The Family Separation Clinic regards the problem of alienation in a child as one which is caused by many factors and one which is a spectrum experience. This means that the alienation response in the child ranges from mild to severe and that the psychologically split state of mind which underpins alienation can range from sporadic to permanently seen.
In assessing the presence of the alienation reaction in the child we use a wide range of tools to evaluate, including the presence of coercive control. Where we suspect pure alienation (the child is captured in a dynamic caused by a psychologically unwell parent), we seek evaluation for personality disorder and in some cases where it is observed, for encapsulated delusion in parent and child.
Our focus however is always the child because we know that the psychologically split state of mind is caused not simply by psychologically unwell parents but…
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Psychology Today has narrowed down the reasons people with psychological issues lie to the following:
- They lie for popularity: simply put, these people want attention and do believe that their regular selves are not good enough. They create stories and events where they are admirable heroes or, alternatively, situations where they are horribly victimized. Either way, the attention they get, the sympathy or the admiration, fuel them for more.
- They lie to control: these people manipulate the facts to gain psychological supremacy over others. They do it to scare them or to make them feel bad. They get a thrill out of emotionally toying with their feelings. And the more they get away with it, the more they’d want to do it.
- They lie because they are insecure: although we all do that in varying degrees, Those who constantly lie about every single detail of their lives are a different story. It would make sense if you felt bad about your bad grades and wanted to hide the fact from, say, your faraway cousins. But these people would go as far as making up a whole new life with tiny irrelevant details. It’s as if they want to be someone else.
If you’re dealing with someone with psychological issues, one of the common manifestations is pathological lying — lying all the time, and lying when there’s no logical reason to even lie. Understanding why they lie may not solve the problem, but it might make it easier to understand. They lie for attention; they lie to control and they lie because they are insecure.
On behalf of Lorandos Joshi posted in Federal Crimes on Friday, February 3, 2017.
Children of divorce are innocent bystanders and casualties of divorce. They are innocent bystanders, as one household becomes two. They face uncertainty, if not fear of the future. Their best interests should come first.
Acts of parental alienation present a direct threat to their emotional and psychological well-being. Far too many waste little time in manipulating children to take “their side.” They force children to choose one parent. They foster unease or negative feelings towards another parent. These sinister and damaging signsmust be identified and stopped.
Putting Children In The Middle
- Validating anger children feel towards a parent
- Speaking disparagingly about the other parent in the presence of children
- Blaming the other parent for financial struggles and other changes in lifestyle in front of the children
- Telling children about the details regarding the marriage failing and the divorce decree
- Requesting information from children on the other parent’s personal life
- Accusing the other parent of putting children at risk without evidence
- Knowingly making false and dangerous allegations of violence, sexual abuse, drug/alcohol abuse, and other illegal activities
- Needing to “rescue” children when no danger exists
- Forcing children to choose which parent they want to visit
- Not abiding by or reducing court-ordered or agreed upon access time and visitation
- Conversely, rigid and inflexible enforcement of visitation schedules purely out of vengeance.
- Refusing access to medical and school records and schedules of extracurricular activities
Regardless of whatever form it takes, parental alienation is an obstacle that impairs improved relationships between a divorcing couple and their children.
[Source: http://www.lorandoslaw.com ]
A Sociopath A sociopath is typically defined as someone who lies incessantly to get their way and does so with little concern for others. A sociopath is often goal-oriented (i.e., lying is focused—it is done to get one’s way). Sociopaths have little regard or respect for the rights and feelings of others. Sociopaths are often […]
For any parent who is alienated from their child, every single day brings the painful realisation that they are missing a vital piece of their heart and soul. To me it is an unimaginable pain, and yet one I encounter on an almost daily basis as I support men who through no fault of their own, have had this inflicted upon them.
Birthdays, holidays, and festive occasions are all exceptionally difficult times for alienated parents and after Christmas Day there is perhaps none more damaging or hurtful for men than being alienated on Father’s Day.
