There is really no such thing as standard parenting. On the contrary, every parent must decide what works best for his or her child. Still, with a bit of effort and some flexibility, you can likely raise well-adjusted kids. You should not, however, have to contend with a co-parent who actively tries to undercut your parent-child relationship.
Parental alienation occurs when one parent psychologically manipulates a child to foster fear, anger, distrust or hostility toward the other parent. While parental alienation can occur in married couples, it is seemingly more common with divorced parents who share parenting responsibilities. You do not have to stand idly by while your ex-spouse alienates your kids.
How parental alienation manifests
Your ex-spouse may attempt to turn your kids against you for a variety of reasons. For example, he or she may feel resentment about the breakdown of your marriage. Alternatively, your former partner may want to make life difficult for you and your new love interest. Regardless, parental alienation may occur in a few different ways. A co-parent may disparage you, allege abuse, encroach on parenting time or take other actions that negatively affect your relationship with your child.
How to combat parental alienation
Parental alienation can be both stressful and heart-wrenching. Fortunately, you do not have to put up with it. Instead, begin documenting your ex-spouse’s behavior. Often, keeping texts, e-mails and other written communications helps. You may also need to seek therapy for yourself and your children. Furthermore, if parental alienation persists, you may decide to ask a court to intervene. Because parental alienation runs directly counter to the best interests of your child, a judge may agree to modify your custody order.
If you share parenting responsibilities, you must have some relationship with your ex-spouse. Still, your former partner should not engage in parental alienation. If he or she does, you must fight back quickly to minimize the potential harm to your parent-child relationship.