There is no doubt that divorce takes a toll on kids. No matter how old they are or how much they understand about their parents' decision, children can struggle enormously to come to terms with the divorce. The situation can be especially painful for children of parents who are engaged in a contentious or high-conflict divorce.
Under these circumstances, kids can be at risk of being emotionally abused by a parent wishing to alienate him or her from the other parent. This is referred to as Parental Alienation, or PA, and it should be taken very seriously. Below are eight signs of PA during a divorce, as described by researchers.
- The child denies any positive traits or actions of the targeted parent, often in a sudden shift from previous beliefs.
- The child is unable to explain or offer any legitimate rationale behind hostility or hatred toward the targeted parent.
- The child has an unfailing and idealized perception that the alienating parent is perfect.
- The child refuses to admit the alienating parent has any influence whatsoever over their hatred for the targeted parent.
- The child begins treating the targeted parent poorly and harshly, without guilt or remorse.
- The child aligns himself or herself with the alienating parent in familial disputes, despite any claims that the alienating parent is wrong, at fault or unreasonable.
- The child adopts an alienating parent's language, ideas and stories with regard to accusations against the targeted parent, oftentimes without being to elaborate or deviate from this type of "script."
- The child rejects not only a relationship with the targeted parent, but also with the targeted parent's extended family.
Parental alienation is a very serious issue that puts a child's emotional well-being in danger, not to mention the relationship he or she might have otherwise had with the targeted parent.
If you are accused of parental alienation or if you feel you are a targeted parent, then it is crucial to discuss such allegations with your attorney. These claims can have an enormous impact on your parental rights and child custody arrangements, so legal guidance will be vital.