Many Australian families will be celebrating the role of father’s in their children’s lives this week. Little children will be rushing into Dad’s room to give him the present they made at school, or purchased from the school fete. Older children will be giving Dad a hug, making him breakfast and letting him know he is loved. Sadly though, many fathers will inevitably be alone on Father’s Day and prevented from seeing their children from whom they are cut off and intentionally alienated.
Born from nothing short of spite, hatred and monetary gain, many women will refuse contact on this day if it doesn’t fall on the ‘right’ weekend. For men who are fully alienated and have no contact, often through false allegations, they will know like other years before that they must yet again face this painful day and somehow survive it.
I asked some men from my support group to share their words of what it means to them to be an alienated Dad on Father’s Day. Here are there heartfelt replies.
Hurt. On the most important day in a Father’s life after birth, being with your children on Father’s Day and denied by the mother. It is a knife to the heart, it reduces you to tears and desperation and questions your own worth.
Devastated, heartbroken, confused. I see my daughter for 30 hours in a whole year and they have canceled repeated scheduled visits through no fault of my own. I tried to arrange to see her on Father’s Day, but the mother won’t agree.
You loose hope and you feel suicidal anger and it changes you in a big way , so you move on in this difficult life and carry the pain for the rest off your life.
My ex girlfriend won’t let me see them. I don’t have words for it and I try not to think about it…. Because it’s depressing
It’s absolutely heartbreaking I’d rather not remember the date of fathers day so I can just skip it
First marriage, my children were abducted by their mother for ten years. No Fathers’ Day, no birthdays, no Christmas, nothing. I have still not seen my daughter from that marriage since 1983…….What can I say about the lost time? It sucks. My eldest son, who will soon be 39, only stopped crying on seeing me (or talking on the phone) a couple of years ago. I don’t give a f**k about the impact on me. That is a child’s life destroyed.
For these men the lies and false accusations by the mother of their children have left them with a life of pain. They are faced with a no-win situation when our legal institutions predominantly support the woman’s word irrespective of any evidence, when it is really born out of nothing but evil.
During the court process the mother is the assumed carer and this buys her time and incentive to keep the legal process being drawn out. You see, the longer she alienates the father the more likely she is to get full parental responsibility. She hates him and she wants him to pay, so she wins at all cost through sanctioned perjury.
For the ‘lucky’ ones, even when he proves he has never harmed her or the children he is forced to pay for access through ‘supervised visitation’ centres which are often run by staff who treat innocent father’s like criminals.
All the while she lives off the child support he pays even though he can get very limited or often no access to his children. Our society labels these men as ‘deadbeat dads’ but these mothers are the deadbeats. Lazy, vexatious and vindictive women who want to cause harm at any cost.
We can not ignore the impact on children who are also the victims of this malicious and self-centred vendetta. Amanda Sillars from Eeny Meeny Miney Mo Foundation recently commented about the effects on children of Parental Alienation
“This is about power, manipulation and control by a selfish often mentally unwell parent who hates their ex more than they love their own child. The mourning for the child and parent is a ongoing till the day the child is old enough to break free to love that parent. Sometimes the damage is irreversible where the child cannot bond because they have lived a life of conflicted thoughts and suppression.
Children will grow up with a distortion of reality, they will be taught harshness & cruelty and they will learn to exaggerate negative qualities. If the child is strongly influenced by the ex the child loses their ability to think or to feel for themselves. If the child is not taught to have concern for others the child will grow up to have no empathy. A child that grows up with a polarised perception will assume that anything less than perfect should be rejected.
Australia [and the world] needs legal and mental professionals to educate in this sinister, subtle, complex form of child abuse & spousal abuse. Many parents and children suffer in silence because our legal system does nothing to stop it. Some parents cannot and will not co-parent. The courts allows false allegations with no penalties, allows breeching of orders with no consequences and does not have the children’s best interests at heart.
Each man has his own methods of survival. Some that have been alienated for extended periods have found ways to ‘cope’ with what has been inflicted upon them. For all though, it is a soul destroying process of prolonged torture.
For me this year I accept that I will not have any contact from my only biological child. I know it’s not her fault. This year I am choosing to celebrate having my own father in my life. At 81 he’s not always going to be around and I want him to know that he is loved and how important he was to me growing up and knowing that he is always there for me. I know and understand the unconditional love that he has for me and I want him to know how much I appreciate all that he has done for me. It makes me very sad that he won’t see or get a card from his only grandchild though. Parental alienation is child abuse.
