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Parental Alienation: How to Spot the Signs

parental alienation long island

A divorce or separation is an emotionally challenging time for everyone involved. However, children of a divorcing couple are particularly at risk of experiencing negative psychological effects. These effects can be further compounded by parental alienation.

Parental alienation refers to strategies used by one parent to turn a child against the other parent. These include badmouthing the other parent, interfering with visitation, and any act that aims to damage the other parent’s relationship with their child.

According to a study on the prevalence of parental alienation, 13.4% of parents reported being alienated from their children. 48% of these parents also reported the alienation as severe.

Read on to learn the common signs of parental alienation.

Symptoms to Watch Out For

Parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is an umbrella term for negative behaviors displayed by children toward a parent. If you suspect you are being alienated from your child, start documenting their behavior toward you. This may help you in future legal actions toward your former spouse.

To help you with the documentation of the alienation, here are some symptoms that you should watch out for.

  • Denigration – This occurs when one parent criticizes the other in a hostile or unfair manner. A sign that one parent is denigrating the other their child is an abrupt negative change in the latter’s behavior toward the alienated parent.
  • Absurd Rationalizations – When confronted about their negative behavior towards the alienated parent, the child cannot justify their feelings with specific instances or their reasons are false. For example, they say the parent’s appearance is the reason they don’t like them, which cannot rationalize rejection.
  • Lack of Ambivalence – The child will see no redeeming qualities in the alienated parent. Meanwhile, the parent causing the alienation cannot seem to do any wrong in their eyes.
  • Absence of Guilt – Children with PAS may not experience guilt for their harsh actions toward the alienated parent. They may act ungrateful, spiteful, or cold despite the alienated parent’s efforts.
  • Claiming to Act Independently – The child will insist that their critical behavior towards the alienated parent is their own, even if it is evident that the alienating parent is causing it. They will deny any claims that the other party influences their actions.

How to Counteract the Alienation

When you have confirmed that your child has PAS, you can still prevent the alienation and redeem your relationship. A good way to start is allowing your child to rest, heal, and cope with the divorce since it can take a toll on them.

You can create a safe space for the child to vent, giving time and effort to listen to them. The best time to do this is at bedtime when they are more relaxed and reflective.

Listen to them with empathy only. Do not give solutions, punishment, or pressure. Remember that alienation happens when the child is manipulated to believe the worst of you.

Set aside a day dedicated to playing with your child. During this time, put them in charge of everything, from what to play and the mechanics of the game to the game’s duration. By giving them the lead, you allow them to have a space where they can control their own thoughts and feelings. This can also serve as an opportunity for them to discuss hidden thoughts or feelings toward their situation.

Patience is also crucial when you are with your child. It would help to let them ask questions and make comments about you, the other parent, and the divorce without your influence. Prohibiting them from doing so can cause unintentional alienation.

Consult a Parental Alienation Lawyer

If you have good reason to believe that your former spouse is causing your child to be alienated from you, consider consulting a lawyer to learn about your options. A lawyer with experience in parental alienation cases can help you fight for better custody arrangements or hold your former spouse in contempt of court for not following the court-prescribed parental plan.

The Law Offices of Ian S. Mednick are seasoned in matters of family law and parent alienation. Our Long Island lawyers will act in the best interest of your child or children, utilizing their skills and experience to increase the chances of a positive outcome. Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation.