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What does parental alienation look like?

On Behalf of | Dec 4, 2020 | Family Law

Put in the simplest terms, parental alienation occurs when one parent attempts to hold influence over their child and create a rift between the child and their other parent.

However, parental alienation is anything but simple.

When people hear this term, they often think of it in the extremes, such as if their ex-spouse were to prevent them from seeing the children. But parental alienation can take many forms – including those that might not be immediately obvious to parents.

What are signs of parental alienation?

There are many levels and types of parental alienation. They might not all be extreme, but there are a few common signs that indicate a situation of parental alienation, including:

  • Criticism: It might seem like parents can never do anything right in the eyes of their children or their ex-spouse – and children do not hold back from sharing their critiques or negative thoughts about their parent.
  • Repeating: Depending on the child’s age, a common sign of parental alienation is if children repeat the negative things they hear the alienating parent say – including details they should not know, such as issues from the marital relationship or the reasons for the divorce. This often suggests that one parent is badmouthing the other in front of the child.
  • Interference: The alienating parent might also try to control the contact individuals have with their children. Additionally, they might purposely plan events or activities with the children during the other parent’s parenting time.

There are many other indicators of alienation that might occur only at the other parent’s residence, but these are often the most common signs that parents can detect when the children are with them.

Alienation is always harmful

Some elements that could be considered parental alienation – such as badmouthing – may not be purposeful alienation. Going through a divorce is not easy, and it can leave individuals struggling with guilt or resentment that might lead to negative comments.

However, any kind of alienating actions or behavior can cause harm to children. Even if North Carolina parents face these issues occasionally or with increasing regularity, they should take notice and take action to protect not only their relationship with their children but their child’s best interests as well.