Divorce in Pennsylvania can be hard on everyone involved, including your children. Professionals have identified a condition called parental alienation that can occur in children and adolescents who are part of a divorce scenario regardless of where their parents are in the legal process.
What is parental alienation?
Parental alienation occurs when one parent begins a campaign to drive a wedge between their child and the other parent. This can occur long before divorce proceedings actually begin. The alienation is carried out through a number of negative psychological techniques such as brainwashing, programming, gaslighting, etc. In the most severe cases, the parents both badmouth each other, calling their spouse derogatory terms to demean that parent in their child’s eyes.
8 signs of parental alienation
In families with multiple children, not all of the children will become alienated to the same parents. Often, the children “side” with one parent or another, each child choosing which parental narrative they wish to believe. Signs of parental alienation include:
• The alienated child continually criticizes the alienated parent.
• The alienated child’s opinions of the alienated parent are completely negative. There are no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
• There is no strong reason, evidence or specific examples of why the child feels this way.
• The child displays unwavering support for the alienating parent.
• Hating or mistreating the alienated parent is deemed to be appropriate behavior by the alienated child.
• The feelings of hatred toward the alienated parent may expand to their entire family such as grandparents, aunts and uncles.
• The child takes credit for the conclusions and criticisms, maintaining that they are independent thinkers, and that they have not been influenced by the alienating parent.
• The language used by the child is often far beyond their developmental stage of life, often using adult terms to describe things that they have never experienced themselves.
How to help kids cope with divorce
Your family law attorney wants to help you thrive, not just survive. They may be able to put you in contact with family therapy providers who work with everyone involved to repair the parent-child relationship.