“I love my children. If the court can’t protect them from their abusive father, I will. Even though he’s never abused the children, I know it’s a matter of time. The children are frightened of their father. If they don’t want to see him, I’m not going to force them. They are old enough to make up their own minds.”
The obsessed alienator is a parent, or sometimes a grandparent, with a cause:
to align the children to his or her side and together, with the children, and a campaign to destroy their relationship with the targeted parent.
For the campaign to work, the obsessed alienator enmeshes the children’s personalities and beliefs into their own. This is a process that takes time but one that the children, especially the young, are completely helpless to see and combat. It usually begins well before the divorce is final.
The obsessed parent is angry, bitter or feels betrayed by the other parent. The initial reasons for the bitterness may actually be justified. They could have been verbally and physical abused, raped, betrayed by an affair, or financially cheated.
The problem occurs when the feelings won’t heal but instead become more intense because of being forced to continue the relationship with a person they despise because of their common parenthood. Just having to see or talk to the other parent is a reminder of the past and triggers the hate. They are trapped with nowhere to go and heal.
The characteristics of obsessed alienation are as follows
- They are obsessed with destroying the children’s relationship with the targeted parent
- They having succeeded in enmeshing the childrens’ personalities and beliefs about the other parent with their own.
- The children will parrot the obsessed alienator rather than express their own feelings from personal experience with the other parent.
- The targeted parent and often the children cannot tell you the reasons for their feelings.
- Their beliefs sometimes becoming delusional and irrational. No one, especially the court, can convince obsessed alienators that they are wrong. Anyone who tries is the enemy.
- They will often seek support from family members, quasi-political groups or friends that will share in their beliefs that they are victimized by the other parent and the system.
- The battle becomes “us against them.” The obsessed alienator’s supporters are often seen at the court hearings even though they haven’t been subpoenaed.
- They have an unquenchable anger because they believe that the targeted parent has victimized them and whatever they do to protect the children is justified.
- They have a desire for the court to punish the other parent with court orders that would interfere or block the targeted parent from seeing the children. This confirms in the obsessed alienator’s mind that he or she was right all the time.
- The court’s authority does not intimidate them.
- The obsessed alienator believes in a higher cause, protecting the children at all cost.
- The obsessed alienator will probably not want to read what is on these pages because the content just makes them angrier.
There are no effective treatments for either the obsessed alienator or the children.
The courts and mental health professionals are helpless.
The only hope for these children is early identification of the symptoms and prevention. After the alienation is entrenched and the children become “true believers” in the parent’s cause, the children are lost to the other parent for years to come.
We realize this is a sad statement, but we have yet to find an effective intervention, by anyone, including the courts that can rehabilitate the alienating parent and child.
More on Parental Alienation
Divorce is one of life’s most painful passages. It is painful for the spouse who wants it, painful for the spouse who feels rejected, and painful for the children.
We can understand and empathize with the spouse who feels wronged and wants revenge, or the spouse who is overwhelmed with anxiety at the thought of losing the children, or the spouse who prefers to forget that the marriage ever was.
But using the children to get revenge, to cope with anxiety, to erase the past, is unacceptable.
Parents must hold themselves to a higher standard.
Parent/child relationships are particularly vulnerable when children are first informed of the impending separation, or when one parent actually leaves the home.
If your spouse manipulates the children to blame you for the divorce, or to believe you have abandoned them, affection can dissolve overnight as their distress and hurt feelings are channeled into hatred.
The risk becomes multiplied if, for any reason, you have no communication or contact with the children after you leave the home. This keeps you from reassuring the children of your love and helping them understand that they do not have to choose between their parents.
A child who feels caught between two homes may feel that the solution to the conflict is to declare a clear allegiance to one household. This motive can result in alienation from either parent.
A child who is anxious or angry about the remarriage may channel these feelings into unwarranted hatred of the remarried parent and stepparent. Or the child’s alienation may express the disappointment of reconciliation wishes that have been dashed by the remarriage.
Regardless of the child’s underlying motivation, if the favored parent welcomes the child’s allegiance and fails to actively promote the child’s affection for the other parent, the child may cling to a maladaptive solution.
The parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the target parent.
PAS is more than brainwashing or programming, because the child has to actually participate in the denigrating of the alienated parent. This is done in primarily the following eight ways:
1. The child denigrates the alienated parent with foul language and severe oppositional behavior.
2. The child offers weak, absurd, or frivolous reasons for his or her anger.
3. The child is sure of him or herself and doesn’tdemonstrate ambivalence, i.e. love and hate for thealienated parent, only hate.
4. The child exhorts that he or she alone came up with ideas of denigration. The “independent-thinker”phenomenon is where the child asserts that no one told him to do this.
5. The child supports and feels a need to protect the alienating parent.
6. The child does not demonstrate guilt over cruelty towards the alienated parent.
7. The child uses borrowed scenarios, or vividlydescribes situations that he or she could not haveexperienced.
8. Animosity is spread to also include the friends and/or extended family of the alienated parent.
In severe cases of parent alienation, the child is utterly brainwashed against the alienated parent.
The alienator can truthfully say that the child doesn’t want to spend any time with the other parent, even though he or she has told the child that he has to, it is a court order, etc.
The alienator typically responds, “There isn’t anything that I can do about it. I’m not telling the child that he can’t.
