Parental alienation can transform ordinarily sweet, affectionate children into kids who want nothing to do with one parent. If you’ve seen this kind of change in your kids, it’s time to talk to your Richmond Hill divorce lawyer. Parental alienation can cause permanent damage to parent-child relationships; worse, it can give your kids emotional baggage they’ll carry for the rest of their lives.

Parental Alienation: How it Starts

Many divorce cases include a child custody agreement that sends the kids to live with one parent and visit with the other. Either parent, or even stepparents, might engage in parental alienation, whether consciously or unconsciously, so it’s important to recognize how it starts before irreparable damage is done.

Parental alienation often starts with your ex or a stepparent:

  • bad-mouthing or disparaging you. Kids absorb a great deal of what their parents say (probably more than we’d like to admit), so hurtful words about a parent can easily take root.
  • preventing or interfering with time the kids are supposed to spend with you, including phone time or webcam visits. The less your kids can interact with you, the more they might rely on the way others feel to form their opinions and feelings.
  • making kids feel bad for expressing love or positive feelings for you. When one parent makes a child feel guilty or “wrong” for loving you, those feelings can become part of their association with you—even if the kids can’t really explain why.
  • telling kids that they’re not important to you or that you don’t love them. Statements like “Mom has more important things to do than pick you up today” or “If Dad loved you like he says he does, he wouldn’t have done what he did” can cause emotional wounds that take years to heal, if at all.

What to Look For

Your kids might exhibit clear-cut symptoms of parental alienation, or they might seem a little fuzzy. If you notice these behaviours, call your Richmond Hill divorce lawyer right away. You may have grounds to change your child custody agreement.

  • Your child is angry with you but cannot give a reason why, finds fault in everything you do or sides with your ex over everything.
  • Your child guiltlessly rejects you and your entire family—grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and all.
  • Your child acts like everything is your fault and may not acknowledge that you once had a loving, happy relationship with each other.
  • Your child denies that their feelings for you have anything to do with your ex and may become angry if you suggest that they do.

Run, Don’t Walk, to Your Richmond Hill Divorce Lawyer’s Office

If you suspect your child is the victim of parental alienation, talk to your Richmond Hill divorce lawyer right away. He or she might be able to refer you to a local counsellor or therapist who’s well-versed in relationship hurdles like these—and the sooner you get your child some help, the better.