child sitting on bridge

Children & High Anxiety Related to Parental Alienation

Divorce and separation cause a level of anxiety and stress to all involved, especially children. Changes in a familial structure is filled with sadness, anxiety, and fear of the unknown. Anxiety in children is increased tenfold in situations where the children are put into a situation of alienating a parent. Children are trapped in a cycle of feeling guilt and anger. The guilt is associated with the reaction of the rejected parent and anger is due to the influence of the parent causing the alienation of the other parent. A child does not have the capacity to fully understand and manage these feelings and they shouldn’t have to. Mitigating their response to the separation or divorce is difficult enough, but the added pressure of feeling as if they need to hate or alienate a parent is traumatic and incomprehensible.

Anxiety is brought on by a feeling of worry or fear, causing a sense of dread and an internal restlessness leading the sufferer to figure out a way to manage the feelings on their own. Anxiety is a defense mechanism that leaves a lasting legacy that has to be dealt with or it will last far longer than childhood. Managing these feelings will come out one way or another. Unfortunately, many opt for drugs or alcohol to numb the pain and avoid dealing with the feelings or some can have violent outbursts to deal with the emotional and psychological pressures. The child knows that the influencing parent puts pressure on them requiring an allegiance to them. In most circumstances, children have the innate desire to please their parents especially a parent that is their main caretaker. In addition to the pressure, to please the influencing parent, the child can become ridden with guilt due to alienating the other parent.

It is important to recognize signs and symptoms of children experiencing anxiety. They can come in the form of:

  • Anger or aggression
  • Bedwetting
  • Changes in appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Out of character behavior like getting into trouble at school or poor performance academically
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Nervous habits such as nail-biting
  • Nightmares
  • Refusing to go to school
  • Social withdraw
  • Lack of interest in previously enjoyed experiences
  • Stomach aches
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Insomnia
  • Panic attacks
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

The list goes on. The best advice is to stay in tune with your child and acknowledge unusual behaviors.

In all family situations, dealing with emotional changes such as divorce or separation it is advisable to seek professional counseling from a therapist that specializes in this subject matter. It is especially important to seek professional counseling for a child that has experienced parental alienation to help them learn to deal with their feelings in a healthy manner.

If you are experiencing parental alienation, it is important to seek the appropriate legal counsel immediately. The fact of the matter is that it is not just you at risk; your children are at risk of experiencing unnecessary high anxiety that will most likely continue throughout their entire life. All of this anxiety takes the child away from the experience of childhood. Children have enough to deal with these days; there is no reason to add an unnecessary anxiety to them. Hickey & Hull Law Partners has years of family law experience helping wrongfully alienated parents reestablish a relationship with their children. Call today for a consultation, 479.434.2414, for the River Valley office or 479.802.6560 for the Northwest Arkansas office.