Some clients will consult with our office related to concerns of triangulation, parental alienation or other reasons why they believe they have been removed or substantially reduced from participating in their children’s lives. In some situations, the distance between children and their parents is warranted such as if abuse or neglect has occurred. However, in some situations, parents are unfairly and unreasonably cut off from their children- without apparent explanation or understanding. In these situations, our best advice is that you take rapid and meaningful action. Generally, in situations of estrangement, the issues do not get better over time, rather, often the problems and concerns become compounded with the passing of ti me.
What can you do to work toward a meaningful reconnection with your children?
The first step in trying to fix or correct an issue of estrangement is figuring out the underlying cause of the estrangement or distancing. In some situations, this requires the parent involved to take a hard look at himself or herself and reflect on their behaviors that could have led to the situation. Some examples of parental behaviors that can lead to estrangement include: emotional, physical or sexual abuse, substance use or abuse, domestic violence, financial disputes/failure to take care of responsibilities, among other situations. If any of these factors exist, often the parent acknowledging these concerns and working on a “rehabilitation” plan so that he or she can show and prove to the child that the parent has changed is key to making progress in the relationship.
In other circumstances, the estrangement exists as the result of unfair or unreasonable alienating behaviors by the other parent. This may be due to enmeshment, where the other parent is incapable of functioning as an appropriate parent, the other parent creating a situation of parentification (where the parent treats the child as a parent and over involves him or her in adult problems), among many other possibilities. If you are facing a situation where a parent is being unfairly and unreasonably alienated from a child, often a team of professionals is necessary to get a handle on this behavior and turn it around.
How Can You Prepare to Reconnect with an Estranged Child?
First, prioritize safety. Consider appropriate professional involvement such as a therapist who specializes in this type of family healing or a mediator or co-parenting therapist. Again, if you are not sure about the various resources that may be available to your family and how they can be utilized to bring about progress in your family, often starting with a knowledge and experienced family law attorney will assist you with understanding resources, options and methods to move the situation forward. Additionally, as the parent, particularly if there’s been a long history, you need to prepare mentally and emotionally for rejection. You may be in for a long process of trying and trying again before your efforts are recognized and validated by the child. Make sure that you have worked through or are working through your own issues in putting in the effort for reintegration. This could and often does include that you, as the adult, work with an individual therapist in addition to help you process and react appropriately to the efforts being made in joint sessions.
If you have experienced estrangement and need help coming up with a roadmap to make repairs in your relationship with your child, please call us today at Pingel Family Law. Allow our experienced and compassionate attorneys help you find solutions and a path forward. Call us at (816) 208-8130 to schedule your consultation.