When parents fight over child custody , a phenomenon can occur called parental alienation. Parental alienation in its most extreme form occurs when one parent attempts to brainwash, or program a child against the other parent. The child develops a hatred for the targeted parent of the alienation, which causes a huge rift between the targeted parent and the child, which can leave the targeted parent feeling sad, depressed and hopeless.
Parental alienation is deeply rooted in psychology and the idea of having control over a situation, and happens in nearly all child custody cases to some degree. While most instances of parental alienation are small, inadvertent and unintentional, some cases of parental alienation are serious, where one parent actively and deliberately works on the child to foster a hatred for the other parent.
- Inadvertent parental alienation usually goes away after the initial anxiety of joint custody subsides.
When child custody arrangements first start out, one parent might feel like they are losing something when the child is supposed to spend time with the other parent. A parent that is having trouble “letting go” when their child spends time with the other parent might inadvertently send messages to the child that signal that maybe the child shouldn't feel safe or happy when they are with the other parent.
For instance, a parent might tell the child, “If you get scared or want to come home from Mommy's/Daddy's, call me and I'll pick you up” or “call me as soon as you get to your father's house, so that I will know you are safe.” These concerns are normal, but when expressed to the child in this way, they send an underlying message that the concerned parent doesn't trust the other parent, and maybe the child shouldn't either. The good news is that this mild form of parental alienation usually subsides on its own accord as everyone adjusts to the new child custody arrangement.
- Serious parental alienation usually requires legal and other professional intervention.
In more serious instances of parental alienation, a parent might actively try and turn the child against the other parent. The parent will preach nothing but hate and denigration against the targeted parent, and the child will learn to adopt these same views about the targeted parent. The parent who is prompting the alienation must be stopped because they are harming the parent-child relationship between the targeted parent and the child, and they are also impacting the child's well-being.
Putting a stop to parental alienation requires the efforts of both counselors and legal professionals. In the most extreme cases, the child custody arrangement may need to be reevaluated to get the child away from the alienating parent. Psychological and mental health counselors might be necessary to try and address the alienating parent's issues. It can be very difficult to get an angry, hateful parent to cooperate in these situations.
Fathers Are Disproportionately Affected By Parental Alienation
It is unfortunate, but parental alienation is more likely to happen to fathers than mothers. In some situations, the mother feels justified in acting this way because the father may have been abusive in the past, even if it was merely a single instance or angry outburst. Other times, the mother has a strong bond with the child, or feels like the child is a part of her, and so when the child is away from her she acts out. However, fathers have rights to their children, and should be able to exercise those rights.
Contact A Family Lawyer Today
When you want to have an active role in your child's life, it can be difficult to exercise your rights as a father when the mother is alienating you through your child. Contact the family law attorneys at Sarji Law Firm, LLC to discuss the details of your problem. Our professionals can help you fight for your father's rights. Please call us today at 843-323-4341.
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