How To Prevent Parental Alienation – When a relationship ends, one of the hardest things can be to attempt to foster healthy communication with your ex-spouse or partner. However, when the two of you have children in common, maintaining a healthy relationship and open lines of communication is incredibly important in reducing the emotional toll of separation or divorce on the children. Research has shown that, when parents engage in intentional, healthy communication with each other, they are better able to parent their children together, resulting in improved outcomes for their children.
Of course, every parent wants their children to grow up healthy and resilient, and parents usually do not mean to hurt their children through unhealthy communication during a separation or divorce. However, all too often the counsellors at Horizon Plymouth work with children who are suffering with the long-term negative effects of parental alienation as a result of deeply unhealthy communication between parents. Parental alienation is when one parent attempts to subvert the opinion of the children and other family members against the opposite parent through unfounded accusations—often including abuse or lies. This results in the rejection of the alienated parent by the child, leading to mental health complications that can last a lifetime and impact the child’s ability to form healthy relationships in the future.
One of the best ways to prevent parental alienation is for both parents to focus on prioritizing healthy communication throughout the co-parenting process. This can be very difficult if there are a lot of negative emotions and hurt feelings at play, but it is essential to work on putting those aside when communicating for the sake of your children. Because mutually healthy communication can be so difficult, oftentimes recruiting the help of an experienced counsellor such as those at Horizon Plymouth can be beneficial as you learn to put your feelings and emotions aside for the good of the children that you share. Some tips for healthy communication that might also be helpful when navigating the often-complex co-parenting relationship include:
- Be sure to communicate regularly, even if that means that you have to establish set times for communication and/or check-ins, as this allows both parents to stay on the same page about child-related routines, behaviours, and updates.
- Be honest with each other about whether a current system isn’t working for the good of the children. Things change constantly and continual adjustment is often needed to ensure the healthiest co-parenting approach possible.
- Keep any negative thoughts regarding your co-parent away from the children. Venting your stress or anger in front of them can cause accidental parental alienation and force them to bear even more of the burden of parental separation.
- Establish a “parenting plan” upfront, including ways that potential changes or unforeseen circumstances will be approached. This allows changes or cancelled plans to be absorbed within an already established system rather than create a disruption to the child’s routines.
If you or someone you know is struggling with establishing or maintaining healthy communication in the wake of a divorce or separation, it is important to intervene quickly in order to prevent parental alienation. The counsellors at Horizon Plymouth are experienced when it comes to dealing with the prevention and treatment of parental alienation, and are here to help you take a healthier approach to divorce or separation. Although parental alienation sounds like something that only happens in extreme circumstances, it is much more common than you might think, as its onset is often unintentional. Don’t wait to get help in such situations, contact the experienced and helpful counsellors at Horizon Plymouth today to schedule your initial consultation.