Parent Alienation, also known as PAS, is often viewed as a black or white issue. It has been my experience that alienation exists on a continuum and often falls in shades of gray. It can range from mild, which includes consistent derogatory remarks, subtly placing children in situations where they are asked to take sides or scheduling activities during the other parent’s scheduled time with a child, to very severe, which involves parents blatantly interfering with contact, rewarding a child’s rejection of the other parent, making abuse allegations or insisting that the other parent is bad, evil or someone to be feared. If PAS is suspected intervention needs to be guided by the assessment of a qualified experienced professional. (From Part 1 of Parental Alienation by Christina McGhee)
What Can Parents Do to Help Their Children?
1. Understand the Dynamics of the Problem: More often that not, parents do not understand the dynamics of PAS until it is too late or the situation has become severe. If you feel that the other parent is making attempts to sabotage your relationship raise your level of awareness and understanding about Parent Alienation. There are several excellent resources online regarding PAS, for more information click here or visit this resource page.
2. Maintain Contact with Children: Do what you can to maintain regular consistent contact with your child. The primary mode of operation for alienating parents is you are either for me or against me. Children learn early on that if they do not side with the alienator, they risk rejection. Having seen how the alienator has dealt with the target parent is a clear and ever present reminder of this. When a parent withdraws from a child’s life or does not maintain consistent contact children are defenseless against the alienation. Not only does it reinforce the alienator perspective, it also does not give children the opportunity to have an alternate perception of reality.
3. Don’t Take the Rejection or Rude Behaviors of Your Children Personally: While your children may be giving you every indication that they don’t want you involved, children still need you. Even if it is not acknowledged, knowing that you care and are available can be incredibly valuable to children dealing with the pressure inflicted by an alienating parent. It may seem like a small consolation but in most cases, children feel more secure in their relationship with the target parent because they do not put the child in a position where they are forced to choose.
4. Get Professional Support: Dealing with parent alienation is a marathon not a sprint. The journey to repair your relationship with your children may be long and often requires an enormous amount of patience and persistence. Seek out professional support to help you manage the stress and emotional drain that parents frequently experience when rejected by a child.
5. Utilize the Legal System When Necessary: When alienation is present, it almost always requires legal intervention. Many parents are reluctant to engage in litigation with the alienator either because they fear making things worse for children or because the family court or a legal professional has minimized the situation. While there are many family lawyers who are educated and knowledgeable about PAS, many still are not. Make sure the lawyer you are working with understands the dynamics of alienation and if necessary seek out an experienced professional to offer case consultation.
While PAS is not present in every situation, the best intervention is prevention. Regardless of the other parent’s actions, engage in positive co-parenting behaviors early on and do what you can to maintain a healthy relationship with your children, so that intervention, even in the early stages, will not be necessary.
Christina McGhee is a respected colleague and expert in divorce and children. She’s got some great tips for families who are going through divorce!
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Filed under: Anger Management, children, Dr. Robyn Silverman, Family, Parenting tips, responsibility | Tagged: character queen, children, Christina McGhee, Divorce, Dr. Robyn Silverman, Parental Alienation, Parenting tips, parents, PAS |