Alienation advances when the alienating parent urdses the child as a personal therapist. The child is told about every miserable experience and negative feeling about the alienated parent with great specificity.
The child, who is already enmeshed with the parent because his or her identity is still undefined, easily absorbs the parent’s negativity. They become aligned with this parent and feel that they need to be the protector of the alienating parent.
Parental alienation can be mild and temporary or extreme and ongoing. Most researchers believe that any alienation of a child against (the child’s) other parent is harmful to the child and to the target parent.
Extreme, obsessive, and ongoing parental alienation can cause terrible psychological damage to children extending well into adulthood.
Parental Alienation focuses on the alienating parents behavior as opposed to the alienated parent’s and alienated childrens’ conditions. This definition is different from Parental Alienation Syndrome as originally coined by Dr. Richard Gardner in 1987:
“a disturbance in which children are preoccupied with deprecation and criticism of a parent-denigration that is unjustified and/or exaggerated.”
Parental Alienation Syndrome symptoms describe the child’s behaviours and attitude towards the targeted parent after the child has been effectively programmed and severely alienated from the targeted parent.
Parental alienation, on the other hand, describes the alienating parent’s or parents’ conduct which induces parental alienation syndrome in children. Parental alienation is a form of relational aggression by one parent against the other parent using their common children.
The process can become cyclic with each parent attempting to alienate the children from the other. There is potential for a negative feedback loop and escalation.
At other times an affected parent may withdraw leaving the children to the alienating parent. Children so alienated often suffer effects similar to those studied in the psychology of torture.
Alienating parents often use grandparents, aunts/uncles, and other elders to alienate their children against the target parent.
In some cases, mental health professionals become unwitting allies in these alienation attempts by backing unfounded allegations of neglect, abuse or mental disease. Courts also often side with the alienating parent against the target parent in legal judgements because parental alienation is so difficult to detect.
Extreme forms of parental alienation include obsessive brainwashing, character assassination, and the false inducement of fear, shame, and rage in children against the target parent. Moderate forms of parental alienation include loss of self control, flare ups of anger, and nconscious alliances with the children against the target parent. In it’s mildest forms, parental alienation includes occasional mild denigration alternating with a focus on encouraging the children’s relationship with the other parent.
Parental alienation often forces children to choose sides and become allies against the other parent. Children caught in the middle of such conflicts suffer severe losses of love, respect and peace during their formative years.
They also often lose their alienated parent forever.
These consequences and a host of others cause terrible traumas to children as studied in Parental Alienation Syndrome.
Parents so alienated often suffer heartbreaking loss of their children through no fault of their own. In addition, they often face false accusations from their alienated children that they cannot counter with the facts.
Finally, they often find themselves powerless to show that this little-known form of cruel, covert, and cunning aggression is occurring or has occurred.
Often the problem can be cured only by realizing the underlying causes. The reasons are very numerous and varied. These are examples:
- Money. The custodial parent may wish to have more than the non-custodial parent is willing or able to provide and the children are leverage pawns.
- Retaliation. ‘You wanted a life without us. Now you have it.’
- New family member.The mother forms a new romantic relationship and wants her new man to be the father. The non-custodial parent is a hindrance to that new relationship, an unwanted reminder.
- New partner’s interference. Mother’s boy-friend or new husband wants to be the man in the child’s life and works to exclude the father.
- Jealousy Mother’s empty life is in stark contrast to Father’s recovering one. Mother may not wish the father’s new partner to have the role of ‘rival mother’ – particularly if she is insecure about her own abilities.
- Property rights. Mother regards child as her property and is unwilling to share
- Social appearance.Mother could never admit that she is not the sole focus of her child’s life.
- Depression, Poor health.General negative view on life interpreted by her as being a result of the marital breakup and therefore his fault.
- Simple hatred by the mother of the father.
- Hostility from the father toward the mother is viewed by her as a risk to the children as well, so she feels that she must ‘protect’ the child by preventing the father from visiting. Mother may have no basis whatsoever for feeling that the father will be hostile to the child.
Possessiveness of the child’s attention and affection. The Mother may have no other close family and be envious of the father’s friends and relatives.
- Mother convinces herself that the father is a dangerous human with extreme character flaws to which the child should not be exposed. Mother assumes that activities enjoyed by the father are risky to the child, even though other children may engage in those same activities.
- Mother has taken a gender approach and is hostile to all men. This can be particularly true if the mother has limited her own contacts to other single mothers. She may be unable to sustain a wholesome relationship with a man.
- Punishment. Mother eliminates visits or shortens contact with the father if the children do not behave. “You have not finished your homework. You cannot go to dinner with your father.” or “You did not obey me about your bedtime. You are grounded here and while you are with your father this weekend.”
- Perceived competition with the former spouse. This is particularly true when the non-custodial father spends more on the children than the mother is able to do. Also called “Disneyland Dads”, the father uses his time in high dollar activities while the mother has to make do on free and low cost amusements for them. This also works in reverse with the “competitive” mom – where the non-custodial parent plans an activity, such as a driving vacation and then the custodial mom has to ‘trump’ it by flying the children out of the country on vacation. Neither parent seems to notice that the TWO vacations are far more than the child would have received if in a pre-divorce home and that the child’s values are being distorted on a very subconscious, but permanent level.
- Self-esteem. The mother’s interests and activities may be so focused on the children that she has no life if they are not around. She does not wish to, or cannot admit, that they have fun if she is not part.
