with Dr. Sue Cornbluth
You know when you’re getting ganged up on. You loving child starts sounding like your ex, or they roll their eyes at you, or criticize things that are beyond the scope of parenting. You are most likely the victim of parental alienation.
Often in a divorce, one side feels like a victim and will use the kids to get back at the other parent. They may confide in them in inappropriate ways, treating the child like a friend, confidant or even therapist. Although it may make you feel better to “overshare” with the kids, the child loses out for so many reasons:
First, it’s natural for your child to want both parents in his/her life. When you complain about the other parent, it puts the child in conflict and they become unsure of where to place their loyalty. Second, you want your child to see a healthy relationship as they form their own romantic connections.
It can be common to see the children defend the alienator because this is the parent they are most threatened by. They want to hold on to his/her affection, so they may join in the campaign, playing the victim.
It’s hard to do, but if you’re the victim of alienation, don’t waste time defending yourself with your kids. Instead, acknowledge any mistakes that you’ve made and resist throwing barbs back at the other parent. Kids are suffering and they want/need validation, acknowledgement and acceptance. That’s all that matters.
If you’re dealing with this issue, be sure to find a therapist who specializes in this kind of work and can teach you effective strategies.