After we published When a child makes false allegations (a symptom of reactive attachment disorder) on our blog, we received several emails and calls from parents in regard to legal matters. I can’t make opinions on the validity of various legal actions. However, I hope the following information can help you feel a bit less confused and better able to protect yourself legally.
Understand why your child lies about you
It’s helpful to understand why children with reactive attachment disorder make false allegations. After all, it’s hurtful. As a parent of a child with reactive attachment disorder, you’ve probably sacrificed a lot for your child. It’s normal to feel heartbroken when he or she lies about you. Remember, however, that this behavior is just another common behavior for children with reactive attachment disorder.
Here’s why kids with reactive attachment disorder make false allegations:
- They feel safe when they can control their environments. Many children with reactive attachment disorder threaten false allegations to gain power and control. For example, “If you ground me, I’ll tell the police you hit me.”
- They feel safe when they push away people who try to get close to them.
- When kids with reactive attachment disorder lie about their parents, they achieve #1 and #2 above.
Before you go to court
Make sure to educate and prepare yourself before a court case. Many people, including judges and attorneys, typically don’t understand the dynamics of reactive attachment disorder. You’ll need to inform them. Before you do, however, you’ll need the expertise of an attachment specialist to discern and provide an official diagnosis of reactive attachment disorder. If you haven’t seen an attachment specialist yet, you may find one in your area here. (Disclaimer: The Institute for Attachment and Child Development has no affiliation whatsoever with most of the professionals on the list provided. We accept no liability for the professionals provided, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.)
Here are some aspects of reactive attachment disorder you’ll need to pass along to your attorney:
- It’s difficult for a judge and jury to discern when children with reactive attachment disorder lie because they are good at doing so. Because children with reactive attachment disorder do everything for their own gain, they feel no remorse or empathy for lying about others. Therefore, they lie well and manipulate adults in power easily.
- Kids with reactive attachment disorder use information for control. If they hear other adults (i.e., teachers, therapists, etc.) say something negative about their parents, they can use that information to their advantage.
- Defense attorneys will need to challenge the credibility of children with reactive attachment disorder before accepting their claims as truth.
- It’s important to understand the dynamics of reactive attachment disorder. For more information, you may watch our videos or read our articles and blog posts.
I wish you the best of luck should you end up in the unfortunate situation that your child makes false allegations against you. Of course, all claims of abuse and neglect should be taken seriously in court. I know that adults are just as capable of lying as children. I do not claim any responsibility for others’ court cases. However, I’ve been involved in various court cases in which adults have been proven innocent of allegations on behalf of their children. Such situations are also serious and can cause damage and upheaval in the lives of individuals and their families.
As always, we’re here to support adults who live or work with children with reactive attachment disorder. Check out our workshops for support and tips for parents and professionals living or working with kids with reactive attachment disorder at: instituteforattachment.org/events
When we learn together, we can work together to advocate for children and families struggling with reactive attachment disorder!