When you have children, divorce is not the end of the journey with you and your former spouse. You must also come together to raise your children, which can be difficult when one parent tries to turn the kids against the other. This situation is unfortunately all-too-common and parents often struggle with how to proceed.
According to Psychology Today, parental alienation is an attempt to curry favor with children by painting the other parent in a negative light. This often involves lies, insults, and insinuations that the parent doesn’t truly love the kids or doesn’t have their best interests in mind. Children, who are usually vulnerable after a divorce, often take these words to heart and can be easily swayed, to the point where they no longer want a relationship with the subject of the mistreatment. Parental alienation attempts often stem from narcissistic behaviors, which can be devastating to interpersonal relationships.
While the concept of parental alienation is easy enough to understand, how to deal with it appropriately is a lot more complex. In this case, The Mighty recommends taking certain steps if you’re the alienated parent. While it’s tempting to respond in equal measure, don’t. It may only serve to increase your children’s beliefs that you’re not a fit parent. When your children relay false statements made by your former spouse, react calmly to clarify the issue. Also, take steps to keep your children out of squabbles between you and your ex as much as possible.
While you should play it cool with your kids, address any false statements with your ex as soon as you’re privy to them. You can also contact your legal team if court orders are being ignored by your ex. For instance, if you’re allowed visitation you absolutely have the right to see your kids as mandated by the court. If your former spouse routinely prevents you from doing so, it must be addressed to the court so the issue can be swiftly remedied.