When children are not seeing both parents during and after a divorce, it not only hurts the non-custodial parent, but the children suffer as well. There have been studies that children do better academically and behave more appropriately when both parents are in their lives.
Parents must keep in mind that even though they are angry at their spouse for a number of reasons, (i.e. cheating, not paying support, moving on with their lives, being forced to change their lifestyle) that spouse or ex-spouse, will always be your child's other parent. Even though you are divorcing, you owe it to the child to be their parents as you are not divorcing your children.
Parents need to be very careful what is said to the children and within earshot of the children. Children "pick-up" on cues from parents. In some cases speaking negatively about the other parent may cause the child to feel badly for the other parent causing them to align themselves with that parent and against the negative parent. Other times, the child may adapt the negative statements and turn against the other parent.
Many non-custodial parents cry foul and yell "parental alienation". While this type of behavior may occur in some cases, (which will be discussed at a later date) in many instances that purported "alienated parent" must examine their own behavior. These are just a few that I have seen:
a- Is the parent disappointing the child by cancelling visitation time?
b- Is the parent putting the child through an inquisition about the other parent and making the child uncomfortable?
c- Is the parent discussing money and finances with the child, complaining that he/she has no money and has been forced to live in a "dive" because of the custodial parent?
d- Is the parent spending all of the visitation time on the phone or texting friends rather than spending good quality time talking with the child?
e- Is the parent refusing to participate in the child's activities, or take an interest in their pursuits?
f- Is the parent neglecting to consider how the child may like to spend their time with the parent rather than being forced to sit in the house or run errands all day with the parent each time?
Parents often forget that children are very bright today, growing up in a different world and are very outspoken. Many have grown up being taught to make their own decisions about what they want to do and what they don't. Children form their own opinions often deciding that they do not want to visit with the parent because it is uncomfortable and unpleasant, having nothing to do with alienation. Before blaming the other parent, it is suggested that the purported "alienated parent" take time to consider what the children see, hear and do during visitation time and perhaps that behavior needs to be modified for the sake and best intersest of the children.
Both parents must be very aware of their behavior. Children must be encouraged to visit with the other parent and if the child is resistant, this must be explored, perhaps with a professional.
In summation my advise:
Stop pointing fingers at each other, blaming the other for the child's refusal to spend time with the other parent.
Stop speaking negatively about the other parent.
Stop causing the child to be uncomfortable.
Stop making the child feel that they must align themselves with one parent or the other. Start ensuring that you are doing everything to make sure that your children have both parents in their lives.