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Characteristic Traits of Alienated Children

Divorce is never easy. When a child is involved, however, the possibility of conflict becomes much more likely. Great emotions swell through the court systems; parents who are forced to give up full custody of a child become embittered, full of anger and fear, resulting in emotional strain on child and parents alike.

When a custody case becomes a battlefield of emotions, children are often forced to side with one parent amidst the anger stemming from both sides. Sometimes when a child “takes sides”, an irrational hatred rises toward one parent, and the child will be seen screaming at, or will completely ignore, one parent. When a child acts in this way towards a parent or guardian without cause, and when a child is being manipulated by one parent to abhor the other one, it is called Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS).

PAS is fairly common. It is often used as a legal tool to gain full custody of a child. Generally, a child will tell authorities that they never want to see the other parent again, even at very young ages, and in cases where the other parent has done nothing (no history of physical or verbal abuse, for example) to warrant such hatred.

In order to combat PAS in and outside of the legal system, the characteristics of an alienated child must be well understood. If you think your child or a child you know might be inflicted with PAS, read on.

Characteristics of Alienated Children

Child has completely sided with the parent they are living with. This occurs most often, as opposed to children siding with the absent parent, and especially with children twelve and under.

Child has been coached: This is not as easy to confirm as it is to be suspicious about. Generally, children will say that they hate the parent but will not be able to give a complex answer as to why. If children have been trained they have been trained to reveal a limited amount of information. If a child has a real reason for hating the parent and the evidence is there to prove it, then PAS is probably not the real issue. A coached child, however, is a common phenomenon in the court system and is recognized time and time again.

Children are seen screaming, kicking at, or cursing at parents. This is a very common characteristic of an alienated child. Children make sweeping judgments about one parent, often saying that they hate them or never want to see them again. They pick favourites without any real qualifiers as to why they hate the other parent so much.

Total withdrawal from a parent: A very common sign, you could think of withdrawal as on the other side of the spectrum as the being aggressive towards a parent. Children completely ignore and refuse to see the alienated parent who tries to make contact.

Children have reverted from normal habits: Say your child used to play in the lounge but now retreats to his room and stays there or your child seems to have fewer friends. Maybe they seem depressed, or they have started abusing drugs. The signs of emotional strain on a child are many and varied, but generally easy for a parent to recognize, especially in PAS cases, where a child’s behaviour becomes extreme.

Parental Alienation Syndrome is an unfortunate byproduct of modern day custody battles. Although fairly common, it is difficult for authorities to take action against a parent who has coached a child, due in part to lack of resources, and in part to the laws reigning over custody battles. Recognising the characteristics of an alienated child, however, can be helpful to understanding the real and imagined obstacles between a child and parent, and are a first step to solving the problem.

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