How to Reverse the Effects of Parental Alienation Syndrome (Part 1)
Parental alienation is a problematic consequence of divorce. Although it's illegal and doesn't always happen, some parents will alienate their ex by "brainwashing" their child.
Unfortunately, most children are impressionable during a divorce, so the alienating parent has the upper hand and can manipulate their child's perspective of the targeted parent. Whether intentional or unintentional, parental alienation is a challenge to overcome.
As challenging as it might be, there are some methods to reversing parental alienation syndrome. Continue reading to learn more about repairing your relationship and image with your child.
Strategy #1: Listen to Your Child
When confronting parental alienation, it's understandable that you're frustrated and angry about the things your child's hearing. However, yelling at them and correcting every perceived thought doesn't help.
Your child doesn't believe their other parent is manipulating them–they think they've come to their own decision. So telling them they're wrong to believe, say, or feel something is not a defense against the accuser. It's an attack against the alienated child, which only strengthens their resolve.
Listen to your child instead of fighting everything you hear them say. Actions speak louder than words for a reason–our behaviors are the most accurate indicator of our character. You can persuade your child by repeatedly showing them that you listen to their concerns, questions, and ideas.
Strategy #2: Show Empathy for Your Child
As your child copes with parental alienation syndrome, they create an image of you that is mean, abusive, and hateful. You can't combat this head-on. You need to chip away at their ill-perception through empathy.
Empathy is more than listening to your child. Although listening is necessary, it's also validating their thoughts and feelings as the alienated parent.
Your child might feel like you've abandoned them. Instead of correcting them, validate their feelings and show them you still love them.
Strategy #3: Include Your Child in Important Decisions
Children often feel left out. Especially with the difficulty of coping with a divorce, your child may feel unimportant. Combat these feelings of inadequacy by including them in important decisions.
Important decisions don't have to be life-altering. They can be as simple as deciding what you will do together on your next visit, planning a vacation, making a meal, or choosing which movie to watch.
Children of all ages view important decisions differently, so give your child the ability to make decisions they view as important. For a toddler, that can be choosing a meal or movie. For a teenager, that can be planning a weekend get-together.
When parental alienation occurs, it is challenging to overcome and requires resiliency and humility on your part. The knee-jerk reaction is to combat parental alienation, but this behavior further isolates your child.
Instead, listen to their concerns, show them empathy, and include them in important decisions. These three strategies will help change their perspective on their relationship with you.