- Fear of abandonment.Mother worries that children may choose the father over her if given the opportunity.
- Control. The children may be the only means the parent has of directing the life and emotions of the former spouse.
- Reverse control. The mother may have never wanted a man except to sire the child and, once that role is complete, the mother wants him well away from her child. Watch for parents who say ‘MY child’ when talking to the other parent.
- Punishment to the Father for forming a new marriage. ‘You were supposed to stay single and grieve for me forever.’
- Mistaken belief that the father was actually not interested in the child.Many men are not granted much of a role in baby care, so as the child grows older and the father is ‘learning how to parent’ he may not spend as much time with the child –which may be viewed in retrospect as disinterest. Parenting does not come naturally to everyone and non-custodial parents have less of a chance to practice, with their mistakes being more visible.
- Lifestyle conflicts.Mother and father have different choices in cultures, religions, and values and she wants to isolate the children into hers.
- Emotional dependence.The mother may feel that the child has only so much capability for affection and wants it all for herself.
- Resentment of reminders of failure.The mother may view the dissolved marriage as a failure and wish to avoid all memory of it.
- Concealment. The mother may be having difficulties and does not want the children to provide information about her situation to the father.
Theses cases involving Parental Alienating are very frustrating to the targeted parent. Many times the offending parent feels totally justified in their actions. They cannot see the damage they are causing their children.
How can targeted parents in these situations be helped?
Encourage them to keep their heads up, maintain perspective, and contact the right professionals. Open up the line of communication with their children, recognize early warning signs of trouble, and respond appropriately to rude and hateful behavior.
Avoid common errors made by rejected parents through recognition of the problem and quickly obtaining the proper experts, which is crucial in developing a strategy inn a custody case involving Parental Alienation.
If necessary, ask the courts to order an evaluation and most of all to order treatment to reverse the damages caused by such conduct.
Parental Alienation Syndrome by Lynn M.Swank,
Dr. Richard A. Warshak. Divorce Poison, Protecting the Parent-Child Bond from a Vindictive Ex, Regan Books, New York,
Gardner, R.A. (1998). The Parental Alienation Syndrome, Second Edition, Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.
Three Types of Parental Alienation Copyright 1997 by Douglas Darnall, Ph.D.)
By Richard A Warshack, Psychologist and expert on P.A.S. @richardwarshack
This post is in honor of Parental Alienation Awareness Day—April 25.
A boy wrote a letter to his mother telling her that she belonged in a mental institution, that she was nothing to him, that she was nothing but a screw-up, that she was sick, selfish, that he wanted to have nothing to do with her or any of her relatives, and that he hoped she died a horrible, painful death. In other words, this boy disowned his mother with the most aggressive, vile, and hateful language.
The father’s attorney attempted to minimize the child’s alienation by claiming that the boy merely loved his dad a lot more than he loved his mom.
Attorneys spin the facts to zealously advocate for their clients’ positions. We expect it.
But what excuse do others have for denying the reality that a child can become irrationally alienated from a good and formerly loved parent? And for denying the reality that the child’s unjustified rejection of one parent can be traced to the other parent’s relentless manipulations to drive a wedge between child and parent?
How could anyone who works in the family law system deny the reality — affirmed nearly unanimously by legal and mental health professionals — that children can be influenced by one parent to turn against the other parent?
Encouraging a child to align with one parent against the other, and teaching a child to hate a parent for no good reason, is cruel. If a teacher did this to a student, bad-mouthed a child’s parents and systematically undermined the child’s love and respect for her parents, that teacher would be out of a job.
“Stealing the soul,” is how I described this process in DIVORCE POISON—enlisting children as agents in their own deprivation and violating children’s trust.
Leading authorities on divorce agree. Dr. Joan Kelly and Dr. Janet Johnston held no punches: “Whether such parents are aware of the negative impact on the child, these behaviors of the aligned parent (and his or her supporters) constitute emotional abuse of the child.”
Society has a checkered track record in recognizing and protecting children from abuse. Denial and minimization intermittently subdue awareness and acknowledgment. It has been this way with physical abuse, with sexual abuse, and with psychological abuse. So we should not be surprised that a subculture of parents and professionals denies that children can be manipulated to reject a parent for no good reason—or that they go so far as to claim that most children will turn against the parent who is abusing them in these ways.
How do deniers rationalize their apparent blindness?
Here are five strategies.
1. Deflect attention from the reality of divorce poison and its destructive impact with debates about whether parental alienation constitutes a bona fide syndrome. The claim is that because the official manual of psychiatric diagnoses (DSM-5) does not include the term “parental alienation,” the problem must be bogus. You also will not find “reckless driving syndrome” in the DSM-5. But you would be wise to avoid getting in a car with a driver who has this problem. Children need protection from reckless, toxic parenting, regardless of how we label the parent’s behavior. Moreover, the DSM-5 does refer to the concept of irrational parental alienation. The diagnostic manual mentions “unwarranted feelings of estrangement” as an example of the diagnosis: Parent–Child Relational Problem.
To the parent who loses her child, or the child who loses a parent, it matters little whether we label the loss a syndrome, a disorder, a condition, or a problem. What matters is whether a child is suffering and whether a parent’s behavior contributes to a child’s suffering.