Whatever we do in society, we have a responsibility to care for others. This Father’s Day, please reach out to an alienated father and let him know that you care. Let him know that he’s not alone and that like all of us, he is worthy of love and connection with his children.
I will finish with this final quote.
I have not seen my daughter since she was 4, and she will soon be 17. This is the work of a malicious ex-wife and a horribly biased Judge. I was never accused of anything – they just did what they wanted and trampled on my rights, and more importantly, my daughter’s rights. I cannot recover the lost years and experiences that my daughter and I were deprived of. I know now that I will never see my daughter again. If she had died, there would have been an ending to the loneliness and anger eventually. The fact that she is still alive yet unreachable through the machinations of others is like an open wound that never heals and never stops hurting.
[Source: relatingtomen.com ]
Co-parenting with a narcissist is no picnic for any reasonable, rational person. Often, it can feel like you are literally trying to raise children with your worst enemy.
How do you identify a narcissistic ex? There is no one checklist but here are a few things that could tip you off that you are co-parenting with a narcissist:
- You find it totally impossible to communicate with this person due to their unreasonable, irrational, unyielding and obtuse behavior.
- You constantly feel like you are being manipulated into compromising your values and opinions in order to get anywhere with the situation.
- You are co-parenting with a narcissist if you constantly feel that you are in a power struggle where you always emerge feeling powerless and dominated by this person.
- You find this person to be totally uncompassionate and lacking empathy.
- You feel like you and the kids are being emotionally abused by this person.
- The world revolves around this person and only his or her feelings or circumstances matter.
- It is this person’s way the highway.
- This person has a massive superiority complex and thinks everyone is beneath them.
- There just is no middle ground with this person.
- This person leaves you feeling depressed, disillusioned and hopeless with regard to the children and even to your own life.
No question that narcissists are maestros at family and relationship dysfunction. They really do leave you feeling bad about yourself and even sorry for your children that you could have made such a mistake to have chosen this person as a parent for them. It can be difficult to maintain your cool and composure with this person or to remain focused on what is important which is the wellbeing of your children first and foremost.
Here are 5 things NOT to do when you are co-parenting with a narcissist:
- Don’t try to be “co” parents in the strict sense. Narcissists have no respect for this concept anyway and their sole aim is to frustrate, obfuscate and destroy. So stop kidding yourself. You can try a more hands off approach or a type of parallel parenting structure that reduces direct contact with each other considerably.
- Don’t allow yourself to “pity” your own children. This will not help them one iota. Instead, think of creative ways to maximize your own parenting time with them so that they have a full and happy childhood despite the enemy ex.
- Don’t badmouth the ex no matter how tempting this might be. Let the children draw their own conclusions later on.
- Don’t make excuses for the ex. Again, let the children draw their own conclusions.
- Don’t let yourself become disillusioned or depressed. These emotions are choices you make. Choose to be optimistic about your own ability to create a loving and safe environment for the children.
- Get family therapy or individual therapy for yourself and the children if needed.
- Try to convince the court to shorten the visitation time with the ex if the visits are having a negative impact on the children’s wellbeing.
- Ask for supervised visits too, if the ex is really being emotionally abusive to the children.
- Keep your communication with the ex to emails only when necessary; avoid direct communication and contact
- Stay sane. Do not let this person drive you insane as you will be utterly unable to protect your children if you take leave of your senses and sanity on account of this person.
When a toxic person can no longer control you, they will try to control how others see you. The misinformation will seem unfair, but stay above it, trusting that other people will eventually see the truth, just like you did.
Sometimes it is easier to define letting go in the negative. That is, defining what it is not, rather than what it is. Sometimes it is also easier to define it in relation to giving up. Here I will try to define it on its own terms. Letting go means releasing yourself from the attachment […]
Letting go, leaves your children with the provocative question about how they could love you at the same time acknowledge and assume responsibility for the awful things they have done to you. They will have to engage this question for their own mental and emotional health at some point in their lives. This is your […]
Always remember that your severely alienated children have to hold within themselves incompatible experiences of you the alienated parent. On one hand, they have memories of the loving relationship they once had, but on the other hand, they have an unreasonable cruel and irrational hatred and rejection of you. This may cause deep and unresolved […]
In the following paragraphs I would like to explore parental alienation and empathy.
