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What are some causes of parental alienation?

Parental alienation can be terrible both for the child and for the parent who is being alienated. However, this can sometimes happen unintentionally, so it's important for parents to know what causes it. Behaviors to avoid include:

1. Making negative comments about the other parent.

2. Making it seem like the child has a choice when a court order dictates what must happen. For example, the order could say the child has to go visit the father on the weekends, so making the child feel like he or she has a choice can then make the enforcement of the order turn the child against the father.

3. Not letting the child take items that he or she owns—like toys—to the other parent's house.

4. Saying that financial issues and other problems are the fault of the other parent.

5. Giving the child no scheduling flexibility when he or she has changing needs. For example, refusing to alter the schedule so that the child can go to social events related to school or the child's friend group.

6. Asking the child which parent he or she prefers. Parents will sometimes do this without meaning any harm, perhaps by simply asking who the child wants to go on vacation with when two trips are planned for the same time. Parents may think this is kind, giving the child a voice, but it can be detrimental to the relationship.

Not only do you want to be aware of these things so that they can be avoided, but you also need to know your rights under the child custody agreement so that you know what actions to take in Connecticut when it is violated.

Source: Parentalalienation.org, "Symptoms of Parental Alienation," Douglas Darnall, Ph.D., accessed Feb. 26, 2016

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