One of the most important things divorced parents can do for their children is work as a team to provide love and stability.
Sadly, sometimes one parent not refuses to work as a team with the other, choosing instead to involve the child in the conflict through a tactic known as parental alienation.
Parental alienation and parental alienation syndrome
Parental alienation is an effort by one parent to manipulate a child and turn him or her against the other parent. This can result in a series of behavioral symptoms seen in the child, known as parental alienation syndrome.
Common parental alienation tactics
A parent engaging in parental alienation will often attempt to degrade and vilify the target parent. This may include name-calling, oversharing details of the divorce or even making false accusations of abuse.
Interfering with parenting time is a common parental alienation strategy. The alienating parent may interrupt the child’s time with the target parent or intentionally schedule conflicts during this time.
Parental alienation may also involve withholding information. Refusing to share information about school, appointments or important events can damage the relationship between the child and the target parent.
Symptoms of parental alienation syndrome
Children who have experienced parental alienation often display strong, irrational anger and resentment toward the target parent. In contrast, they might show unwavering loyalty to the alienating parent.
When questioned about this change in attitude, the child may repeat comments and accusations he or she has heard from the alienating parent. At the same time, the child might emphatically deny that the parent is influencing the behavior, even when it is clear that the child is parroting the parent’s words.
Parental alienation harms everyone involved. Divorced parents should be aware of the warning signs and note any concerning changes in behavior.