For most people, parental alienation makes them think of one parent refusing to let the kids see the other. That is a common way that one parent slowly alienates the other from the kids during a breakup or divorce.

However, parental alienation isn’t always that obvious. Many times, it involves not the immediate end of a parent’s parenting time but rather the slow poisoning of the relationship between the children and that parent.

If your ex has a history of manipulative behavior, you may want to be especially aware of the more subtle ways that someone could alienate you from your children in a shared custody arrangement.

They start telling the children lies about you

Maybe you had to work overtime last week and had to cancel your midweek pizza party with the kids. Your ex could damage your relationship with the kids by saying you didn’t want to be there with them or you were spending the time with someone else, not with them.

By creating a false narrative that involves you rejecting the children or doing terrible things, your ex could change the way the children see you and thus undermine their affection and respect for you.

They tell the truth when it is inappropriate to do so

Parental relationships fail for a bunch of reasons. You got divorced because you cheated. An act of infidelity does not say anything about your love or devotion for your children. However, learning about inappropriate behavior that damaged the marriage could hurt how the children feel about you and their relationship with you.

If your ex tells children the truth in an inappropriate manner or when the children are too young to process it properly, their unnecessary disclosures could create a growing gulf between you and your children.

Honesty and frequent communication help protect you

Talking openly and frequently with your children about your life and their lives, as well as everyone’s feelings, can help avoid situations where assumptions or lies become beliefs. Honest communication can help you catch early warning signs of parental alienation.

Talking with your children frequently about what you do and why you do it, as well as how you feel about them, will give them an opportunity to talk with you if they have heard something toxic or inappropriate at home.

If you start noticing a pattern of lies or harsh, negative speech about you, you will want to document it in writing, in detail. Ask your ex to stop, but keep your record so that you can show a pattern of behavior if they don’t stop trying to damage your relationship.