Tragically, children are often used as pawns or weapons during and after the divorce process. Often, this manifests itself in the form of parental alienation.
By definition, parental alienation is the “programming of a child by one parent to denigrate the other targeted parent, in an effort to undermine and interfere with the child’s relationship with that parent, and is often a sign of a parent’s inability to separate from the couple conflict and focus on the needs of the child. Such denigration results in the child’s emotional rejection of the targeted parent, and the loss of a capable and loving parent from the life of the child.”
There are many forms of parental alienation. It could be one parent denying access to the targeted parent. Or it could be one parent constantly badmouthing their ex to try to turn their children against the other.
It’s unclear how common parental alienation is, but it is apparent that it is a serious issue. One study estimates that parental alienation occurs in 11-15% of divorces involving children.
This is heartbreaking on a number of levels. One parent sees his or her relationship with their children destroyed. Parental alienation is also a form of child abuse that can cause numerous harmful effects on children, including anger, educational problems, eating disorders and depression. Considering having access to both parents has been proven time and again as the healthiest post-divorce arrangement for kids, this should come as no surprise.
While parental alienation is common post-divorce, its roots often trace to when parents are still together.
“It’s the kind of thing that you see where sometimes one child and one parent are the main unit,” said Dr. Samantha Rodman, who is a licensed psychologist and expert on parental alienation. “… This sort of behavior is called triangulation where it’s the kid and the parent against another parent and that can be really toxic for the children, because they don’t learn to respect both parents equally.”
It is crucial to know the symptoms of parental alienation syndrome, because it is much easier to prevent rather than fix after the fact.
Here are 5 ways to combat parental alienation when you notice your ex trying to turn your children against you.
Don’t try alienating your ex
When you notice your ex trying to turn your kids against you, it is human nature to want to fight fire with fire by engaging in the same type of behavior.
Resist this temptation.
Look into all the health risks and emotional turmoil parental alienation poses for children. The last thing they need is for their parents to use them as pawns . It puts them in a no-win situation where they’re forced to pick a side, which leads to intense feelings of guilt.
Put you children’s interests first, no matter what.
Stay positive and avoid blaming your kids
If your ex is able to turn your kids against you, you’re likely going to hear a lot of hurtful and disrespectful things not only from her, but also your children.
Remember that they’re victims just like you. They’ve been brainwashed and their sentiments are misguided. Lashing back at them with anger is only going to compound the problem.
Do whatever you can to remain positive. Let them vent to you and reinforce how much you love them whenever you can.
If denied contact, don’t stop trying to get in touch
It’s extremely discouraging when your ex starts denying you contact with your kids. It all seems pointless when she starts blocking your calls, intercepting the cards and gifts you send and denying visitation.
You can’t give up. Once you do that, your ex can say, “See, your dad just doesn’t care about you.”
Have faith that the truth will come out eventually.
Seek a legal remedy if possible
If you are being denied court-ordered parenting time or visitation, then you have legal options to ensure that order is enforced.
If you can prove an intentional violation of a court order, your ex could be held in contempt. And if there is a pattern of parenting time interference, courts could use the denial as a basis to grant a modification of a child custody order.
Keep detailed records of every time you are denied contact and consult with a family law attorney in your area to make sure you understand all your options.
Prove your ex wrong
Possibly the best weapon of all against PAS is simply being the best parent you can possibly be.
Actions speak much louder than words. Your ex’s portrayal of you as a mean, uncaring, insensitive monster isn’t going to hold up if you’re always doing everything you can to be the best dad possible for your kids.
This can be tough when you’re unable to spend much time with them, but make the most of your opportunities. You don’t need to be a “Disneyland dad.”
Take the time to listen to your children about what’s going on in their lives. Give advice on how to handle their problems. Help them with their homework. Just let them know you care.
Trust that they’re eventually going to see how much you love them. And if you’ve managed to take the high road, despite constant abuse from your ex, they’re going to respect you even more.
14 comments on “5 Ways To Fight Parental Alienation Syndrome”
These articles that I read are such crap. Everyone says how awful it is. I haven’t been with my kids in four years due to alienation. The problem I have is everyone talks about this but NOTHING gets done to these abusive parents. Why are they NOT IN JAIL????? COURTS ARE JUST AS GUILTY FOR ALLOWING THIS
Because they have cunning manipulative personalities and are able to maniulate the judges and court systems too.
I am currently fighting for my kids after divorce. My ex-wife has completely immersed them in our divorce from the beginning using phrases such as “your father is leaving us” and “we will be just fine without him because he is immoral”. Gradual visitation is not working out well. The first time was great. It took a little bit but the boys both agreed that we had a good time and it was nice to get to see me after a six month separation. When they went home….I have no idea what went on or what was said but they were not the same the next visitation time. It just seems like every time she doesn’t get exactly what she wants, money, the boys are difficult. It has gone from bad to worse. She now has a boyfriend who is spending time around my kids. They have no desire to be around me, let alone my girlfriend. They bristle at coming to my house even for a meal and conversation. They spout curse words at me and tell me they want me to give up on visitation all together. They never “need to see” me again. I don’t know what to do and I need some guidance. How can I prove her alienation? I know it is there. I lived through her mind games for years. It kills me not to be able to have a relationship with my kids. I don’t know what they have been told and I don’t know how to prove they have been indoctrinated.
