When marriages end, typically one spouse is angrier than the other. If children are involved, parental alienation is often a common product from the divorce. In fact, many psychologists believe that parental alienation begins before the divorce even starts. Sadly, this is an all too familiar problem for families in Minnesota and around the country.

The driving force of parental alienation in a divorce is usually to punish the other parent. The angry parent will use the children as pawns or weapons because they are important to the alienated parent. The alienating parent will manipulate the children by disparaging the other parent and influencing their emotions and beliefs. Eventually, the children will mimic the parent’s thought pattern and take their aggression out on the alienated parent. Ultimately, the relationship between the alienated parent and the child will be difficult and even nonexistent in some cases.

Studies have shown that parents who alienate children from their other parent demonstrate similar characteristics. They tend to anger easily, and they blame the other spouse for all the problems in the marriage, even if they are the ones who wanted the divorce. They also have difficulty being away from their children, because their children usually become emotional caretakers of the alienating parent.

Most alienating parents are motivated by revenge against the other parent for disrupting their lives. They want to hurt the other parent in the worst way by using the children. They also speak negatively about the other parent to the children, and they will often tell the children lies about the alienated parent. They sometimes cling emotionally to their children and will tell them they cannot make it without them. This creates a false sense of emotional dependency on the children.

All this psychological trauma can be confusing and overwhelming to the children. Many times, the children will give in to the alienating parent because the pressure is too much to handle.

Many alienated parents are dealing with an overload of emotions and don’t know where to turn for help. Consulting with an attorney experienced in divorce proceedings could be an invaluable resource in helping to repair the damage caused by an alienating parent and ensure the children have adequate time with both parents.