In an article for The Atlantic titled, Can Children Be Persuaded to Love a Parent They Hate?, Barbara Bradley Hagerty describes what happened to the children of a Toronto family during their divorce in the early 2000s.
The father of the family had custody of the kids during summer break. During the summer days, the kids played, swam, and had outdoor fun as all children do during the summer. But at night, the father would keep the children up until the wee hours of the morning, badmouthing their mother. He would tell them that she was depressed, that she didn’t really care about them, and that she was addicted to prescription drugs.
Their father’s behavior went on for six years and even drifted into the school year. He would call his children at their mother’s home every night just to tell them how bad their mother was. If the kids ever defended her, he would get angry and hang up the phone.
The story in that article is an extreme example of parental alienation. Parental alienation is a manipulation process used by one parent against another. The result is that the child becomes estranged from the targeted parent. That estrangement shows up as fear, disrespect, or hostility toward the targeted parent. Parental alienation is controversial because the American Psychiatric Association does not recognize it as an official mental disorder for the parent or children.
Even parents who do their very best to create a strong bond between their child and co-parent can demonstrate alienator type behaviors without even realizing it. These behaviors include:
According to Amy J. L. Baker, Ph.D., a nationally recognized expert on parental alienation, children who are affected by parental alienation will display 1 or a combination of 8 behaviors:
Because parental alienation is not officially recognized as a mental disorder, Texas family courts take a conservative approach when dealing with cases where parental alienation might be at play. Even when the parental alienation evidence is overwhelming, the courts will lean toward parents making joint decisions about their child’s welfare unless that evidence includes dramatic or traumatic details.
If you are the target of a parental alienation campaign, keep these tips in mind:
Don’t let parental alienation stop you from having the loving parent-child relationship you deserve. Contact Angela F. Brown and Associates today to schedule a private and confidential consultation as soon as possible.
This is the third article in our Unthinkable Series. We’ll publish articles about some of the unique custody situations we’ve encountered in our practice with tips to help you overcome similar challenges during the series. Then we’ll host a live Q&A session where you can get your custody questions answered in real-time later in the week. If you have questions about this series or would like to submit a question for our live Q&A, please contact our office here.