The definition of parental alienation is simple. One parent, (in most cases the resident parent) deliberately damages, and in some cases destroys, the previously healthy loving relationship between the child and the child’s other parent (the non-resident parent). A key tell-tale sign of parental alienation is when the alienating parent prevents their children from having any relationship with the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins on the alienated parents’ side of the family. For a more detailed definition of parental alienation see here.
The English word empathy is derived from the Ancient Greek word empatheia, which means “physical affection or passion”. This, in turn, was derived from enpathos, when broken down is seen as en, meaning “in, at” and pathos meaning “passion” or “suffering”. The term was adapted by linguistics to create the German word Einfühlung (“feeling into”), which was translated by Edward B…
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By: Alex Myles
Although I have titled this “co-parenting,” many people who have a child with someone who is diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) or who displays many of the traits, will know that co-parenting is an unlikely dynamic.
Although there will be many who are struggling to bring up their child when still in a relationship with a narcissist this article is aimed at those who have separated or divorced, but are raising a child with a narcissist. The Narcissist Co-Parent has been abbreviated to NCP.
Once a relationship has broken down co-parenting with a narcissist can not only seem impossible but also as though you are living through a reoccurring and worsening nightmare. It doesn’t help that unfortunately, to date, there has not been a vast amount of research carried out, or professional advice made available, with regards to co-parenting with a narcissist. Neither is there clear evidence or research that explains how narcissistic behavior or co-parenting with a narcissist emotionally affects the kid(s).
Therefore, I have written this article based on my experience and research to offer some tips and a base understanding for those who are involved in this dynamic, as it is something I have been questioned about frequently since writing various other articles about narcissism.
The most vital piece of information I can give is that you cannot and will not ever change a narcissist’s behavior, nor will you be able to reason, reach any form of compromise or receive a genuine apology for any difficulties they cause either to you or your child. Narcissists have a grandiose opinion of themselves and think they are “special” and above everyone around them, so no matter how hard you might try to get them to see things from your, or your child’s, perspective it will never happen.
The main concern when co-parenting with a narcissist should be ensuring your child is safeguarded, as they are in the middle of circumstances that they do not have the emotional capabilities to deal with. Sadly all too often children who have a narcissist parent suffer incredible emotional abuse. However, unlike physical abuse there is no visible evidence so it can be incredibly difficult to prove to the relevant authorities. It may also go unnoticed as the child might not talk about it either through fear or because they believe it is normal behavior as it is all they have known from that particular parent.
For those who are still in a relationship with a narcissist it is advisable to drop all expectations about how you hope they will parent your child and also keep all of your emotions under control. Do not respond and react erratically, however frustrating or unpleasant the interactions may be, as this only fuels narcissistic behavior further. It is not a game that can be played and even if you try, you will never win.
If you get through one round and things go your way, without any shadow of a doubt the NCP will come back 10 times fiercer or more manipulative in the next round. They will also likely be fuelled with rage and not only that they will see any defeat they may experience as a challenge. They will become sharper, crueler, cleverer and ultimately more callous to ensure that even if you do “win” again, you will pay a very high price for even thinking about beating them, let alone succeeding. The NCP is very unlikely to give up, so do not see it as giving in to them by choosing not to play their game.
Instead see it as choosing an alternative way to interact, one that does not include dramatic displays of emotion.
Narcissists demand compliance and will settle for nothing less, so if you fall in line with everything that they want all may go smoothly, although this isn’t recommended. As much as it may be tempting to try to keep aligned with them, if you do it will mainly be through fear of what might happen if you don’t. This will mean sacrificing your morals and values and often a tremendous amount of time and expense solely to keep them satisfied.
