If your spouse is talking badly about you to your kids, it needs to stop. Neither parent should degrade the other when speaking to their kids. Divorces can get very heated, but this emotional poisoning can harm the child. If this is happening, have a direct talk with your spouse and make it clear that this is unacceptable.
If you’re lucky, maybe your spouse’s off-hand bad joke about you was misquoted by your child. Your spouse may have been talking to someone else, unaware that your kids could hear the remarks. If so, your spouse needs to be more careful.
If this was an intentional verbal slam or an attempt to harm your relationship with your kids, it needs to stop immediately. Make it clear this won’t be tolerated. If it continues, our office can communicate with your spouse, and if that fails, we can seek a court order prohibiting this from happening and potentially cutting back the time your spouse spends with your kids.
Are Your Spouse’s Words Harming Your Relationship With Your Child?
They may have a tough enough time seeing their parents end their relationship. One loved parent telling them their other loved parent is a bad person is not good for anyone. Children need as much peace and certainty in their lives as possible.
The official term for emotionally manipulating a child against the other parent is “parental alienation.” It, according to Psychology Today, happens when a child refuses to have a relationship with a parent because they’re being manipulated by the other. It can be exaggerating something, telling lies, or saying hateful things.
Parental alienation can happen during a divorce, but it may take place before one starts or after it’s finalized. It could include emotional blackmail, where one parent threatens to withhold love or attention if the child continues their relationship with the other. A parent may convince a child to make a false claim of abuse or neglect. The parent may make the child promise that these statements and acts are secrets that can’t be revealed.
What Impact Can Parental Alienation Have?
As a result, a child may be distraught, confused, angry, sad, and lonely. Children may not understand why they love someone the other parent hates. They may be afraid to speak honestly with the targeted parent and lack evidence that what they’re being told is untrue. In extreme cases, this can impact a child’s relationship with a parent for years.
Parental alienation can have more than an emotional impact on you and your child. It can affect custody proceedings. If your child is mature enough, a judge may give weight to your child’s opinion on which parent should have what kind of custody. If parental alienation colors that opinion, it can impact your case. If the other parent is interfering with the time you’re allotted with your child, that failure to cooperate can be used against them.
If you suspect parental alienation is affecting your relationship with your child, please contact us here at Karen A. Ulmer, P.C. We can help clarify what’s going on and stop it.