Parental Alienation (PA) occurs when, during and after the process of divorce or separation, a child expresses irrational or unjustifiable dislike towards one of the parents (generally the one who does not have custody), resulting in the deterioration of the relationship between the alienated parent and the child.  PA is usually instigated by the custodial parent speaking negatively about the non-custodial parent, leading to distrust, dislike, or even fear. Examples of direct PA include one parent making derogatory statements about the other, or blaming the other parent for the breakdown of the marriage or financial difficulties. PA can also be passive, which occurs when the custodial parent accepts without question a child’s negative feelings toward the non-custodial parent, or when the custodial parent fails to support the child having contact with the non-custodial parent.

The key aspect of PA is that these feelings are unjustified; PA does not encompass alienation that occurs as a result of actual physical abuse by one parent. Sadly, PA occurs with enough frequency that it has resulted in the development of a medical condition amongst children known as Parental Alienation Syndrome. You can read more about the devastating consequences of PAS here.

Essentially, PA is a form of severe manipulation. Even in less severe cases of PA, the consequences can have a lasting effect on your child. In some cases, children who grow up to understand the concept of PA may become resentful of the alienating parent.

At MyOntarioDivorce.com, we encourage you to always put the needs and welfare of your children first. Engaging in PA not only damages your children but it may result in you losing custody or even access if the Family Courts become aware of the situation. As much as you may hate your ex-spouse for what they did to you, remember that your child is an innocent party. Be the bigger person and vent your frustration to a friend or counsellor. Keep the kids out of it.

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