What is Parental Alienation?
Divorces are complicated enough. Add children to the mix and things are bound to go haywire. Children, unfortunately, are often used as pawns in a divorce. For the most part, both parents want to spend as much time with their kids as possible. This can lead to nasty custody battles, and for one parent to get as much leverage as possible, they may resort to parental alienation.
Parental alienation occurs when one parent turns their kids against the other parent. Parents may use brainwashing and other strategies to accomplish this goal. They may badmouth the parents and say mean and untrue things about him or her. A child who once loved both parents equally may suddenly say mean things about the other parent. They may distance themselves from the parent and want nothing to do with them.
Parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a psychological condition discovered by psychologist Richard Gardner in 1985. While it’s not a mental health condition recognized by the American Psychiatric Association or any other organization, it is real and it can cause significant mental harm to a child, as well as the alienated parent.
How Does it Happen?
Parental alienation most likely happens after a divorce, but it can occur if the parents are still married. It is often done through negative statements. For example, Mom might call Dad an idiot. She might tell the kids Dad no longer loves them. Dad might tell the kids that they can’t Mom anymore because she has a new boyfriend and loves him more than the kids.
The statements can be mild or severe. In any case, if the statements are pervasive, then it can distort the child’s view of the parent. A little boy may have loved his mom dearly, but if his dad keeps saying that his mom no longer loves him, then the child will take these words very seriously. He may harbor resentment toward his mom. He may never want to see her again. This can be devastating to the mom, who loves her child very much and wants to have a relationship with him.
What are the Signs?
Parental alienation encomapsses many symptoms. The child constantly criticizes the parent, without any feelings of guilt. His or her feelings about the parent may suddenly be all negative, with no positive qualities. The child may even say negative things about the alienated parent’s family members, such as grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins. The child may not have any justification or reasoning for these feelings. The child may use terms that he or she never used before but instead picked up from the alienating parent. In addition, the child may fully support the alienating parent, and have nothing but nice things to say about him or her. Gossiping and secrecy is often rampant.
Seek Help for Your Divorce Case
Divorces are never easy, and things can get more complicated when children are involved. While many marriages end amicably, some are supercharged with negative emotions, with some parents even withholding custody from the other parents.
Parental alienation can be hard to prove. Let the experienced Dade City & Zephyrhills divorce attorneys at Mander Law Group uncover the evidence you need to bolster your case. To schedule a consultation, call us at (800) 557-0411 today.