What is Parental Alienation?

When you’re divorcing with children, parental alienation may be a concern. Ideally, parents should put their children’s needs first for the sake of co-parenting—especially if you’re pursuing divorce and custody mediation. However, some people are simply unable to mask their hatred for their child’s other parent. Left unchecked, this can devolve into parental alienation.

Parental alienation at a glance

The National Center for State Courts describes parental alienation as “a particular family dynamic that can emerge during divorce in which the child becomes excessively hostile and rejecting of one parent.”

Parental alienation typically occurs when the alienating parent embarks on a campaign of denigration toward the alienated parent. The children may express irrational hatred toward the alienated parent, with seemingly no ability to see anything good about them. This is a form of emotional abuse which can manifest later in life as low self-esteem, poor relationships, lack of impulse control, educational problems and guilt or anxiety.

What to do if you suspect parental alienation is an issue

If you believe that your child’s other parent is alienating them from you, mediation may not be appropriate. Because mediation is a collaborative, cooperative process, both parties must be willing to compromise. Unfortunately, alienating parents are often not emotionally equipped to make the necessary changes and compromises, even when they learn that parental alienation can have lasting negative effects on their children.

Parents who suspect parental alienation should seek independent legal advice—their divorce or custody arrangements will likely require litigation instead of mediation. Engaging in family or individual therapy can also help parents navigate this painful process.

If you’re considering a divorce and need to find out whether mediation is right for you, contact the compassionate Long Island divorce and custody meditators at Solutions Divorce Mediation.

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