If you try to regain and maintain some control of your mind and independence, all hell can seem to break loose and the NCP may try a variety of methods, including charm, seduction, aggression, threats or even seeking your sympathy to place you back into a powerless position. As you may not want conflict, you could fall into the trap of working hard to keep them stable and happy, although this will mean abandoning and neglecting your preferences either for you or your child.
It can feel as though “you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t” and unfortunately, this is often the case. That is why it is essential to learn to lock down your emotions as much as possible and learn everything you can about this disorder. One reason is to avoid your emotions being in the NCP’s hands and another is so that you can be somewhat prepared for their next move before they make their next move. This alleviates the feelings of deflation and frustration and also helps to prevent you from thinking you are going insane due to the way they naturally seem able to manipulate, oversee and control your every move.
If communication is consistently causing conflict then it is essential to keep it to an absolute minimum. This includes leaving emotional upsets and injured egos out of the equation. It is tempting to be triggered to respond, as narcissists are skilled at scratching at old wounds just to gain an explosive reaction. Rise above any pride surfacing and use your internal strength to resist the temptation to erupt, as this is what they hope and look for. NCPs gain great pleasure from witnessing emotional and psychological overspill.
It is recommended to erect firm boundaries and keep them in place to protect both yourself and your child while s/he is in your care. Narcissists do not have boundaries, they have no respect for them and they will go to all lengths to tear yours down.
The reason they dislike boundaries is because they revel in drama and boundaries keep all their ridiculousness at bay. Therefore, when you put them in place you have to be firm and ensure that you do not fall prey to their tactics, which may include, seduction, flattery, threats, anger or aggression. They will attempt any technique that may result in you backing down and take away whatever is constraining their behavior.
If you take a barrier away they will then view the removal as a weakness on your part and they will persevere until they have direct access to whatever it is they want to swoop in and take, whether it be your time, emotions, money, possessions and most of all your energy.
Even if it goes against your natural character, be firm and assertive because if you are passive they will walk all over you and think that you are weak. They will try to control you, not just where your child is concerned, but in various other areas of your life too.
The NCP may regularly ask your child to lie to you to keep up any charade. The lies may be to manipulate you for money, possessions or to make you feel inadequate and insignificant as a parent or for any other gain they see as valuable. They will not think twice about how their child feels about maintaining the corruption. Their main concern is to succeed in benefitting themselves by any means possible.
Although it is distressing to know that you are being lied to by your child, it is essential to remember that this is not the child’s fault. They are serving their other parent and will often be doing it through fear of what might happen if they go against them and tell the truth. The most difficult thing about this is that the child grows very comfortable with lying and they become more natural and skilled at it as time goes on. It may even get to the stage where you never know when your child is speaking truthfully or dishonestly. Making a child lie is damaging in numerous ways, but not least because the child is then effectively learning to become narcissistic themselves.
Your child may also be asked by the NCP to find out certain pieces of information while in your company and they may also be asked to snoop around your home, on your phone, or laptop and spy on you. Another issue surrounding deceit is that your child may be told to keep secrets from you and avoid answering basic questions, which can be puzzling, especially when they are just innocent casual enquiries about how they are getting along at school or with friends. The lies are usually to prevent the child from slipping up and saying anything that might give away something, for example, the illusion of the “perfect” home life with the NCP.
When your child is in your care the NCP may make false promises to your child to either make them seem the more affectionate or caring parent, or to tempt your child to return to the NCP’s home earlier than arranged. The promises are often broken upon the child’s return leaving your child feeling bewildered, though the NCP will make up many excuses as to why the plans have suddenly altered. It is quite normal for narcissists to change all kinds of arrangements at short notice and with no valid excuse. They see it as their prerogative to make and break plans and have no concern for any anguish this may cause your child.
When your child is in your care the NCP may contact them relentlessly to interrogate them about what they are doing, where they are going and what you have said to them. Often this is purely to cause conflict and another reason is to maintain control over the child’s emotions. They may promise your child the earth while on the telephone, telling them how much they miss them, how much fun they will have when they return and some will even go to the length of making the child feel as though they are missing out on something back home, while they are in your company, in a twisted way of getting the child to want to leave your care. When the child does return home, sadly, all of the things promised are usually non-existent and were born purely for high-drama to prevent your child from relaxing and enjoying your quality time together.
