By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC
It’s all too common to find parents who rage about their ex after the divorce. This usually includes venting about the other parent’s parenting skills. The results can be devastating.
We all know divorce conflicts between parents can get ugly. But too often we forget the effects, not only on the “targeted” parent. Disrespectful words, actions and decisions take their toll on your innocent children!
This becomes a form of parental alienation. PA is a serious and complex set of behaviors. They are designed to win the favor of one parent against the other. In most cases, that parent feels fully justified in their behaviors. They refuse to see or acknowledge the harm in the alienation.
When kids get caught in the middle …
Of course, the biggest consequence is that the children get caught in the middle. They are often confused by hurtful and disrespectful messages about their other parent. In time, children learn to manipulate both parents. They pit one against the other in ways that are destructive for the child’s socialization. It negatively impacts their childhood and ultimate wellbeing.
This is dangerous territory with long-lasting consequences. How you handle the situation can affect your family for years to come. It will play a crucial role in your child’s development and future relationships.
If you’re the targeted parent …
To help heal your relationship with your children should you be a targeted parent of alienation, here are some valuable strategies to consider:
1. Remember, your children are innocent. Don’t take your frustrations out on them by losing your tempter, acting aggressively, shaming or criticizing them.
2. Strive to maintain contact with the children in every possible way. Use all the newest technology tools available. Talk, text, email, share videos, play online games together, etc. Take the initiative whenever an opportunity presents itself.
3. Don’t waste precious time with the children discussing or trying to change their negative attitudes toward you. Instead, create new enjoyable experiences. Reminisce about past times together that were fun.
4. Temping as it may be, don’t accuse your children of being brain-washed by their other parent. Or insisting they are repeating what they were told. Even if this is true, chances are the children will adamantly deny it. They may come away feeling attacked by you.
5. Avoid impressing or “buying” the kids’ affection with over-the-top gifts and promises. Spoiled children create a life-time of parenting problems for everyone down the road.
6. Don’t ever put down or disparage your ex in front of the kids. This only creates more alienation. It also adds to their confusion. And it further justifies your negative portrayal to the children.
7. Be the parental role model they need and deserve. That way you will be giving them valuable lessons in integrity, responsibility and respect.
It’s not their fault …
The effects of parental alienation will not be transformed overnight. But by following these suggestions you are moving in a healthy direction on behalf of your children. You’re also laying the foundation for keeping your relationship as positive as possible.
Please remember: never gift up. As children grow, they understand more and often want to seek out their other parent to rekindle the relationship. They, too, are victims. The divorce and poor parental decisions in their life are usually not their fault.
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Rosalind Sedacca, CDC is the founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network, a Divorce & Co-Parenting Coach and author of the acclaimed ebook, How Do I Tell the Kids About The Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide To Preparing Your Children — With Love! To get her free ebook, coaching services, expert interviews, programs, e-courses and other valuable resources on divorce and co-parenting, visit: https://www.childcentereddivorce.com
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(c) Rosalind Sedacca — All rights reserved