Category: News Briefs Published on Friday, 29 April 2011 18:36
The most devastating thing a parent can do during or after a divorce is put the child in the middle of the emotional, financial and psychological warfare that exists in chronically-conflicted divorce cases. In extreme cases, it is common to see alienating behaviors of one parent or both against the other parent, causing the child to have a diminished lose connection with the other parent. It is not a clinical diagnosis but it does warrant some attention. It is important to form an alliance with the other parent and co-parent effectively and not put the child in the middle. Unfortunately, many parents engage in destructive, emotionally scarring, abrasive behaviors that are at worse, parental alienation. SO, what is Parental alienation syndrome or (PAS) you ask? It is a term coined by the American psychiatrist Dr. Richard Gardner to refer to a disorder that results in the context of custody disputes in which one parent deliberately turns a child against the other parent. In this disorder we see a combination of programming (“brainwashing”) of the child by one parent to denigrate the other parent and self-created contributions by the child in support of the alienating parent’s campaign of denigration of the alienated parent. According to the definition, PAS primarily occurs during legal battle for parental custody in the adversary system. The child’s denigrating attitude toward the non-residential parent, usually the father, is the main symptom exhibited by children who suffer from PAS. Despite a court order for contact, the child consistently refuses to see the absent parent, and, when interviewed, talks of his or her hatred for the non-resident parent.
Typically, the alienating parent programs into the child’s brain circuitry ideas and attitudes that are directly at conflict with the child’s earlier experiences. Also, PAS children often add their own scenarios to the campaign of denigration, from their observation that their complementary contributions are welcomed by the programmer. The three level of alienation children can experience are: mild, moderate, and severe. In cases of mild parental alienation there is some parental programming against the other parent however visitation is not seriously affected and the child manages to negotiate having a relationship with both parents without too much complication. In moderate cases there is considerable programming against the other parent, resulting in struggles around visitation. The child usually has difficulty during the transitioning from one parent to the other but in time is able to have a relationship with both. In severe cases the child is adamant about his or her hatred of the targeted parent. The relationship between the targeted parent and the child results in total destruction due to the actions of the alienating parent. Indoctrinating alienation into a child is a form of abuse (emotional abuse) because it can result in progressive attenuation of the psychological bond between the child and a loving parent.
Divorce Toolbox to Avoid Alienation
- Do not discuss negative aspects of other parent with the child.
- Do not send messages through the child to the other parent.
- Do not interrogate your child after visiting their other parent.
- Promote the relevance of the other parent to your child.
- Do not speak disparagingly about your child’s extended family.
- Do allow your child to talk on the phone privately with their other parent.
- Allow them to love their other parent and promote that relationship.
- Remember that your reality is not their reality.
- Do get professional counseling for your grief, anger and loss and not lean on your child for emotional support.
- Sacrifice for your child and be nice; form an alliance with their other parent and demonstrate that just because you and the other parent don’t love each other it does not take away from your love for the child.
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