Emotions can run high in a divorce, especially if children are involved. Sometimes one parent can try to turn a child against the other parent. They may do it out of spite or to gain a greater share of custody.
If you notice your child acting differently toward you after they spend time with your co-parent, it might be a sign of what psychologists refer to as parental alienation. For example, your child is angry toward you, fearful of you or distant from you.
Why do you need to address the issue?
Aside from harming your relationship with your child, parental alienation can lead to long-term problems. For example:
- Seeing everything in black or white: Compromise is crucial in life, and it becomes much harder to achieve when people take polarized positions.
- Struggling to maintain relationships: Healthy relationships require people to accept that sometimes they are wrong and the other party is right. A child who experienced parental alienation may be unable to do this. They may have learned that anyone who disagrees with them is bad and that using devious means to remove them is justified.
How can you address the issue?
Proceed with caution if you suspect your ex of turning your child against you. Accusing them outright could make things worse. Remember, children often experience confusion during a divorce and feel the need to take sides without parental pressure.
Consider seeking psychological help to uncover the root cause of the issue. If it shows your ex has been manipulating your child, you may need to seek a custody modification to protect your child from further harm.