For couples that don’t have children, a divorce could be the last time the pair ever see each other. For divorcing or separating parents, that might not always be the case. For many parents who decide to end their relationship, they may need to communicate with each other if they want to play a role in their child’s life. However, if there are residual feelings of animosity between the parents, its possible this may trickle down into how they each parent their children.
Known as parental alienation, this concept explains when one parent badmouths the other parent in front of their child. The effects of this type of behaviour can have a major impact on a child’s emotional and mental development.
According to a recent article by CTV News, parental alienation has become prevalent and recognizable enough that the World Health Organization is considering adding it to their list of psychological disorders.
The main effects are that the child may begin to foster feelings of anger and resentment towards the alienated parent. Children may act towards the alienated parent without any guilt. In extreme cases, the child may not want any contact with the alienated parent. This could rob a child of ever developing a meaningful relationship with one of his or her parents.
Studies have shown that the child’s relationship with the non-alienated parent also suffers as well. Children may hold this parent responsible for losing this meaningful relationship with the other parent. The child may also begin to develop symptoms of anxiety, depression and distrust, among others.
If you are a parent going through a separation or divorce and are concerned about the well-being of your child and your rights as a parent, it’s best advised that you consult with an experienced family lawyer. He or she can assess your situation to determine if parental alienation is present, and what your options are to resolve the problem.