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How parental alienation tactics hurt children

On Behalf of | Feb 26, 2024 | Family Law |

Parental alienation tactics often come into play during contentious custody battles or acrimonious divorces. When they do, they can have devastating effects on children caught in the crossfire.

These tactics involve one parent undermining the child’s relationship with the other parent, resulting in estrangement and emotional harm. Such behavior fractures the parent-child bond. It also inflicts long-lasting psychological damage on the child, impacting his or her emotional well-being and future relationships.

Emotional manipulation and psychological distress

Parental alienation tactics often involve emotional manipulation and psychological coercion aimed at turning the child against the other parent. This may include denigrating the absent parent or restricting contact. It might also include fabricating false allegations to tarnish one parent’s reputation in the eyes of the child. As a result, children may experience confusion, guilt and loyalty conflicts. This can lead to heightened stress and anxiety. Over time, these negative emotions can manifest as depression, low self-esteem and difficulty forming healthy attachments.

Long-term consequences

The detrimental effects of parental alienation can extend well into adulthood. Children subjected to parental alienation tactics may struggle with trust issues. They may also experience difficulties with interpersonal relationships and intimacy later in life. They may also exhibit behavioral problems and academic difficulties. Many children subject to parental alienation also face a heightened risk of mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety. Additionally, the absence of a meaningful relationship with one parent deprives the child of necessary emotional support and role modeling. This can hinder the child’s ability to navigate life’s challenges.

Science Direct reports that more than 30% of U.S. parents feel the other parent is attempting to alienate their child from them. Recognizing the signs of parental alienation and taking proactive steps to address it helps safeguard children’s rights and promote healthy family dynamics.