suffered from mental health issues as children and as adults, including anxiety, PTSD, low self-esteem, and substance abuse issues. They also reported having unhealthy and abusive relationships, as well as difficulty trusting and relating to others. Additionally, they said they had trouble maintaining healthy relationships and had difficulty in school and at work. Many of the adult participants also felt guilt for how they treated the target parent and ended up grieving the loss of the relationship with the target parent.
According to the Parental Alienation Group revealed that in the United States, nearly four million kids are ‘moderately to severely’ alienated from a parent. If your ex has turned your kids against you, an attorney may be able to help rebuild your relationship with your children before it’s too late.