By: Susan Shofer
The most tragic component of a toxic divorce is parental alienation. Divorce is frightening for children because the family structure changes dramatically; a change that they have no control over. Children want and need to love both of their parents. Thankfully, most parents understand this.
Sadly, there are parents who choose to involve their children in the messy divorce. Those individuals know that the way they are able to harm their former partner is to take their children from them. So how can you protect your children from parental alienation? There is no simple answer since parental alienation comes in many forms but there are some key components to look for as per Dr. Richard Gardner, the “founder” of Parental Alienation Syndrome.
6 Signs of Parental Alienation
1. A once beloved child no longer wants to be with the targeted parent for no reason.
2. A child accuses the targeted parent of doing things to them that never happened
3. The child speaks in a manner beyond their age and they say things that no child their age would. An example of this is a six-year- old who will say they don’t want to see their father because he is “irresponsible with money and spends all of it on his girlfriend instead of his children.”
4. The child feels justified to be rude to the targeted parent. They may swear at the targeted parent or hit them.
5. The child is adamant that their choice to no longer be with the targeted parent is of their own volition and that no one else influenced their decision.
6. The alienation extends to the targeted parent’s family. The child refuses to spend time or communicate with once loved grandparents, aunts, uncles and parents.
Parental Alienation can occur very quickly. All the alienating parent needs is access to the child and a willingness of the child to participate. Alienators are very sly and often coerce the child with toys, vacations, and privileges which enable them to brainwash the child to believe that they are the “good” parent and the targeted parent is “bad.”
Overcoming Parental Alienation
How you overcome alienation depends on the age of your child and whether you still have communication with your child. If you do have a relationship with the child, there are some things you can do to thwart total alienation from taking place.
1. Never speak badly of the other parent to your child.
2. Maintain who you are at all times. Don’t try to “one-up” the other parent with enticements (toys, trips, rule breaking).
3. Love your child unconditionally. Always tell them that you love them and will always be there for them.
4. Never blame your child
5. Remind your child of the fun times that you have had together.
6. Always be on-time with your visitations and don’t cancel your times together.
7. Speak with your attorney about the alienation and take legal channels to try and stop it.
If your ex-spouse is keeping your child from you, under the guise that your child does not want to see you, speak with your attorney immediately so that legal action can be taken. The family law courts frown on violated interfered visitations and will change custody schedule if need be. Many alienators end up with supervised visitation so that they are unable to continue to alienate the child. These arrangements may only be made by court orders so you must receive legal guidance on how to proceed.
The Divorce Recovery Ladder Workbook and Program were inspired by Susan’s own contentious divorce.
Topics included are: Realization of the situation | Attorneys | Finances | Children | Parental Alienation | Courts & Evidence | Recognizing Retaliation | Dating Again