Divorce is a painful process for the families who go through it. Children can especially be affected, as their entire world is changing. During or after a divorce, it is difficult for many to hold their tongues regarding their ex-spouse, and parents may be tempted to make a snide remark about their ex. Such emotions are understandable and even tolerable, to a small extent, but in extreme cases, vindictive parents directly attempt to alienate a child from the other parent. This is called parental alienation, and it can create serious problems for both the child and the offending parent.
Parental alienation often includes manipulative or destructive behavior on the part of the adult and is meant to weaken or break the relationship between the child and his or her other parent. A father telling his children lies about the mother so that they will prefer staying at his house would be an example of parental alienation. It could also involve a mother who refuses to let her children see their father by falsely claiming he does not want to be a part of their lives. When a parent tries to change a child’s perception of the other parent in an unethical way, parental alienation is occurring. This manipulative behavior is also sometimes referred to as “aggressive hostile parenting.”
Consequences of Parental Alienation
These behaviors can be harmful and confusing to a child. Parental alienation not only damages the relationship between child and parent but can also be mentally and emotionally damaging to the child involved. When a child is convinced that one of their parents is unfit or no longer loves them, it may devastate him or her, and he or she often blames him- or herself. The Parental Alienation Awareness Organization (PAAO) says that this can “rob the child of their sense of security and safety leading to maladaptive emotional or psychiatric reactions.” Children who are victims of this devious behavior can suffer severe emotional trauma that has long-lasting effects on their lives.
Parental alienation, or aggressive hostile parenting, is not something the courts take lightly. Allegations—and especially proven instances—of such behavior can make a significant impact in family law cases. Courts are sadly seeing this situation again and again. Parents try to convince a child that they are the superior parent or that they are the only one who loves or wants the child in their lives. Because the courts recognize that this abusive behavior is not in the child’s best interest, these actions can result in the offending parent having their parenting time severely restricted or requiring supervised visits.
Contact a Skilled Family Lawyer
If you are concerned that parental alienation is becoming a reality in your situation, contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney. We will help you explore your options and take steps toward securing your rights as well as those of your child. Call 630-377-7770 for a free consultation at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. today.