After co-parents divorce, one may display excessive negativity toward the other and encourage such behavior in a child. As a result, the child could refuse to maintain a close bond with the alienated parent.
However, parents have options for correcting such damage to their relationships with their children. Mental health professionals have suggested the following possibilities.
Recommendations for severe cases
A child can get to the point of resisting all contact with the alienated parent. Unjustified expressions of intense anger may become frequent.
Licensed therapists have recommended the child and the rejected parent spend a period of shared activities together. A prolonged time without contact with the favored parent who displayed alienating behaviors is also necessary.
All parties benefit from family counseling to rectify the situation. In particular, the emotionally abusive parent needs therapy to correct the unacceptable behavior.
Suggestions for moderate cases
If the child has not entirely rejected the alienated parent, family counseling is still advisable. The goal is to encourage the favored parent to minimize negative behaviors and demonstrate their consent to the child having a positive relationship with the rejected parent.
A rejected parent can learn to build on positive associations with a child and initiate more constructive interactions. The rejected parent must learn to move beyond negative experiences, which can trigger defensiveness and stymie progress. Focusing on the future can bring better results.
In any situation, individual counseling tends not to address the core issues of the child. The rejected parent should actively engage in therapy with the child to end the alienation.
Many counselors and legal professionals recognize parental alienation as a form of abuse. A person who is the object of parental alienation may be able to take legal recourse to address the issue.