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When Kids get the Worst of the Divorce: Parental Alienation


It makes sense that divorcing couples may not be too fond of one another; that’s why they’re splitting up, right?  A certain degree of –hopefully temporary—animosity is to be expected.  But the fact of the matter is, real problems can develop when one partner puts the kids in the line of fire.  Commonly known as parental alienation, the attitudes and actions can be extremely destructive.  If you are experiencing this, having an experienced local attorney by your side could prove to be very handy.

What Is Parental Alienation? 

Just like it sounds, parental alienation is the deliberate attempt to put a wedge between children and one parent.  Typically the offending parent will do whatever it takes to put the other parent in a poor light in the eyes of the kids.  Some worrisome signals might include:

  • The other parent making disparaging remarks about you within earshot of the children, or even directly to children;
  • The other parent making communication and visitation difficult, inconvenient, or impossible;
  • The other parent tries to make the children pick a favorite or take sides, even going so far as to threaten to withhold love if the kids don’t align with them.

This Sounds Crazy! What Causes Such Behavior in a Parent? 

Dr. Richard Gardner named the condition parental alienation syndrome, in the 80’s.  In his studies of the issue, he notes that oftentimes parents who suffer from this condition are emotionally bereft themselves, and may be plagued with other conditions, including:

  • Narcissism;
  • Fragile coping mechanisms;
  • Self-absorption;
  • Excessive resentment and anger about the divorce;
  • Lack of emotional responsibility;
  • Inability to connect their actions to the harm it causes the children.

Kids Do Better With Both Parents on Their Side 

A parent engaged in underhanded tactics to create distance between the other parent and the children may use all kinds of rationalizations to justify the behavior, but the truth is, sabotaging such an important relationship can be devastating for kids.  Studies document the fact that this kind of tug-of-war often leads to severe self esteem issues for children based on a sense of unworthiness.  This leads to problems like depression, trust issues, and down the line, a potential for addictions.  Growing up unsure of a parent’s love can be confusing, frightening, and enraging. When a child has two loving parents, and those parents reassure their kids that both parents have something to offer, it is a much healthier scenario.

Dealing With Parental Alienation 

On the legal front, you do have some options if you are faced with this kind of difficulty.  To discuss your options, contact the experienced Baltimore family lawyers at the Law Office of Hasson D. Barnes today.




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