Wednesday

Parental Alienation: An Old Face With New Definitions

Thank you, Joan Graves.
Mind games and propaganda have long been a staple during war. It's used to extract information or convince the other side to join ours. Dictators use it to prevent those in their country from learning the truth and making informed decisions. It's a manipulative and controlling way to make certain the one in charge stays in charge. Weapons of mass destruction or no, it's the reason we invaded Iraq. And it's what divorce parents often subject their children to on a regular basis.
This is a common type of introduction to parental alienation theory. The problem is that while divorce may be a war, filled with mind games and propaganda, real victims of terrorism are deprived in atrocious ways which include starvation, sensory deprivation, and other forms of torture. To equate this authors latter description of parental alienation with terrorism, is not only specious but a real slap in the face to war survivors.
In the '80's Dr. Richard A. Gardner uncovered a disturbing phenomena among children of divorce.
What kind of children and what kind of divorces? Just as all marriages are not created equal, (as they are inherently defined by its participants even though we as outsiders love to believe we know what's best for others' lives), neither are all divorces. This information is important if we are to be able to examine a scientific study.
Over an extended period of time, a child subjected to continual, groundless negativity regarding a parent will eventually succumb to the exposure and adapt the distorted view presented to them.
Is there a study that can be recreated to verify this? Will this happen to all children who undergo these conditions during a divorce? What is the probability that this will happen? Are some children more prone than others? We don't need generalizations unless there is reliability and validity to back this up. And what if this negativity is warranted?
In other words, a mother with custody of her children can systematically set about destroying the child's father so completely that the father-child bond is shredded beyond repair.
Can this be done when the mother and father are in an intact household? If so, is it called something different when you remove the "custody" as a factor? How do we know that the father-child bond "is shredded beyond repair"? Research has shown that,, where there was some sort of conflict, the relationships are naturally resolved in about 2 years.
Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is a mental health condition that has been fingered as the root cause of false abuse allegations and in it's most extreme condition, murder.
It has not been recognized as a mental health condition by any official medical body. And please cite examples of being root causes, particularly, of murder. That is quite a serious allegation. The recent murders that have taken place involving PAS has been when a father has murdered his children after making a PAS claim against the mother. And the mother has previously been a victim of domestic violence at the hands of the father.
To some degree PAS takes place in the early stages of divorce when emotions are still raw, but fades away as emotional wounds heal. There are cases in which parents aren't aware of what they're doing and once it's made clear to them they cease.
So, does it fade away, or not? Previously the author said that the relationships are "shredded beyond repair". If a parent isn't aware of what they are doing, how can it be parental alienation syndrome?
1.Under the guise of trust, care and honesty, the mother chronicles divorce details from a slanted point of view that paints dad as mean and mom as a victim.
Who decides that it is a slanted point of view? How do we know that it isn't the truth? Are parents not entitled to give their opinion to their children? What if the dad is mean? What if the mom is a victim? Does that change the "truth"?
2.Refuses to help the child transition to time with the dad by not allowing the child to take toys or other favored items with them and by repeatedly telling the child daddy's house is not their home but merely a place to visit.
What if the child is having transition difficulties on his/her own? Should mom force the child against his/her will? And would that be in the child's best interest? Can not dad have the child's preferred items at his location as well? Do children understand, or even like, the concept of two homes?
3.Unwilling to be flexible with the visitation schedule.
Two different households, different schedules, different needs, different expectations...but what must remain stable is the children. What a difficult task! Must one parent be more flexible than the other? Must one parent accommodate the every wish and command of the other? And why is it a "visitation schedule"? I thought the child had two homes!
4.Overbooking the child in activities in order to reduce visitation time. When the dad wants the child to spend time with him rather than be in constant motion, the mother will label the dad as selfish and her as the good parent because she doesn't restrict the activity time.
Or is it ensuring that the kid is well-rounded and occupied? Idle kids and especially kids of troubled divorces, are prone to getting into trouble. What if the "visitation time" is interfering with the kids wishes and desires...to be a normal kid?
5.Denying the father access to medical and/or school records and other important documents.
If the father was previously accessing this information there should be no issue. The problem lies with the initiation of activities that were never pursued. This could be a control issue on the father's end and not a genuine interest in the child's information. Records may contain private information about the mother or other persons in the household--information that the father would not be entitled to.
6.Listening in on the child's phone conversation and/or coaching them on what to say.
A mother has a right to know about what's going on in a phone conversation in her own home with her child. Realize also that sometimes a mother must coach a child along about what to say...because the child doesn't want to talk!!!
7.Draws the child into a co-dependant relationship by making him/her feel guilty for having fun with dad. She uses minor illnesses as an escape to prevent visitation, proclaiming herself to be the only one capable of caring for the child.
But what if she was the only one who capable of caring for the child? Sick children tend to gravitate toward the parent who is most emotionally supportive. How do we determine if the child is sick enough?
8.Telling the child how sad she is during visitation times, making the child feel guilty for having fun with dad.
Can a mother not express her emotions to her child? How do we know if it was her intention to make the child feel "guilty?
PAS is a psychological disturbance that requires the intervention of a mental health professional.
Cue for the psych professionals to take over. Nothing can be cured without them.
The PAS parent not only wants but must have control over their child. They are incapable of forming normal healthy relationships with people in their lives.
But what if they do have other normal health relationships? Does this mean it isn't PAS?
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The definition of parental alienation syndrome continues to increase. It is the ever expanding, ever encompassing "diagnosis." It is like the autism of dysfunctional relationships. The truth isn't somewhere between two sides of a story. There are only facts. Nothing based in psychology is a fact, which is why psych professionals can expand definitions infinitely. And there's nothing like a second wife to back up these claims.