Parental Alienation Part III: What Targeted Parents Can Do About Alienation

Posted by on May 30, 2019 in Healthy Separation and/or Divorce Counseling | Comments Off on Parental Alienation Part III: What Targeted Parents Can Do About Alienation

In this final part of our three-part series on alienation, we are going to discuss what targeted parents can do about alienation between themselves and their children. As mentioned before, we can define alienation as a situation where one parent attempts to undermine the authority, connection, and relationship of the other parent and their children.

This can occur with parents who are separated or divorced and who both have visitation rights or joint custody of their children. It is a painful experience for any targeted parent to have to endure and it’s very hard to reverse the effects of alienation. However, there are things targeted parents can do about alienation.

Attempt to Make Repairs with Alienating Parent

The first thing that the targeted parent can do is to attempt to repair the relationship

between themselves and the alienating parent. In some cases, the alienating parent is not intentionally trying to alienate the other parent. They may even not even realize that what they are doing is alienation, nor aware of the damage that they are causing. These parents can be receptive to making changes when given the appropriate feedback. Attempting to make repairs is a reasonable first step towards addressing the problem, as well as working towards a better co-parenting situation.

Take Legal Recourse

If the alienating parent refuses to cooperate, then it’s likely necessary to pursue change

through legal action. The legal system is not perfect and can be confusing to navigate, but it sometimes will help towards improving the relationship between the targeted parent and child (via changing custody, etc.). In fact, research shows that it’s possible to reverse the damage with an increasing amount of time with the targeted parent and a decreased amount of time with the alienating parent. Thus, it can be worth it for the targeted parent to pursue legal action against the alienating parent.

Learn to Manage the Alienation

Even the courts can’t always make the alienating parent behave. They can be very determined to undermine the relationship between their child and the targeted parent, no matter what the consequences. This even includes the threat of jail time. Sometimes the best that the targeted parent can do is to manage the alienation as best they can, and to preserve the relationship that they have with their child.

What Targeted Parents Can Do About Alienation to Preserve and Restore the Relationship

1. Recognizing What’s in Your Control

It’s important to note that, as a targeted parent, you have no control over your ex’s behavior or attitude. However, you do have quite a bit of power as a sphere of influence for your child. You can control your own behavior and responses to the alienating parent.  This helps prevent a tough situation from getting worse.

2. Show Unconditional Love

As hurtful as it is to be rejected by your child, it’s still important to let them know you love them and care for them. Regardless of what they tell you or how they feel or don’t feel towards you, show that you love them no matter what.

3. Don’t Become an Alienator  

Avoid stooping to the level of the other parent and playing the alienation game. It will only add fuel to the fire, even if there seem to be justifiable reasons, it will only cause more harm for the child.

4. Always Use Positive Language

This is often overlooked but it’s still important to avoid using negative language.  Positive language can especially help when dealing with emotionally charged situations. For example, instead of saying, “I miss you,” try “See you soon” or,“ I’m looking forward to our next meeting.” It’s a subtle change, but it makes a big difference when communicating with your child.

5. Share Empathy  

Talk to your child in a way that shows you care and understand. For example, they may accuse you of something that they heard from the alienating parent. Say, “It must have been hard to hear those kinds of things about me.” Empathy will help to strengthen your relationship together.

6. Don’t Give Up Communicating with Your Kids

Even if they are not responding to your phone calls, text messages, or emails, don’t stop doing those things. Your particular situation may not allow you to communicate with your child. Thus, keep a journal or write letters that to show them later on.  

7. Don’t Blame the Child

Remember that in this situation they are victims in this situation. They are doing what they are doing to preserve their relationship with the alienating parent. However, they are victims of manipulation by that parent.

 8. Be Yourself  

Be comfortable in your own skin and show the child that you’re still living your life.  Remember, you don’t have to overcompensate by being too stringent or too permissive. Just be yourself!

9. Stick to Your Plans

If you are planning to pick up your child at 6 PM, but you know that it won’t happen, still stick to your planned pickup time. Also, remember to promise only what you can deliver.

10. Engage in Memorable Moments

Assuming that you have contact with the child, continue building a relationship via special and memorable moments. They don’t have to be big affairs. Rather, these moments can be spent playing a board game, watching a movie, or reading a book together if they are younger.

Finally…

Keep in mind that alienation can create many difficult moments. Yet, there are still positive ones too. It’s easy to forget happy times when coping with an alienating ex.  

Most of all, the best things targeted parents can do about alienation are to follow the tips above and be willing to ask for help.

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