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What Is Parental Alienation?

When you and your spouse get a divorce, it brings many difficult changes to the life of your child. Under ideal circumstances, parents get along well enough to keep this transition smooth and steady for their offspring. However, it is all too common for a spouse to try to turn their child against their former partner, and you may fall into this category. 

According to Psychology Today, here are some things to learn about parental alienation. 

What Is Parental Alienation? 

Parental alienation is when one parent psychologically manipulates or brainwashes their child against the second parent. As result, the child becomes reluctant or outright refuses to continue a relationship with the second parent. While it can also happen in an intact family, it becomes much more common once your family breaks up. 

Your former spouse may pursue this type of behavior as a way of punishing you, even if he or she was the one who wanted the divorce. It forces your child to become the emotional caretaker of the alienating parent. Sadly, it can result in damaging effects, such as anger issues, behavioral problems and depression in your child. 

How Can You Stop Parental Alienation?  

While you cannot control the behavior of another person, there are certain things you can do to put an end to this harmful practice. It may require you to go to court to get an order mandating that your child live with you. 

Other pathways you should explore include the following: 

  • Therapy for your child 
  • Therapy for you and your spouse, both individually and together 
  • Supervised visitation between your child and the alienating parent  
  • Documentation of the steps you are taking to maintain that connection 

While it takes a lot of energy and time to reestablish a healthy relationship with your child, it is worth doing whatever it takes to do so.