Divorce is often a difficult and destructive time for families. Emotions run high, and both spouses may feel a sense of betrayal. If you are in such a situation, you may feel yourself overcome with anger and resentment. Chances are your spouse is feeling the same.
While there are many ways to cope with these feelings, some Louisiana parents choose to use their children as pawns in a cruel game of revenge against their spouses. Some research shows that parents who use alienation against their former partners may have a narcissistic personality disorder. Even if this is true about your spouse, the consequences remain the same when parental alienation is allowed to fester and grow.
Methodically robbing you of your rights
Parental alienation occurs when one parent systematically turns the children against the other parent. This may begin subtly, and you may dismiss the signs you see in your children as the natural reaction to the confusion of the divorce. As time passes, your former spouse may succeed in manipulating your children into rejecting you, refusing to see you and losing respect for you. To do this, your former spouse may use these tactics:
- Demeaning you in front of the children
- Negating any routines or disciplines you attempt to establish
- Berating your ability as a parent
- Pointing out your shortcomings and failures
- Lying to the children about you
- Planning fun activities on the days when you are supposed to have custody
- Excluding you from school events so you are out of the loop
You may begin to see changes in your child’s behavior, such as open defiance or refusal to go with you on your scheduled custody days. Your child may ignore you altogether, insist you do not attend events and deny any previous bond you may have shared.
Protecting your parental rights
Ignoring these symptoms will not improve the situation. Such manipulation is dangerous for your child, who may be afraid to defy the other parent. In fact, some psychologists call parental alienation a form of child abuse because of the damage it does to the psyche of a child. Children who are victims of parental alienation often have difficulty forming adult relationships because of the breach of trust and unhealthy exposure to one parent’s personality disorder.
Remaining loving and vigilant is always a good way to demonstrate to your child that you are a constant in his or her life. It may require you to hold your tongue rather than turn the tables on the other parent. However, if you feel your custody rights slipping away, legal intervention may be necessary.