If you had an acrimonious marriage or bitter divorce, you may not be on good terms with your ex-spouse. Still, if the two of you share custody of your kids, your former husband or wife should not sabotage your parent-child relationship.
Parental alienation occurs when your children’s co-parent encourages your kids to mistrust, dislike, fear or disrespect you. Over time, this form of emotional abuse may take a negative toll on both your children and you. Fortunately, you likely have some options for stopping parental alienation. Here are three of them.
1. Keep a custody journal
Because parental alienation is not always intentional, your children’s co-parent may not realize he or she is manipulating the kids. Keeping a custody journal may help to curtail inadvertent alienation. Simply jot down the behaviors you observe and use your notes to urge your ex-spouse to change.
2. Maintain communication with your kids
If your ex-husband or -wife is unwilling to modify his or her parenting style, you must work to salvage the relationships you have with your children. Maintaining regular and positive communication is key.
When talking to your kids, reaffirm your love for them. Be careful not to disparage your spouse, though, as doing so may worsen the effects of parental alienation.
3. Explore your legal options
Your ex-spouse’s alienating behaviors likely violate your legally binding custody agreement or parenting plan. Therefore, you can probably ask a court to intervene. A judge may hold your former spouse in contempt of court or rework your custody agreement.
In extreme cases where parental alienation has already had a negative effect on your kids, a judge may also require reunification therapy. During this type of therapy, counselors work with you and your children to repair relationship damage.