Parental Alienation Syndrome or PAS is a phenomenon that is apparently becoming more and more common in today’s world. There are many reasons for that, many of which are speculative, but the bottom line is that it is something that parents are having to deal with and get educated about quickly.
Completely different from simple bad-mouthing of one parent about the other, this is much more toxic, much more insidious and the impact is powerful. And not in a good way.
If there is a true case of PAS, one parent has systematically employed manipulative strategies and tactics, similar to those utilized by religious cults, to brainwash the children, so that they no longer want anything to do with the other parent. Thus, it is not just one parent keeping the children away from the other parent. With PAS, the alienating parent actually causes the children to believe that they hate the other parent, don’t want anything to do with the other parent, and thus, the children themselves, no longer wish to interact with the alienated parent.
The impact on the children is the worst. Studies are now calling parental alienation what it actually is – a form of child abuse. The evidence has shown that have been alienated are more likely to have panic attacks, lower self-esteem, see a slip in their grades or even drop out of school, and are more likely to turn to drugs. This is not something to mess around with.
Signs of children who have been alienated include: acting out verbally toward the other parent; vehemently refusing to see the other parent; telling the other parent that he or she wishes they were dead; wanting to change his or her last name (if the father is the alienated parent). There are many other signs also but these are a few. Did you know that alienated children do not act like children who have been abused? Children who have been abused still want the love and affection of the abusing parent? They are fearful of that parent. Children who have been alienated may accuse the alienated parent of abuse, but they show no fear. They might get right in the face of the alienated parent. That is a sign of a child who has been alienated, not abused.
So if you suspect there is parental alienation, what can you do?
First of all – this is not something that can be undone with talking nicely, or communicating properly or any of the traditional methods of co-parenting with a difficult ex. This is a situation that calls for troops. You will need a reunification therapist, perhaps even spend time at a reunification camp. The children must spend time solely with the alienated parent, without any communication or interference by the alienating parent. The children don’t want to let the alienating parent down so any form of continued communication will sabotage any potential healing with the alienated parent.
Amy Baker PhD has many books and materials on this topic. I recommend you check out her stuff. And if you really believe you are a victim of this, start reaching out to people who can help you get the court on your side, so that the proper court orders can be issued. The children actually have to be de-programmed and it is not an easy process.
One final thought – you must act immediately. One more day is another day of brainwashing. You could lose your children forever if you don’t intervene asap.
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