It has now been more than 20 years since child psychiatrist, Richard A. Gardner, introduced the term of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). Dr. Gardner defined PAS as a disorder that arises in divorce or child custody disputes, when one parent deliberately damages, or destroys the previously healthy and loving relationship between the child and the child’s other parent. The main manifestation is the child’s own sudden or atypical campaign of denigration against the targeted parent without any justification.
Parental Alienation Syndrome is an evil, yet common and effective device for gaining custody of a child. Through systematic alienation, the alienating parent may slowly brainwash a child against the targeted parent. The alienating parent involved in these abusive behaviors usually gains misplaced and deleterious loyalty of the child.
The main problem with PAS is that the child actually participates in the denigrating of the alienated parent.
The main areas of denigration from the child are:
- The child supports and tries to protect the alienating parent.
- The child express the ideas of denigration of the target parent as his/her own idea.
- The child gives weak and absurd reasons for his/her anger towards the alienated parent.
- The child uses situations and scenarios that he/she could not have experienced
- The child uses foul and often atypical language and server behavior to denigrate the targeted parent.
- The child has no guilt over his/her cruelty towards the alienated parent and expresses hate for the parent.
Children who live in alienated family situations are usually unable to form healthy relationships with either parent.
Main areas of concern for these children impacted by Parental alienation are:
- Aggression and conduct disorder
- Disregard for social norms and authority, adjustment difficulties
- Emotional Distress, Anxiety, Depression, and Self Hate
- Lack of remorse or guilt
- Poor reality testing and unreasonable cognitive operations
- Low self- esteem or inflated self-esteem, Pseudo- maturity
Children displaying some or all of these symptoms need professional and legal help. Parental Alienation Syndrome is sometimes recognized by the courts but is very difficult to define and most cases requires bringing in County Social Services, Child Protective Services, and /or other family therapy professionals.
Your child desperately needs your help, no matter how bad the situation is. IT IS NOT THE TIME TO GIVE UP YOUR PARENTAL RIGHTS! Contact an attorney and discuss your options on how to help your child and moving forward to solve this legal situation.
Are you now going through or commencing a “High Conflict” Divorce with children where one Alienating Parent is encouraging or programming the child to reject the other parent without legitimate cause or justification. An alienating parent makes a child choose sides to bolster the alienators own parental identity and to undermine the target parent through denigration and interference with the child’s other parent relationship.
Parental Alienation is more common than thought in divorce situations and many alienation situations continue throughout the entire relationship with the target parent and the affected child.
A report from Fidler and Bala (2010) reported increased incidences and judicial findings in parental alienation and estimated signs of parental alienation in 11-15% of divorces with children. Psychiatrist, Dr. William Bernet, Professor at Vanderbilt University and advocate of parental alienation (Sept. 2013) “Almost every mental health professional who works with children of divorced parents acknowledges the PA (parental alienation) affects thousands of families and causes enormous pain and hardship”
What are the warning signs of “Parental Alienation Syndrome”? Beware when a child starts displaying accelerated signs of hatred and anger rejecting any relationship with the target parent. This is especially transparent when a normal relationship existed before the deviant behavior manifests.
Are you having these types of problems with your children? What are the basic symptoms of Parental Alienation(PA)? There are many versions but in our law practice, these are the most visible:
- Under the idea of just being honest, the alienating parent tells the child “the entire family situation” through their opinionated eyes causing the child to think less of the target parent. Placing singular blame for who caused the breakup of the family?
- Alienating Parent refuses to allow the target parent access to school records/activities, medical/doctor records/appointments, extracurricular activities, or anything that would be a shared part of the child/parent life together.
- An Alienating Parent makes demands on the target parent that are contrary to court orders. Allows the child to make choices about parental visits with the target parent contra to existing court orders causing the child to resent the target parent when the changes request cannot or should not happen.
- Alienated parent may schedule the child in too many activities to assure no time is left for the target parent to visit with the child. Both parents need to be flexible with visitation to respond to the child’s need to have a relationship with both parents.
- A parent listens in on the child’s conversation with the target parent or does not allow the child to talk with the target parent at the designed call time.
- Refuses to allow children to takes their possessions to the target parent residence.
- Alienated parent blames the target parent for financial problems, having a boy/girlfriend, or causing changes in the family lifestyle. Forcing adult issues on a minor to gain advantage.
