Sometimes they do it intentionally, but many times divorcing parents are not really aware when it’s happening. Parental alienation is all too common in McKinney divorce cases. One or both parents say and do things to damage their child’s relationship with the other parent. 

They may do it to get even with the other parent, or in a misguided attempt to solidify their own relationship with a child. Regardless of the reason, however, McKinney family lawyers see time after time the devastating effect parental alienation can have on children. By being aware of actions that can lead to problems, parents can take steps to avoid parental alienation during and after their divorce. 

Recognizing Parental Alienation

Parental alienation occurs when one parent effectively “programs” their child to reject the other parent by taking steps to undermine the child’s relationship with that parent. This leads to the child’s emotional separation from that parent and eventual loss of parental support in the child’s life. Parents who engage in parental alienation often demonstrate that they are not capable of focusing on the child’s needs but instead connect everything to their conflict with the spouse.  

McKinney Family Lawyers see parental alienation take many forms. This can include:

  • Trash-talking the other parent in front of the child
  • Consistently rescheduling the other parent’s visits with the child so that visits get canceled
  • Blaming the other parent for the couple’s separation and break up of the family
  • Refusing to share information with the other parent such as school report cards
  • Implying that the other parent is dangerous or harmful
  • Forcing the child to choose between parents
  • Providing late or no notice about a child’s extracurricular activities so the other parent cannot attend and appears disinterested

When a child is the victim of parental alienation, they can distrust or even fear the other parent. The controlling parent may offer the child the option to refuse visits with the other parent even if the parenting plan does not make these visits optional. Fear may cause a child to request changes in custody or visitation arrangements. 

Preventing Parental Alienation

One of the best tools to combat parental alienation is respect. McKinney family lawyers know that a parent who is the target of parental alienation should not resort to the tactics being used against them. Instead, they should work to demonstrate respect toward the other parent and to be the best parent they can be. In particular, it is wise to avoid displaying anger against either the child or the other parent, because this can reinforce negative messaging. 

The parent who is targeted should take steps to reinforce the message that they love the child, even if the child does not appear to return the affection. Continue to send positive messages and be there when the child needs support. It can take time, but eventually, children who are victims of parental alienation can understand the truth of the situation and reconnect with the targeted parent.

McKinney Family Lawyers Can Help if You are the Target of Parental Alienation

Many of the tactics that parents take in the process of parental alienation violate the terms of parenting agreements or other requirements. A targeted parent does not have to stand by idly while the other parent tries to destroy their relationship with the child. 

If you believe you are being targeted, consult the experienced McKinney family lawyers at Nordhaus & Nordhaus to learn your options for addressing the problems. Taking steps early on could prevent damage to your relationships later. For a fully confidential consultation, contact us now.