While many parents put as much energy as possible into shielding their children from the effects of divorce, others neglect their emotional and psychological well-being or even use them as tools of vengeance or fighting. One tactic commonly used is parental alienation, which often manifests as bad-mouthing and telling lies about the other parent.
Parental alienation psychologically manipulates children into hating one of their parents and has the potential to have severe long-term effects on children. It may even constitute emotional child abuse. Parents whose children are victims of parental alienation do not have to stand idly by; they have options.
Courts often do not view parental alienation favorably as it is against the children’s best interests. Parents can report suspected incidents of it to the court, and a judge may choose to modify the custody agreement or take some other form of action against the offending parent to stop the parental alienation.
While waiting for a response from the court, parents need to display patience with their children. Those exposed to parental alienation may become disdainful or disrespectful of the other parent. They may begin to blame him or her for everything illogically and to resist attempts at reason. However, parents need to remain firm but compassionate and remember that their children are victims and not to blame. Emphasizing unconditional love, gentle boundaries and understanding may help the children to find their way out of the fog of falsehoods and manipulation their other parent subjected them to.
Parental alienation is more than words. It is a psychologically and emotionally damaging form of manipulation that may impact children long into the future. Parents do have recourse to stop it, though.