As if there wasn’t enough to concern yourself with in the wake of a divorce and child custody process, you also need to remember that the little things you do or don’t do can have a significant impact. It can have a significant impact on your child custody arrangement. It can have a significant impact on your children. Did you notice how I didn’t specify whether that impact is positive or negative? That’s because it’s up to you what the end result will be.
Parents need to be extra vigilant and avoid speaking poorly of the other parent. Parental alienation (PA or PAS) isn’t always overt and obvious. Sometimes, it may not even seem to be intentional. It’s normal to think bad thoughts about your ex-partner when a relationship goes bad. It’s natural to have some ill-feelings towards your ex-partner when you’ve had to “battle it out in court” in order to get meaningful parenting time with your children. If you didn’t feel mad, angry, sad, and similar after such an experience, some might think something was wrong with you.
Expressing your feelings is quite appropriate. It’s where and how you express those feelings that will keep everything on the home front the way it should be – safe, loving, and without a lot of anxiety. The places you might consider venting about your situation must, first and foremost, be far away from any chance of the children overhearing. No need to jeopardize your child custody arrangement and risk violating your child custody order at the same time. Friends, therapists, counselors, priests or other clergy are great places to shed those feelings of ill-will you may have lingering about your ex-partner.
Your failure to control your feelings when within the presence of your children will have potentially negative consequences for the kids, in addition to your child custody arrangement if rising to the level of parental alienation. Consider:
- Children love both parents and your negative words will cause them to feel hurt for both of you.
- The children may learn to dislike or even “hate” the other parent due to your lack of self-control.
- The children may develop a fear of the other parent (or even you) and start acting out during child custody exchanges or at one or the other household.
- The children may develop an unusually critical attitude towards you, your ex-partner, and others, too.
- The children may slip into depression and anger and act out physically towards others at home or at school.
Remember, too, that children learn that they are supposed to be the best of both of their parents. When you denigrate the other parent and the children can see or hear it – you need to understand that, in their minds, you’re speaking poorly of what they believe to be a part of themselves. They begin to self-identify with whatever criticism you let fly in front of them.
Now, all of this is especially tough if you’re dealing with an active parental alienator. Parental alienation takes a lot of work to counteract and can cause a great deal of frustration. Along with all of the other changes you’ve needed to make in your life, a greater level of self-control is necessary to avoid perpetrating parental alienation yourself, even if it may be occurring against you. Always remain positive in front of the children.