When two parents have a contentious relationship, whether in the midst of a divorce or in an ongoing marriage, one individual might try to distance the children from the other as an act of passive aggression.
This type of parental alienation can not only hurt the relationship you have with your child, but it can also affect the child’s long-term mental health. You can anticipate parental alienation by watching for patterns of coercive control in your co-parent and by watching for key signs that your child is a victim of alienating behavior.
Active or passive criticism
When your co-parent attempts to alienate your child from you, they might attempt to do so by subtly altering your child’s opinion of you. This is likely to manifest in the form of your child criticizing your behavior and decisions without remorse, either through direct comments or indirect implications.
Excessive support for the other parent
Just as unjust criticism against you can be a sign of alienation, so too can excessive support of the other parent. If your child constantly sides with the other parent to an unreasonable extent, it is possible that their perspective is under harmful influence.
Lack of guilt
Most children eventually show guilt when they misbehave or do something hurtful toward a parent. If your child is at a particularly young age, however, it can be alarmingly easy for a malicious co-parent to alter the child’s opinion of you so negatively that they no longer feel they have to recognize your authority or your personal feelings.
When parental alienation occurs, it is typically because one individual is trying to “win” a divorce. If you believe that your co-parent is guilty of alienation, it can affect the outcome of divorce as well as child custody decisions made by the court.