When you and your ex don’t get along, it can make it difficult to co-parent peacefully. But when your relationship with your ex is more than just tenuous, you may not be the only one who suffers the consequences.

What is parental alienation?

Parental alienation occurs when an ex-spouse psychologically manipulates their child into voluntarily distancing themselves from the other parent. The reasons behind parental alienation are numerous. It can be a form of revenge that one parent inflicts on another. Other times, it can manifest due to the jealousy that one parent feels towards the other.

Regardless of the motivations behind it, parental alienation is extremely harmful. Not only do you suffer at the hands of your ex, but so does your child. This unfair separation can cause emotional and psychological damage in you, your kid and sometimes even extended family members. That’s why it’s important to know how to identify the signs of this harmful behavior.

Look out for these warning signs

While parental alienation can come in many different forms — some subtle and some not-so-subtle — here are some common behaviors and signs you can look for in your child and your ex that might indicate an instance of parental alienation:

  • Your child may make up silly excuses for why they don’t want to visit you
  • Your child might begin to complain about spending time with you
  • Your ex might stop letting you know about events or activities involving your child (sports games, parent-teacher conferences)
  • Your child or your ex might find excuses to pick fights and start arguments
  • Your ex might display signs of entitlement and see themselves as the better parent
  • Your child might insist that it was their idea to stop spending time with you, not your ex’s

Protect yourself and your child

Dealing with parental alienation is no easy task. It can be emotionally and physically exhausting to navigate this serious and delicate matter. But when your well-being and the well-being of your child is at stake, it’s important that you take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your child during this trying time.