Alienating behavior and child custody

Child development experts say that alienating behavior is used to manipulate a child by damaging their relationships with other the other parent.

There is a difference between “parental alienation” as a behavior and that which is recognized as “Parental Alienation Syndrome,” the outcome or impact of parental alienation behavior on a child.

While information and options about the long-term effects of parental alienation on children remains a matter of discussion, it would be reasonable to be concerned about a child’s ability to trust others as they grow up. When you are being used as the go between or pawn in other people’s issues it is hard to trust anyone’s good intentions.

Subject of another article, parental alienation as a concept, can arise while negotiating or litigating child custody determinations and modifications. It can get rather involved when people start accusing the other parent of parental alienating behavior or even more so, suggesting the child has been negatively affected as a result. It is best to prevent and avoid manipulation and anything that could be considered alienating behavior.

Are you an alienating parent?

Going through a divorce can cause anxiety and a range of emotions and unintended alienating behavior. Your unresolved divorce issues could come out in ways you do not intend. You may inadvertently involve your child in your healing process in an unhealthy way for them. Some parents catch themselves engaging in alienating behavior without meaning to do so.

Being frustrated with the divorce and your child hearing you talk to your friend about it on the phone could be innocent or alienating, depending on your intention. People who badmouth the other parent directly to their child or when they expect their child to hear, may be doing so to win favor with the child over their other parent and that is manipulative. That said, if you are reckless about what your child does and does not overhear, you could be engaging in alienating behavior.

Parental alienation warning signs

Failure to respect other people and their time can be an alienating and passive aggressive behavior. In co-parenting a parent who frequently texts the child without good reason, is taking up the other parent’s time during visitation. This is a prime example of alienating behavior and it could be something easy enough for anyone to do and not realize they are doing something that could be considered harmful by the other parent.

When children start becoming oppositional or defiant, without any other good reason, it could be a signal of an alienation problem. The exclusion of one parent at the request of the child or by another can be detrimental on a child when otherwise co-parenting well meant that at certain public events and functions both parents had been present.

When your child starts saying limitations and exclusions are their own idea, your internal alert should sound. Children who feel like pawns in the middle of a battle can end up resenting everyone involved.

Mark Scroggins is Board Certified* in family law and has many years’ experience working with parents who complain that the other is engaging in alienating behavior. That experience matters when you are concerned about your child. Call Scroggins Legal in Plano, Texas for more information by dialing (469) 626-5220.