Parenting through a divorce is seldom easy. No matter the ages of your children, you are likely to see signs of confusion, temper, and emotions that are uncharacteristic. As difficult as it may be to deal with, you know it is understandable. After all, you may be feeling these sentiments yourself from time to time.
The problem is that you are seeing and hearing things from your children that don't seem like a normal part of adjusting to life after a divorce. Instead of moving toward a healthy acceptance of the situation, your children may be pulling away from you or even acting with open hostility. This may be a cause for concern.
How do you know it's not a passing phase?
It is natural for children to lay blame on their parents when a marriage ends. If one parent had an affair, was abusive or has an addiction that contributed to the demise of the marriage, the children may feel resentful toward that parent. However, if you can see no reason why your children should act so negatively toward you, you may be the victim of parental alienation.
Parental alienation occurs when one parent intentionally turns a child away from the other parent by telling the child untruths that paint the other parent in a negative light. Your children may begin to believe that you intend to harm them, that you have done some terrible thing or that you no longer love them. Some of the signs you may notice that indicate your former spouse may be alienating you from your children include:
- Your children no longer want to spend time with you even if you used to have a loving relationship.
- They express only good feelings toward your ex and completely negative feelings toward you.
- They show no regret or sorrow for their hostile behavior toward you.
- There are no solid or reasonable excuses for your children to reject you.
- Their hostility continues to grow more intense as time passes.
Your children may reject not only you but your family. They may refuse to see their grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins on your side of the family. In this way, your ex can keep your children from any positive influences that may change their minds about you.
The potential damages
Parental alienation is nothing to take lightly. In fact, some psychologists see parental alienation as a form of child abuse because of the long-term damage it could do to a child. Not only will your children lose your positive influence in their lives and the opportunity for you to love and nurture them, they may also find it difficult to trust others throughout their lives. Your children may suffer with difficulty forming lasting relationships and allowing others to form intimate bonds with them.
If you fear your ex is attempting to alienate your children from you, you certainly don't want others to minimize the situation. There is too much at stake to pass it off as unimportant. Instead, working with a California professional who understands the ramifications of parental alienation will provide you with a strong advocate.