Limiting calls, other than emergencies, usually quells the upset when your child is spending time with you, however, the NCP will not take kindly to this and you taking control with telephone calls could cause you problems in other areas. Still, it is better, if possible, to see if you can keep the calls few, short and succinct.
Hobbies and activities will likely be left to you to take full responsibility of and organize, as the NCP will not want to spend either their time or money on something that they feel they do not get a direct benefit from. However, if your child is excelling at something the NCP will want front-row and exclusive involvement as in their mind they think people will see their child’s success as their own personal success. Even if the hobby was something you originally arranged, the NCP will push you out and exclude you if your child shows signs of natural talent or they are receiving attention and praise due to their high achievement.
Keep a diary, document everything and ensure any decisions that are agreed with the NCP, concerning your child, are put in writing and if possible agreed by a solicitor or the courts, as unfortunately they will regularly go back on their word, even totally denying that any mention of an agreement took place. Keep in touch with schools, doctors and all other professional centers yourself to ensure you are receiving authentic information. If exchanges at the beginning and end of contact sessions are constantly disrupted, aggressive or threatening try to arrange, either with the NCP or through the courts if necessary, for a trusted friend or family member to accompany you as a witness, or to pick or drop off your child in your place.
Disregard any communication that does not concern the interests of your child. They may try to reel you into an argument just for a dramatic scene and also so that they can then repeat what has happened to all of their, and possibly your, family and friends. Whichever way you respond will always be “wrong” so it is better to keep any communication simple and void of emotion and only centered around your child’s welfare.
Regardless how hard the NCP may be trying to make you out to be a terrible parent by dramatizing situations and criticizing or name-calling in front of your child, always remember that the only thing that matters is your child that is caught in the middle, so however much of a battering your pride and ego may be taking, ignore the insults and focus on being a positive role model. The last thing the child needs is to see both of their parents caught in a yelling match, so remember, it isn’t personal and try not to let your child know your own thoughts about their mother or father.
The NCP will attack anyone that they consider a threat to them in any way, so if they think you are putting them down and putting their reputation at risk, they will vehemently set out to slander and ruin people’s opinions of you, including your child’s. They are desperate to make themselves look like the “better” parent, and they think that putting you down elevates them. This isn’t true at all so remain calm, rational and focus only on your child’s best interests and they will learn from you an alternative way to respond to conflict.
They NCP may also use their child as a trophy to showcase “impeccable” parenting abilities. They do not see the child as a unique individual who has their own set of needs and requirements, but instead as an extension of themselves and the children are often treated as though they do not have emotions or they are not affected by any dramatic encounters that go on. If the NCP’s child disappoints them in any way, they then face being alienated, rejected or ostracized.
Sadly, that means your child may grow confused about what love looks and feels like and might view it through warped lenses as though it is something that has many conditions. They might feel that to receive their narcissist parent’s love and attention they must act accordingly and please them at all times. It may even seem as though your child happily and naturally falls into line with the NCP and it can look from the outside as though they are perfectly happy and comfortable within the parent-child relationship. Just because the child is compliant, it does not mean they are content in their care. Narcissistic behavior is extremely damaging and although your child may not let you know anything is wrong, it is essential to provide them with regular assurance, validation, love and affection so that any adverse side-effects of the narcissism does not leave a long lasting imprint that influences your child’s self-esteem, self-confidence and overall self-worth.
Much of narcissism is learned behavioral patterns and when children witness repeats of the same behavior over a period of time, they become accustomed to it and then may act in similar ways themselves. One of the difficult things to watch is when your child subconsciously picks up narcissistic behavior through watching and copying the narcissistic parent.
People behave this way consciously or unconsciously for many reasons, much of which will remain unknown even to the person displaying the narcissistic traits. As difficult as it may be, we should try not to negatively judge them and instead show compassion.
It helps to be mindful of the struggles the NCP faces currently or ones they may have experienced throughout their life. Although this is no excuse and I don’t think for a moment we should allow or accept this type of behavior to infect and destroy our lives, I do think that we should be open and compassionate to the fact that narcissism is a personality disorder. They don’t see their own emotions and feelings with clarity and neither do they see ours or anyone else’s.
