I was sitting in a courtroom watching the closing remarks of a jury trial not long ago.
The trial was one where the jury would decide on child custody between two parents.
One of the experts appointed on the case stood up and talked about parental alienation.
The first thing she said is parental alienation is a form a child abuse.
It can come in many forms, but essentially what it amounts to is one parent, damaging the relationship between their child and their other parent.
This can happen by re-writing facts to the child (essentially gaslighting the child), or saying negative things to the child about their other parent.
The child, particularly younger children, do not have the capacity to differentiate their identity from that of their other parent. So what you say about the other parent to the child is what you ARE SAYING ABOUT THE CHILD to the child.
This should make it easier for you to say NICE things about the other parent, no matter what abhorrent things that other parent may have done to you.
Forget about them for your child. You are saying nice things about your child when you say nice things about their parent.
Parental alienation is wrong for so many reasons, but one reason that resonates with me personally is that a child’s sense of security comes from having good parents. You are charged with the job of helping your child become secure in this world with their self-esteem. Help them feel good about their other parent. Give them the example of talking the other parent up. Again, really this talks THEM up.
You may not have meant to damage your child by saying negative things about their parent, but you may have done so. Parents are not perfect. Your child and you could use some therapy to help make things right if that is the case.
I am hoping that if you read this blog post, and you hear a friend saying something negative about mom or dad, you might take that friend aside and let them know that parental alienation is a real thing, and it can hurt their child. Parents do not want to hurt their children. Sometimes just sharing the knowledge can make the difference.