It is a parent’s natural instinct to protect their child from all forms of danger, even if it means being negatively labeled as a protective parent. Monitoring a child’s phone use and restricting certain friendships can be a form of protective parenting. However, they can also be signs of pathological parenting, which can result in adverse and irreversible effects on the child in the future.
So, how do you differentiate protective parenting from pathological parenting?
Looking into the parent’s intention
While an individual’s intention is challenging to prove, looking into why a parent does certain actions can help draw the line between the two concepts.
Although protective parenting is not always a healthy method, some parents apply this with the intention of putting their children out of harm’s way. For instance, protective parents may actively monitor and limit their children’s phone or internet use to ensure they are not communicating with strangers who might take advantage of them.
However, the same act could be pathological parenting if the parent’s purpose is to distance the child from the other parent or family members by restricting private communication between them. Behaviors like this could prevent the child from fostering a loving parent-child relationship with the targeted parent and eventually turn against them.
For involved parties specifically keen on identifying whether pathological parenting is present, a diagnostic checklist is available to confirm any suspicions.
What can you do after successfully identifying pathological parenting?
Pathological parenting is harmful, and delayed intervention can cause deeper damage to a child’s physical, mental and emotional well-being. Privately discussing the noticeable pathological behavior with the alienating parent is an option. However, if the alienation continues, you may consider working with a knowledgeable legal professional and bringing the issue to court.