Parental Alienation Facts and Tips

Parental Alienation

“Any attempt at alienating the children from the other parent should be seen as a direct and willful violation of one of the prime duties of parenthood” – J. Michael Bone and Michael R. Walsh, authors of “Parental Alienation Syndrome:
 How to Detect It and What to Do About It”

Emotional Disturbance

Parental alienation (PA) is an emotional disturbance in which a child sees one parent as good and the other as bad. PA happens in children whose parents are going through a divorce or custody battle. When the primary parent brainwashes the child, the case becomes known as parental alienation syndrome (PAS). The child begins showing extreme hostility toward the “bad” parent, verbally vilifying him or her and refusing to do anything with that parent. Children with the syndrome are known to be deceptive, and finding evidence is not easy.

Proving PAS

Proving that a spouse manipulates a child can be difficult. A parent sometimes maintains a diary of how the child acts when around other people and finds witnesses who can testify about denigrating things the child says. PAS children often contort stories to make alienated parents look bad – a behavior promoted by the alienating parent.

Lies and Misinformation

A child with PAS sometimes repeats lies and misinformation around other family members and friends. An example is a mother who has primary custody repeatedly telling her child that his father is worthless and does not care about him or her.


PAS parents have been known to directly interfere with custody and visitation rights, prevent the alienated parent from attending school functions, and not allow the child to keep any gifts received from the alienated parent.

Maintaining Relationships

A parent who is a victim of PAS should attempt to reverse the alienation by spending as much time with the child as possible. Maintaining that relationship can help the child realize he or she has been manipulated by the other parent.

Coping with PAS

Avoiding negative communication with the alienating parent lessens the chance to create conflict. The late Dr. Richard A. Gardner, who formulated the parental alienation syndrome theory, advised the targeted parent to not speak badly about the aggressor in the presence of the kids. By holding still, the alienated parent can shield children from the effects of bad-mouthing and prevent losing respect, affection or contact with them.

Effects of Parental Alienation

Parental alienation destroys a child’s relationship with the other parent, particularly when a parent intentionally undermines a child’s relationship with the other parent. Parental alienation is a form of child abuse because it creates confused emotions, damaged relationships, loss of family, adopted hatred, and withdrawal symptoms.

How PAS Works

Mom makes negative comments about Dad in front of a child, and the child becomes confused. The father he has always loved is now presented as a monster, and he does not know whether to trust his mother’s words or his own feelings. The child looses a relationship with one parent because the alienator often severs the child’s ties with the other parent, and that child may never recover that relationship.

Loss of Family

When one parent is a monster and the other is always angry, the child feels the family is lost. The child who is the victim of an alienator takes on an obsessive hatred of his other parent but without any personal experiences to rationalize it. 
 The child withdraws from normal life, avoiding contact with her other parent and that parent’s extended family, missing on fun activities, and acting without remorse.

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