You love your child, which is why it has been heartbreaking to find that he is not longer treating you the same way he used to. Once a fun, pleasant child, your child is now throwing tantrums when he has to see you. What happened?
Divorce is stressful, but children who suddenly have massive changes in their personalities may be dealing with the symptoms related to parental alienation. This is when one parent essentially “programs” a child against the other. For example, one parent may start saying negative things about the other in front of the child or make the child feel badly about saying good things about the other parent.
The parent also tries to undermine the relationship by cutting the child off from the parent. The target parent is vilified, and the child suffers emotionally due to believing that the target parent is dangerous or harmful in other ways.
You can recognize the start of parental alienation. Here are a few things to look out for.
1. Cutting ties with a child
If your ex-spouse tries to stop you from seeing your child, this can be a sign of parental alienation. Parents who want to always be in control and who go out of their way to limit contact between a child and parent could be aiming to brainwash the child against the target parent.
2. Forcing the child to choose
If you were young and told you had to choose going out for ice cream or talking about dad, you might choose ice cream. This kind of training happens in parental alienation cases. The parent alienating the child does things that cause the child to reject the other parent either by providing rewards or by threatening the child.
3. Lying about the parent to the child
Some parents who want to make their children stand against the target parent may make up stories about how the parent is dangerous or a negative influence. The parent could say negative things about how the parent is always late or doesn’t care for the child to make him or her abandon or fear the parent.
These are only a few signs of parental alienation. If you believe this is a problem in your case, you may want to discuss the evidence or suspicions you have with your attorney.