Parental Alienation Syndrome is the systematic denigration by one parent with the intent of alienating the child against the target parent. In most cases, the purpose of the alienation is to gain custody of the child and exclude involvement by the target parent. In other cases the alienator wants the target parent out of the way to start a new life, or the alienating parent wants more of the marital money and assets than he/she is entitled to and uses the child as a pawn. The alienating parent hates the target parent and the children become false weapons. These are just a few reasons Parental Alienation occurs in domestic disputes.
Parental Alienation Syndrome is common because it is an effective device for gaining custody of a child. Through systematic alienation, one parent may slowly brainwash a child against the other parent. The parent involved in such alienation behavior then may gain the misplaced loyalty of the child.
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.
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 results in withdrawing of love and communication which may extend to the children through the alienating parent. When the mother is the alienator, it is a mechanism employed to stop the father from having contact with his children; and can be described as the mother holding the children “hostages.” The children usually are afraid of the mother and obey her as a means of survival. The child may also be instilled with false memories of the father, 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 which are much easier to identify.
If the parental alienation has been successful and has influenced the child against the target parent, the observer will see symptoms of parental alienation syndrome. Many children appear healthy until asked about the target parent.
Warning signs of a Parental Alienation Syndrome Child:
- The child is a “parrot” of the alienating parent with the same delusional and irrational beliefs and consistently sides with this parent.
- The child develops serious hatred for the target parent and rejects a relationship with the target parent without any legitimate justification. The child sees nothing “good” about this parent and only wants to destroy the relationship.
- The child refuses to visit or spend time with the target parent.
- The child’s reasons for not wanting a relationship with the target parent are primarily based on what the alienating parent tells the child.
- The child feels no guilt about his/her behavior toward the target parent and will not forgive past indiscretions.
- The child’s hatred extends to the target parent’s extended family without any guilt or remorse.
Children having some of these symptoms may be experiencing Parental Alienation by one of his/her parents. Please contact an attorney and discuss your options on how to help this child. Formulate a plan to move forward. Do not give up your parental rights! Your child desperately needs and is entitled to your help!
Parental Alienation are destructive actions by an alienating parent to discredit and sabotage the target parent in the eyes of the child. This will eventually cause increased hostility and decreased contact with the child and the target parent. The alienating parent programs the child to believe that the target parent is mean, unloving, worthless and selfish, and makes the child believe that he/she will be happier if the targeted parent is erased from his/her life.
Since the American Psychiatric Association does not formally recognize Parental Alienation Syndrome/Disorder, The State of Texas does not provide legal standards to evaluate a parental alienation presence in a child. Texas courts have started to act when there is suspected parental alienation. Some of the aids are courts appointing guardians ad litem, parenting facilitators and forensic psychologists used to study the child’s living situations and mental health of both parents and the child. Reports from these specialists have been used in making some very important rulings for the benefit of the child and the families in suspected Parental Alienation cases.
What are some symptoms of Parental Alienation by the Alienating Parent?
- Interference with the target parent visits. Giving children unhealthy choices when there is no choice about the visit. Not allowing any target parent visits.
- Depriving the target parent from information regarding educational, medical and social activities of the child and excluding or not informing the target parent of all of the school, medical, social activities of the child.
- Sharing with the child “everything” about the marital relationship with false information to be “honest” with the child. Blaming the target parent of breaking up the family, financial problems, or not loving the child enough to stay, the alienating parent tries to turn the child and his/her anger against the target parent.
- Interference with or not supporting contact between the child and the target parent. Listening into telephone conversation or reading all emails, texting, or correspondence between the child and target parent.
- Making major unilateral decisions regarding the child without consulting the target parent.
- Refusing to let the child take his/her possessions to the target parent’s residence.
- Telling the child, in a time of juvenile crisis, that the target parent has been abusive and the target parent may hurt the child.
- By defying the target parent’s authority and supervision, the alienating parent is asking the child to impossibly choose one parent over the other. This causes considerable stress and potential long term emotion scarring for the child and much unnecessary pain, difficulty, and anxiety when trying to love both parents.
The alienating parent will try to program the child to dislike, hate, or fear the target parent. By causing the child to disown or distance themselves away from the target parent, the alienating parent may, in the end, cause a very distrustful and emotionally scarred child. The goal may be achieved, but not with the desired results of the alienating parent. Many times, the child, without hope, will turn on both parents and never be able to have trusting, loving relationships in his/her life.
In recent years, “parent alienation” has become more prevalent in divorce cases. Parent alienation is the dramatic change in the relationship between a parent and their child when the child is used as a tool by one parent to hurt the other parent. Parent alienation can include much more than brainwashing of a child. In many cases, the child becomes hostile towards the alienated parent as they are fed not just conscious, but subconscious and unconscious, messages by the alienating parent. Frequently, the child will turn on the parent they previously loved and were very close to prior to the institution of the divorce proceeding. In some cases, the alienating parent will go to extreme lengths to keep the alienated parent from seeing the child for long periods of time. Children begin acting out and the situation quickly becomes volatile.
When children are used in such a manner, emotions are quickly aroused and a very simple divorce case can quickly become a highly contested case fueled by resentment and hostility. Parents who are successful in getting primary custody of a child in a parent alienation situation share many similar characteristics and may use some of the following tools to assist them in their defense:
- Keep an even-temper, remain logical and keep your emotions under control. Never retaliate.
- Though you may think of giving up, never do so.
- Go to the financial expense of seeing the case through. Never give up on your child. There can be nothing more important than the happiness of your child.
- Seek help from a skilled attorney who has experience with parental alienation.
- Familiarize yourself with how the courts work and the laws as they apply to your specific case.
- Seek professional help and diagnosis.
- Request a social study into the circumstances of the child
- Request a psychological evaluation of the alienating parent
- Keep a chronology or diary of events (this will help to jog your memory, keep track of witnesses, etc.).
- Document the alienation for submission as evidence in court.
- Keep the best interest of the child at heart.
- Provide the Court with an appropriate parenting plan.
- Make sure you understand the nature of the problem and focus on correcting it, even though you are being victimized.
- Always call and show up for visitation with your child at the scheduled time, even if there is no chance of the child being there.
- Take witnesses to testify that the child is not at home when you exercise your visitation rights.
- Focus on the child, and never talk to the child about the other parent or the divorce case.
- Never violate the Court’s orders.
- If you are receiving disturbing phone calls from the child or the other parent, tape the calls.
- If you are receiving disturbing emails or text messages from the child or the other parent, make a copy and place in a file.
Though none of these tips will guarantee that you get custody of the child, they will definitely assist you in building a case against the parent who is attempting to alienate you from your child.