Your marriage may have started off rocky, or it may have grown contentious as the years passed. Wherever on the spectrum your circumstance falls, since your divorce, you may feel that the only good thing that came out of your marriage was your children. However, even this part of your life is having more bad days than good ones.
In some ways, it may be natural for children to feel some resentment, confusion and anger following a divorce, but if you are noticing some especially hostile behavior, you may be dealing with something more sinister.
What does parental alienation look like?
When parents divorce, children may have little comprehension of the situation and may latch on to whatever their parents tell them. This is one reason why child advocates recommend keeping your emotional reactions toward your former partner in check in front of the children. While you may be making that effort, your co-parent may not be. In fact, he or she may be taking advantage of this delicate and impressionable time to win your children's approval at your expense.
This is known as parental alienation, when one parent turns the children against the other parent. It may not be easy at first to recognize the difference between normal childhood rebellion and parental alienation. However, here are some signs that are common among children going through this trauma:
- Openly insulting you or behaving indifferently toward you and feeling no compunction.
- Talking about negative incidents that they could only know about through your former spouse.
- Using phrases or terms that you recognize as coming from your former spouse.
- Always taking the side of their other parent.
- Speaking sympathetically about your former spouse as if he or she was the victim in the divorce.
- Resisting spending time with you or avoiding your company.
Sometimes, this process of parental alienation is unintentional and occurs when a highly emotional parent expresses his or her negative feelings without thinking. Often, however, it is a methodical and intentional breaking down of the natural affection a child has for the other parent. Your children may develop negative feelings against you and eventually reject you altogether.
This is not something to take lightly. Parental alienation is a form of brainwashing, and it may leave your children with lifelong trust issues and confusion about their relationships. After all, children have a natural trust in their parents, and when one betrays or manipulates that trust, it may be hard to regain. If you believe your former spouse is alienating you from your children, you would be wise to seek legal assistance from a Louisiana professional as quickly as possible.