I am dealing with this my son and daughters Hate me. all because of the “your a victim” speech from everyone on her side..sorry spanking a misbehaving child does not make you a victim. the exarations and lies have them believing things they should know nothing about. She has won every suit convinced every visitation office i am an abusive violent person..16 years not one police report not one hospital visit and with in one month of her saying “get out” I became all these things.. she used they system to railroad me and play the “victim” card noone will supervise my visitation i do not know what to do.
Document is the only advise that I have. I am going through the same thing it is heartbreaking. Today when I went to pick my son up from the bus, he walked away from me & went to his father’s I followed him & told him that he needed to get in the car & he told me that if I didn’t get off of his property he would call the police.
I don’t understand how the courts couldn’t see what was going on.., they just gave the alienator more time With my son & more power to control and manipulate
Excuse my typos I fail at typing on a phone.
I need an article on when the dad is doing this, hes starting it. My son said last week “Daddy says mommy is trying to take me away from him.” (This isn’t true I’m going for legal custody because our son desperately needs to have his therapy as he has the worst case of A.D.H.D that the therapist has ever seen.
Meds are only part of the solution, without help he’ll fall way behind, even though he’s bright. It’s in the papers that he must have this. The thing is my ex was the won that put him in therapy in the first place, but once I started to agree with them and the teachers that he needed this my ex pulked himk out. Completely crazy making. @_@ I hope none of you dads have to go through this it’s so hard on my son he has nightmares almost every night. This has to stop it’s hurting him!
Tears well up in my eyes reading the above. My daughter went through the same type of abuse from her birth mother. It lasted from the time she was 2-1/2 until she moved out at 18. Not constant, but intermittently every few months where it took a huge toll on her growing up. It wasn’t after her mother confessed to her 27 years later, after she quit drinking (she had went through drug counseling 3 times previously), that her mother admitted to my daughter that it was all her fault that the marriage failed. Up until then she didn’t want to believe me in what happened and what my second wife was constantly telling her. But considering the abuse my second ex-wife also did to my daughter (emotional and physical), which was only a few down times in 20 years but that is still hard for her knowing I allowed that to happen for a decade. With the numerous affairs, counseling and therapy my second ex-wife went through, I always took her back and that was very hard for my daughter to understand, let alone me. It wasn’t until we had kids of our own and she started abusing them that I had to leave her. There was no way of taking my children with me as my ex-wife was very careful never to abuse them in public. And my ex wife worked in the local government and was friends with everyone including the sheriffs and deputies, so nobody believed me when I told them she abused them. They wouldn’t even investigate it. Not enough evidence to support opening a claim I was told numerous times. and the bruises she left on my daughter were from accident during gymnastics she told everyone including my daughter who noticed it in the mirror the next morning after she hit her. We lived in the same small town where she grew up and I didn’t. The townspeople all have pity on her since her little brother died when she was 9. Now my three children and I will go through this same type of abuse again. Only this time I’m forced almost completely out of the picture.
Your words above are spot on. The parent MUST ALWAYS be the better and best person to them against all odds and ALWAYS KEEP trying. NEVER say a anything that may be taken as negative towards the abusive parent they are living with or they will never want to see you again. As a victim of this abuse I am always sliding down the slippery slope. Saying please and thank you to your abuser is a must even though they flip you off, give you the harry eyeball, run into you or push you out of the way and ignore you at your children’s events, or won’t say anything to you except when they demand something from you or tell you (notify you) what they are going to do with your children during your visitation time (when they are taking there vacation time). It’s horrible. I hope they will see in what their mother did to them before they repeat the cycle with their own children.
I am a victim of PAS and I must comment here…
In 1964 my parents seperated and my Mother left the state we lived in (Illinois) taking me where her parents lived (South Carolina). The divorce was granted to him on the basis of “desertion” and then refused to let him see me although she wanted the financial support from him. Once Dad had a contempt order on her for refusing visitation in 1970 she was merciless filing actions to reinstate support and making it difficult for him to exercise visitation in another state. Throughout all of this she never stopped berating him telling m how he didn’t want or love me. I was throughly brainwashed for years. But luckily for me he saved every nasty threatening letter she wrote, all the cards he sent to me she refused delivery on and had all the documentation from the courts. I had to see all of it on paper to believe what had happened and a lifetime was wasted with her vengence and anger for him programmed into me. It took its toll on me to find out many years later how I had been deceived. I can’t stress enough how immature and unfair this is to do to a child. It took lots of therapy for me to deal with this when I knew the truth. I was enraged at her for many years and it permanently tainted my opinion of her to this day. No kid needs this kind of grief.
Im a female but also a victim of PAS: both as a child and as a parent in a nasty custody battle. I have had my children ripped from me literally (4 yo wrapped her body around my neck & waist saying please dont take my mommy away!!) and also have a 14 and 11 yo olds. What people who alienate their kids from the other parent do is extremely heartbreaking. In 6 weeks time my kids have been so brainwashed by their abusive father it is troubling. Thankfully there are things in place such as restraining order if the other parent is hostile.
A friend of mine sent me this most sobering article regarding Parental Alienation and the court.
WHY COURT FAILS:
It is something the legal community should be made cognizant.