2. Claim that it is only a speculation, hypothesis, or theory that children can become alienated from one parent when exposed to the other parent’s negative influence. As I explained in my article, “Bringing Sense to Parental Alienation,” there is nothing theoretical or speculative about the existence of irrationally alienated children. These children can be directly observed by anyone willing to look.
3. Attribute unsupportable, fake positions to parental alienation studies, and then refute the fake positions—a tactic known as “attacking a straw man.” For instance, a recently published study claimed that “the alienation hypothesis” (see denial strategy #2 above) maintains that parental denigration is only unilateral, not reciprocal, and that all children exposed to parental denigration become alienated from the target of denigration. When the study found that a group of volunteer college students reported that both parents denigrated each other, and the children did not reject either parent, the authors of the study concluded that “the alienation hypothesis” was not supported and that parental denigration does not cause children to reject the parent who is denigrated.
The problem with this line of reasoning is that no scholar has claimed that parental denigration necessarily leads to a child rejecting the denigrated parent. Of course many children whose parents badmouth each other maintain relationships with both parents. Rejecting a parent is an extreme consequence, not a common one. Furthermore, anyone who has worked with irrationally alienated children knows that these children are reluctant to admit that their favored parent maligned their other parent— in fact, these children are reluctant to admit anything negative about the parent whom they favor.
Researchers who genuinely want to learn about the forces that lead children to irrationally reject a parent will begin by studying alienated children. Studying children who are not alienated merely makes the obvious point that their parents occasionally bad-mouth each other without alienating the children from either parent. This is the sort of “scholarship” that gives social science a bad odor because the study advocates for and confirms a bias against the existence of parental alienation.
4. Ignore studies that fail to support one’s pet theories. For example, while promoting skepticism about the notion that children can be manipulated by a parent to hate the other parent, the authors of the study mentioned above failed to cite the largest study, published by the American Bar Association, that explicitly attributed children’s problems to being brainwashed by one parent against the other. They also failed to cite the volume of scientific evidence about various mechanisms by which children’s attitudes can be influenced and by which negative stereotypes about a parent can be promulgated.
Children’s feelings and behavior toward each parent are influenced by the way their parents treat each other. Does any reasonable person seriously believe otherwise—that children are immune from a parent’s influence? If so, tell that to all the child psychologists and authors who study and write about how to raise smarter, healthier, happier, and better behaved children.
Ironically, one of the authors of the straw-man study, in a previous article, railed against scholars who selectively cite research that confirms their biases, a tactic he called “cherry picking” or “stacking the deck.” Pot, meet kettle.
5. Promulgate, or accept without investigation or critical scrutiny, dramatic and exaggerated claims that the evaluator, therapist, child representative, and judge in a case mistook a child’s justified rejection of a parent for unjustified alienation, or that children removed from toxic alienating environments have been abused by the family court system. Such claims are repeated without considering all the evidence weighed by the court in reaching its decision.
We have a lot to learn about the roots of parental alienation and about why some children become ensnared in a campaign of hatred toward a parent while others resist. And why some children draw closer to the target of bad-mouthing and reject the parent who dispenses divorce poison, a phenomenon called “blowback” in the video, WELCOME BACK, PLUTO: UNDERSTANDING, PREVENTING, AND OVERCOMING PARENTAL ALIENATION.
But the existence of parents who effectively teach their children to hate the other parent, and of children who absorb this lesson, is beyond dispute.
Exactly two weeks before Parental Alienation Awareness Day in 2017, British High Court Justice Russell delivered her judgment in a Liverpool family court case. She wrote, “By manipulating her children, [the mother] has achieved what she has always wanted and stopped contact with their father. She has done so either because she cannot help herself or because she had quite deliberately set out to expunge their father from their lives. These children have suffered significant emotional harm as a result of their mother’s manipulative actions.”
Do the deniers and skeptics think Justice Russell was deluded?
As journalist Kathleen Parker observed, “Anybody old enough to drink coffee knows that embittered divorcees can and do manipulate their children. Not just women, but men, too.”
We may not want to face the fact that some parents prey on the children in their charge—physically, sexually, or emotionally. Often these parents carefully groom children to engage in harmful acts that victimize children. Whether children are victims of sexual abuse or psychological abuse, we must not turn a blind eye to them.
The fact that some children are able to resist does not obscure the reality that such abuse exists. Professionals who feed denial and skepticism play into the hands of those who want us to look away.
Because deniers and skeptics contribute to a backlash against protecting psychologically abused children from efforts to alienate them from a parent, 13 years after it was introduced we still need Parental Alienation Awareness Day to shine a light on the plight of children and parents caught in this maelstrom, and to remind us that much work remains to be done.
The feeling is indescribable. I remember two things the most- the opinions and advice.
I can’t tell you how many times I heard “you know what I would do is… Blah blah blah” oe” if that happened to me, be I would. .” You don’t know what you’d do until it does happen.You do not know how you’d react. You may react in ways you’d never imagine, do things you’d never expect yourself to do.
Then there was “well at least he wasn’t kidnapped by a stranger, he was kidnapped by a family member… One day you’ll reunite. .”
First of all he was taken away, without warning, maliciously, with no chance to say goodbye, stop it, or anything. Be the trauma in that is the same no matter who took him. The reunion .one day . Will never happen. The child that was taken will never return. He is gone, forever, and the adult who came back to me is not the eight year old child who went to church and never came home . He is a broken adult with trauma in his past that he carries from an 8 year old boys’ heart that will never trust the same way it did before. That adult who came back to me is damaged and I failed to protect him from that damage. The advice and opinions may be given with the best of intentions but to this day I still get angry thinking about it.