Focus 100 percent on your child and keep the NCP at a safe distance and compensate your child emotionally where possible for any detrimental effects the NCP’s behavior may have on them. Unfortunately, your ex-partner is often the one who knows all your weaknesses and this includes exactly which buttons to press to gain an explosive reaction. When the NCP sees that they no longer affect you emotionally, their tactics and techniques will eventually wane and over time, it is likely they will disappear completely.
The main thing that keeps narcissists acting as they do is because they think all eyes are on them. As soon as you take your eyes away and keep them away they will have no one to watch their performance. It may not be guaranteed, but like anyone who enjoys drama, it is only fully pleasurable while on the stage and while the audience is engaged.
This dynamic is a constant challenge and one that may require professional assistance and advice so that both you and your child are fully supported.
By: Lexi Finnigan
Divorced parents who “brainwash” their children against ex-partners are guilty of “abuse”, the head of the agency that looks after youngsters’ interests in family courts has said.
Anthony Douglas, chief executive of the Children and Family Court Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass), warned against the danger of “parental alienation”.
He said the deliberate manipulation of a child by one parent against the other has become so common in family breakdowns that it should be dealt with like any other form of neglect or child abuse.
According to Cafcass, parental alienation is responsible for around 80 per cent of the most difficult cases that come before the family courts.
Alienation can include a parent constantly badmouthing or belittling the other adult, limiting contact between the child and the targeted parent, forbidding discussion about them, creating the impression the parent does not love the child and forcing the child to reject the parent.
Mr. Douglas said: “There isn’t a specific criminal law that outlaws parental alienation in the UK. But we do have family law and through assessments and enforcement proceedings, we do have the ability to send parents to prison or give them community sentences.
“But this is hardly ever the case because ultimately the punishment on the parent will rebound on the child.”
However, judges in the UK are starting to recognise parental alienation, which is leading to some children being removed from the offending parent.
“But this is fraught with difficulty,” said Mr Douglas. “It’s a rocky road and a difficult process.”
Joanna Abrahams, head of family law at Setfords Solicitors, is one of the country’s few specialists in parental alienation.
She said: “The amount of enquiries we are getting about this type of behaviour is growing all the time. At the moment we get about three calls a day about this – and that’s a lot.
“It’s always been there but people are now beginning to understand more about it and how harmful it can be. You can run into the tens of thousands on cases like these.
“The frustration when you can’t see your child takes over people’s entire lives. Some kind of legislation needs to be put in place but what that is I can’t say.
“Each case is of course very different and it’s not always that someone is doing this on purpose. It might be subconscious behaviour.”
“It’s undoubtedly a form of neglect or child abuse in terms of the impact it can have,” said Mr. Douglas. “I think the way you treat your children after a relationship has broken up is just as powerful a public health issue as smoking or drinking.”
One mother, who wants to remain unnamed, described how she was cut off from her son two years ago by her ex-husband.
She said her former partner made “false and fabricated allegations” against her in order to gain custody and “manipulate my son so deeply that he now has no memory of his loving childhood with me”.
Now her contact with the 14-year-old is limited to Skype conversations and visits once a month.
“If I had been sent to prison I would have been able to see my son more than I do now,” she said. “My son is brainwashed – he is emotionally dependent on his father and behaves as if he were in a cult. My son has no idea what is going on, only that he feels angry at me.
“The more parents who stand up to this and say it is unacceptable the better. Emotional abuse is just as horrible and controlling as physical abuse. It’s unacceptable and things need to change in the way it is dealt with.”
In some countries, governments have put in place legislation to prevent such behaviour. In Italy parents can be fined, whereas in Mexico, guilty adults can be given a 15-year jail term.
And in America “parenting coordinators” are ordered and supervised by the courts to help restore relationships between parents and children identified as “alienated”.
Ms. Abrahams is looking to draw up a team of experts to see if a committee could be formulated to tackle parental alienation.
“It’s in the embryonic stages at the moment but it would include myself, Cafcass social workers and mental health workers – a cross-range of experts with the hope of developing something.
