Parental Alienation (and Difficult Contact Disputes) – Part 2
Following on from last month’s blog article about Parental Alienation here are some tips for helping parents when experiencing parental alienation or hostile aggressive parenting from their former partner.
- Get educational and professional support – these are very challenging situations. Repairing your relationship with your child can be a long and difficult process. Seek help from experienced counsellors and/or therapists if you feel that you are suffering emotionally. Very often the Courts have to be involved to ensure that a parent has contact to his or her child – make sure that you instruct a firm of solicitors that are experienced in dealing with complex contact cases where often expert evidence has to be obtained. Solicitors experienced in this area will know the right expert to instruct.
- Behave with Integrity – just because the other parent cannot focus on the children’s needs does not mean to say that you have to behave in the same way. Try and act as a role model for your children to show them how to deal with conflict.
- Maintain contact and be consistent with children – in high conflict cases children need an alternate perception of reality. If a parent does not maintain contact, children are left with no defence again the other parent.
- Do not put your child in the middle of adult issues – if you are angry about something the other parent has done or said, do not involve your child. Do not denigrate the other parent to the child. Your child will feel attacked personally, as your child’s personality is part you and part the other parent. Do not put your child in the position of having to choose or decide which parent is right and which parent is wrong.
- Don’t blame your children for the rejection – with parental alienation or hostile aggressive parenting children are being placed in a situation where, in order to be embraced by one parent, they must reject the other. Remember too that children (particularly in their pre teen years) can be very black and white, it is either all good or all bad. Remember also that children will not want to upset the parent that they are currently with – they will say what they think that parent wants to hear. It is not lying, it is a child trying to protect itself and keep safe in a situation where the child will be feeling (very) anxious.
- Try to understand your child’s position – it is very very stressful and difficult for children when they are placed in a situation where they must side with one parent over the other. Consider the stress that you are experiencing as an adult, dealing with this issue, and then imagine how your child feels who has to live with the stress day after day. Research has shown that in high conflict cases children suffer the same type and level of stress that is experienced by soldiers in combat.
- Avoid taking the rejection personally – understand that it is not a situation which your child can control or manage without support and help.
- Give clear messages to your children that you are not asking them to pick and choose one parent over the other; that any issues are for the adults to decide; and that they are free to love both parents.
- Don’t give up – it can take a long time to resolve these types of cases – but don’t give up. Children do best if they have a significant relationship with both parents. So never think that you do not matter to your children – you do.
Here at Harney & Wells we have experienced solicitors, recognised as experts through membership of the Law Society Children Law Accreditation Scheme. We can help in these difficult and complex cases. This includes when the emotional harm caused to children, reaches the point/level, where a Local Authority intervenes and there are public law children act proceedings.