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How to Combat Parental Alienation

After a high-conflict divorce, what is known as parental alienation (PA) may occur, in which one parent turns a child against the other parent. The parent who does the alienating is referred to as the Alienating Parent (AP), while the target of the alienation is known as the Targeted Parent (TP). APs are usually angry and sad and look for a target to blame for their problems and feelings, and it ends up being the other parent.

As the TP, what are you supposed to do when your child is being conditioned into believing you're a bad person? What happens if your child suddenly hates you? Here are a few ways to help combat parental alienation and reconnect with your kid.

  • Address the lies: If you're being bombarded with lies, don't stay silent—address them. If your child brings up one of the lies your ex-spouse told them, respond in kind and state the facts. Be prepared to protest these lies often, as it takes time to get a repeated lie out of a child's head.
  • Encourage your child to speak to you directly: An AP isolates the child so that they only hear their perspective of what the "truth" is. Combat this by telling your child to come to you when they have questions. Your child may not believe you at first, but at least they get the opportunity to hear your side of the story.
  • Manage your emotions: It's easy to get angry and scared when you hear the lies your ex-spouse is feeding your child. If you find yourself acting out, use therapy, meditation, or exercise to handle your emotions.
  • Continue reaching out: If you don't see your child very often, that doesn't mean you should give up on talking to them. Reach out as much as you can, via phone call, text, email and even video chat. Just a few minutes of time with them can make the difference in shifting their perspective.
  • Be patient: Most important of all, know that parental alienation will take time to break down. Your efforts won't pay off immediately, so it's important to push through and take as long as needed to mend the relationship with your child.

Call (803) 938-4952 to speak to one of our Columbia family law attorneys at Masella Law Firm, P.A. today.