Parental alienation is incredibly harmful to children and can have lasting effects. It involves one parent trying to end the relationship between the child and his or her other parent or otherwise making attempts to ruin the relationship.

Real Simple explains that parental alienation attempts are not always in your face and can be quite subtle. In fact, the subtle actions may be more harmful than the obvious ones because you may not notice them.

Obvious signs

A bold parent who wants to distance your child from you may be quite pushy. He or she may forbid visitations, demand to be present when you are with the child or when you speak to the child via phone or the internet. He or she may make outrageous rules that prevent you from interacting with your child or forming a good relationship with him or her.

A parent who is unashamed of trying to alienate you may say things directly to your child that put you in a negative light and complain to your child about things he or she thinks you are doing wrong. They take on the attitude that they must win and will make the child feel bad for having you in his or her life.

Subtle signs

Subtle signs are not so in your face and loud. They might include a parent who accidentally allows a child to overhear an argument or who mopes about in front of the child after he or she visits you or speaks with you.

This parent may say hurtful things about you in general conversation or make slight references to you that put you in a negative light. They also commonly use the child as a middle man to tell you things they think you should know, such as that you should arrive on time for pick-ups or that you should help pay for your child’s extracurricular expenses.