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How to Handle Parental Alienation

Parental alienation “arises primarily in the context of child custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It is caused by a combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the targeted parent.”

Dealing with parental alienation is distressing for the targeted parent. Here’s what to do if you suspect your ex is trying to alienate you from your child:

  • Keep a log:Write down any comments, concerns, observations or other issues that seem inappropriate. This log will help you determine whether your child is experiencing parental alienation, or if they’re simply going through a rebellious phase.
  • Visit a therapist: A trained therapist will help you verify whether your ex is encouraging parental alienation, and create a game plan to handle it.
  • Listen to your child:Set aside time to talk to your child regularly, without reaction or judgment. Respond with empathy, rather than trying to fix a problem or punish your child. This allows your child to decompress safely.
  • Have playtime:Put your child in charge of unstructured playtime—then participate. This can reveal their hidden thoughts and feelings, and gives you the opportunity to provide a safe environment.
  • Don’t talk about the other parent:Sometimes parents unintentionally encourage alienation when they try to find out what’s happening in the other household. Instead, let your child come to you with their thoughts and concerns. Avoid talking poorly about the other parent, and offer love and empathy to your child.

These techniques help take the pressure off the child, who is being conditioned and encouraged to act out against the targeted parent. Eventually, children tend to realize which parent provides a safe and non-judgmental space.

If you suspect your child is a victim of parental alienation, it may be possible to adjust your custody arrangement. Contact the knowledgeable child custody attorneys at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A. in St. Paul, MN for assistance.

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