The National Parents Organization in Pennsylvania is currently working with lawmakers to address the concept of “parental alienation,” a situation in which a custody agreement separates a child and parent, straining their relationship. The process involves one parent manipulating the child so that they turn against the other parent.
To the NPO, there isn’t a clear consensus if parental alienation is a legitimate syndrome for children. But to parents that deal with parental alienation, the impacts are clear. The process shifts slowly as a parent change visitation plans and putting down their former spouse in various ways. The child might start exhibiting strange behavior and raise tensions with the targeted parent.
Knowing warning signs can help you spot parental alienation early. These signs include:
- Your child excludes you from extracurricular activities.
- Your child shows oppositional or defiant behavior that was not previously demonstrated.
- Shut out or request made by your child to not attend parent/teacher conferences.
- Shut out from school meetings by the other parent and no longer listed as contact parent for your child’s programs.
- Being challenge by your child or experiencing explosive reactions from your child.
- Your child fails to identify any positive experiences with you.
- Your child might start using language that your former spouse uses to hurt you or trigger arguments.
- Your child claims responsibility for the alienation and rejection. They might not see the manipulation coming from the other parent.
These are only some warning signs and should not be taken as parental alienation in every situation. You should consult with a family therapist or professional if you are concerned for your child, and remember that your child’s best interests always come first.