Parental alienation is a form of manipulation in which one parent attempts to harm or destroy a child’s relationship with the other parent. It may also be referred to, in layman’s terms, as “parental brainwashing.”
This process is often accomplished through lies, misrepresentation, and isolation. Parental alienation may start with something has simple as complaining about a spouse in front of a child and grow in severity as problems between the couple escalate before, during, and after the divorce. The purpose of this psychological alienation is to bring the child or children closer to the offending parent by driving them away from the targeted parent.
Victims of parental alienation often become fearful and mistrustful of the alienated parent. Because children are easily influenced and suggestable, they struggle to see the “gray area” in this conflict. Instead, they are groomed to see one parent as “good” and the other as “bad.”
Parental alienation was first brought to light by Dr. Richard Gardner in 1985. His theories on parental alienation syndrome developed as he worked with families dealing with child custody disputes. It is important to understand that Dr. Gardner defined the manifestation of parental alienation as being based on assertions that have no justification.
It isn’t uncommon for parents to criticize their spouse in front of their children in a moment of frustration. Children may also overhear arguments or misinterpret events. So, how do you distinguish parental alienation from an everyday, ill-timed dispute?
Keep an eye out for these clear and common signs of parental alienation:
Severe alienation may be considered a form of emotional child abuse. It is important to recognize that many professionals are unaware of parental alienation syndrome and its effect on children.
When a child is severely alienated from a parent, he or she becomes fearful, angry, and even, depressed. The idea that the other parent is somehow evil or dangerous may generate feelings of low self-esteem and unworthiness in the child. These feelings are often internalized and come to the surface through destructive behavior such as substance abuse. Parental alienation may also wreak havoc on the child’s future relationships and compel them to seek out high-conflict, unhealthy relationships as an adult.
Perhaps worst of all, victims of parental alienation syndrome are more likely to alienate their own children. If you feel you are the target of parental alienation and are being alienated from your child, know that there is help. The attorneys of Melone Hatley, will fight for your rights as a parent to ensure that both you and your child’s best interests are protected.
Melone Hatley is a general practice law firm based in Reston and serves the Northern Virginia area. Our practice areas include Family Law, Divorce and Special Needs Children, Traffic Ticket Defense, DUI/DWI Defense, and Trust and Estate Law. Our philosophy is to provide all of our clients with the highest quality legal representation, innovative legal solutions, and unsurpassed dedication to customer service. Through our high standards, we strive to be a trusted resource to our clients.
We know from experience that a successful attorney-client relationship depends on our ability to understand your needs and objectives. For more information about our parental alienation and our family law practice, contact our office today at 703.995.9900 or visit our website: www.MeloneLawPC.com.