Some former couples find that they can co-parent relatively easily, while others find the transition far more difficult to manage. If your divorce from your former spouse was especially ugly or acrimonious, you may have even more of a hard time learning to co-parent together. If your spouse thinks poorly of you, you may have concerns about potential parental alienation.
Just what is parental alienation, and is there anything you may be able to do to minimize the impact it may have on your child?
Defining parental alienation
Parental alienation typically occurs when one party involved in a split projects his or her feelings about the former partner onto a child the former couple shares. Parental alienation takes on numerous forms, but if your former partner is repeatedly disparaging you in front of your son or daughter or making your child afraid of you, you may want to take action. While parental alienation may prove hurtful for you, it may also have devastating, long-term effects on your son or daughter’s development and well-being.
Effects of parental alienation
These days, most psychologists and scholars agree that parental alienation is actually a form of child abuse. However, adult children of divorce who experienced parental alienation during their childhood often find that the effects of the behavior stay with them well into adulthood.
For example, many adults who were victims of parental alienation as children find that they feel unworthy later in life. They are also more likely to develop feelings of low self-esteem or self-hatred. Adults who had at least one parent attempt to alienate them against the other are also more likely to develop substance abuse disorders or chronic depression as they age. They are also more likely to struggle with relationships later in life and are more likely to continue the behavior and alienate their own children sometime down the line.
Parental alienation may have serious, lifelong effects. If you suspect that your ex is attempting to turn your shared child against you, you would be wise to do something about it.