April 20, 2009
April 25, 2009 is Parental Alienation Awareness Day. When I first saw the phrase "parental alienation", it was a true revelation. I never imagined it was possible for someone to program or condition a child to reject a loving parent, one with whom that child once shared a close relationship. It is possible, and it happens everyday to tens of thousands of parents and grandparents.
The resiliency and flexibility of children, especially young children, is often spoken of as an advantage as young ones navigate life's changes. The other side of the coin is that children who are dependent upon adults for care and support are easily conditioned to accept the ideas and perspectives those adults convey.
What is parental alienation? According to the Parental Alienation and Awareness Organization, "Parental alienation involves the systematic brainwashing and manipulation of children with the sole purpose of destroying a loving and warm relationship they once shared with a parent.
Parental alienation and hostile aggressive parenting deprives children of their right to be loved by and showing love for both of their parents.
Parents/guardians using alienation tactics to hurt the other 'target' parent have been compared to cult leaders. These people put their own hatred, anger and motives before their own child's emotional and mental health. In effect, they treat their children as nothing more than possessions, and ammunition to hurt the 'target' parent.
Professionals argue whether Parental Alienation is a Syndrome or not. But they all agree that the problem exists and it's damaging to children, and can affect them into adulthood."
Beyond this, parental alienation is child abuse. Yes, the "targeted parent" is hurt and injured by their child's rejection. Even more damaged, though, is the child who is manipulated into discarding a caring parent. Imagine how it could be possible to love half of yourself and hate the other half. It is a recipe for depression, resentment, and mental illness. Children who are the victims of parental alienation are constantly bombarded with negative messages about one of their parents. Often, the children are not free to express love for both parents. Commonly, the custodial parent/other relative conditions the child to see the non-custodial parent as uncaring, selfish, defective, less deserving of respect, etc. How could any child emerge from this matrix with a sound mind and spirit?
Every conscious and aware person moving through a divorce is injured in the process. True recovery is difficult and will test your metal. Divorce is a type of death and in it one experiences the death of dreams, hopes, and plans for a future. It is tempting to bounce anger off every target.
April 25, 2009 is Parental Alienation Awareness Day. It a day to remember the old medical oath, "Do no harm."
Some early signs of Parental Alienation:
* Children perceive one parent as causing financial problems of the other parent
* Children appear to have knowledge of details relating to the legal aspects of the divorce or separation
* Children show sudden negative change in their attitude toward a parent/guardian
* Children appear uneasy around target parent - they resort to "one word" answers and fail to engage openly in conversations as they previously have done
* Children are uncharacteristically rude and/or belligerent to target parent
* Access time is not occurring as agreed upon or court ordered - visitation is being unilaterally cut back by the other parent
* Hostile Aggressive Parent (HAP) parent undermines the other parent or speaks disparagingly about other parent in the presence of the children
* HAP parent starts making reference to other parent as being abusive and a risk to the children with no apparent good reason
* Allowing children to choose whether or not to visit a parent, even though the court has not empowered the parent or children to make that choice;
* Telling the children about why the marriage failed and giving them the details about the divorce or separation settlement;
* Refusing the other parent access to medical and school records or schedules of extracurricular activities;
* Blaming the other parent for not having enough money, changes in lifestyle, or other problems in the child's presence;
* Rigid enforcement of the visitation schedule for no good reason other than getting back at the other parent;
* False allegations of sexual abuse, drug and alcohol use or other illegal activities by the other parent;
* Asks the children to choose one parent over the other;
* Reminding the children that the children have good reason to feel angry toward their other parent;
* Setting up temptations that interfere with visitation;
* Giving the children the impression that having a good time on a visit will hurt the parent;
* Asking the children about the other parent's personal life;
* 'Rescuing' the children from the other parent when there is no danger.
If you believe you or a child in your family is a victim of parental alienation, seek legal and emotional support. Unchallenged, parental alienation kills the parent-child bond. For more information, go to paawareness.org.