Essentially, this is a form of child abuse and has been around for decades. So, what are some signs that a child is being alienated from a parent?
A drastic change in their attitude toward the non custodial mom or dad, for no apparent reason. Often, this is a good indicator that the custodial parent is inappropriately discussing the absent parent with their child. Children naturally want to please and may take sides with the parent that they reside with. Seeing the other parent as the enemy. Sometimes this is all too obvious, if the child is caught “parroting” something that could only have came from the other parent.
If a child says things to the non custodial parent that they should have no way of knowing (such as information about court proceedings, custody issues, or child support paid, or not paid), alienation is definitely at work. Divorced parents of children should never discuss the legal or financial aspects of their custody with the child. This is extremely detrimental to the child’s emotional well-being.
When a child refuses to go for a court ordered visit with the parent, and the custodial parent allows them to make that choice, that falls under parental alienation. With all of the power a custodial parent has over their children, denying the other parent his or her visitation time is not only out of their jurisdiction, it is illegal.
The most common and often seen sign of parental alienation, is when the custodial parent does everything possible to force the child to pick sides. The alienating parent may try to buy their child’s love and loyalty, by giving expensive gifts, allowing them to do things the other parent wouldn’t, or making plans they know the child will want to do, when it is the non custodial parent’s time.
If a child doesn’t want to have a scheduled visit and gives the excuse that they are “needed” by the custodial parent, or that they don’t want to leave that parent alone, these are red flags that alienation type behavior is occurring in the home. Parents should never make their child feel like they need to be home in order to make that parent happy. Visits with the other parent should be encouraged, and treated as something to look forward to.
There are countless signs of parental alienation. If you are concerned that your child may be going through this, search for help or support groups that specialize in alienation.