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What is parental gatekeeping and how is it harming your child?

On Behalf of | Mar 22, 2022 | Child Custody |

You probably don’t need us to tell you that child custody disputes can quickly become heated. Each parent thinks they know what is best for their child, and hurt feelings and resentment can cause parents to try to undermine their child’s relationship with the other parent.

These actions can be harmful to children, though, and it can cause extensive damage to a child’s bond with his or her other parent. With that in mind, you need to be aware of signs that your child is being manipulated so that you can take swift legal action to correct the issue.

What is parental gatekeeping?

One way that parents are cutoff from their children is through parental gatekeeping. Gatekeeping refers to a custodial parent’s ability to determine who has access to the child and what information the child receives. This gatekeeping function can be beneficial in some instances, such as when a non-custodial parent poses a threat to the child. Yet, all too often, the gatekeeping function is taken advantage of to the detriment of the non-custodial parent, oftentimes when the custodial parent erroneously sees the non-custodial parent as a threat or the custodial parent invents a threat posed by the non-custodial parent.

How does negative parental gatekeeping occur?

It is easy to overdo things when playing a gatekeeping role . All a custodial parent has to do is cut off your contact with the child. Your phone calls may go unanswered, excuses may be made for missed parenting time, and you may not be kept informed of your child’s medical appointments, schooling, and extracurricular activities. This is slightly different from parental alienation in that parental alienation still allows contact between the non-custodial parent and the child but warps the child’s perception of the other parent.

The dangers of abusive parental gatekeeping

There are many risks associated with improper parental gatekeeping. For example, one study showed that overuse of the gatekeeping role caused extensive conflict amongst parents, and understandably so. Also, since parental gatekeeping is more likely to impact young children who are too young to challenge their custodial parent, children who are subjected to abusive gatekeeping can lose out on the positive impact of the non-custodial parent, which is oftentimes the father. This can lead to a whole host of mental health and behavioral issues later in life, especially if that child has no idea why their other parent has no contact with them.

What can you do to stop abusive gatekeeping?

 If you suspect that your child’s custodial parent is engaging in abusive gatekeeping based on perceived, but untrue, or manufactured harm, then you’ll probably need to take legal action to bring it to a stop. In order to successfully do so, though, you’re going to need evidence. That’s why now is the time to start gathering the evidence that you need to support your position. This may mean keeping a journal of each time that you’re denied access to your child and how your child’s other parent responds to your requests and your concerns.

Additionally, you shouldn’t be tricked into losing your temper or saying awful things to your child or your child’s other parent. After all, these statements may be used against you. Instead, you should try to remain calm, honest, and respectful at all times.

You may also want to get an expert on your side. This may mean requesting that the court order some sort of evaluation, that way you can have a psychologist testify as to how your child is being negatively impacted by the custodial parent’s actions.

Have a strong legal advocate on your side

 If you’re facing a situation where negative parental gatekeeping is occurring, then we know that you’re angry, frustrated, and scared for the future of your relationship with your child. But you can have a strong legal advocate on your side to not only help guide you through the process, but also to build the persuasive legal arguments that you need on your side. If you’d like to learn more about what a law firm like ours can do to assist you in that regard, then we encourage you to continue to read our website.