Parental alienation is sometimes a consequence of the intense emotions experienced during a divorce, as some Pennsylvania families have found out. It is harmful to the familial relationship and the child’s own emotional development. However, it can be treated and the family members guided toward a more positive relationship.
Understanding parental alienation
Parental alienation happens when a child rejects one of their parents and refuses to spend time with them. It can be mild, where the child still has some contact with the parent, but it can progress to severe, where the child can go months without any contact with the parent they are rejecting. Sometimes the child’s actions are in response to their preferred parent’s feelings about their other parent. Other times, the child’s own anger at the divorce and their perception of the parent’s role in it can lead to their rejection of that parent.
Treating parental alienation
Whether the parental alienation is mild or severe, it can be treated. However, dealing with and overcoming parental alienation involves the whole family. Some of the ways parental alienation can be dealt with include:
- Whole family therapy encouraging the child to rebuild or continue building a positive relationship with their rejected parent by understanding that their preferred parent is supporting the changes in the relationship
- Increased one-on-one time between the child and the parent they are rejecting and a temporary separation from the parent who they prefer and has encouraged the alienation
- Counseling the parent who has actively behaved in a way that causes the alienation to overcome those behaviors then following with whole family counseling involving the parents and the child
When families deal with parental alienation, they can focus on rebuilding the positive aspects of the relationship between the child and each of the parents. This can help the parents move on with their lives after divorce and to focus on raising their children in a supportive environment.