- When the child shows constant anger towards the target parent that accelerates to the point where the child avoids being with the target parent. No justified or demonstrative reason is given or exists for the anger and the child will not discuss the issue.
- The alienating parent will use the child to spy and gather information against the target parent. This can cause the child to demean and fear the target parent while scaring the child’s self-image.
- Alienating parent asks the child about the other parent’s personal life causing the child extreme stress/tension. A child not alienated wants to loyal to both parents.
- Alienating parents have secret codes, signals, and words that reinforce very destructive on-going alienation.
In today’s world Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is now taken very serious in family law courts. Please review the symptoms of parental alienation and see if there are common elements in your relationship with your child to determine if parental alienation may be a factor.
If so, take action to help alleviate this this situation with your child. Contact a medical professional who can help address this form of brainwashing. The alienating parent always feels like they are helping the child, but in reality, by pushing the child into their way of thinking about the target parent, they are pushing the child into a life of low self- esteem, depression, lack of trust, and self- hate. Many times the child will turn on the alienating parent when the real family picture comes out or as they grow and mature.
Nothing is ever gained by demeaning actions by one family member on all other members of the family unit. Many times it may also be necessary to contact a legal profession who is knowledgeable in Parental Alienation situations to legally intercede and help correct family issues before the child and parent regress to a non- existent relationship with each other.
Getting Even by using a child is never fair play. The child has two parents and should be able to have a loving relationship with both.
One in three children lose touch with a parent, usually the father, following a divorce. In a recent survey, one in five parents stated that their primary objective during the divorce was to make the experience as unpleasant as possible for the former spouse; despite the effects such attitudes and behavior have on the children. One in three children stated that they felt isolated and lonely during and following the divorce process.
Parental Alienation Syndrome is the systematic denigration by one parent with the intent of alienating the child against the other parent. In most cases, the purpose of the alienation is to gain custody of a child and exclude involvement by the father. In other cases the mother wants the father out of the way to start a new life, the mother wants more of the money and assets than she is entitled to and uses the children as pawns. The mother hates the father and the children become false weapons. These are just a few reason Parental Alienation occurs in domestic disputes.
Parental Alienation Syndrome is common because it is an effective device for gaining custody of a child. Trough systematic alienation, one parent may slowly brainwash a child against the other parent. The parent involved in such alienation behaviors then gains misplaced loyalty of the child.
There are two types of Parental Alienation Syndrome, medical and legal. Medical Parental Alienation Syndrome is a form of emotional child abuse. Parents in hostile separations may suffer depression, anger and anxiety or aggression. The expression of these feelings often takes on a form of withdrawing love and communication. This extends to the children through the custodial parent. It is a mechanism employed to stop the father from having contact with his children; and can be described by the mother holding the children “hostages,” afraid of the mother, and obeying her as a means of survival. The child may also be instilled with false memories of the father, may be coached and/or brainwashed. Parental Alienation Syndrome is recognized by the courts but is very difficult to define and in most cases requires bringing in County Social Services, Child Protective Services, and/or other professionals. Anyone claiming Parental Alienation Syndrome should look for family therapy as a constructive way forward. Other forms of abuse are physical, sexual, and neglect and are much easier to identify.
It is important no matter how bad the alienation becomes that you strategize to create a line of contact with your children, the mother and anyone connected to them. Having a plan is critical. When a father loses contact with his children he goes from disbelief, to despair, anger, depression, confusion and a total sense of social injustice. Having a plan means looking at the situation logically, rather than emotionally.
1. The first stage is to look for direct contact with the mother and children. Can you meet, write, or phone?
2. If you are not allowed contact, can a relative contact the mother or children on your behalf?
3. Can you contact your children through church, school, clubs, sports activities, or daycare?
4. Can you participate in your children’s activities?
5. Do you have a non-suggestive witness that can go with you when you exercise your visitation rights?
6. Is there a local grocery store where you can purchase something to have a receipt stating the date and time you were in the area?
7. Will the police make a report stating that you attempted to exercise your visitation?
8. Whenever possible take video and pictures.
In cases of Parental Alienation Syndrome it is important that you document everything. Keep a diary or timeline. Write important events down on a calendar.
If you are a victim of Parental Alienation Syndrome, contact an attorney. Discuss your options. Formulate a plan to move forward. Do not give up your parental rights as a father.