Parental gatekeeping is a term used by divorceprofessionals and those going through marital dissolution and refers to protracted or restricted custody battles in which one parent keeps the children from the other. According to The Huffington Post, parental gatekeeping is the act of “facilitating or restricting the relationship with a parent and a child.” Limitations can be placed on the relationship either by action of one parent or by legal rulings that make visitation difficult for the non-custodial parent.
There are several reasons for acting as a parental gatekeeper. If one parent has been abusive, neglectful, or has troubles with alcohol or drug use, it makes sense as to why the other would act in parental gatekeeping. Yet when one parent restricts access to the children merely as a consequence of being angry after divorce, it can be psychologically devastating to the kids. In California, according to The Huffington Post, there is a “codified version of lip service to parental gatekeeping.” Not only can parental gatekeeping be detrimental to the child in the psychological perspective that he or she no longer has a relationship with the guarded parent, it can also destroy a child’s future relationship with that parent.
According to a 2008 study issued by the American Psychological Association, children who were kept from their fathers or whose mothers repeatedly spoke ill of the father around the children experienced negative effects on the relationship with their father. Another interesting aspect of the study is that “greater maternal encouragement was associated with higher parent-reported relative father involvement.” That is, if a mother acts as a parental gatekeeper, it can and likely does have an impact on the both the child’s perspective of his or her father and on the father’s subsequent involvement.
If you or someone you know has been through a divorce in Illinois and feels as if the custodial parent of your shared child is keeping your child away from you in a form of parental gatekeeping, the most important step is to seek the legal counsel of a compassionate DuPage County divorce attorney.