The end of any marriage has the potential to take an extreme toll on the mental well-being of children. In fact, according to Dr. Gabriel Young, a clinical psychologist who writes for Psychology Today, divorce can cause kids to experience a sense of emotional abandonment. Unfortunately, your ex-spouse may be able to contribute to the problem.
Parental alienation is a form of emotional child abuse that happens when one parent intentionally or inadvertently sabotages the other parent’s relationship with the kids. Because parental alienation may lead to a lifetime of emotional hurt for both you and your children, you should not allow your former spouse to get away with it.
Examples of parental alienation
Parental alienation can be a bit tricky to identify, as it may take many different forms. Still, if your ex-husband or -wife regularly does one or more of the following, you and your kids probably are victims of parental alienation:
- Prohibiting your kids from talking to you or seeing you
- Failing to include you in traditional parental activities and functions, such as parent-teacher conferences, ballet recitals or sports tournaments
- Telling your children you are a bad, dishonest or irresponsible person
- Demanding your children spy on you and your new love interest
When parental alienation is inadvertent, families sometimes can resolve the problem with counseling or even a simple conversation. If your ex-spouse is trying to harm you, though, you may have little choice but to seek legal recourse. Your options likely include asking a judge to change your existing custody order.
Ultimately, because of the potentially catastrophic damage, parental alienation can do to the positive relationship you have with your children, you must not stand idly by while your ex uses your kids as pawns.