Parental Alienation Mediation
Parental alienation is a common case, especially during the mediation process. Some parents intentionally try to manipulate their children into believing that the other parent is not good for them. At times, parents are caught up in a dispute when making arrangements for their children. In the process, each of them will try to win the children`s attention. However, children can align themselves with a parent for many reasons besides intentional manipulation.
A parent can unintentionally alienate a child from the other parent, by, for instance, showing disappointment or crying in front of the child. Such behaviour contributes to emotional pressure onto children. A child can worry about the parent leaving or not being close to them. At times children choose to stay with the parent they spend a lot of time with. In case the parents are involved in too much conflict, it feels more comfortable for children to reject one parent. They do this to avoid the complication of being devoted to two warring parents.
Alienation could be harmful to children, but it’s beneficial in certain circumstances. When children have observed domestic violence or have been victims of parental abuse, estrangement can help. This saves children from an abusive parent. Luckily, such cases are scarce. During mediation, most parents usually accept the significance of the other parent and even pledge to offer support for them and their children.
Studies show that the relationship between a parent and their kid before separation can prevent alienation. It also determines how they relate to each other after divorce.
Parents should note that it is normal for their children to say to every parent what they feel they should tell them. It is common for a child to report criticism from another parent, despite the parent being innocent. As mediators, we always try to improve communication between the separated parents. We do this to prevent kids from being used to send messages. If parents talk among themselves, there will be very few cases of misinterpretation of the other person`s actions or comments.
Unfortunately, there is no legal way out if a parent thinks that the other one is trying to isolate their children from them. Courts and judges cannot order a parent to speak well of the other. In case a child completely refuses to visit their parent, a judge cannot force them to do so. It`s easy to note that forcing the parent or child against their will can lead to a devastating impact.
It is advisable for parents who feel that the other parent is alienating their children against them to avoid pushing a child. Forcing the child is likely going to heighten the alienation. A parent should raise it with their partner in a very non-confrontational way. If things get hard, mediation can help.
As mediators, we cannot determine if parental alienation is happening. We can neither judge the wrongs and rights of any side of the cases we encounter. We aim to explore, with the parents the impact their behaviours can have on their children. We ask a parent to respond to the concerns of the other parent. At all times, we aim to bring the attention of both parents back to the thoughts and experiences of their children.