Raising a child is challenging but raising a child with someone you are no longer married to, or in a relationship with, comes with a whole new set of challenges. Not only are parents likely to have different approaches to parenting, but feelings of regret or bitterness could cause one parent to actively attempt to turn the child away from the other parent.
If this sounds like your situation, you could be experiencing what is known as parental alienation syndrome. This term has become more familiar in recent years, but it is still difficult to detect when it is present, or if your situation simply reflects the conflict inherent between separated or divorced people raising a child together.
Sadly, parental alienation syndrome is more common than you think. A recent study tracked a dozen high-conflict divorce cases for several years and found that most cases involved components of parental alienation syndrome.
Look for these signs of parental alienation syndrome
Keeping in mind a parenting relationship that is completely free of conflict is unlikely, the following are signs that you may be experiencing parental alienation syndrome:
- Lack of communication with your child when they are with the other parent
- An overall decline in your relationship with your child
- False allegations being made against you
If you can openly communicate with your child when you are with them, but this communication ceases when they are with the other parent, the other parent may be restricting their access to you or intentionally withholding contact. Likewise, if your relationship with your child was good prior to your separation from the other parent, and has deteriorated, despite your best efforts, the other parent could be speaking negatively about you.
False allegations are a major sign of parental alienation syndrome, particularly if they become a pattern. If the other parent is constantly accusing you of abuse, neglect, or other things that could negatively impact your custody time, there is a good chance you are a victim of parental alienation syndrome.
There are many other signs of parental alienation syndrome. Talking with a trusted professional who can analyze your child custody situation and develop a strategy to improve your relationship with your child can help.