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Gatekeeping can seriously damage parent-child relationships

When a married couple divorces, they may harbor very deep resentments against one another. While this is unfortunate, it is a personal matter that each party can address in their own way. However, angry divorced couples should not allow their hostilities to affect their children. Sadly, sometimes an angry parent may try to undermine the other parent's relationship with his or her child.

There are many ways a parent can try to alienate a child from his or her other parent. For example, the parent may speak negatively about the other parent to the child. A parent could also try to prevent the other parent from having access to the child. Putting up such interference is known as gatekeeping. A gatekeeper parent can engage in a number of damaging behaviors that include:

  • Planning events for the child that take place during the other parent's scheduled custody of visitation time without informing the other parent.
  • Not telling the other parent about the child's schooling, activities or other important aspects of his or her life.
  • Exerting too much influence on how the child will spend his or her time with the other parent.
  • Not accommodating necessary changes in the parenting time schedule.

This sort of interference can be devastating to the other parent's relationship with a child. Moreover, the child may eventually come to act resentful or even hateful toward the other parent. So between the gatekeeping and the child's anger, the other parent may become too discouraged to try to maintain the relationship.

If you are a parent who has been subjected to gatekeeper behavior on behalf of your ex, it would be understandable if you felt hurt. Remember, it is important for your child that you be in his or her life. Given the opportunity, you may be able to have the relationship that you and your child deserve. A family law attorney could work to make sure that your parenting rights are protected so you can see your child in the manner required by your child custody agreement.

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