My children hate me. This is a distressing thought let alone a distressing outcome for parents. It is also an outcome that can come about for any number of reasons.
Of those reasons, some are fully attributable to the actions of the other parent; some are fully attributable to the parent experiencing the outcome; and some are attributable to both.
Common in today’s arguments heard at court where a parent’s relationship with their kids is off track is allegations of parental alienation. This refers to the deliberate (be it directly or more insidiously) efforts by one parent to undermine the relationship of the children to the other parent.
- Article Continued Below -
Toronto’s Experts in Family Law
Of course, the argument is countered by allegations that the parent rejected by their children had engaged in behaviour that is solely responsible for the outcome.
At times, the courts and assessors are hard pressed to get things right and truly determine who may be responsible for what. Either way though, it bears mentioning that with few exceptions, children are better served with a caring and loving relationship with both parents. When this is achieved, children tend to do better emotionally, mentally, academically and intimately as adults. In other words, good parent-child relationships tend to produce more well-adjusted children, who grow into well-adjusted adults.
The challenge for the parent whose relationship may be off track with their children is to play to the long game; to think about how to rekindle or restore or develop a relationship with their kids over the passage of time.
To this end, parents are cautioned to always be of good behaviour, to be mindful of how their activities, choices and other relationships may be perceived by their children, and to continue to provide at least small gestures that keep the relationship alive. Those small gestures can include birthday gifts/cards as well as gifts or cards on other special occasions. It also may include sharing pictures, and if acceptable, being present at spectator events or significant rites of passage, such as graduations, school plays, recitals, etc.
Regardless of how it is perceived by the child, you always remain their parent. This fact leaves the door open for repairing relationships. The key will be to appear open, responsive and non-judgmental about whatever is presented as to the cause of the rift.