Combatting Parental Alienation
When custody disputes occur, one or more adults opposing others sometimes attempt to alienate children from their perceived opposition. This may be due to a host of emotions resulting from insecurity, anger, or even misplaced intentions. While the term “Parental Alienation” may, therefore, imply the specific involvement of just biological parents, in practice, it encompasses a far broader spectrum of negative adult behavior, all of which is poisonous to children.
When instances of parental alienation happen, we at Izzo & Associates, PLLC, want to put a stop to them. We have decades of experience representing clients across Texas with their family law needs, and we are here to keep you informed about these cases, and can guide you to a swift and just resolution in them.
What You Should Know About Parental Alienation
Parental alienation can involve divorcing parents, separating partners, grandparents seeking custody and even step-parents who have grown to love a child. Quite often, when a child’s resistance or hostility toward another caregiver suddenly occurs for no apparent reason, it may very well be the result of psychological manipulation by another adult involved in that child’s life.
When viewed through the lens of a family law dispute, this practice may take one of two forms or a combination of both. At times one caregiver may badmouth another, either in their presence or when they are alone with the children, in more subtle ways. On other occasions, that same caregiver might try to lavish extra praise on a child, provide gifts, or special privileges, to win over the child to “their side.”
Divorce and separation can involve feelings of betrayal and even hatred of an opposing party, causing one parent to engage in such conduct. The result, unfortunately, can manifest itself in children refusing to spend time with, or becoming fearful of, their other parent. Under such conditioning, adolescents may also
- Deny past positive experiences
- Display a lack of remorse for hurting one parent’s feelings
- Repeat an opposing parent’s negative or demeaning words or phrases without even understanding them
- Lie or keep secret
- Exhibit defiant behavior
- Take up for only one parent, in effect choosing one over the other.
Early detection and functional intervention must be taken in such cases. If you observe and fear that this may be occurring, you should immediately consult an experienced family law attorney to seek their advice and counsel.
Early Warning Signs Of Alienation
Many studies and articles have been analyzed and written about the indicators of parental alienation. It generally develops and evolves over a period of time. And perhaps you may have heard the old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”? Well, indeed, in this instance, it is very important to monitor both the actions of the adult(s) you suspect are promoting alienation against you, as well as the early warning signs exhibited by children who are being manipulated. Look out for:
- Poor Coparenting – can be observed when the child’s other conservator will not reasonably work with you. Quite often, when an alienating parent refuses to be around you, emotes anger or criticism, or even makes false accusations against you in the child’s presence, or with the knowledge that the child is listening, can induce sympathetic negative feelings in the child.
- A Complaining or Withdrawing Child – can indicate that parental alienation has begun. This may be evidenced when a child suddenly cannot provide a basis for their complaints or begin to voice unreasonable rationalizations for their behavior.
- The Suddenly Uncaring or Adultlike Adolescent – pops up when a child begins to be uncharacteristically disrespectful, state horrible things to one parent, or exhibit an absence of guilt.
- The Child Who Levels False Allegations of Harm – against the one parent. This phenomenon might involve claims of either psychological or physical abuse, which may never have taken place.
Spotting these signs can help ensure you are able to combat these issues before they cause irreparable damage.
Resulting Effects On Children
Parental Alienation has wrought many devastating and life-altering burdens upon hundreds of thousands of children in our country. It will continue to do so until so many misguided and uninformed adult caretakers wise up to the fact that by using children as a weapon, they are participating in seriously harming their young ones, qualitatively for life. We all should make ourselves more informed and educated about this fact. Adolescents impacted by Parental Alienation:
- Often end up in a string of conflicting behavior, not just with their parents, but with others, they associate with.
- Can develop low self-esteem, loneliness and isolation, self-hatred, lack of trust, and lack of friends.
- Also can develop sleep problems, poor eating habits (leading to weight gain or loss), or eating disorders.
- Generally, perform worse in school as well as in other activities.
- More seriously are prone to depression, substance abuse and addiction.
- Quite often lose the capacity to give and accept love, not just from the alienated parent, but they are also prone to develop conflicted, or distant relationships with others and are at high risk of becoming alienated from their children in the future, as they fail to understand family relationships.
No matter how small the alienation may seem, it is important to put a stop to it before it gets worse.
Let Us Protect Your Family’s Needs
If you suspect you are suffering from parental alienation, do not ignore the signs. Act now to put an end to it by calling 512-982-1161 or emailing us here to schedule your initial consultation today. We look forward to helping your family stay whole through these trying times.