Parental alienation is a form of emotional manipulation that many areas regard as child abuse. It occurs when one parent purposefully lies about and/or disparages the other parent by trash-talking them and undermining their authority.
In a time already often fraught with anxiety, tension and confusion, parental alienation can have a serious negative effect on minor children caught in the middle. It is important to keep an eye out for signs that the children are victims of it.
A sudden shift in emotions and behavior
It is normal right after a divorce for children to be angry or bewildered and act out because of it. However, a random switch to being disrespectful, dismissive of and even cruel to only one parent can indicate parental alienation. The other parent may be on a campaign to tarnish the targeted parent’s image through false allegations, leading the children to believe that the parent is the “bad guy.”
An inability or unwillingness to listen to reason
Children under the influence of parental alienation often develop a black-and-white view where no matter what, the alienated parent is always at fault. They may blame him or her for everything and refuse to listen to any rational arguments They also typically do not feel guilty about treating the parent poorly.
These symptoms are not exclusive to parental alienation victims, and they are not the only indicators the abuse exists. However, if children begin to display them after a divorce, their parents may need to seek aid for them, whether that be counseling or filing for a custody change. While it may be excruciatingly painful to deal with undeserved hate and bad attitudes from their children, parents need to keep in mind that their children are victims and continue to show them understanding and patience as they try to resolve the issue.