“I think we need to all work together to have a more joined-up approach to this behaviour which can be so damaging.”
Local marriage and family therapist Dr. Dahlia Berkovitz says parents who engage in alienating behavior often have attachment issues that are triggered by the divorce. The alienating parent most likely also has a personality disorder such as narcissism and/or borderline personality disorder.
“The alienating parent connects in an inappropriate way, talking to the children about things that are none of their business,” Berkovitz said. “Children don’t have the same capacity to process things as adults do.”
The scientific name for this behavior pattern is attachment-based parental alienation, a term used by Dr. Craig Childress, a California-based psychologist and leading expert in the treatment of children who are victims of this dynamic. Childress calls it “a form of pathogenic parenting, which is a clinical term for parenting behavior so aberrant and distorted that it creates psychopathology in a child.”
According to Childress, parental alienation indicates a role reversal of a normal, healthy parent-child relationship. Instead of serving as a “regulatory other,” which involves providing stability and meeting the child’s emotional and psychological needs, the alienating parent (pathogen) uses the child (or children) to meet their own needs, violating boundaries and damaging the child’s development to a significant degree.
“It needs to be fixed; too many children are suffering,” Berkovitz said.
Childress and other experts who advocate for improved diagnosis and treatment of these children are optimistic about a new bill before the Florida legislature this month that amends the mandatory reporting requirements for child abuse to include “child psychological abuse,” including parental alienation.
The bill also requires licensed psychologists to partake in continuing education in the area of psychological child abuse “including, but not limited to, abuse through the use of manipulation or parental alienation.”
Here’s a link to the article in it’s entirety:
Alienation is a willful intimidation. It involves such issues as personality disorders including narcissistic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, delusional disorder, etc.;unresolved childhood issues, pathological lying, manipulation, brainwashing, mind control, neuro-linguistic programming, and cult-like thinking. It is about power and control. It is frequently multi-generational generational.
The unjustified abusive controlling behavior of our adult children is creating a lifetime of emotional problems for our grandchildren. It is considered by the experts in Alienation to be a severe form of child abuse, and a severe form of elder abuse. Abuse is never acceptable; abuse is never OK.
AGA’s qualified professional consulting experts help grandparents/parents come to understand the varied dynamics involved in the complex realities of Grandparent Alienation-GA and Parental Alienation Syndrome-PAS.
AGA offers strategies for repairing, rebuilding, and healing these relationships with the gatekeeper…our adult children; and, then the grandchilren will follow. AGA offers coping skills to help manage the devastating emotional pain of being disconnected from our grandchildren.
Understanding the complexities of alienation helps grandparents. Knowledge is power. When we hear this information which we can personally identify, a light bulb goes off in our minds; and, a new piece of the puzzle comes together. If you take away with you even one piece of information from each meeting and our website, process it, and then apply it to your adult children and grandchildren; eventually, you will begin to see a clearer picture of the bewildering phenomena of our own children not wanting us to have a place in their lives and in our grandchildren’s lives.
You will come to realize that if you did not cause this, then you cannot fix this campaign of denigration. Healthy minds want to fix things, unhealthy minds do not. You will come to understand that you should not be embarrassed by this estrangement, and that you can stop blaming yourselves. You are not suffering alone. This website receives thousands of hits each month. AGA has a presence in all 50 states of the USA, and 16 countries
AGA recognizes that each situation is unique; however, many commonalities are shared. Simply knowing that you are not alone on this traumatic journey, helps you cope better with the heartbreak and frustration of being a targeted grandparent.
AGA support group meetings allow grandparents to share their stories and strategize with one another. Suggestions for communication and reunification will be discussed based on the information provided by our international expert consultants. Grandparents who attend will remain anonymous so that everyone will feel free to openly share their plight. It is a place for those experiencing this excruciating emotional trauma to share circumstances with those who “get it”.
AGA meetings may include guest speakers. An interactive discussion would be included. After each meeting, grandparents may then consult individually with all AGA professionals in attendance.
Here’s a link providing more information about Alienated Grandparents Anonymous Incorporated: