Parental Alienation: How to Help a Polarized Child

Parental Alienation: How to Help a Polarized Child

Parental alienation occurs in high-conflict divorce, where the child is caught between two fighting parents and made to choose sides. While every divorce, every family, and every child is unique there are some universal recommendations for helping the polarized child form and maintain healthy relationship with all of their caregivers. Beyond reunification therapy, how can a child begin to reestablish their relationship with the rejected parent? Benjamin Garber, a PD and Family Consultant lays out several recommendations in his article here.

  • Put the Child’s Safety First: Each allegation of abuse or neglect needs to be evaluated; is the allegation a product of conflict, or does it result in true risk to the child’s safety?
  • Taking a Break Doesn’t Work: Taking a break from the rejected parent will almost never help to improve the relationship between that parent and child; and make resuming contact that much more difficult.
  • Voice, Not Choice: Listening to the child without putting them in a position of choosing between parents is vital. By truly listening we can distinguish needs from wants and helps them to become a part of the process without being forced to pick one parent over the other.
  • Fix the System, Not the Individual or the Dyad: Engaging in productive therapy may require an expansion of our definition. Fulling disengaging the enmeshed parent-child pair and re-engaging the rejected parent requires participation of the entirely family unite; parent’s significant others, siblings and all parties involved may need to provide support if not active involvement in reestablishing healthy norms.
  • Anxiety can Cripple the System: One caregiver’s anxiety regarding the re-integration of the other parent can poisen the process; it is important that the anxiety of the primary parent be addressed so that reconciliation with the other parent is possible.
  • Sometimes, the Rejected Parent has to Step Back and Wait: Some relationships cannot be repaired immediately and when this occurs the rejected parent may need to allow some time for the child to grow and mature. Unlike “taking a break” this requires the parent to remain present and available to the child without being intrusive or “pushing” the child in a way that could cause further resentment.

We understand that divorce can be a harrowing experience emotionally, physically and logistically, which is why we have lawyers here to help. Having an experienced divorce lawyer can make all the difference to your process. Because we focus solely on family law, we understand the dynamics and can help guide you through your divorce. Please contact Elise Buie Family Law Group, PLLC for a consultation regarding your divorce. Also, for more information about collaborative divorce or mediation please visit our website. 

STAY UP TO DATE

Subscribe to our newsletters

 
Subscribe to one or more of our newsletters, delivering meaningful insight on topics that matter to you and your family.
ebl home subscribe image

FURTHER READING

Latest Blog Posts

Unsure where to begin gathering the foundation you need to go through the divorce process with confidence and well-prepared? Consider the following 10 tips to prepare for divorce.

Everyone who has anyone in their life needs an estate plan, even people who own little or no property.

A common question about legal fees is why they are so high. The following article details what is built into legal fees and explains their cost.

Gifting an estate plan is an act of love because an estate plan goes far beyond material possessions, addressing the emotional, practical, and long-term well-being of your loved ones.

Prenuptial agreements (also known as prenups) can play a pivotal role in safeguarding individual spousal rights in the event of divorce and can also strengthen a marriage.

Valentine’s Day can be tricky for single parents, maybe even you. Unpartnered, at least for the time being, you might not foresee your plans fitting into conventional images of the holiday. But that doesn’t have to be. Valentine’s Day, when you’re single, can be more than a day you need to survive. It can be a day to look forward to.

Collaborative law has evolved into a globally practiced
discipline, extending well beyond the realm of family law, and is used frequently in Seattle divorces.

Classifying January as divorce month could be misleading, given how some of the numbers tell a different story. However, one thing remains clear: January is a great time for a fresh start.

A family law attorney can help with child custody (residential time) by creating or modifying a parenting plan.

Given the importance of the trustee’s role in an estate plan, it is necessary to understand the responsibilities before choosing a trustee or accepting the obligation to become one.