There should be no doubts as to the very real existence of parental alienation syndrome. A rose by any other name is still a rose.
Shortly after my divorce was final my ex started a systematic brainwashing of my children. For her, divorce was unacceptable and when I chose to leave our problem-riddled marriage she viewed it as me abandoning the family as a whole. And, she made it her job to make sure our children felt the same way she did. Within a year of our final decree, neither of my 3 children would see or communicate with me.
My children were my life and, being unwilling to do without them in my life I started researching and learning everything I could about parental alienation. Below is a bit of what I’ve come to believe about PAS, the parent who alienates and what needs to be done in such situations.
I’m happy to say that, with the help of an outstanding therapist, an educated family court judge and a psychiatric evaluation of myself and my ex wife, within two years I had my children back in my life. Some, though, aren’t as lucky as I and can end up alienated from their children for life.
No child or parent (mother or father) should ever have to live the horror of alienation at the hands of a personality disordered ex.
The best way to prevent the abuse of parental alienation is to have all families where there is a conflict issue go through specialized, court-ordered counseling with a parental alienation specialist. Or, at least someone with a high success rate who specializes in working with families in grief management, anger management, and impulse control.
Why these specialties? Because in 99% of the cases of PAS (parental alienation syndrome), the alienating parent may be borderline narcissistic. They have extremely low self-esteem and believe they have to be perfect or they are not loveable. And if they are not loveable, then they will be abandoned. And this is their biggest fear, being abandoned.
For this reason, they will do anything to make sure that they are seen as the perfect and only parent for the children. You can add to this the fact that they are stuck in the anger stage of the grieving process of divorce and cannot move forward. They constantly project their issues and anger onto and through the children or what I call Borderless Boundaries. These parents need help to grieve properly as do the children.
It is imperative that proper parental alienation education and training be provided to divorce attorneys, counselors, therapists, child agencies as well as to the family court and judges.
Without proper education and awareness, the damages caused by aligning the children with only one parent will be horrific and permanent.
Children have the right to both parents in their lives. There is no room for false allegations and contempt of court orders. The courts need to start penalizing for these transgressions. Until this is done, families will continue to be ripped apart and the children made to suffer.
Regrettably, this suggestion MAY serve to help only the PAS child, someday but not immediately. It may have no impact in facilitating the reunification between a parent and their child, at least not initially. This may offer only the hope that your legacy to your child will be aware of the truth.
Many knowledgeable professionals have likened parental alienation to cult indoctrination.
But this issue is immeasurably more insidious: whereas victims of cult indoctrination are not initially in a dependency relationship with the cult leader and therefore had the option to reject the indoctrinator, children are very much dependent upon their brainwashing parent.
Because of the dependency needs of children, resisting the alienating parent, who is generally but NOT ALWAYS, the residential parent, can be terrifying to them. So as despicable as these children treat their targeted/alienated parent, they have no good options for escaping this dysfunctional family dynamic.
They are in a no-win situation, a double bind, a catch 22. Their situation is crazy-making, which explains why the psychiatrists who eventually founded the family therapy movement in the 1950s first observed ON THE PSYCHIATRIC WARD the characteristic family dynamic of parental alienation syndrome.
Child psychiatrist, Murray Bowen, had labeled this dynamic as the “Pathological Triangle.” He was so convinced as to the detrimental effects on children of this dysfunctional coalition between one parent and a child to the minimization and disengagement of the other parent, that when he hospitalized the child, he also hospitalized the entire nuclear family!
Yes, although it is accurate to credit child psychiatrist, Richard Gardner, to have first labeled this family dynamic as PAS, the family dynamic has nonetheless been observed and systematically documented by psychiatrists/family therapists for more than 60 years.
For the naysayers, like Janet Johnston, Joan Kelly, Stephanie Dallam of the Supervised Family Network, there should be no doubts as to the very real existence of parental alienation syndrome. A rose by any other name is still a rose.