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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.

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