Children of divorce most want and need to maintain a healthy relationship with both of their parents and to be shielded away from the conflict. Unfortunately, like most family law matters, a divorce is rarely an organized and simple process. When conflict exists, some parents turn to shady tactics in order to bolster their parental identity. In extreme cases, children are manipulated by one parent to hate the other, known as parental alienation.
In parental alienation, the parent that tries to turn the child against the other is the alienating parent (AP), while the parent at the receiving end is the targeted parent (TP). If you suddenly find yourself in the position of a targeted parent, take the following steps to deal with parental alienation.
Tell The Factual Truth, Leave Your Opinions Out
While it may be easy to return the bad mouthing, the best response is to address the lies and not stay silent. If your child brings up one of the lies the AP told them, respond kindly and state the facts. Be prepared to defend yourself often, but stay persistent, because it takes time to get a repeated lie out from a child’s head.
Encourage Your Child to Speak with You Freely
One easy way to dispel falsehoods is by having conversations with your child, and often. There is no way you can deal with badmouthing if your child doesn’t feel they can talk to you. An AP isolates your child by letting them only hear their perspective of the “truth.” Encourage your child to come to you when they have questions. As a TP, your child may not trust you at first, but at least they get the opportunity to hear your side of the story. Empathize with your child and applaud their courage when they come to you.
Keep Your Emotions in Control
Having someone intentionally sabotage the relationship with your child can be a very frustrating experience. Despite this, you should not overreact. When your ex tells your child that you are a monster, and in response you lash out in anger, it only creates the image of that monster in your child’s mind. Manage your emotions with coaching, therapy, meditation, exercise or journaling.
Ensure You Keep Reaching Out
If your ex has had a measure of success in parental alienation, your child might refuse to see you, or may seemingly turn against you. Alas, all hope is not lost. Continue to reach out. Keep attending birthdays. Call regularly. Show up to school events. When your child sees that you love them unconditionally, they are bound to return your love. Just a few minutes of time with them on the phone or in person can make a difference in shifting their perspective. Persistence is key.
At DePrima Law, our Buffalo divorce lawyers provide the customized counsel you need to work through your family law issues. No matter how complex your situation may be, we can diligently protect the interests of you and your family.
Call (716) 638-2633 to request a free consultation.