Parental alienation is a term that crops up frequently when parents find it hard to agree on custody arrangements. It is something to watch out for if you feel the child’s mother wants to prevent you from seeing your child or if they are unhappy with the amount of parenting time a judge awarded you.
A psychiatrist came up with the term parental alienation in the 1980s. It describes one parent trying to turn a child against the other parent.
What does parental alienation look like?
You cannot know everything that happens when your child is with their mother. Yet you can look for changes in your child. Here are a few warning signs that there may be problems ahead:
- Your child becomes irrationally angry with you: Children do have reason to be angry with their parents at times. Yet, if your child develops a simmering resentment toward you, their mother may have been manipulating them to form a negative opinion of you.
- Your child knows things about you they shouldn’t: Small children can ask direct questions without meaning to give offense. If your daughter asks why you like Helen at work more than her mommy, then you need to think about how your daughter found out you and Helen had an affair.
- Your child acts differently around you: Perhaps your young child now closes the door when getting changed, shirks from your hugs or no longer jumps into your lap with a book to read. If they act cautiously around you, it might be that their mother is telling them you might abuse them.
It can be challenging as a father to participate in your child’s life if their mother does not want you there. Courts often favor mothers and believe what they say over fathers. Yet, your child needs you in their life as much as they need their mother. You may have to fight for the parental role you want, but doing so will benefit you and your child.