Read on to see what the experts say.-
Your Experience of Missing-Child Trauma
Your child has been kidnapped or is missing, and here on the internet you’ll find a lot of valuable support, legal information, and contacts. However, there will be many difficult hours where you will feel very much alone — and this page is meant to help you get through those times.
Most child kidnappings involve a parent or relative as kidnapper, and that is the experience of our family. However, if your situation is different — the child has been kidnapped by a stranger, or is missing due to other circumstances (such as a runaway) — this page will speak to your experiences too, so please read on…
Parental Abduction – How it`s like to be THE LEFT-BEHIND PARENT –
I am going to focus my attention for a while on Parental Alienation Syndrome. I encourage comments and ideas from the readers.
(From Wikipedia):Parental alienation syndrome was a term coined by child psychiatrist Richard A. Gardner. He defines Parental Alienation Syndrome as “a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against the parent, a campaign that has no justification. The disorder results from the combination of indoctrinations by the alienating parent and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the alienated parent.”(ref:Gardner, RA (2001). “Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS): Sixteen Years Later”. Academy Forum 45 (1): 10–12. Retrieved 2009-03-31.)
Parental Alienation is child abuse and a hate crime of the worst kind – with the consequences primarily going to the child that the alienating parent is trying to estrange from the targeted parent.
I can tell you, as the ‘target parent’ – the pain is deep. There is no words to describe it. There is such extensive damage done, to both the child and parent, that to heal seems impossible. Where do we start? How do we start to heal when the alienating parent (or grandparent in my case) still has control of the child, still alienates the child, and does not want anything to change? Now, my child isn’t even a child anymore – he is an adult. So he is no longer part of any custody agreements or court rulings. There is no custody modification possible. There is no reversal of court orders possible.
It is over. Or is it?
I waited ten years after I realized no matter what I did, how hard I fought, or what happened, I would not win custody of my son back. I had to give up eventually or it was going to kill me. I eventually had to accept that it would be his adulthood that I would have to wait for. So I did just that – I waited.
I imagined for years how it would go – his 18th birthday. I imagined what it would be like to have his birthday party take place, with his custodial family present and I show up – to their dismay- and how my son would run to me, because he could.
I imagined how after that day we would be best friends. How he would call me for advice or to share good news with me. I imagined how he would come to stay with me, and we would talk all night about the good times, and cry together over the bad.
I imagined so many things we could do together. I never imagined there would be silence on his end. I never imagined I would call on his 18th birthday and he wouldn’t answer. I never imagined emails would go ignored, chats would not be initiated. I never imagined he was so alienated from me that even though he’s old enough now to decide for himself, she still controls him.
The International Handbook of Parental Alienation Syndrome by Gardner, Sauber, and Lorandos, has become the standard reference work for PAS. The International Handbook features clinical, legal, and research perspectives from 32 contributors from eight countries.
I never imagined that my son might hate me – or that I would wonder if he really does hate me. My gut tells me he doesn’t, but I have not heard from him, so maybe I am wrong.
I never imagined this pain might last forever.
What do I do now? How do I reach him? Do I wait for him? Do I find a seminar to attend? Do I drag my entire extended family to some weekend camp retreat where we make clay sculptures and have group sessions about our dysfunctional family and how its come so far between me and my son that he’s out of control. I cannot believe or understand how my brothers, my child’s uncles, have allowed this alienation to take place, and now that the deleterious effects are shining through they are ‘washing their hands of it’ – frustrated at the results of their inaction. WELL WHAT DID YOU THINK WOULD HAPPEN?
I have to fight the demon that tells me i want to commit suicide when I think about the idea that my son may hate me for real and we may never heal. I have to fight the demon that gives me so much rage that I cannot take out against anyone but myself. I have to fight to forget everything I don’t want to remember, but then I am afraid to forget too much. I don’t know anymore, I just want to know my son again. I want him to be okay.
How do we fix the damage that’s been done?
I am going to include articles about PAS that I found from around the web here, and ask that anyone out there who has something to say, please do. I need to know how to fix this. It hurts.
PAS RESOURCES AND LINKS
PAAO is dedicated to educating the general public, schools, police, counselors, and religious leaders on the subjects of Hostile Aggressive Parenting and Parental Alienation Syndrome. To achieve its goal, PAAO uses not only seminars and conferences to disseminate information, but also actively collects information. The PAAO website is clean, well organized, and highly informative.
Breakthrough Parenting is a California-based organization that offers both classes and counseling on child custody, co-parenting, parenting plans, and parental alienation. The Breakthrough Parenting website offers several interesting books for sale. The executive director of Breakthrough Parenting, Jayne Major, PhD, has also put up an informative article entitled “Parents who have Successfully Fought Parental Alienation” that can be downloaded for free in PDF format.
This no-frills but highly popular website describes itself this way: “PsyCare hopes to address issues that are not always popular or politically correct. Instead, we want to stimulate debate and research on important issues affecting today’s families[,] to learn from other’s experiences and try to influence social policies based on empirical research and objective findings.” Highly informative and contains links to many other high-quality PAS websites.
