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Parental Gatekeeping: An Old and Ongoing Problem

Parental Gatekeeping: An Old and Ongoing Problem

Parental gatekeeping is not a new problem, but it’s still a major barrier to positive co-parenting, communication and parent/child quality time. What is parental gatekeeping? What role does it play in disputes over legal decision making? What’s the intention behind it? And what should parents do to break through the barrier it creates?

Parental Gatekeeping: Any measure or measures that are taken by a parent to “protect” them from harm that can be actual, perceived or even manufactured.

When parental gatekeeping is occurring due to the danger of actual harm to the child the practice is often referred to as protective gatekeeping. The phrasing obviously lends at least some intended justification to the measures being taken by the parent based on their intentions to keep the child safe. Protective gatekeepers don’t operate under the intention to harm the relationship between their child and the other parent. Instead their intentions are to protect the child from harm due to realistic concern due to history of or threats of abuse/neglect.

In other cases, parental gatekeeping is occurring due to “perceived” harm. In a lot of legal decision making and parenting time litigation perception can play a large role in the actual reality of the case. Emotions can also run hot when divorce involves paternity issues or tug of wars over time and control of the children. What was once concern when the two parties were married can quickly escalate to fear during a contentious divorce. Parents who spent their marriage providing sole or primarily sole care for the child often find themselves hypersensitive to perceived harm when they realize they will not always be around to act as the safety net when because there will be time periods when their child will be with the other parent. In some cases the perception is accurate, but in others it’s not reasonable, but is based on insecurities or exaggerations.

Then there are cases in which parental gatekeeping is occurring due to manufactured harm. When false allegations are at the heart of the problem, it is far more malicious and sometimes even reckless. It is not based on concern for the child at all, but rather driven by hostility and anger towards the other parent involved. This form of parental gatekeeping, if not stopped, can eventually leave the child susceptible to parental alienation.

If you need assistance with parental gatekeeping problems or other problems related to divorce and legal decision making orders, contact the Arizona divorce attorneys at Arizona Family Law Attorneys.
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