Let's face it, a divorce is never easy. Long among the numerous court dates, arguments, negotiations, and other stresses is the fact that children often feel the effects of a divorce between their parents just as much as their parents do. Because this is such a confusing and stressful time, it's easy to have a negative influence on your children, perhaps without ever even realizing it. It is important to know this because parental alienation is a nearly-constant threat parents face in the weeks and months after a divorce finishes.
To put it simply, parental alienation is when one parent “poisons the well” in terms of a child's relationship with their other parent, causing the child to come to resent them, blame them for the separation, and even no longer want to see them at all going forward. Sometimes this is done intentionally, but other times this may be fostered through actions you didn't even know could have such consequences. Regardless of how it happens, courts tend not to look upon it highly, and it's not uncommon for them to reduce visitation hours or even revoke child custody from parents who actively contribute to parental alienation.
So to help you encourage a happy and healthy family life with kids who comfortably get along with both parents, here are a few tips you can follow to avoid this issue and ensure your kids continue to have a positive relationship with both of their parents.
Don't Slander the Other Parent
We get it: sometimes your ex can be a real piece of work. They're stubborn, selfish, hard to work with, greedy, and are making your life hell at every possible opportunity. If this sounds like your situation, do not tell your kids that. No matter how much the other parent may stress you out, it's extremely important that you always paint them in a positive light, no matter what. You want your kids to be happy with both parents, as both parents likely want to be involved with them. Save the adult conversations for the courtroom or other places where the kids aren't around—when they are, keep things civil and courteous. The more you slander them in front of your kids, the more likely you'll be contributing to parental alienation.
Your Kids Don't Need to Know Everything
As much as you want your kids to know and understand what's going on, there are things they won't get, and the more you discuss your side of the story with them, odds are the more you'll be steering your kids towards a negative opinion of the other parent. It's easy to want to vent during and immediately after a divorce—stress is common and your kids are there and love you and want everything to be ok. However, many people simply can't discuss the finer details of their case without spouting bias towards their ex, or in your kids' case, the other parent.
So when your kids ask you what's wrong, what do you tell them? Simple: the truth, but simplified. When kids ask why you say holiday presents are going to be limited this year, simply tell them that money has been tight since you and the other parent split up. As much as you might want to tell them it's because the other parent hasn't paid their child support obligation in the last three months which has forced you to account for every penny you earn, leave that part out. It'll only make the other parent look like the bad guy, and make you a contributor to alienation.
If you suspect that parental alienation may be playing a role in or immediately after your divorce, don't hesitate to speak with a Murfreesboro divorce lawyer and review your rights as a parent. Call The Clarke Law Firm today at (615) 796-6299 for a case evaluation.