You may hear stories about divorces being amicable and exes who share children while being able to get along with one another. You hoped that your own divorce would turn out that way, but that is far from reality. You share your children with your ex, and he or she is doing everything possible to disrupt your relationship with them. If you believe you and your children are the victims of parental alienation as a severe form of emotional child abuse, what can you do?
Parental alienation is not new. Sadly, it is something that family law attorneys in Texas see far too often. The good news is that victims of this behavior can take steps to preserve their relationships with their children and protect their children from harm.
Three types of parental alienation
Many people think that parental alienation means that one parent is interfering with the other parent’s time with the kids but it can mean a lot more than that. True parental alienation is where one parent actually turns children against the other parent. There are three ways in which this may be done:
- Active alienation
- Naive alienation
- Obsessive alienation
Each of these has the potential to undermine parental authority and/or destroy a child's trust in a parent, or even in both parents, and the resentment and anger that builds because of parental alienation tends to move with children into adulthood.
What is active alienation?
Active alienation involves making a child feel loyal to and only to the alienating parent. This often starts with telling a child secrets and asking him or her to keep them from his or her other parent. That may seem like a small thing, but as secrets build, the child may feel more and more aligned with the alienating parent against the targeted parent, and the child may feel that he or she may not be allowed to talk or able to talk to their other parent about much of anything, which certainly does not help that relationship.
What is naive alienation?
Naive alienation involves the use of passive-aggressive language. For example, if your child asks your ex to buy him or her a phone and your ex says he or she can't but that you can because you have all the money, all the child will hear is that you will buy it. When you do not buy it, to a child, that is a big deal, and it can make him or her feel like you do not care or you are not following through on something your ex promised you would do.
What is obsessive alienation?
Obsessive alienation involves aggressive manipulation to interrupt the parent-child relationship. Young children usually do not understand when someone is manipulating them. When a parent tells them something, they want to believe it, especially when one says it in a caring way. When enough is said negatively about the other parent, children may simply refuse to see that parent because they believe what the alienator is saying.
What can you do?
Victims of parental alienation can help themselves and their children by avoiding self-sabotage of the parent-child relationship, by behavior that would estrange a child, and by taking the issue to court. If your ex is violating your current custody order, you can ask the Court to have him or her held in contempt of court. If that fails to change anything, you may seek a custody modification in order to remove the children from your ex's care. No matter what you choose to do, legal counsel from an experienced Board-certified family law expert attorney in Collin County, Denton County or elsewhere throughout Texas, will be beneficial. An attorney experienced in dealing with parental alienation issues can also help the Court to better understand various options available with parental alienation as a serious form of emotional child abuse.