Going through a divorce is hard on everyone, especially when you are parents with children. Unfortunately, divorce also creates stressful situations that some people may take advantage of for their own gain.
This is often the motivation behind parental alienation, which surfaces in many rocky divorce situations. But what is it, and how do you recognize the signs?
What is parental alienation?
The Psychiatric Times examines parental alienation and its potential warning signs. Parental alienation occurs in situations where a parent wants to do anything and everything they can to alienate their child from their co-parent. They will drive a wedge between you in any way they can, and may even resort to abusive techniques to do so. This can include gaslighting or manipulating your child.
What are the first signs?
Fortunately, there are signs you can keep an eye out for. First, pay attention to your child’s overall behavior. Do they seem reticent and depressed lately? Do they seem anxious in a way that differs from any anxiety shown earlier in the divorce? Or are they tense and aggressive, lashing out at others without much provocation?
Next, pay attention to how your child interacts with you when spending time at your home. Do they suddenly have more things to complain about? Do they take issue with things they never had trouble with before? A few instances may end up nothing more than coincidence, but if it keeps happening, it could point to parental alienation at work.
In later stages, children will often show a reluctance toward spending time with the alienated parent. By then, damage is already well under way. Thus, you want to take action as soon as you notice something is amiss.