Warning Signs For Parental Alienation – Parental alienation affects many children whose parents are going through—typically very nasty—divorces. However, awareness for the warning signs of parental alienation, as well as the long-term negative effects that can stay with a child well into their adult lives, are low. The counsellors at Horizon Plymouth see adults every day who are struggling with lingering effects of parental alienation on their adult relationships and mental health, and we believe that being able to recognize the warning signs of potential parental alienation can help to improve these outcomes by encouraging both parents and children to seek help when needed.
What is parental alienation?
We have published a previous article describing in more detail what parental alienation is and the long-term ramifications for children into their adult lives, and this article is available should you want more information. Briefly, parental alienation is when one parent unfairly and unjustly attempts to turn their children against the other (typically divorced) parent through a variety of tactics from false accusations to total isolation of the children from their parent. This is a form of emotional abuse that causes the child to reject the alienated parent based on the manipulation from the other parent.
5 warning signs for parental alienation
Throughout and beyond the divorce process, it is important that parents and family members be alert for warning signs of suspected parental alienation so that steps can be taken to seek counselling before the damage becomes permanent. Often, these five warning signs can be seen as an indicator that the child might be at risk for parental alienation.
- Parent tells child the negative details of the divorce, especially those that paint the other parent in a bad light
- Parent makes false accusations of abuse at the hands of the other parent
- Parent is restrictive of visits, phone calls, and information sharing relative to the child
- Children begin to demonstrate anger towards the other parent, especially if the anger has no easily identifiable cause
- Children show signs of isolation of the other parent, withdrawing from their affection or refusing to attend visits
If you notice any of these signs in your child, it could be an indication of early parental alienation, and steps should be taken to protect your children against lifelong negative effects.
How to protect your children
Being intentional about preventing potential parental alienation before, during, and after the divorce proceedings is one of the best ways to protect your children. If you sense that it is happening, the following steps may be helpful in putting a stop to the progression of the behaviour:
- Teach children to look at behaviour critically
- Confront lies, untruths, and negative speech directly
- Keep track in writing of attempts to prevent you from seeking your child(ren)
- Remain calm in the face of accusations, even if they are untrue
- Remain open and honest with your child
- Make an effort to be available to them should they wish to talk
Ultimately, the best protection consists of taking steps to prevent parental alienation from happening in the first place. However, whether you are noticing warning signs or you are taking preventative action, working with a licensed counsellor such as one of the staff at Horizon Plymouth is one of the best ways to protect your children from the variety of negative effects that may be experienced. A counsellor can help you to reframe feelings, work through hurt and negative emotions, and move forward in a healthy and productive manner.
If you or someone you know is battling with the effects of parental alienation—be they an adult or child—don’t wait to seek help. Schedule your initial consultation with Horizon Plymouth today to take the first step towards a healthier mindset and more productive relationships.