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How to identify and deal with parental alienation

22 Aug

Parental alienation can be difficult to spot and even harder to deal with. If you suspect parental alienation this article will help you.

Childs thumb pointing down

When we are hurt we can often lash out or create a narrative that excuses our own responsibility and actions. Divorce and separation is one of those occasions where it is easy to do this and create a narrative of the other person being the villain. And when children are involved this can manifest into Parental alienation.

What is Parental Alienation?

According to Cafcass, the government body tasked with assisting the Courts in Children Matter proceedings, defines parental alienation as: ‘when a child’s resistance or hostility towards one parent is not justified and is the result of psychological manipulation by the other parent.’ The damage of this can be huge.

Potential issues created by Parental Alienation include:

  • You and your children become the colatorial damage in your fight against your ex
  • Comments becoming personal/negative and being relayed to you as if they are fact
  • Children becoming defiant or disobedient towards the other parent
  • Blaming the other parent for feelings of loss
  • Children experiencing some of the following - increased anger, heightened feelings of neglect, destructive patterns of behaviour that they pass on to others, a skewed view of reality and becoming prone to lying about others, developing an ‘us vs. them’ mentality, seeing things as very ‘black and white’, lacking empathy
  • The way your children see themselves and behave in the future becoming completely transformed.

Some of the signs you may have a problem can be hard to spot, but you must be attentive and listen.

What can you do if you believe you are being alienated from your child?

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The best case scenario is working with a co-parenting coach to support you in creating a respectful dynamic. If that seems too ideal at the moment there are also mediators who can help with the agreed arrangements. They can push for joint custody to ensure that both parents take an active role with the child's up-bringing and influences.

In more severe cases, however,  you will need to go back to court to remove the influence of the alienating parent. For this I would recommend visiting CAFFCASS for more information or Resolution – where you can find a lawyer who specialises in these types of cases.

What happens if I am the one doing the alienating?

If you are the cause of the alienation, this behaviour is a symptom of a bigger issue. Unfortunately, that issue is your own pain that you have not dealt with.

If you’re not sure whether it’s you or not, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is it you really want from your situation, now and in the long term?
  • Are your actions really serving this cause?
  • What would getting on with your ex give you and your child?
  • Are you feeling triggered by your ex, and now feeding this negativity into your child?
  • Have you given yourself enough self Investment in your own mindset so that you can get the clarity and calmness of mind so you can make better decisions.

Next steps

Parental alienation is never okay,  it will always cause untold damage and isn’t serving anyone – not even the parent doing the alienating and especially not the child. We need to raise awareness, get better at identifying it and putting in preventative measures.

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