Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Coping With Parental Alienation Syndrome

This is a guest post. I offer it as is.

A divorce or separation can be a bitter experience. Many fathers have to fight every inch of the way to keep contact with their children, which may involve expensive court proceedings, mediation and many months of angst and heartache. All this happens against a backdrop of other turmoil too, with estranged partners having to cope with financial difficulties and other personal problems, such as having to find a new place to live, often with circumstances less than ideal for approaching mortgage providers. The angst doesn’t end after the legal battles either. Even if a court has granted a parent regular contact with his or her children, parental alienation syndrome commonly rears its head, resulting in loss of contact due to the children claiming they no longer want to see their father.

Parental Alienation Syndrome is only recognized in a few states in America (and not acknowledged at all in the UK); however, it is very real and is one of the reasons why so many absent fathers lose permanent contact with their children, which is both emotionally damaging to the parent and the children.

What is Parental Alienation Syndrome

Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is when one, or sometimes both parents, alienates the other by continuous and relentless poisoning of the children’s mind. At its simplest, PAS is a type of brainwashing, but it can also be classed as child abuse as PAS plays havoc with children’s emotions.

PAS can take many forms, it can be as blatant as constant verbal denigration of the parent’s character to more subtle methods such as disposing of birthday or Christmas presents and telling the child nothing was sent. Here are some of the most common ways a parent tries to alienate the other parent:

* Last minute refusal of contact, claiming the child is ill or doesn’t want to see the parent

* Telling lies about the parent

* Making false allegations of abuse against the parent

* Refusing to a allow the parent to speak to the children on the phone

* Continuous badmouthing of the parent either to the child or in front of the child

* Bombarding the child with the message that the other parent is no longer needed

PAS can be extremely damaging both emotionally to the child and to their relationship with the parent, and if left unchecked, PAS can lead to irreparable damage and even lead to permanent loss of contact.

Dealing with PAS

When parents first separate, it can be very easy for the absent parent to become paranoid that the other parent is trying to alienate them. This in turn can lead to tensions that generate PAS, so it is important not to make assumptions. Often, by maintaining a cordial relationship with the other parent, as difficult as this may be, PAS may not occur. However, when PAS does start, it is normally abundantly clear and it is then time to take measures to limit the problem and prevent it from escalating.

The first thing to remember is no matter how difficult it becomes, always make sure you are keeping your contact appointments. Even if every time you turn up, the door is slammed in your face, missing an appointment can lead the other parent to claim you are not interested. When it comes to birthdays and Christmases, even if your gifts are being returned, or you believe they are not being given to the child, continue to send them. Keep any gifts or letters that are returned to you, as there will probably be an opportunity in the future to give them the child, which may help the child realise what has been going on. If the parent refuses to allow the child to speak to you over the phone, keep trying, but avoid any actions that the other parent could claim amounts to harassment.

Keeping a journal of your contact experiences can help if you have to return to court. Make a note of every attempt that you make to contact the child and log every time you are refused access. Make a note of the things the child may say that could indicate that the other parent is trying to alienate you. Ask the child where he or she heard such a thing, but be careful not to retaliate with your own attempts at badmouthing the other parent; this will not help matters.

Never take any attempts at alienation out on the child. The last thing a child needs is for you to shout at them because they are relaying something they heard about you. Just calmly and reasonably explain it is not true, and always reinforce the point that you still love the child and they are important in your life. Even if a child says hurtful things or is trying to avoid you, or treats you with disdain, it is not their fault, so never take it out on them, just write everything down.

If things become too bad, make a claim in court. It may well be that if you can prove the other parent is trying to alienate you, the judge may grant a change of custody, but if even if this doesn’t happen, having documented evidence of what is going on may help your case and lead to the other parent being censured for their actions. The court may also appoint a mediator or counsellor to speak to both parents and the child, which will go some way to convince the child you are not the monster the other parent has been making you out to be.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

we have been dealing with all these things. the worst is the false accusations that they charge us with. but when we tell them of the abuse the child is enduring at his mothers hands they do nothing at all. NOTHING we are stalked and harassed and suffer greatly from anxiety and depression. we face the threat of losing our jobs due to the continuous litigation for wich we must travel 2 hours each way. we both made way less this year than last year. enough that it put us in a lower tax bracket. yet we have SOOO many added expenses that are completely unnecessary by the way. we can barely afford to live any more. we have our other children, his and mine, to care for. we both work alot at the same place. while this woman fakes incontenance and mysterious pains to sit on her big fat ass and collect $1500.00 in social security income. thats right she does nothing at all. she has plenty of time to sit around making crap up and living off the tax payers dime. she has had 3 jobs her entire life and has worked a total of less than 5 years and she is 36 years old. what a loser. she is hooked on prescription meds but they dont even consider such a thing could b e true. what is gonna wake these idiots up?

Southern Man said...

My ex did (and still does) all of these things but never understood how badly it backfired on her. Sure, for the first eighteen months the older two believed her; then they moved in with me. Our youngest will do the same as soon as a judge allows it. Every crappy thing my ex does to keep my youngest away just drives her closer.

