We have gotten comments, letters, emails and phone calls from parents dealing with divorce issues, the most troubling being one parent wanting total control over the other parent by alienating the child’s affections.
Typically, it is the custodial parent speaking badly about the non custodial parent. The custodial parent is usually the mother and her divorce didn’t go well. Not only is she angry with the ex husband, she is angry with the ex’s family, the child’s grandparents and since they backed their son or daughter, they must pay!
“Your Dad (or Mom) is a liar.” “Your grandparents are mean and you are not safe with them.” Words hurt and can affect how a child feels about his Dad (or Mom) and the “other side” of his family. If he or she is having fun with the non custodial parent, the child feels guilty with his loyalty towards the primary caregiver being tested in the child’s eyes.
What we and others have seen are fairly dramatic mood swings ranging from happiness while the fun is being had, to suddenly a sullen, obstinate and defiant child. Another pause to talk it out and explain that things are done differently than at your mother’s house and when it ‘clicks’ and the child ‘gets’ it, things continue smoothly for a while.
The poison spread by an alienating parent is damaging and this damage can be permanent but with patience, understanding, love and a possible trip to a family court if absolutely necessary, this can be undone.
Parents take note, why do this to your child? Your marriage may not have worked out but unless the ex and his family demonstrates abuse towards your child, let them have their time uninterrupted by your paranoia and fear. More love for your child can only help his or her self esteem and growth!
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