Final article in the “Get Educated” series – raising awareness of how parental alienation dynamics can manifest in a school/educational setting and tips on what you can do to avoid being drawn into conflict, and to ensure a safe, stable school environment for the child involved.
NOTE: This based on one mom’s experience as well as research on alienation and is not meant to replace professional advice or help, please seek the appropriate professional with concerns.
If you have concerns, or see “red flags”, you do not have to diagnose, label or name “parental alienation”! Being aware of the red flags of parental alienation serve two purposes: 1) to avoid being drawn into conflicts or taking a side (triangulation), and 2) to take note of concerns in the child and take appropriate steps to seeking additional help or support for that child. Or, alternately, when a parent’s behavior is harmful or poses a risk of harm to a child, as a mandated reporter, you make a report/contact the authorities.
*Get educated about abuse and parental alienation.
*As a mandated reported, do report any concerns about abuse, neglect, or child endangerment. This may include if the child appears suicidal or appears to be a danger to themselves or someone else.
*Maintain professional boundaries at all times. Do not compromise, make deals or give favors. If needed, talk to a supervisor for help or guidance.
*Don’t take the bait– avoid gossip, personal conversations or bad mouthing a parent. If conversations turn personal, set firm boundaries and redirect.
*Don’t Assume or Rush to Conclusions. If you feel there is a misunderstanding with a parent, don’t rush to conclusions, become emotional or take the defensive. Instead, find a time to talk about the issue, ask questions for more information.
*Offer equal opportunities to both parents to be involved in the child’s education. Be willing to communicate and share information to both parents. – send out separate report cards, conference notices, school updates etc. Don’t take a side or show preference.
*Teach critical thinking skills in the classroom.
Resources and Downliads for Teaching Critical Thinking: http://www.edutopia.org/stw-kipp-critical-thinking-resources-downloads
Teaching Critical Thinking: http://www.studygs.net/teaching/crttch.htm
*Teach and promote bullying awareness and anti-bullying.
Tips For Concerned Parents or Family Members:
*Remain calm. Don’t let yourself become emotionally entangled into further conflict. Or blindly react, doing something you will regret later. At all times, be polite.
If you need to vent or express yourself, do so in a safe and trusted setting AWAY from the school, school meetings, staff, your ex partner, court etc. You may seek community support groups, DV support groups, divorce support group or consult with a trust friend, family, clergy etc.
*Bring a trusted person or attorney to witness and take notes during school meetings, conferences etc. Do not use this person to intimidate or scare the school staff or your ex partner. Again, be very professional and polite.
You may also consult with a domestic violence advocate, an education advocacy group or other related professional who offers help or assistance.
*Keep organized. Maintain a calendar to record communications or important events occurring at or with the school. Keep all papers, reports, and contact information neatly organized and filed–easy to access.
*Stay connected to teachers; this is especially important if your ex partner is not communicating with you. Keep the focus on the child. If you are unsure about something, ask questions—don’t rush to judgment or assume.
Do not bombard the school with messages. Many schools offer ways to keep updated about your child, get to know the system in place and use it.
*If there is a Harassment or Order for Protection in place, let the school know and give them a copy of the order.
*When communicating with the school, keep your conversations and attention focused on the child.
*Be positive. Encourage your child in school. If you are able, be involved in their homework or attend school events. Meet their friends (and their parents). Try to make school a safe, welcoming environment that is free from conflict.
When you talk to teachers, keep your attention focused on the child. Ask questions if needed. Provide input, showing you listen and are willing to work together as a team.
*Don’t Assume or Rush to Conclusions. If you feel there is a misunderstanding with a teacher, don’t rush to conclusions, become emotional or take the defensive. Instead, find a time to talk about the issue, ask questions for more information. Let the teacher know you support your child and are asking so you can be better involved.
*If you feel your issue is not being resolved, you may speak to a supervisor, file a complaiont or seek the help of an educational advocacy group.
*If there are custody, domestic violence or legal issues happening, seek the appropriate professional to help–do not rely on the school to solve your personal issues or custody issues.
*Don’t make compromises or take risks that may endanger your safety.
*Follow all court orders. Seek appropriate legal help for any ongoing issues.
*Sometimes you do your best effort and it still seems like your child or the school is not responding and the relationship is still difficult. In these cases, separate acceptance of the situation and taking it personally. You can only do so much to maintain or repair a relationship. Your efforts are courageous. Don’t internalize a failed relationship with doubts, self-blame, anger, etc.
ANY MORE TIPS OR IDEAS? PLEASE SHARE AND DISCUSS IN THE COMMENTS! THANK YOU 🙂
Anti-Bullying Activities & Lesson Plans: http://www.educationworld.com/a_special/bully.shtml
Mom’s Heart Unsilenced: Parental Alienation Educators, Tutors, Youth Leaders, Mentors- http://momsheartsunsilenced.com/educators-tutors-youth-leaders-mentors/
Mr. Custody Coach, “10 Top Ways to Fight Alienation”: http://www.mrcustodycoach.com/blog/10-top-ways-fight-parental-alienation
Parental Alienation Awareness: What is Alienation, How You Can Help Support a Child and his/her Rejected Parent: http://www.paawareness.org/Brochure/PAAOnewBrochure.pdf