Alice comes home from school. It’s Friday and she’s excited that she’s going to see her papa this weekend. Since the Divorce, she rarely gets to see papa and it’s been really hard on her. She used to play tea party with him, and her favorite stuffed bunny. She’s packing up her favorite tea set when the phone rings. She doesn’t hear the conversation. She doesn’t hear her father calling to say that he’s on the way to pick her up. She doesn’t hear her mother tell her dad that she’s made other plans for Alice this weekend. She doesn’t know that her father has been trying to call her all week to finalize his plans with her. Her mom comes in and tells her, “Your father isn’t coming to get you. He has better things to do. He didn’t even ask to talk to you, Alice. How about I take you to Yogurt Mountain to get some frozen yogurt and then you can go stay at one of your friends’ houses?” Even when Alice begins to cry, and ask to call her father, her mother doesn’t break. She tells Alice that her father just doesn’t love her as much as she does. She tells Alice that he’s not a good person and that he was a bad husband to her.
This happens more than you would expect. When it comes to custody, children are treated like a pawn in a war against the other spouse. This situation that you just read is a prime example of Parental Alienation. This happens all of the time when people are going through custody battles. They essentially project their feelings onto their child. The emotional aspect of this can be devastatingly permanent on a child and will ruin their relationship with the target parent, the projecting parent if they figure it out, or worse, both parents. On April 16, 2014 Governor Bentley declared April 20th through the 26th Parental Alienation Prevention Week with April 25th being Parental Alienation Awareness Day. This is something that is affecting the future your children and should be better known. Here are a few examples of Parental Alienation:
1. One parent is negatively speaking about the other parent.
Example: No, honey. Your dad is an alcoholic. He also will sleep with any blond that walks through his office leaving mommy all alone to raise you by herself. You better not bring your friends around him because when you reach your teens, he’ll date them all!
2. One parent limits all visitation and communication with the other parent.
Example: I’m sorry, but Alice has summer camp this year. I’ve signed her for a dance camp. It’s not my fault it is during your visitation period. She needs this. Do you not love your daughter enough to support her dance future? Also, she can’t come to the phone right now. She has to finish her homework before she goes to dance.
3. One parent punishes the child when they say nice things about their other parent.
Example: Daddy isn’t smart. If daddy was smart, he wouldn’t have neglected his wife and daughter. If you think daddy is so smart then you can rethink that while you go outside and cut the grass with these scissors.
4. One parent alienates the other parent’s family, friends, and/or professionals who try to help.
Example: You can’t trust Daddy’s grandma. She raised him to be a bad man. Why do you think he is the way he is? She used to give him beer as a small child. She put it right in his bottle. Don’t tell your therapist I said this or your guardian ad litem. They are picking favorites anyways. If you tell them I told you, they’ll take you away from both me and daddy, forever. Do you want to be an orphan?
5. One parent blames everything that goes wrong in the child’s life on the other parent.
Example: Alice, you didn’t make dance team because daddy constantly interrupted your dance training. Your dad didn’t support you. You also broke your ankle attempting those triple pirouettes because you didn’t get enough practice. If your father helped you practice during his time with you, these accidents wouldn’t happen, but he’s too busy with the kinds of dancers that keep dollar bills in their thongs!