Parental alienation can have serious consequences for the relationship between a parent and their child. Being able to spot the signs and act as early on as possible is vital, for the sake of everyone involved.
What is parental alienation?
Parental alienation is a type of psychological abuse carried out by one parent towards the child and the other parent, which can result in serious damage to the relationship between the alienated parent and their child.
Cafcass (Child and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) describes parental alienation as “when a child’s resistance or hostility towards one parent is not justified and is the result of psychological manipulation by the other parent”.
While parental alienation has been seen in family law proceedings for many years, it is only recently that it has come under the spotlight as a real issue for divorcing or separating parents.
How to spot parental alienation
Before going into some of the more common signs of parental alienation, it is important to note that this type of psychological abuse can be administered both manipulatively and out of concern for the child. For example, in some circumstances a parent may calculate how to act in a certain way so that the child does not want to spend time with their other parent.
In other situations, the parent may simply be (wrongly) concerned for their child and think that what they are doing is in their child’s best interests.
Parental alienation must not be confused with a child not wanting to see their parent (or a parent not wanting their child to have contact with the other parent) because of other issues, such as domestic abuse.
Signs of parental alienation include:
- the child constantly criticises the alienated parent
- the child seems to have no positive feelings towards the alienated parent, solely negative ones
- the child shows no guilt about hating the alienated parent
- the child may refer to situations they were not involved in/were too young to understand, when giving reasons for why they do not like the alienated parent.
When to seek advice
If you are worried that your child is being manipulated by their other parent to view you in a negative light, you should seek advice from a family lawyer as soon as possible. Where parental alienation is identified, if the alienating parent refuses to change their behaviour, the courts could, in some circumstances, transfer the residence of the child to the other parent. Book your free consultation with our family law specialists today.