Parental Alienation: Recognizing and Addressing Harmful Behaviours

Divorce or separation can be a challenging time for families, especially when children are involved. While it is natural for emotions to run high, it is essential to prioritize the well-being of the children and foster healthy co-parenting relationships. Unfortunately, in some cases, a harmful phenomenon called parental alienation can occur, which negatively impacts the child’s relationship with one parent. In this blog post, we will shed light on parental alienation, discuss its impact on children and co-parenting relationships, and provide strategies for addressing and preventing it.

Understanding Parental Alienation

Parental alienation refers to the deliberate actions of one parent to undermine the child’s relationship with the other parent. It involves manipulating the child’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors, leading to the child rejecting or showing hostility towards the targeted parent. This behavior can have long-lasting negative effects on the child’s emotional well-being and the co-parenting relationship.

Recognizing Signs of Parental Alienation

Recognizing the signs of parental alienation is crucial in addressing and preventing its harmful effects. Some common signs include:

1. Negative Comments: The child consistently makes negative comments about the targeted parent, using language that is beyond their age or experience.

2. Rejection: The child refuses to spend time with or have contact with the targeted parent without any valid reason.

3. Lack of Empathy: The child shows a lack of empathy towards the targeted parent’s feelings or experiences.

4. False Allegations: The child makes false allegations of abuse or neglect against the targeted parent without any substantiated evidence.

Addressing Parental Alienation

Addressing parental alienation requires a proactive and sensitive approach. Here are some strategies to consider:

1. Seek Professional Help:
Consulting with a family lawyer or mental health professional who specializes in parental alienation can provide valuable guidance and support. They can help assess the situation, develop a plan, and recommend appropriate interventions.

2. Promote Open Communication:
Encourage open and honest communication between both parents. Establishing a safe and respectful environment for discussing concerns and finding solutions can help address misunderstandings and prevent further alienation.

3. Focus on the Child’s Well-being:
Put the child’s well-being at the forefront of all decisions and actions. Demonstrate a genuine interest in the child’s feelings, thoughts, and experiences. Encourage a healthy and loving relationship with both parents, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a strong bond with each.

4. Document Incidents:
Keep a record of any incidents or behaviors related to parental alienation. Documenting specific instances, including dates, times, and descriptions, can provide evidence if legal intervention becomes necessary.

Preventing Parental Alienation

Prevention is key when it comes to parental alienation. Here are some preventive measures to consider:

1. Foster a Positive Co-Parenting Relationship:
Maintain a positive co-parenting relationship by prioritizing effective communication, cooperation, and respect. Focus on shared goals and the best interests of the child, setting aside personal differences.

2. Encourage Quality Time:
Encourage both parents to spend quality time with the child individually. This helps strengthen the parent-child bond and reduces the likelihood of alienation.

3. Seek Mediation or Collaborative Practice:
Consider alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation or collaborative practice, to resolve conflicts and make decisions regarding the child’s upbringing. These methods promote cooperation and minimize the adversarial nature of litigation.


Parental alienation is a harmful behavior that can have a lasting impact on children and co-parenting relationships. By recognizing the signs, addressing the issue proactively, and taking preventive measures, parents can work towards fostering healthy co-parenting relationships and ensuring the well-being of their children. If you suspect parental alienation, seeking professional help from a family lawyer or mental health professional is crucial in navigating this complex issue.

Contact Galbraith Family Law today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards resolving your family law matter in Ontario. To schedule a consultation, please call 1-888-880-2661 or contact us online. We serve clients in and around Barrie, Newmarket, St. Catharines, and Oakville.

“Parental Alienation” – Galbraith Family Law
“Parental Alienation” – Law Society of Ontario

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