- Family and Parenting
Parental Alienation Syndrome (Brainwashing children) What it is and how to battle it.
What is Parental Alienation?
Parental Alienation or PAS for short is just that: Alienation of a child's affections towards the other parent. It is a form of brainwashing a child. It can be either consciously or unconsciously. When a parent is consciously trying to alienate and brainwash a child, it is emotional child abuse. When combined with the child's own hatred towards the other parent, this is when mere bad mouthing the other parent turns into PAS. A child that is being alienated may not want contact with the alienated parent. When alienation reaches this point, the psychological damage that has been done is almost irreversible. Put very simply, PAS is when one parent brainwashes their child against their other parent, usually the non-custodial parent.
What causes PAS?
There are many different reasons why a parent would engage in alienation. Most of the time, the alienating parent suffers from a mental disorder. The most common of the mental disorders of parents who engage in PAS have Sociopath Personality Disorder. This disorder makes it impossible for the alienating parent to empathize with their child and they are unable to see the hurt they are causing to their child. A parent who engages in PAS may have unresolved anger towards the other parent for something that happened in the relationship or during the separation. A parent who alienates their child may be so wrapped up in child's life that they do not have a separate identity and the healthy normal relationship that the child has with the other parent is seen as a big threat. Another reason why a parent may try to alienate their child is because of the parents own insecurities or jealousy. Some parents use PAS because they have trouble understanding the idea of "sharing" their children's love; The children are either All theirs, or they have lost them forever. Which is why, in a lot of cases of PAS, parents are so hell bound on alienating their children and thus "keeping them and not sharing their love." In my experience with PAS, I have seen it comes in all forms. From personal experience, I have seen a child used as a pawn for the alienating parents sick games. The mother had so much hate for the father because he moved on and she didn't that the mother knew the only way to hurt the father was to use his daughter as a tool to hurt him. By alienating the child and also enticing the child with "fun" activities during the fathers time, this gave the mother all the power she needed to hurt the father.
The warning sigs of PAS.
The warning signs that you or your spouse is alienating your child can be hard to see and others are clear. Some signs: Letting the child choose whether or not to see the other parent. Telling the child graphic details about the relationship or divorce, blaming the other parent for money problems, blaming the other parent for the divorce, blaming the other parent for current issues not related to the other parent, using the child as your own therapist, refusing to be flexible with the visitation schedule or scheduling so many activities during the other parents time that he does not have any quality time, reacting with anger or sadness when the child has expressed enjoyment when seeing their other parent, and encouraging the childs anger towards the other parent. These are only a few of the warning signs, but the list can go on and on.
Some other techniques that are used by the alienating parent: Leading the child to believe that they have a choice on seeing the other parent. Attacking the other parents lifestyle, home, job, activities etc. Emphasizing the other parents flaws or blowing normal parenting mishaps out of proportion. Discussing all court proceedings and encouraging the child to pick sides between parents. Making the child believe there is reason to fear the other parent. Using the child as their own personal therapist and sharing graphic details of arguments or lies about the other parent and encouraging the child to be on their side. The alienating parent may say something like this: "Please call me as soon as you get there so I know you're safe. If you get scared at Dad's, I will come pick you up and bring you back home." Little comments such a those give the child a sense of fear. They will begin to think that they're not safe with their other parent. Another technique used by alienating parents is to rescue their child when there is no danger. These actions make the child feel like they're in danger while with the other parent..even if there is no danger present.
The alienated child
A child that has been or in the early stages of being alienated may choose not to see the alienated parent or have any contact with the other parent. This is when the brainwashing is hard to reverse. A child may seem distant when with the targeted parent. They may feel unjustified anger towards the parent. They may be very secretive about their life with the alienating parent. They may have outbursts of anger and use of foul language towards the targeted parent. They will most likely give very vague reasons for the anger. They may feel very protective of the alienating parent and may say that they have come up with all their hatred and anger on their own and that the alienating parent has nothing to do with their attitude.
Your child is being alienated. What do you do?
When you come to realize what is happening with your once loving child, you may wonder what you did. You can you do? Am I really that horrible to be around? No..I highly doubt that you actually did something to make your child turn against you. I know how hard it is to admit that your child doesn't want to see you and would rather go play this or that rather than see you, but you must try to continue to be the parent your child desperately needs.
There isn't a whole lot that can be done about PAS. Therapy can help, however, it is not 100%. The best thing you can do is continue doing what you've always done:Love your child. It is very frustrating to hear that your child would rather do something else besides see you, but you must continue to try to see your child. Actions speak louder than words..and in this type of situation that is the honest truth. You need to try to show your child that no matter what s/he hears or sees from the other parent that you still love your child and that you still want to be involved with your child's life. When a child is hearing terrible things from their other parent that aren't true, the best thing you can do is prove that other parent wrong. Show up to your scheduled visitation place, even if you know your child will not be brought. Document this. Write down the details. Call the police and get an incident number for your records. Try to stay affectionate towards your child. Show them and tell them how much you love them. Stay involved as much as you can with their schooling and homework.
Do NOT get angry at your child if there is PAS. Technically, it's not the childs fault, they're being brainwashed and don't really know the full extent of what's going on. Do not bad mouth the alienating parent..this will only make matters much worse for your child. Avoid talking about court hearings with your child. Always try to take the high road and prove to your child that you're not evil, dangerous or unstable. Actions speak louder than words. Continue to exercise your visitation rights and show your child love. Endless love. No matter what the other parent is telling the child about how horrible you are, how you don't love your child, how you're such and such, just continue to do what you have always done..Love your child, be there for them, be proactive, and prove to your child that you do love them, no matter what anyone in the world tells them. Continuing to be positive will show your child that you're not what the other parent has painted you to be. If the PAS is severe, Ii highly recommend counseling for you, your child, and the family; Either together or individually.
The best way to treat PAS is to remove the child from the alienating parent. In most cases this is the only logical thing that can be done to stop the progression of the alienation. Most parents who are alienating their children, are doing it on purpose for their own personal gain. When an alienating parent is confronted on what they're doing, they will most likely deny it and continue to alienate their children. The best course of action is to document, document, and document some more. Every Time you are denied your time with your time, file a police report and get an incident number. The police can not enforce your parenting schedule, but they can provide you with an incident number that you can use in court. Save all texts, letters, and emails between you and the other parent. Always exercise your visitation rights. Always show up to the scheduled visit, even if your child is not there. This shows the court that you ARE trying to see your child, but you're being denied. Attend parenting classes to better your skills as a parent, and this also shows the courts that you're trying to be the best parent you can be. Pay your child support every month, on time, even if you're not seeing your child. Child support is your responsibility as a parent. Get copies of mental evaluations, if possible. Gather copies of all criminal arrests of the other parent. If the other parent has a history of criminal activity, this only further proves that you're the better parent for your child. You need a strong case to prove PAS, but the best course of action is to prove the other parent unfit and mentally unstable.
© 2012 Dannell