Florida psychologist Dr. J. Michael Bone has put up a solid website that deals with both parental alienation and Parental Alienation Syndrome. Dr. Boone has provided a number links to some highly informative sources.
“Help Stop PAS is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering healthy, rational, supportive and sustainable relationships between parents and their children during and after divorce. Our mission is to educate parents, extended family, law practitioners, clergy, medical and mental health professionals to recognize the signs and symptoms of parent alienation in order to intervene, in the appropriate discipline, and to reduce the occurrence of parent alienation. We also seek to obtain funding to promote and perform research projects aimed at providing new information about the appropriate professional definitions of, and the legal and mental health effects of parent alienation.” Another very solid website.
Far from painful, Dr. Glenn Cartwright’s site is a great no-nonsense PA and PAS information source.
Dear Presiding Justice, Police Officers, Senators, Legislators, Doctors, Clergy, Parish Members, Family and Friends:
Do you remember me? I was your neighbor. I sat next to you in church every Sunday.
I was your patient in the emergency room. I was the woman who dialed 911 and begged for your help. I sat in your court room and pleaded with you to protect me and my children. I came before you and asked you to make laws to ensure our safety.
I was the loving young mother you noticed playing tag with some children in the park.
Do you remember me now?
I am writing this letter for I know that he will surely kill me and I don’t want to be forgotten. My advocate has promised to give you this letter if I should die.
I feel as though I should apologize. Maybe for not being a good enough person or for not readily admitting how my face was bruised or bones broken.
Maybe if I would have tried a little bit harder he wouldn’t have had to beat me.
Maybe if I was smarter I wouldn’t have fallen in love with someone like him.
Maybe if I was stronger I would have left sooner. But maybe, maybe if you would have helped me I would never have to write a letter like this.
I would not have to worry about whether or not today would be the day that he would kill me and you would not be inconvenienced by having to read this letter because I would still be alive. (But I am not.) Do you understand?
If you should come to read this letter -I am dead.
He killed me!
I don’t want to be another statistic.
I don’t want to be blamed any longer. I don’t want you to make excuses or justify my death because it never should have happened. I was a good person. I was a devoted wife and a loving mother. I did leave. I tried to protect my children and myself, but I knew I couldn’t do it alone.
I asked for your help. I told you that he would kill me. You saw the bruises. You knew that he was dangerous but you wouldn’t help. It wasn’t your problem. You turned your back on me and my children.
My sweet little children. I don’t know if they will survive because he promised to kill them also, but if they still are alive who will take care of them?
Who will love them? Who will sing to them at night? Who will hold them and wipe away their tears when they cry for their mommy?
This isn’t right. I should be alive. You should have helped me. Why didn’t you help me?
I know that if he kills me it will be extremely painful and violent. He promised to use a knife. Oh I am so afraid to die that way.
Please don’t let my death be in vain.
What you do and don’t do when as a loving parent you are confronted with a severe case of Parental Alienation Syndrome in your child?
PARENTAL ALIENATION SYNDROME – DO’S
DO…start to immediately educate yourself, your lawyer, your Judge, your psychologist and your child, if possible, about PAS.
This is one of the most widespread forms of emotional child abuse there is arising out of our Family Court system today and there are at least 1,000 internet web sites for you to obtain information from about PAS.
DO…fully prepare yourself for your Court presentation about PAS.
To do this you should print and make several copies of all the information on PAS you find on these web sites and put them in at least four (4) separate booklets and entitle them.. “URGENT IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR THE COURT ON PAS…What you need to know about the abuse of my child to save him/her and me from a lifetime of pain and suffering”.
Before you go into Court you should give one of these booklets to your lawyer and your psychologist while keeping one for yourself and the Court.
DO…tell the Court if they don’t act immediately to stop your child’s abuse, you will take your PAS case and all the proof and evidence you provided the Court on your child’s PAS condition to the local newspapers and T.V. stations
you will post your case and Judge’s name on all the PAS internet web sites for the whole world to see how derelict the Court was in not carrying out its responsibility to protect your child from your former spouse’s severe emotional abuse and the permanent destruction of you and your child’s relationship together.
DO…keep your faith in God and yourself at all times while always taking the high road to fight and solve this problem.
DO…continue to reach out to your PAS affected child no matter how many times they tell you how much they hate you and never want to see you again.
While they may say these things to you, the fact is they really don’t hate you and actually yearn desperately to see you again, but those feelings are not allowed any expression by the abusing parent.
If you have a flair for the dramatic to make your point you can also add a reprint of my web site home page with my daughter’s picture and number of days I have not seen her because of PAS and the Court’s refusal to intervene to stop her abuse.
At the top of the page you should also write in big letters ….“I DO NOT INTEND TO ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN TO ME AND MY CHILD”
DO…take off the gloves and demand immediate action by the Court to STOP the abuse of your child.
Remind the Court in the strongest terms possible that your child’s life, mental health and their continued on going relationship with you is at stake…AND…that if they don’t intervene immediately the chances of ever saving your child and your relationship together will be ZERO.
DO…trust your own instincts as a parent to do what is in the best interests of your child when confronted with this PAS problem…AND…if the Court won’t protect your child’s interests, then you will protect his/her interests yourself.
This you will do by public exposure of your case to the media until the Court does protect your child’s interests as the law requires them to do. It may take a long time but you must never ever give up the fight.