RaeAnn Yinger said...

It happens to mothers too. I am the alienated parent and have not seen my three children for five years after being a stay-at-home mom for 17. I sympathize with all parents this happens too. It cannot be put into words how heartbreaking it is for both parent and child! http://unblossoming.blogspot.com/

RaeAnn Yinger said...

It happens to mothers too. I haven't seen my children for five years. My heart goes out to every child and parent this syndrome affects--as well as extended family who it is heartbreaking for as well! http://unblossoming.blogspot.com/

Dana said...

Thanks for sharing your story! My husband has been having a hard time seeing & having a relationship w/his daughter for the last 10yrs. It's been horrible & so far it's not getting any better! I've started a new blog that I will be telling our story that you & your readers may enjoy reading. http://onlythe4ofus4.blogspot.com/
It helps being able to communicate w/others going through the same thing. I had created a blog for her at one time that she told me she read it and she herself enjoyed it. Well, that was until her mom found out about, then she thought it was "weird", same thing her mom & family was saying! We've tried everything to see/stay in touch w/her just to get knocked back down. So far it isn't getting any better & she's 16.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately the cards are stacked against fathers when they have to go through this in Texas. The current court system automatically assumes the mother is the best parent to raise the children unless the mother is a "known" prostitute, drug addict or alcoholic and takes all the rights away from the father. Some women take advantage of this to further alienate the father from his children and all the while blaming the father unjustly for her recklessness and selfish behavior.

Anonymous said...

Been going through it myself in Tn. The courts here are terrible. They think the mother is some saint and the father is automatically guilty. Ive had so much evidence that the mother has been defrauding the state, using drugs, violating court orders, being emotionally abusive and neglecting to take our daughter to school on time. No one will touch her. But she made an accusation against me that wasnt true 4 years ago and I got convicted of a felony and I had proof I didnt even do anything. There is no hope for fathers in this state.

Anonymous said...

The state gets involved when they open a case for a single parent. The state will require answers (or good cause) to prove whether or not the absent parent should pay support.
Why can't the state accepts PAS and before granting or denying visitation rights, order the missing parent to appear. How can a parent request "no visitation" and the courts just agree to it?

Anonymous said...

I think since the state gets involved with other areas of child support and such that they need to petition the missing parent to find out for sure if they want visitation rights. I don't know how any judge can read a request for "NO VISITATION" and just grant it.

Candy Davis said...

It happens to mothers too. One by one of Dr the last 9 years my children left my life at around age 14 /15

When they have a legal say to be where they want. The times they left my life happened literally overnight with hugs and I loves yous one day and walked out of my door and my life. My 3 oldest (who are adults) don't recognize me as their mom. My youngest has stood by me since the divorce
I didn't think he would turn on me. Well at Christmas he did. He doesn't answer my texts and I have no idea what happened to change. After going through this 4 times it has been a drawn out process. My youngest is 15. I am tired of beating my head against a wall trying to have some sort or relationship with my kids when in the end they down me. I don't have it in me to fight for my youngest. I feel bad about that but I'm worn out. I feel this is the only way to cope. I have taken down all the pictures I've had of my kids.off thr walls. I will start boxing up pictures and slowly take the tracrs of motherhood.out of my life. The damage that has been done is deep and it is bad. My yougest turning on me has been my buggest shock. If my ex can so that to him. I dont have much hope of things being restored. I am sad I am heartbroken. I am to the point of closing the door on motherhood. I don't feel like a mom anymore. I want to tell people when they ask..no I don't have chidren. That is easier then..I have 4 children but I don't see them. I honestly don't feel like I have children amymore.. they don't have a relationship with my extended family either. Makes me sad for my mom and dad.
That part of my life seems like a dream. This part of my life seems like a nightmare.

Candy Davis said...

It happens to mothers too. One by one of Dr the last 9 years my children left my life at around age 14 /15

When they have a legal say to be where they want. The times they left my life happened literally overnight with hugs and I loves yous one day and walked out of my door and my life. My 3 oldest (who are adults) don't recognize me as their mom. My youngest has stood by me since the divorce
I didn't think he would turn on me. Well at Christmas he did. He doesn't answer my texts and I have no idea what happened to change. After going through this 4 times it has been a drawn out process. My youngest is 15. I am tired of beating my head against a wall trying to have some sort or relationship with my kids when in the end they down me. I don't have it in me to fight for my youngest. I feel bad about that but I'm worn out. I feel this is the only way to cope. I have taken down all the pictures I've had of my kids.off thr walls. I will start boxing up pictures and slowly take the tracrs of motherhood.out of my life. The damage that has been done is deep and it is bad. My yougest turning on me has been my buggest shock. If my ex can so that to him. I dont have much hope of things being restored. I am sad I am heartbroken. I am to the point of closing the door on motherhood. I don't feel like a mom anymore. I want to tell people when they ask..no I don't have chidren. That is easier then..I have 4 children but I don't see them. I honestly don't feel like I have children amymore.. they don't have a relationship with my extended family either. Makes me sad for my mom and dad.
That part of my life seems like a dream. This part of my life seems like a nightmare.