A strong family relationship requires a lot of effort. It doesn’t happen overnight. So when a family relationship crashes, members can expect an emotional resentment and harsh feelings that will soon lead to parental alienation. It is where one parent engages in the manipulation of children’s emotional aspect.
According to John M. Grohol, PsyD, “Parental alienation syndrome is a term coined by the late forensic psychiatrist Richard Gardner to describe a phenomenon he witnessed where children were being turned against one parent, usually as the result of a divorce or bitter custody battle.”
It is a tactic to convince kids that one parent is better than the other. That love and care get judged by what each parent tell the kids.
Susan Heitler, PhD, gave a clear example of parental alienation, “A divorced father of a 12-year-old boy who lives primarily with his mother says that his son insists that he does not want any contact with his father: “If I have to see him even in a therapy session I will hurt myself!””
However, parental alienation that takes place in the family is somehow hard to prove. Its signs are often invisible. One can quickly get away with it in court because proving it requires extensive observation, checking, and unbiased statements from children. So how can someone find proofs of parental alienation to win a case in court?
Recording Behavioral Patterns
Keeping a diary and writing everything out is one of the things people can do when they feel the presence of parental alienation. It serves as a record of anything that can happen in the house involving children. These include details of conversations and incidents with the other parent. However, it is significant to note that the written records from the accusations may be difficult to prove. The other parent may file a motion stating to change parenting plan. But as long as the parent starts gathering details of how much the other one spends time with the kids, there’s a possibility to state facts from a written journal. As long as it provides photographs, dated tickets, and even event or activity stamps, winning a case becomes achievable.
Taking note of any adjustments and a special request is also essential. Trying to use it to the other parent’s pushed boundaries in recurring parenting time is a great move. If communication is difficult, the parent can use the journal to keep all written communication. Saving copies of emails and texts are pieces of evidence too.
Awareness Of Warning Signs
One way to determine parental alienation is through the process of observing children. Their behavior and attitude can show a clue or a pattern of how the negative approach takes place. It is vital that the parent must recognize the kids’ interests and emotional weakness as these are the target areas of the alienators. Most of the times, the alienator’s approach tend to harm the kids’ development by feeding them with lies and distractions. That is the reason why children somehow become aloof, agitated, and inconsistent with their decisions. People call the outcome as alienation syndrome where children’s behavior runs in an irregular pattern.
Also, a visible warning sign of parental alienation is when children refuse to visit the other parent and limit their spending time with him or her. There’s not enough reason that chains the refusal but the alienator supports the kids’ decision not to see or spend time with the other parent. It has something to do with brainwashing and manipulating.
According to Sharie Stines, PsyD, “The system is created as the alienating parent rewards the children when they say hostile or angry things about the targeted parent by encouraging and displaying “understanding” for the children’s negative feelings, when what should really be occurring is the children should be taught to respect the other parent.” Code words and signals also matter. The secretive behavior of children is the result of an instruction from the other party.
Talking to kids is one the best way to know parental alienation. That’s because information a parent can get can be in full details when kids choose to open up about it. If one can listen to what kids are trying to say, the parent can connect differently from the other. Besides, nothing can correctly determine if alienation is present not unless kids are going to witness on the actions. An alienator will input ideas on the kids’ head that will make them think the other parent is no longer loving or caring for them. So before children believe everything an alienator will tell them, the other parent should keep open communication with the children. It is to stop alienator from feeding ideas that soon damages both the kids’ emotional and psychological balance.
As for the behavior, when children often parrot what the alienator says, it is a clear sign that there’s a parental alienation going on. That instead of kids explaining their sentiments and expressing their feelings, they’d instead choose to validate the alienator’s condition. There is also a consistent planting of thoughts about types of abuses that sometimes turns out to be just allegations. A parent must remember not to attempt or pry children to elicit potentially harmful information. That is because often thinking about significant events that are unnecessary may disrupt kids’ mental ability.
Parental alienation is an act of the other parent is trying to harm or distance the children from the other. So whenever one sees these signs, they have to make sure to immediately seek professional help before the condition gets worst and end up becoming a trauma. Both parents must understand that adult problems should not have to be the reason for children’s behavioral, psychological, and emotional dysfunction. Therefore, they need to realize their roles in children’s overall development.