blog home Child Custody Can Giving “Tough Love” Result in Antisocial Behavior?

Can Giving “Tough Love” Result in Antisocial Behavior?

By Sheryl Rentz on November 20, 2018

child crying in the dark

Bullying has always been an issue among children, but it seems to be more prevalent nowadays and causing tragic outcomes for the victims. For a long time, society accepted aggressive behaviors in children as a way of life instead of taking a closer look into the child’s home life. But that has changed, especially in the family courts.

A child who is given a healthy amount of love and attention will rarely act violently towards others. Parents who are harsh or stern and never show their children a soft loving side can cause their children to develop a set of characteristics known as callous-unemotional traits (CU traits), according to a study done by the University of Pennsylvania.

When someone has callous-unemotional traits, it causes them to lack empathy and act aggressively towards others. If one parent is more “harsh” than the other, could this factor into your Pennsylvania custody battle? With new research—and evidence to back you up—there’s a good chance it could.

What Other Factors Can Affect a Child’s Personality?

Divorce shakes up children’s world. They don’t understand that the divorce has nothing to do with them, and can take it personally. For that reason, it is very important that children do not feel like they have to choose which parent’s side to take.

A parent who projects bitter feelings toward an ex-spouse onto a child is wrong—and it may cause the child to build up hatred and resent that parent for no legitimate reason. This is called parental alienation, and it involves the “programming” of a child by one parent to denigrate the other, “targeted” parent, in an effort to undermine and interfere with the child’s relationship with that parent. Parental alienation is often a sign of a parent’s inability to separate from the couple’s conflict and focus on the needs of the child, and it is now being considered a form of child abuse. Alienation ultimately damages the relationship between the child and targeted parent, robbing the child of a loving parent.

Having a parent disappear from a child’s life can cause him or her to become more reclusive and less social. It’s always good to talk to your child and answer questions about the divorce. Keep your answers age-appropriate, and do not bash the other parent.

Is My Child Antisocial?

There is a difference between a child being shy or introverted and a child being antisocial. If you are coparenting and do not see your child on a daily basis, it can be hard to pick up on these changes. Below are some signs of antisocial behavior to lookout for:

  • aggression
  • hostility toward authority
  • deceitfulness
  • defiance
  • abusive to animals and people
  • stealing
  • violating rules
  • vandalism and other property destruction
  • chronic delinquency
  • lack of conscience and concern for others
  • arrogance
  • using charm to manipulate
  • lack of remorse

If your child does show antisocial behavior, intervene as quickly as possible. Seek help for your child so he or she can be taught conflict resolution, anger management, and emotional literacy. Counseling, getting a mentor, and taking social skills lessons are good options as well. The goal is to first heal any emotional scars children have after divorce and reassure them that they are loved and wanted.

Keeping Child Custody from Getting Too Messy

As much as parents love their children, sometimes their emotions get the best of them. Tensions run high, and one or both parents may want full custody of the child. The child’s feelings may be lost and the parents may end up losing sight on what’s important: their child.

Pennsylvania encourages shared custody, as it gives the child a chance to spend time with each parent equally. If you are worried that your coparent’s parenting style is affecting your child’s behavior in a negative way, or if your coparent is programming your child to resent you, there is help. The Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C., has been serving Montco for over 25 years in child custody cases. We will do everything we can to get you and your child back on track.

As parents, it is our responsibility to raise positive, well-rounded people and shape how they view and react to the world. It’s never too late to mend fences and help your child, whether that’s coparenting more effectively or having a custody order modified to remove an abuse parent from their life. For a free consultation with a Montgomery County family law attorney, please call (610) 645-0100 today.

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