Welcome back to our three-part blog series on parental alienation. In Part 1 and Part 2, we took a look at the basics of alienation, as well as unpacking some myths on the topic. For our third and final part, we want to examine some actions you can take if you believe your child is being alienated against you, and what to do if you believe you’re being falsely accused of parental alienation.
The Importance of Watching Out for Warning Signs
In family law, many of the legal decisions we see are taken in the best interests of the child. Parental alienation is an incredibly damaging thing for a child to deal with. It’s been proven to lead to depression, low self-esteem, guilt, self-doubt, and even poor interpersonal relationships. It’s crucial to be aware of the warning signs of parental alienation, both in the child and in the alienating parent.
Warning Signs in Children
The behaviour of children towards their parents is generally stable and predictable. Sudden changes in how they interact with a parent, without an obvious reason, can be an early warning sign of parental alienation. Here are some of the common warning signs to watch out for in children you believe are being alienated:
- They suddenly idealize one parent and dislike the other
- They vilify the targeted parent, often with terms they don’t usually use
- They come up with false or irrational reasons to justify the hatred
- Their reactions to simple requests become unjustified or disproportionate
- They talk openly about the parent’s perceived shortcomings
- Their hatred extends to the parent’s family, and even pets
- They feel no guilt about the hatred and poor treatment of the parent
- They suddenly develop a stronger bond with the alienating parent
- Develops anger at the alienated parent over the separation
- Their hatred is couched in adult terminology or feels rehearsed
- They fail to come up with any substantive reasons for their sudden dislike
- They deny any hope of reconciliation
Warning Signs in Parents
A child who is actively being alienated against a parent will display the tell-tale signs above. Unfortunately, adults engaging in alienating behaviour can be more subtle in how they act. Here are some signs and terminology to be aware of that alienating parents have displayed in the past:
- Allows and even insists the child makes the final decision about contacting the other parent
- Rarely discusses the other parent around company
- They display no photos of the alienated parent and remove any reminders of them
- A refusal to hear positive comments about the alienated parent
- They are quick to discount any good times as trivial or unimportant
- They don’t encourage the child to speak with the parent unless necessary
- Overly indulges the child’s bad behaviours
- Lavishes gifts upon the child in an attempt to curry favour with them
- Doesn’t display concern for missed visits with the other parent
- Will tell lies or is economical with the truth
- Engages in an inquisition with the child following visits to the other parent
- The rejected parent is discouraged from attending joint events
- Exaggerates the alienated parent’s negative attributes
- False or fabricated allegations of illegal behaviour
- Uses language like the other parent “left us” and doesn’t “love us” to the child
- Uses the child to convey messages to the alienated parent
What to do if You’re Being Falsely Accused of Parental Alienation
Being falsely accused of parental alienation is a highly distressing accusation to face. Always remember, in a court of law the truth is on your side. How you prove your case through your actions will be much more effective than words. Here are some effective strategies that can be deployed to help prove the truth:
- Gather evidence of your behaviour toward your ex: Be meticulous and save every correspondence you have with your ex-partner. This can include emails, text messages, voicemails – anything that shows you are making a concerted effort to include them in their children’s lives rather than alienating them.
- Gather evidence of your ex’s allegations: Any evidence you have that can prove your ex-partner is lying should be kept on file. Often, the parent making unfounded allegations of alienation have personality disorders. They may have a distorted perception of reality or be unable to confront their own conduct and its impact on their relationship with the child. Look out for social media posts, photographs, voicemails and anything that highlights the quality of your ex’s relationship with the child in question. Alongside this, any sort of threatening posts, texts, or emails directed at you should be kept.
- Leave the kids out of it: Ensure you keep the best interests of your child at heart. False accusations of parental alienation are between the two former spouses. It’s crucial to shield the children as much as possible for the benefit of their long-term development.
- Talk to a Lawyer: Speaking to a family lawyer, like the team at Westside Family Law, is crucial. We can advise on the unique aspects of your case and how to ensure the best interests of you and your children are being met. In some cases, we may recommend you retain a child psychologist to prepare an expert report for the court, which will assess allegations of parental alienation.
Contact a Family Lawyer
If you’re dealing with Parental Alienation, either because you have been accused of alienating your child or you feel your child is being alienated from you, we understand how emotionally draining the process can be. It’s important to work with a skilled family lawyer to act as a level-head in an emotionally trying situation. Get in touch with us today. Our qualified team of family lawyers are ready to help.