When you and your partner divorce, your children may feel allegiance to your ex-spouse, especially if he or she is the custodial parent. This can create a situation called parental alienation which, according to Web MD, tends to occur most often when children become involved in a high-conflict divorce.
If you believe your ex is encouraging this behavior in your children, there are a few ways you can curtail or even prevent the effects of parental alienation, which can have far-reaching consequences.
Strive to co-parent effectively
A divorce that includes a great deal of contention between you and your ex can encourage him or her to complain and criticize you in front of the children, which can lead to parental alienation. Effective co-parenting, where lines of communication remain open, may help prevent several symptoms of alienation, such as:
- Extreme or unjust criticism
- Rebellious behavior during non-custodial visits
- The need to feel protective of the custodial parent
Working with your ex-spouse and putting the psychological well-being of your children first may allow you to navigate your divorce more easily while reducing its impact on the children, who are most likely to feel its effects.
Work with a counselor
Family and individual counseling may help you prevent parental alienation in your children, especially when you keep the lines of communication open during these sessions. List any signs of this behavior and discuss them with your counselor and your children as well so you can prevent any misunderstandings and make your own emotions and motivations clear to everyone involved.
Preventing or erasing parental alienation before it becomes too severe can improve your relationship with your children when you are a non-custodial parent. You may also want to alert the court if you believe your ex-spouse is encouraging this behavior in your children.