The term “Parental Alienation” is frequently used in child custody disputes.  There is some debate as to whether or not Parental Alienation is actually a psychological disorder.   Regardless of whether or not parental alienation is a classified, clinical disorder, divorced or separated parents must be sensitive to the harmful effects on children when one parent tries to alienate the children from the other parent.

Parents may be alienating their children from the other parent without even realizing it.  Among the  ways that  parents may unwittingly  cause parental alienation  are: letting the children decide when and if they want to see the other parent, using children to communicate with the other parent and failing to share information with the other parent- such as schooling, medical issues, and activities.   Other ways include  refusing to let the children take clothing, toys, and other personal belongings back and forth between parents’ homes, failing to be flexible with custody schedules  or reacting with hurt or sadness when the children report  having enjoyed  their time with the other parent.

In short, any attempt by one parent to marginalize the role of the parent in the children’s lives may l adversely affect the children.  Whether it is considered “Parent Alienation” or not, a parent does his or her child a disservice by failing to recognize the equally important role that the other parent has in the life of the child.