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What is parental alienation?

On Behalf of | Jul 24, 2019 | Interstate Custody Issues |

There are plenty of legitimate reasons why a divorced parent in Texas may wish to relocate to a different state. However, it is also possible that your ex-spouse may choose to relocate in an attempt to drive a wedge between you and your children. If this is the case, it may be part of a larger pattern of parental alienation. 

According to The Good Men Project, parental alienation occurs when a child turns away from one parent as a result of manipulation by the other parent. The child does not consciously realize that the manipulation is taking place. If asked, he or she will usually report that turning away from the other parent was his or her own idea. Nevertheless, this pattern of behavior does not emerge in children whose parents are psychologically healthy and able to maintain at least a measure of cordiality with one another. 

You may think a child would be more likely to turn away from the parent who misuses him or her and toward the parent who offers a healthy relationship instead. Unfortunately, this is not what happens. Children feel secure in the love and devotion of the targeted parent and fear to lose the affection of the manipulative parent. This fear prompts them to internalize the views of the manipulative parent and alienate the other. In this way, the manipulative parent leverages the child’s fear to gain control over him or her, making parental alienation a form of child abuse. 

Due to the negative feelings of anger, fear and grief that divorce or separation sometimes stir up between parents, it is fairly common for parental alienation to occur after a divorce. However, it can also take place when the parents are still married or between parents who never married. It is most likely to arise when one or both parents has a personality disorder. Mothers and fathers alike have the potential to be either alienated parents or manipulators. 

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.