Not all co-parents agree on how to raise their kids after divorce. Whether they disagree on sleep schedules, nutrition or discipline, for example, courts prioritize the children’s best interests.
This typically involves spending time with each parent. But not all former couples co-parent in a healthy manner.
Shared custody doesn’t require you to like your ex, but children should never be caught in the middle of your disputes. For example, turning a child against their other parent can be detrimental to all involved.
How can I recognize parental alienation?
It’s relatively typical for children to express their preferences for their other parent as they adjust to a changed family situation. However, remaining aware of changes that potentially indicate parental alienation could help you minimize psychological harm to yourself and your children down the road.
Signs that may indicate your co-parent is trying to alienate you may include:
- An abrupt shift in your relationship. If your child becomes detached or hostile toward you, your ex may be coaching them to take sides.
- Unfounded argumentative behavior. Kids might suddenly decide everything is better at their other parent’s home. While that may be natural to a certain extent, you should probably pay attention to significant personality changes – especially if you’ve always had a positive relationship.
- Learned language. Beware if your child starts to sound like your ex. Describing or treating you in the same negative fashion could indicate the need to intervene.
All things considered, you must remain aware of what you say to and model for your kids.
Getting help for your children’s stability
It’s best to remove conflict from children as much as possible, though you can’t necessarily control your co-parent’s behavior.
Despite your stress level during this challenging time, your focus should remain on doing what’s best for the kids. If you sense them turning against you, you may need to involve a mental health professional in your fight to protect your children’s interests as well as your rights.