Parental alienation is incredibly serious. It’s the practice of turning a child away from one of his or her parents, and it’s extremely harmful to everyone involved – including the parent who’s doing the alienating.
Check out these parental alienation examples so you know how to recognize it if it’s happening to your child. Then, read on to find out what you can do about it.
Related: Grounds for full custody of a child
Parental Alienation Examples
When you read through these parental alienation examples, keep in mind that every case is different. What you see here may be different from what your child is experiencing. The main themes in parental alienation can involve:
- Badmouthing one parent
- Causing the child to reject the other parent
- Interfering with the child’s visitation time and contact with the other parent
- Undermining the relationship with the other parent
Let’s take a closer look at each of these – and again, remember that these aren’t the only examples of parental alienation.
Related: Reasons to modify child custody
Parental Alienation Example #1: Badmouthing one parent.
This can include criticizing or belittling the other parent to the child, or telling the child that his or her other parent is crazy, dangerous or otherwise unworthy of being a parent.
Example: David tells his daughter that her mother is unfit to be a mom. He says that she works too much now, and that she’s always been “crazy.” He tells his daughter that he’s worried that her mom won’t take “good enough” care of her when she visits.
This can include making the child feel guilty for loving the other parent, as well as creating parent-child conflict, forcing the child to choose between one or the other, and talking to the child about the divorce.
Example: When Sadie tells her dad that she loves and misses her mom, he scoffs and says, “Why?” He tries to get his daughter angry with her mother, even when her mother hasn’t done anything wrong, and he shares too many details about their divorce and other adult matters that should remain strictly between parents.
Parental Alienation Example #3: Interfering with the child’s visitation time and contact with the other parent.
This includes being chronically late to drop off the child (or picking the child up too early), finding reasons to keep the child when he or she is supposed to be with the other parent, excessively calling the child when he or she is with the other parent, or refusing the child to get in touch with the other parent.
Example: Billie comes up with excuses to prevent her stepdaughter from seeing her non-custodial mom. She purposely makes appointments for the child when it’s visitation time, or simply asks the child whether she feels like skipping the visit. Billie calls excessively when the little girl’s mom takes her to an amusement park and threatens the child with punishment if she fails to pick up the phone.
This includes interrogating the child about details of his or her visit with the other parent or asking the child to spy, as well as refusing to provide the other parent with information on the child or failing to invite the other parent to important activities (like conferences, school plays and things of that nature).
Example: Howie and his wife grill his children when they come home from a visit, demanding details about everything from what they ate to where they went and who they saw. They also refuse to let his ex-wife know how the kids are doing in school (or asks the school not to divulge information to her), and never mentions when there’s an important event coming up that his ex should be part of.
What Are the Signs of Parental Alienation?
The signs of parental alienation aren’t always easy to spot, but if you see them, it’s in your best interest to take your child to talk to a therapist or counselor as soon as possible. It can be incredibly painful and harmful – not just to the child, but to the alienated parent as well.
Some of the signs of parental alienation include:
- Extreme negativity toward the alienated parent, including denying past positive experiences
- Lack of remorse for hurting the alienated parent’s feelings
- Preposterous reasons for being angry with the alienated parent
- Saying that the rejection of the alienated parent is “all my idea”
- Seeing one parent as “all-good” and the other as “all-bad”
- Taking the side of the alienating parent, no matter what
What if Your Ex is Engaging in Parental Alienation?
If your ex is engaged in a campaign of parental alienation against you, you may be able to modify your custody order to help your child get out of the situation.
We may be able to help you. Remember, though, that every case is different. Call us at 209-546-6870 to schedule a consultation with a caring, compassionate and knowledgeable Stockton child custody attorney now.