Parental alienation happens when a parent uses accusations, lies and misinformation to put a wall between the child and the other parent after separation or divorce. Doing so could potentially harm the child’s relationship with the other parent. The child could also suffer from behavioral and emotional issues because of the alienation.
Parental alienation causes children to show symptoms known as parental alienation syndrome (PAS). It is not a disorder, but clinical and legal professionals explore it because it affects the child’s health and impacts child custody cases. Certain types of parental alienation could be abusive and dangerous to children’s welfare.
As a parent, observing and noticing changes in your child is vital. They could manifest the following if they have PAS:
- They become hostile to the alienated parent when they used to be warm and affectionate.
- They cannot rationalize why they suddenly feel differently.
- The child maintains a solid commitment to hating the alienated parent.
- They take accountability for their negative feelings and refute any accusations that the other parent contributed to how they feel.
- They feel no guilt about their hostility toward the alienated parent.
- The child shows irrational support and loyalty to the other parent.
- They repeat statements they cannot comprehend, potentially heard from the other parent.
- The child also shows hostility to the alienated parent’s family members.
Unfortunately, a parent might not be aware that they are committing parental alienation. Sometimes, parents fear losing their child, causing them to say and do harmful things. PAS could result in long-term problems, such as aggressiveness, depression, guilt and reduced self-esteem and empathy.
Healing from PAS is challenging but possible
After determining if a child suffered from PAS, parents could consider varying options to help them recover. They could enter diverse types of therapy to help their child organize and process their thoughts.
Whether intentional or not, parental alienation might leave damage that children could take with them through adulthood. By determining the issues, seeking professional help and working together, parents can mend their relationships and focus on providing a secure and nurturing environment for their children to thrive.