Child Chess Piece: Stop Playing Games; The unexpected consequences of using your Child as a pawn

By: Angelica Olunkwa

“If the parents relationship have an ebb and flow that is as predictable as the jarring heat during a summer in Texas, the children will be subject to an epidemic known as parental alienation.”

angelica

The Texas Family Code details the possession and access (“visitation”) plan for parents in Sec. 153.3101. The Standard Possession Order, a schedule that is included in most court orders, gives the non-custodial parent the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Fridays to Sundays (beginning at either 6:00 PM or the time the child is released from school).

In spite of the non-custodial parent having roughly 27 weekends with their children,  those weekends may be limited, restricted or altogether denied based on the nature of the relationship between the parents.

“The other parent didn’t want to see their kids last weekend,so they can’t see them this weekend?” “The other parent is not paying child support, so they shouldn’t be able to have access to their child.”

If the parents relationship have an ebb and flow that is as predictable as the jarring heat during a summer in Texas, the children will be subject to an epidemic known as parental alienation. Parental alienation is defined as the process or result of psychological manipulation of a child into showing unessential fear, disrespect or hostility towards a parent.  Parent alienation can be achieved by speaking negatively about the other parent in front of or to the child; withholding visitation from the other parent; making the child feel guilty for spending time with the other parent and more.

Immediate Effects of Parental Alienation

There are numerous psychological studies that have uncovered the negative effects of parental alienation. Despite the reason a parent denies visitation, studies have found that this action may set a landscape for conflicted loyalty. This action conveys that:

  • The parent who is doing the alienating is the only parent that loves them.
  • The child needs that parent to feel good about themselves.
  • There is a limited area in which their safety comes from.
  • The other parent is dangerous and unavailable.
  • Pursuing a relationship with the other parent will jeopardize the child’s relationship with the parent who is doing the alienating.

Long Term Effects of Parental Alienation

Texas courts have long held that the standard when dealing with family law is “best interest of the children.” While it is conceivable that a parent may believe that their actions are in the best interest of their child, the long term affects of alienation carry well into adulthood.

  • Children are wired to crave the love and attention of two people–their mother and their father. Restricting this child to a single-sourced love pushes them later to pursue an alternative source to supplement the love lost.
  • Children who believe that they only need one parent to feel good about themselves may develop dangerous dependency issues. As children grow, that reliance on one source may shift from their protector to their oppressor. 
  • Children understand the concept of a two parent household even if they are not experiencing it. By subjecting them to the notion that only one of the two people that have the unconditional duty to protect them cares about them and is available for them can be harmful may lead them to believe that they are being given less than what they were originally supposed to be provided–two loving parents.
  • Children who understand the concept of a two parent household desire the love and affection from both parents and will internalize their inability to have both if they know it is jeopardizing one relationship.

Texas Law and Parental Alienation

Temporary Restraining Orders (“TRO”) and Temporary Injunctions may be requested in pleadings and it will prohibit or “restrain” a party from a specific behavior, act, or taking certain action that is prohibited by the TRO.

These actions can include: Communicating, in vulgar, profane, obscene, or indecent language or in a coarse or offensive manner; Discussing any litigation concerning the children in the presence or within the hearing of the children or on any form of social media; Making disparaging remarks regarding the parent in the presence or within the hearing of the children or on any form of social media; Hiding or secreting the children from Petitioner and more. If you are being denied visitation and believe your child is being subjected to parental alienation, contact us.

 

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