Parental alienation has become a hot topic in psychology and the law. Fairfax County parents on either side of a child custody dispute can learn more about the issue.
What is it?
Parental alienation occurs when one parent manipulates their child for the detriment of the other parent. The goal in most cases is to get the child to adopt negative viewpoints of the other parent, disconnect from that parent and prefer the alienating parent. Psychologically, it’s a complex syndrome, but generally speaking, parental alienation arises from an intentional effort by the alienating parent.
How does it normally happen?
The most common method for fostering parental alienation is through role reversal. In this method, the parent uses their child to vent and otherwise meet their emotional and psychological needs. Their goal is to become the favored parent and transfer their own negative feelings and emotions about the other parent to the child. They also could attempt to suppress, mitigate or inhibit their child’s attachment to the other parent. This can be done through a variety of means with the end goal of destroying the parent-child relationship.
What is the result?
Parental alienation results in several negative effects. The child can withdraw from one of their parents, refusing to talk to them or participate during child custody visits. They may actually lash out and fight with that parent. They could also retreat inward, causing anxiety, depression and other negative emotional effects, and even self-harm.
Medically, what can be done?
There are mental health professionals that specialize or that have experience treating parental alienation. As such, you will need to find a local mental health professional to have your child examined. It could be they are having a mental health crisis unrelated to parental alienation syndrome. However, if it is parental alienation, the professionals can make that medical diagnosis. You can work with them to treat the issue and get your child’s mental health back.
Legally, what can be done?
A divorce and child custody attorney may be able to help you request a child custody modification based on the diagnosis.