PARENTAL ALIENATION SYNDROME – DON’TS
DON’T…trust or count on ANYONE to know anything about PAS or to try and help you save your child and your relationship together.
Almost all lawyers, Judges, psychologists and Court mediators who are involved in your case KNOW ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ABOUT PAS…AND…even if they did would probably not have the time or be able to fully understand your case and how important it is for Court intervention to stop your child’s PAS abuse.
In most PAS cases none of these people really care about helping you and your child either.
DON’T…delude yourself into thinking that your local Family Court, your Judge, your lawyer, your psychologist or anyone else but you really wants to look out for and protect the best interests of your child.
DON’T…trust or count on ANYONE to properly educate themselves on PAS. This is particularly true about your former spouse, Family Court Judges and Court appointed psychologists.
You must do all this research and education about PAS yourself to pass on to all the people involved in your case.
DON’T…allow the Court or anyone else to intimidate you.
You will be challenged at every turn and told you don’t know what you are talking about when you mention PAS.
Many will also tell you that PAS is nothing more than a figment of your imagination and that it has never been proven and doesn’t even exist in the Psychiatric Association’s Bible of mental and psychiatric disorders known as DSM-IV. Some of these people will further tell you that this was only a “pipe dream” invented by Dr. Richard Gardner to sell his books.
DON’T believe a word these people tell you and never give in to their intimidating tactics to discredit you, PAS or Dr. Gardner.
DON’T…allow the Court or anyone else to delay or prolong your Court hearing on this matter.
The longer this PAS abuse goes on with your child, the more difficult it will be for you to do anything to stop it…AND…If it goes on for too long without Court intervention (ie. 6 months or more) then your chances of ever re-establishing a normal healthy relationship with your child will start to approach ZERO.
DON’T…engage in any kind of retaliatory brainwashing PAS abuse of your child yourself.
The temptation is always there to “fight fire with fire” when you are being attacked and maligned by your former spouse, BUT DON’T EVER DO IT.
REMEMBER what I said before. Always take the High Moral ground for your child and if you want to get angry and verbally attack someone, get angry and attack the people who are doing this to your child.
Never get angry at your child for how he/she is behaving or in any other way do anything to further hurt your child.
You must be able to walk a fine line always trusting in yourself and your God to see and fight this thing through for the ultimate best interests of your child and yourself.
DON’T…ever GIVE UP no matter how many well meaning and/or not so well meaning people tell you to do so.
You will constantly hear people tell you that you should merely give up the fight to save your child from PAS and wait until they grow up and find out for themselves how badly they were abused by your former spouse and the Court.
This would be the same as letting your child drown until they learned how to swim themselves. You have a solemn duty to protect your children and thus you cannot ever shirk from that duty.
The parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the target parent.
The primary person responsible for the induction of a parental alienation syndrome (PAS) in a child is the litigating parent who hopes to gain leverage in a court of law by programming in the child a campaign of denigration directed against a target parent.
In most cases alienated parents are relatively helpless to protect themselves from the indoctrinations and the destruction of what was once a good, loving bond. They turn to the courts for help and, in most cases in my experience, have suffered even greater frustration and despair because of the court’s failure to meaningfully provide them with assistance.
It is the author’s hope that increasing recognition by the judiciary of its failures to deal effectively with PAS families will play a role in the rectification of this serious problem.
(Excerpted from: Gardner, R.A. (1998). The Parental Alienation Syndrome, Second Edition, Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.)
Q: A parent who has been alienated from his or her child’s life experiences extreme loss. Often we are asked by a targeted parent, “How do I deal with his on-going pain?”
A: First, know that you are not alone. There are others, both mothers and fathers, who have similar experiences, and who are in deep agony over the loss of contact and meaningful relationship with their children.
Second, know that you are not crazy. In our culture we are not encouraged to experience our grief. We are taught to be strong, to rise above it, to tough it out, to get over it and get on with life. Sometimes that is wise counsel if we linger in our pain, and our outrage becomes the complete focus of our life affecting our work, our social life and our spirit. However, the loss of a child whether by death or by exclusion from that child’s life is beyond the realm of most parents’ ability to cope.
In the beginning of an alienation process, we believe, as parents, this is not really happening. We deny that the other parent of our child is capable of these vengeful acts, and we choose not to believe our child, whom we love deeply, would ever treat us in such a hurtful ways.
Denial is the strongest emotional defense mechanism we have at our disposal, and it is the one on which we rely the most. For most parents, because they truly want contact and relationship with their child, their denial does not hold up under time or with the reality of the disconnection they experience.
Third, many parents feel confusion, which suggests they are not able to identify and process the bunch of emotions; they are experiencing in their gut. Usually, these can be separated into feelings of deep sadness, intense anger, extreme outrage, and desperate blame.
To keep from being overwhelmed by this internal “bucket of worms,” many parents detach from the situation that they believe is an act of self-preservation. Some bargain with them using the following logic, “My child will get what’s happened when he/she turns eighteen so I’ll just wait.” Both strategies are akin to whistling in the dark.
Fourth, targeted parents want to know how to deal with these strong emotions in healthy ways because if allowed to remain unreleased, they often gain a life of their own and emerge at inappropriate and inopportune times toward others who do not understand or deserve the depth and intensity of the feeling.
