In any divorce, it’s common for friends or family to either knowingly or unknowingly take sides and support one party over the other. This can take a more dangerous turn, however, if one parent tries to use their influence over their children to undermine the other parent.
What are some examples of parental alienation?
After a divorce, it is possible for a parent to attempt to manipulate their children’s opinion by consistently speaking badly about the other parent. They may also distort reality or lie in order to make a parent seem dangerous or less trustworthy. In extreme cases, they may prevent the children from seeing the other parent altogether.
These concentrated efforts can have a distinctly negative effect on children even beyond damaging their relationship with the other parent. Children may have depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and otherwise struggle in normal situations of life.
How do you protect yourself?
The difficulty is that it may not be immediately obvious that an ex has started a campaign of alienation and manipulation.
As a parent, you need to be aware of your children’s actions and reactions. Encourage your children to be open and be a good listener so that they are more likely to come to you if they have problems or questions. Show them that you care about their well-being and that you don’t see them as a pawn in your relationship warfare.
A clear sign of trouble is if you hear about obvious lies or bad-mouthing. Don’t use this as an opportunity to launch a counter-attack against your ex, but instead clear everything up and remove all possibilities of misunderstanding.
Lastly, make sure to maintain your authority as needed. A child may be testing the boundaries of their new living situations, and it’s important that they still recognize that their parent is in charge.
What should you do if you are aware of attempts to alienate a child?
If you have discovered a scheme to sway a child’s opinion against you, the best step is to bring the issue to the attention of your family lawyer. Confronting an ex who is willing to go to this length is likely to result in a heated argument. With evidence of wrongdoing, you and your Family Lawyer can bring the case to the courts and may be able to change the terms of the parenting arrangement so that your ex has less influence over the children.
If you have any questions or concerns, simply contact Epstein & Associates for a quick discussion and chance to meet our team so you can decide if we are right to represent you.