Everyone, by now, is familiar with the term Parental Alienation.
I am not going to write about what is Parental Alienation. The subject has been widely documented as it is. What I want to write about is how to prevent it.
Whether it is deemed illegal or categorised as a mental illness is not going to help find a solution.
What needs to be taken into consideration is that Parental Alienation happens mostly during and after a divorce/separation. It is fuelled by high and overwhelming emotions and if the parent who is spiralling out of control into these emotions is not given proper emotional support, no amount of court orders, restraining orders or aggressive lawyers is going to resolve the issue. If anything, it’s going to make it worst.
Parents who get blinded by such emotions to a point that they cannot see the harm they are causing the children, need emotional support first and foremost.
So how do we prevent it?
Separating parents need to acknowledge that Parental Alienation is a real concern and a real possibility in a divorce. So if you foresee that your relationship to your children’s other parent is reaching an end, do raise the topic of Parental Alienation as part of the news of your separation. You will be making some very quick decisions such as who is moving out of the home first, so you need to talk about the children too. Any parent who leaves a relationship without addressing concerns about the children and leaving them to be addressed in the divorce process and in the Parenting Plan will miss out on setting the tone for protecting their children from such emotional fiasco.
So yes, Parental Alienation ought not to become something that parents raise once they are being targeted. By that time, a lot of damage has been done already. Parental Alienation needs to be talked about before it happens. If you suspect, in your relationship, that a breakup is at risk to send your co-parent in a spiral of destruction, know that being mindful about the breakup is a priority. Take responsibility for your children by managing this life changing decision, the news and the way forward.
A potential alienator is a hurt person who is being controlled by their emotions instead of being in control of their emotions. Taking responsibility for laying a mindful foundation that will protect the children from becoming hostage of your unmanaged situation will spare much hurt for everyone concerned.
Truth be told, you know your co-parent well enough to presume if they would be capable or not of such retaliation.
If you are dealing with a co-parent whom you foresee being capable of becoming an alienator, it is your responsibility, in regards to your children, to do as much as possible to prevent this from happening.
If you are of the opinion this could be a possibility, then engage on the topic with your co-parent. After all you are the adults and you will be having conversations about your children and their wellbeing for the rest of your lives, so this is such a time where your children’s wellbeing require very serious attention.
Consider these points if contemplating a separation/divorce from your co-parent:
- Understand that while a relationship is about love, a separation is about money and the children. A lot of consideration will need to be given to both in order for the separation to be as mindful a transition as possible. While you are responsible for your choices, your children remain dependent on those choices. Allow them to be spared as much as possible and not be thrown in the middle of the chaos. Both parents have to safeguard their children as a priority.
- Take responsibility for your emotions. Going through a separation is really emotionally overwhelming, for both parties. Seek divorce coaching before anything else. No good decisions will amount from badly managed emotions.
- There is no other word. Parental Alienation is abuse! And yes, you may have well meaning intentions such as: “my spouse hurt me so I will make sure they don’t hurt my children too”, (we are not raising here the implication of protecting them from a physically abusive parent) but alienating your children from their other parent, even if it was an absent parent during the relationship, is abuse.
- Do not let your anger for your ex take over the love you have for your children.
In other words, before you become a targeted parent and your children become hostage to a most toxic situation, do your due diligence on what the outcome of the news you are about to drop on your co-parent may unfold in and plan accordingly.
Everything starts with yourself!
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