What is Parental Alienation Syndrome
Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) was first introduced in 1985 when child psychiatrist Dr. Richard Gardner wrote in his paper, “Recent Trends in Divorce and Custody Litigation,” describing the syndrome and its effects on children. This PAS occurs when one parent tries to turn their child/children against the other parent in a negative way, usually during separation or divorce. He says, “…a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against the parent, a campaign that has no justification. The disorder results from the combination of indoctrinations by the alienating parent and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the alienated parent”. A parent can be angry at their spouse or ex-spouse and manipulate the children by painting a negative picture; deliberately making negative comments, pushing blame or false accusations on the other parent. They can even hoard the kids, doing everything they can to keep the kids from the other parent.
Dr. Gardner mentions eight symptoms that distinguish an affected child:
a) relentless denigration of the targeted parent; (b) a frivolous, weak, or absurd rationale for the denigration; (c) a lack of guilt or embarrassment about the denigration; (d) a lack of ambivalence such that the child considers one parent to be entirely “good” and the other parent to be entirely “bad”; (e) automatic support for the alienating parent in any conflict; (f) hostility toward and refusal of contact with the extended family of the targeted parent; (g) the presence of “borrowed scenarios,” in which the child’s speech when describing aversion to the targeted parent often includes the same phrases used by the alienating parent; and (h) the child’s insistence that he or she is expressing his or her own opinions in denigrating the targeted parent.
This negative effect could cause the child to bad-mouth the other parent, they may not want to see or talk to the other parent, can’t say anything good, or has hatred for the alienated parent.
While the American Psychiatric Association doesn’t recognize PAS as a mental disorder, doesn’t mean this behavior doesn’t occur. As the alienated parent, however, the best thing to do is not to engage in similar actions towards the other parent, you don’t want to make things worse. You may want to get counseling for your child and yourself on how to react to your child’s actions and emotions, focus on positive activities when visiting with your child and don’t do anything to violate any court orders.
Wylie Family Law Attorneys
Divorce is not always easy, and children involved suffer the most. While this difficult road may not be easy to handle, your children are worth it. The best thing to do is contact an experienced family law attorney to talk about your options or answer any questions about your situation. The attorneys at Edmondson Law, PLLC have years of experience with a variety of different issues. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation at 972-442-8326.
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