What is parental alienation, and what should you do if you suspect it?
Going through a divorce with children is always stressful. You worry about your kids and whether you're doing the right thing. You also worry about how they'll adjust. When emotions are running high, your partner may consciously or unconsciously encourage your children to reject you. This rejection is known as parental alienation or parental alienation syndrome.
While the American Psychiatric Association does not recognize parental alienation syndrome, North Carolina courts often have to deal with the issue during divorce or child custody disputes.
Signs of parental alienation
Parental alienation typically stems from the behavior of your former partner and may even be unintentional. Your former partner could tell your child that you no longer love them, or they are no longer safe with you. Or your former partner's actions might be more subtle, like acting as a gatekeeper to your child's school, extra-curricular activities, or friends. Some signs that your partner may be turning your children against you include:
- Your child has negative views towards you and denies any past positive experiences with you.
- Your child is angry with you for small or ridiculous things.
- Your child sees you as all bad and your former partner as all good.
- Your child doesn't show remorse for hurting your feelings.
- Your child always sides with your former partner, no matter what they've done.
- Your child denies the influence of your former partner in rejecting you, even if it is obvious.
- Your child becomes cold or hostile to your friends and family.
How to tackle parental alienation
There are no laws explicitly addressing parental alienation in North Carolina. However, the court will consider the matter as part of a custody or visitation determination. If you suspect parental alienation, you should let your attorney know as soon as possible. Parental alienation could have lasting psychological effects on your child and your relationship. Children who are the victims of parental alienation are more likely to have low self-esteem or develop problems with drugs or alcohol.
If you have questions about parental alienation, or child custody and visitation, give me a call at 919-719-2785 or contact me online. Even if you're just beginning the difficult journey of divorce or separation, I can advise you and explain the best options for you and your family.
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