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What is parental alienation, and is it illegal?

On Behalf of | Jul 22, 2022 | Family Law |

For divorced parents, it is just a fact of life that you have to deal with your ex-spouse and maintain a good co-parenting relationship. However, not all Harris County ex-spouses want to maintain a good co-parenting relationship, and they engage in parental alienation (PA), which could qualify as child abuse.

Parental alienation?

PA is complicated, but it is nearly universally harmful to Galveston County children. PA occurs when one parent manipulates the child in an effort to dislike the other parent, reject that parent’s affection or simply avoid the other parent entirely. According to mental health experts, PA is usually committed by narcissists or parents, and the effects have a clinical, negative effect on the child’s mental health and healthy development.

How do I recognize parental alienation?

Look for a co-dependent relationship, where there is a role-reversal relationship. Under this dynamic, the parent is using the child for their own psychological and emotional needs. Look for narcissistic and personality disorders in your child that were not there prior to the Brazoria County divorce.

The triangle system

The triangle dynamic is another sign of PA. This is where there is some conflict between the two parents, and the child is the “odd man out.” The child then begins to serve as the vessel that the parental alienating parent uses to express their anger toward the other parent. Eventually, the vessel overflows, and the child begins to reject the other parent.

Differentiation of self

A big part of healthy childhood development is the creation of self, as a separate and independent human. Without the development of self, the child becomes dependent on the other parent for acceptance and approval.

This allows the parent who is inhibiting the child’s development of self to bully them into discord with the other parent, in addition to unhealthy self-esteem and co-dependency.

The takeaway

There are many other signs of League City, Texas, PA, but these are the most common. Although the key takeaway is that if you begin to notice an unhealthy relationship developing with your ex-spouse, or odd and negative behaviors from your child, post-divorce or during a divorce, do not ignore those signs.

Take your child to a mental health professional. They can identify “pathogenic parenting” in a child, rather than some natural, mental health disorder, and once you have that diagnosis, call your family lawyer.