Whether we read about it in the tabloid headlines or hear whispers on the sidelines of a soccer game, Parental Alienation is a vindictive tactic aimed at punishing a spouse. The subject has recently surfaced after the news that a judge warned Angelina Jolie to allow Brad Pitt to spend more time with their children or risk losing full custody of them.
Tragically, Parental Alienation’s deepest and lasting damage is to the innocent child or children involved in the parent’s manipulation. A form of programming or brainwashing, it seeks to turn a child away from a parent. Legally, it’s often complicated and difficult to establish because typically you lack so called “tangible evidence” against the favored parent (e.g., no photographs, medical records, etc., as you would in the case of other forms of child abuse such as physical or sexual abuse).
It requires a highly skilled mental health professional to identify the alienation and to be willing to come forward and call a spade a spade. In the end, it’s often difficult to overcome the destructive and detrimental effect on the child if the alienating behavior has gone unchecked for too long.
Parental Alienation is painful for the children and places them in difficult and unnecessary situations. In my 35 years of practice, I’ve seen the full range of scenarios – with children choosing to avoid contact with the targeted parent all the way to extreme situations where horrific false accusations of physical abuse can occur.
Read more of Keith Nelson’s blog here.
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