How parental alienation affects child-parent relationships
Wherever California parents divorce, the process of determining child custody can be not only an emotional battle between parents but also a traumatic experience for their children. Although both parents have their own ideas of how they can take care of their child, some end up losing their relationships with their children. Many researchers believe this parental alienation too often leads to disrupted relationships.
Few children want their parents to separate. In the vast majority of cases, they want the love and care of both parents. Some parents work hard to shield their children from the conflicts of divorce and child custody issues, but others work equally hard to alienate their children from the other parent. One researcher considers this a primary way some custodial parents try to bolster their value and perceived capacity to care for their child without the help or influence of the other parent. Unfortunately, such tactics often have negative effects on children.
Parental alienation often happens when the noncustodial parent is disparaged in front of a child to keep that parent away from the child. Some parents bad mouth the other parent, limit the children’s contact with that parent and attempt, in various ways, to push that parent out of the child’s life. The child may also be influenced to think that the other parent is dangerous, thus affecting the child’s impression of that parent. Unfortunately, once a parent is alienated, reconnection with the child becomes extremely difficult.
A 2010 study stated that parental alienation affects between 11 and 15 percent of divorces every year. It further estimated that one percent of children and adolescents have experienced parental alienation. The negative effects on children include low self-esteem, depression, lack of trust and a tendency toward substance abuse.
Source: Psychology Today, “The Impact of Parental Alienation on Children,” Accessed on Dec. 18, 2014