Sometimes, these emotions are held internally. In an attempt to self-medicate the resulting pain, the targeted parent turns to addictive behaviors or substances. Eventually, if strong emotions are held internally for a long period of time, they can convert into physical problems, which plague the individual for the remainder of his/her life.
So the dilemma remains, what do I do with my pain? Keeping a journal or diary is helpful, but strong emotions require active self-interventions. Many parents report feeling relief from their deep sadness by allowing themselves to cry and scream.
If you believe this might assist you in your process, to avoid embarrassment, it is wise to isolate yourself perhaps in a quiet, natural place so you can grieve in an unrestrained and unobserved way. It is also helpful to take a sequence of your child’s pictures so you can activate your feelings of loss.
Intense anger is a physical activator so you will need to participate in a focused activity such as bowling, driving golf balls at a range or hitting balls in a batting cage. A less expensive approach is throwing ice cubes at a sturdy wall, an activity, that parents report, gives a sense of relief and release from ever tightening bands of anger.
Outrage describes a parent who feels misunderstood so there needs to be some attention paid to “telling your story.” The problem is finding a receptive listener who has the patience and energy to hear the saga of hurt, frustration and humiliation more than once. Targeted parents can tell their story into a small tape recorder; they can write their story by hand into a journal, a loose-leaf notebook or a diary. They can use a word processor and store it on computer disc, or if they are creatively inclined, they can write poems to their children. Some parents have already published their story in books and poetry.
Of importance here is the intention to alleviate the outrage of misunderstanding that, as a parent, you are unimportant, even nonessential in your child’s life. Also, it is important that you be heard, and that you remind yourself that you are still a parent by keeping your child’s pictures around you. Another approach is to involve yourself in the parenting role with other children as a Godparent, as an involved uncle or aunt, as a Big Brother or Big Sister. Validating yourself as a parent can go a long way to heal feelings of outrage.
Finally, desperate blame is probably the most difficult bereavement issue to process. Some blame is justifiable: the other parent, the other parent’s family, the legal and social services system, your child, yourself. However, the only one under your jurisdiction of control is yourself so this is the part that you work with in three separate ways. First, it is critical, regardless of the attitude and reception from the other parent, from the other parent’s family and from your child that you stay in positive contact with them. Civility and cordiality in face-to-face contact is essential regardless of what is said in your presence or behind your back. In addition, sending your child cards, letters and little packages on unimportant days is appropriate. Also, communicating with your child by telephone, by e-mail and by facsimile can be effective. If you have completely lost contact with your child, then set your priority to find him/her and restore contact at least by distance. If this is impossible, then collect items and memorabilia in a special box or trunk reserved for your child and the possibility of future contact.
Second, become active as a citizen for positive change, and learn about the strengths and weaknesses of the system you blame for preventing you from having parenting opportunities with your child. This action may not change the disposition of your situation, but you may make the system a better place for other targeted parents and their children.
Third, for your sake and for the sake of your relationship with your child, it is imperative that you forgive the other parent. Notice there was no mention of forgetting what has happened, or how you have been treated, but again, for restoring your emotional balance and your ability to cope with life challenges in healthy ways, you will need to forgive the alienator.
For some, this is a spiritual journey, and for others the path is a secular one. What is important is that you go about this process in a unique way that you believe will work for you so the specter of losing your child is diminished, and your health and well being are in restoration.
It is the responsibility of the parents to not alienates the child from the noncustodial parent. Those around the child can make or break a child.
It is the family members, co-workers, friends, neighbors, school & court officials, social workers, doctors, etc., who recognize the signs of this type of abuse and take the appropriate action that protects the child and victim parent.
Those people surrounding the child may save a life…
The effects of this abuse can be more than a little bit harmful, but extremely detrimental, and even deadly.
If you haven’t read my story, you can find it here –Its Almost Tuesday, The True Story.
Children deserve their childhoods to be free of abuse…
The effects are devastating and may not be immediately noticeable, but long-term and lasting…
What is implacable hostility?? (Source: Wikipedia):
After separation or divorce implacable hostility denotes the attitude shown by one parent to another in denying access to, or contact with, their child(ren).What differentiates implacable hostility from the typical hostility that may arise after separation/divorce is that the deep-rooted nature of the hostility cannot be justified on rational grounds and measures taken by third parties including mediators and the family courts are to no avail.
Cases of implacable hostility are increasingly being seen as domestic violence and as a human rights abuse if not recognized by agencies involved, although it is important not to classify hostility as implacable if it is itself justified by domestic violence perpetrated by the other parent.
Implacable hostility is akin to Parental Alienation Syndrome; but is not the same condition.
The typical outcome of situations of implacable hostility is that the parent to whom implacable hostility is directed becomes excluded from the life of their child(ren). There are two ways in which this exclusion arises.
Firstly, the excluded parent, having exhausted all the avenues available for resolving the situation, finally gives up the effort. This may be done in the belief that the option of withdrawal is best interests of the child(ren) given the stress that inevitably arises from repeated applications for access/contact.
Secondly, the child(ren) may become parentally alienated — they deny that they want to see the excluded parent. Once a child has become alienated from the excluded parent, the originating implacable hostility becomes subsidiary. From this point, the formerly implacably hostile parent often claims that they are supportive of access/contact but they have to respect the wishes of the child.
Family courts are usually unwilling to force children to see one of their parents against their expressed wishes – and often fail to examine the cause of such statements.