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Dealing with parental alienation

Some New Jersey parents who are divorced from a person with a narcissistic or borderline personality disorder might need to watch for signs of parental alienation. This can happen in any kind of custody arrangement, and it involves one parent influencing how a child behaves toward the other parent.

It might begin in small ways. For example, one parent might try to change the child's visitation schedule with the excuse that the child is sick or has too much homework. The other parent might see a behavioral change in the child such as becoming argumentative or even explosive rages. The parent might hear the same language used in denigration that the ex-spouse used, but the child may deny any influence from that parent.

The child may behave in an entitled way regarding gifts from the parent or the parent's time. The parent could also be taken off contact lists for camp and school and not told about school meetings. The child might request that the parent stop going to extracurricular activities and may no longer recognize a positive bond with the targeted parent.

Parents in this situation should not allow themselves to be manipulated into attacking the other parent. Instead, they should respond with loving boundaries. They might need to consult a professional because parental alienation can be damaging for children.

Negotiating child custody and visitation can be difficult for parents going through a divorce in any situation, but doing so with a parent who has a personality disorder presents its own challenges. The parents might try divorce mediation, but if this breaks down, they may need to turn to litigation instead. A parent who believes the other parent might try to use parental alienation to restrict access to their child may want to discuss the situation with an attorney.

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