I recently met a guy who told me he is currently going through a really bad divorce. (Not sure why I just said that, is there any good divorce?) Anyhow, he asked me if I’d ever heard of Parental Alienation Syndrome. I said no, and he told me that he believes he is the victim of it. He then said, “Look it up,” so I did.
After a thorough Google search on “Parental Alienation Syndrome,” I realized that I know other men and women who have been in this situation (in my opinion.)
I’m going to write about Parental Alienation Syndrome, along with my thoughts, but I want to say upfront that during my Google search on Parental Alienation Syndrome, there wasn’t anything written on the subject by just a regular person (meaning someone like me, who isn’t a therapist or divorce attorney.) In other words, I’m not claiming to be an expert on the subject. Everything I write is my opinion, so please take that into consideration.
What is Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)?
According to an article I read by Jayne A. Major, Ph.D, PAS was first identified in the 1980’s by forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Richard A. Gardner, noticing brainwashing of a child by one parent trying to alienate the other parent, along with self-created contributions by the child in support of the parent trying to alienate the other.
What this means to me is basically that in the case of a custody dispute, one parent tries to turn the kids against the other parent, which can sometimes result in the kids believing that it’s right to turn against the parent. What ends up happening is, you hear that so and so’s kids don’t even talk to him. And people think, “Oh, he must be a horrible person, a bad dad (or mom). He/she must have done something really really awful if the kids hate him.”
I thought of another guy I know, who doesn’t speak to his three children. When I first met him, I judged him. I thought, “Whose kids would not want to see their dad? There’s something not right about this.” But I now believe that it is possible that this person is a victim of PAS.
I’ve heard about and written about so many things in divorce that are awful and kind of unbelievable, but I think that PAS could possibly be the worst.
I don’t care how much you hate your ex, I don’t care if he or she cheated on you, treated you badly at times, fought with you all the time, whatever he or she did, turning your kids against that person is the biggest crime you can ever commit.
A person who turns their children against their ex is a selfish, selfish person who is filled with so much hatred and anger, that they are using their kids as weapons to try to destroy their ex. But who they are really destroying is themselves, and even more importantly, their children.
If kids grow up believing one parent is bad, and they have no relationship with that parent, they will suffer as adults in a huge way. I actually know someone who still hates his father (completely unwarranted) because he was brainwashed by his mother at a very young age. I just now realized that this person (and his father) were victims of PAS.
I am urging anyone who is trying to get sole custody, or trying to prevent their ex from having a relationship with the kids to think about how much you are robbing your children of their flesh and blood, one of two people who will love them more than anyone on earth.
There are of course circumstances where one parent should be alienated: if there is physical abuse or if the children are in danger when with that person. That’s a different story.
But, for someone to take their own anger and try to punish their ex is really disgusting.
I’ll be honest. There have been times (not so much anymore) when I was so angry with my ex, I wanted to scream and throw things at him, but the whole time, I knew in my heart that he was a good father and that my kids needed him in their life just as much as they needed me.
Divorce is about two people who can’t be together anymore. CHILDREN NEED TO BE LEFT OUT OF IT, and loved and cared for by both parents, the same as if the two were still married.
What I want to say to men and women who feel they are victims of this is that someday, the truth will surface and your children will come to see that, sooner than later, I hope. So will a judge.
Regarding the person who is causing the PAS, karma has a funny way of making its way back around. Sometimes it takes longer than we want, but it always comes back. ALWAYS.
Jackie, thank you for shining a spotlight on this surprisingly common problem. I have one correction for you, however. In the majority of cases (65-75% according to the scientific research in this area), the brainwashing never wears off and there is never any “revealing of truth” or “karmic payback”. This manipulation of children is just too strong, and In some cases, this “parentectomy” lasts even after the death of the alienating parent. As a parent of a child I haven’t been able to see in over 2 years, I thank you for bringing light to this issue. Sadly, it affects both Moms and Dads.
What a great write. I am a dad who has been alienated from my daughter, since she was 5.75 years old. My ex wife had an affair and also had childhood trauma, depression and suicidal attempts but she lied to the pro feministic courts of Melbourne Australia and now has full custody of my daughter. She has not only alienated me, my wx wife is alienating my daughter from EVERYONE, including my daughter’s godparents, cousins, uncles, aunties, grand parents, family friends and etc. And my ex wife planned all this and executed it to perfection, whilst I was away overseas caring for my elderly mom with 3rd stage cancer and my dad who also suffered a stroke in his 80s. So now, I worry day and night about my daughter as she has suddenly disappeared overnight from my life. A true tragedy and testament to how cruel some women can be to their children and their ex spouses.