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Recognizing signs of parental alienation

If you are going through a separation or divorce and it involves a high-conflict custody battle, you may have concerns about whether your spouse is attempting to turn your son or daughter against you. Intentionally turning a child against the other parent, or intentionally making efforts to disengage a child from one parent’s life, is known as parental alienation.

In some cases, parental alienation can occur unintentionally, but regardless of how it manifests, it can wreak havoc on the family system. If you feel as if your child’s mother is trying to sway your child against you, be on high alert for possible signs of parental alienation, which might include:

Making your child feel guilty for visiting you

One way your ex might attempt to turn your child against you involves expressing sadness, bitterness or resentment when your child visits with you. Some children, and particularly younger ones, often want to stay as loyal as they can to their parents, and your former spouse may try and make your son or daughter feel as if he or she is being disloyal by spending time with you.

Withholding information or reporting incorrect information

Your former wife may also attempt to alienate your child from you by neglecting to tell you about important games, musical performances, appointments, meetings or what have you. She may also intentionally give you wrong information about such events so that you fail to show up on time, or at all.

Blaming you for financial hardship

Yet another way your ex may try and turn your child against you involves blaming you in front of your child for her own financial struggles. For example, she may tell your son or daughter they cannot enroll in, say, hockey, because “Daddy drained us dry during the divorce.”

These are just some of many indications that your former partner might be engaging in parental alienation tactics, but if she is, know that such behavior can have lasting, negative effects on your child’s growth and development.

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