What can I do if my ex is trying to turn my child against me?
After a divorce, an angry or mentally unwell parent may try to turn a child against the other parent. This type of manipulation could rise to the level of parental alienation, which can have a devastating impact on a child’s well-being and the parent-child relationship.
Parents should know the signs of parental alienation and what to do if they notice anything worrisome.
Signs of parental alienation
Parental alienation involves a parent using lies and manipulation to turn a child against the other parent without justification. Often, the alienated parent will notice something upsetting in what a child does or says.
How a child acts
A child may act in the following ways if a parent is manipulating them:
- Refusing to see the alienated parent without a valid reason
- Being cold, mean or spiteful toward the alienated parent without any guilt or remorse
- Having idealized and unwavering support for the alienating parent
- Rejecting extended family members they previously loved
- Showing intense hostility against a targeted parent
Some children are mad at one parent after a divorce. But in cases of parental alienation, their actions toward the alienated parent are consistent and unjustified.
What a child says
Phrases or stances your child verbalizes that can be red flags include:
- Irrational or false accusations against a targeted parent
- Parroted statements an alienating parent has made
- Harsh, unjust criticism against the alienated parent
- Unwavering support for the alienating parent, even when presented with evidence of wrongdoing
- Refusing to say anything negative about the alienated parent or blame them
If a child talks like this or makes these types of statements, the alienated parent may want to take swift action.
Protecting your child and your rights
A parent with suspicions about alienation can take steps to stop abusive action and mitigate the damages it can do.
Some of the ways to do this include:
- Keeping up with all custody and visitation guidelines
- Petitioning the courts for custody modification and more time with a child
- Seeking therapy and counseling for parents and children
- Speaking with an attorney
These measures can help parents stop alienating behaviors and help them rebuild their relationship with their child.