Some divorcing couples may be able to handle changes for themselves and their children. Other couples may have a more difficult time with the changes and their emotions. For some of these families, the children may be the ones to suffer.
What parental alienation looks like
In parents who may normally be loving and protective of their children, parental alienation may look like an active campaign to make their former spouse look like a bad person. Going beyond the cause or causes of the divorce, one parent’s negative emotions may make them look like a different person.
That parent may make comments that put the other parent down. At times, these remarks are made in front of the children. The parent may try to give their children the “choice” of spending time with their other parent.
How parental alienation affects the parent-child relationship
The parent-child relationship may be negatively affected after the other parent makes claims about their former spouse. As an example, the mother may say things about her former husband. If she does this often enough in front of her children, they may begin to believe their father is a bad person. At its most extreme, parental alienation may take the form of false allegations of child abuse against the other parent.
Former spouses may act this way for several reasons. They may not want to pay child support. They may not want the children to see their other parent.
Consequences of parental alienation
Children of divorce may have had a difficult time with the split of their parents. If one of their parents begins to speak badly of their other parent, they may feel confused, guilty or hurt. If they hear the negative language about their parent often enough, they may wonder if they were wrong about that parent. They may withdraw emotionally.