Parental alienation may be a concern for some Missouri parents after a divorce. This occurs when children are manipulated by one parent to turn against the other parent. It can happen in any custody arrangement, but it may be more likely to occur when a parent has been diagnosed with borderline or narcissistic personality disorder.
There are early signs that parental alienation may be occurring that parents can watch for. One is a change in the child’s behavior to become combative or even explosively angry. The child might attack the parent in language that is similar to that used by the other parent but may deny that parent has influenced the behavioral change or choice of words. The child may ask the parent to stop attending extracurricular events and school meetings, and the parent may be removed from school, camp and other contact lists. The child may no longer recognize positive experiences with the targeted parent and may behave in an entitled way toward gifts or assistance from that parent.
In response, a parent should not be provoked by the child’s behavior. Instead, the parent should respond by lovingly setting and maintaining boundaries. The parent may also want to consult a professional because parental alienation can damage both the child and family bonds.
One of the difficult aspects of divorce with children is that in some cases, a parent may behave in a way that a court might not consider serious enough to change child custody arrangements. If a parent can show evidence of abuse or that a child’s well-being is in danger, a judge might agree to limit a parent’s time with the child to supervised visitation. However, if this is not the case, parents may need to ensure that parenting agreements spell out rights to things such as attendance at school meetings and extracurricular activities.