Caught Between Parents

Supporting children through the challenges of divorce

Parenting a Mildly-Moderately Alienated Child

10 tips for maintaining a bond

Here are 10 things to do with your mildly-moderately alienated child to maintain the bond when it is under attack from the other parent.

(1) Invite your child to tell you how s/he is feeling about the relationship and to routinely “clear the air.” This can ensure that your child is not harboring any lingering negative thoughts and feelings.

(2) Create relationship markers such as family rituals, slogans, emblems, routines, games, etc. so that your child has a strong identity of being a part of the relationship. For example, if you give your child a Hershey's Kiss and tell him/her that this is a kiss from you and you regularly give your child a Hershey's Kiss, then every time your child sees a Hershey's Kiss s/he will think of you.

(3) Take pictures of you and your child together and post them around your house so that your child sees him/herself loving and being loved by and having fun with you.

(4) Make friends with his/her friends and their families so that your home is the “place to be” for people who matter to your child.

(5) Hold your child to high standards in a loving way by saying, “I love you too much to let you talk to me that way, be rude to your friends," etc.

(6) Help your child have close and loving relationships with your family to deepen his/her connection with you and yours.

(7) Talk to your child about his/her goals, interests, plans, and dreams. Have faith in your child and support his/her life plans. Encourage your child to try new things and to take on challenges.

(8) Be respectful to your child in tone and action. Your child will appreciate it.

(9) Appreciate your child and let him/her know that you see and “get” the good things that s/he does. Your child will feel known and understood.

(10) Show your child love and affection in ways that mean the most to him/her. Some children like physical affection, some need lots of time and attention, others feel loved when you cook them a special meal or play a game. Know your child and show your love in the ways that matter most to your child.

Amy J.L. Baker, Ph.D., researches parental alienation and children of divorce.

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