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Recognizing the signs of parental alienation

Parental alienation occurs when one parent attempts to manipulate a child’s feelings and perceptions toward the other parent. It can have detrimental effects on the child’s emotional well-being and their relationship with their parent.

Recognizing the signs of parental alienation helps you address the issue as early as possible and ensures your child’s healthy development.

Belittling and negative comments

An early sign of parental alienation is when a child hears one parent making negative or belittling comments about the other parent. Even subtle insults and comments diminish that parent and alter the child’s perception of them.

Restricting communication

Another common indication of parental alienation is when one parent limits or monitors the communication between the child and the other parent. Sometimes, the parent prohibits the child from answering calls and questions from the other parent. This hinders relationship development and bonding between the parent and child.

Undermining special events

Both parents should have the opportunity to participate in school events, trips and celebrations. When one parent deliberately schedules these events at times that conflict with the other parent’s custodial time or schedule, this interferes with their relationship with the child. When that parent is unable to take part, it can foster negative feelings from the child due to feelings of abandonment.

Manipulating emotions

One subtle yet effective method of parental alienation lies in manipulating the child’s emotions. When one parent strives to create a sense of loyalty in the child by indicating that affection for the other parent is disloyal, this can leave the child feeling torn and distant.

According to Contemporary Pediatrics, more than 22 million adults in the U.S. have experienced parental alienation. Recognizing the signs helps you take proactive steps to preserve your relationship with your child.