After a divorce, parents may allow negative feelings toward a former spouse to negatively affect their children. Whether or not people intend to shape their children’s perceptions towards their other parent, disparaging statements can be very damaging.
Parents should be aware of how parental alienation harms children. Recognizing the potential consequences and taking steps to address them proactively can enable parents to spare their children from considerable psychological harm.
Understanding what constitutes alienation
Telling children that a parent does not care about them is a clear form of alienation. In addition, telling children that a parent is entirely to blame for the circumstances that led to a divorce may also constitute alienation. Furthermore, derogatory remarks and rebukes may diminish a child’s feelings towards a parent.
How alienation can make children feel
Damage to a parental relationship can cause children to perceive a sudden loss of support and security. Even if they feel that a parent who is the subject of alienation still loves them, they may feel as though that love is of little value. For years, resentment and hostility can color children’s relationships with their parents. These feelings may go on to affect other relationships in children’s lives as they mature and make it more difficult for them to form attachments.
One way that parents can prevent parental alienation is explicitly addressing the issue in divorce proceedings. They can reach a mutual understanding and even create a legal agreement that they will refrain from speaking negatively about one another to their children.