When your relationship with your child’s other parent ends on a sour note, you may find that it is difficult to establish a healthy co-parenting relationship. In extreme cases, you may develop concerns about your former partner trying to turn your child against you, which may have harmful effects on you as well as your child. 

Per Psychology Today, “parental alienation” is a term used to describe the actions of one parent to change a shared child’s opinion of the other. What might parental alienation look like, and how might it impact your child? 

Recognizing parental alienation 

Parental alienation often occurs when your ex has a hard time taking his or her animosity for you out of the equation. It may manifest through your ex badmouthing you in front of your son or daughter, or limiting your child’s contact with you when he or she is under the other parent’s care. If your ex gives your child the false impression that you are dangerous or unloving, this may also constitute parental alienation. 

Understanding its impact on kids

Many scholars now agree that parental alienation tactics have negative impacts on children. Children subjected to parental alienation tactics are more likely to feel self-hatred, and they may also grow up having a hard time trusting others. Depression and substance abuse are also common among adult children who experienced parental alienation tactics during their youth. Depression often occurs when a child feels unloved by one parent but never had the chance to mourn the loss of the relationship. Find more about navigating co-parenting after divorce on our webpage.