Three Symptoms of “Parental Alienation” and How to Fight Them
If your child has started to exhibit anger or contempt for you, he or she may have been subjected to alienation tactics by the other parent. This is what is sometimes known as Parental Alienation Syndrome or PAS for short. In a parental alienation case, one parent targets the other parent and involves the child in a pattern of blaming and vilifying the other parent for everything that has gone wrong. The process is terribly destructive, and more than once, it has led a judge to transfer custody away from the alienator to the falsely blamed parent.
Here are three of the most common signs that parental alienation is underway. If you spot any of these behaviors, be wary of what the other parent is telling your child.
(1). You are blamed for breaking up the marriage or the relationship. If your child feels that you caused the breakup, it is likely that he or she obtained this impression from somebody else. Explain that everything relationship depends on the participation of two parties, and that each party is responsible, to some degree, for the end of the relationship. Don’t go into the details; simply explain that there’s no single “culprit” that ended the relationship.
(2). You are advised by your child that he or she has decided not to visit with you this weekend. When a child is given authority to cancel his own visits with the non-custodial parent, he has set up that parent for a negative result. Either the child independently violates the court order and deprives the parent of visitation time (a power the child acquires because the custodial parent led him to believe he could do so), or the child grudgingly participates in visitation against his will (because the custodial parent led him to believe that he was calling the shots). The child needs to be reminded that there’s a court order, and that both parents are permitted to spend time with him.
(3). The child gathers information and brings it back to the other parent. If your son or daughter has turned into a spy for the other parent, then he is probably on a search for incriminating evidence — evidence that you drink or smoke, or that you have financial problems, or a new significant other, or that you work when you claim that you’re available for parenting time. If your child appears to be conducting his own covert espionage activity under your roof, sit him down and explain that there are no secrets and that the best way to gather information is simply to ask you. Be honest, and explain any circumstances that ought to be disclosed. Let your child know that spying on a parent is a form of dishonesty, and that you have every intention of being honest with him…so there’s no need to spy.
If you detect any of these kinds of activities, you may have a child that is being alienated toward you. In cases with such patterns of activity, the child may be a victim of parental alienation syndrome, and he may have to be fully deprogrammed to restore him to common sensibilities about both parents. Please share any personal accounts or experiences you may have had. Tomorrow, we’ll address some other symptoms of parental alienation.