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Parental Alienation Syndrome - Motivation for Alienation
Parental Alienation Syndrome, or PAS, is when one parent, usually the mother, systematically degrades the other parent to alienate the child or children from the other parent and slowly have the children reject the other parent. The usual motivation for PAS is to retain custody of the children without the involvement of the other parent for many reasons. Often, this behavior extends to the other parent’s family and friends as well. Alienating one parent from the lives of the children is a way to show the courts that the children do not want to be with the other parent and thusly be granted full custody of the children.
In many cases the children will be the ones to say they do not want to be with the alienated parent, and the parent who they do want to be with will encourage their children’s decisions and tell the courts they do not want to ‘force’ the children to go with the other parent. Another reason that one parent may try to alienate the other parent is because of their own emotional baggage from the marriage and such feelings are exacerbated by the feelings and pain of a divorce. These parents often begin with behavioral strategies that involve the children to exclude the other parent from the happenings in the children’s lives. By talking horribly about the other parent, calling him or her names in front of the children and lying about why the other parent didn’t take the children somewhere or buy the children a certain toy or article, the children begin to resent the parent who is being alienated.
The full internal complexities of an alienating parent are beyond the scope of this article; however there are basic motivations that apply to many cases. Often, when an alienating parent is confronted about their efforts to alienate the other parent to the children, it is vehemently, and quite convincingly, denied. The offending, alienating parent will often include that the children have made the decision to not include their father or mother on their own, even after they have coaxed them into not doing so. Further, it is thought by alienating parents, that courts will not see that the custodial parent is causing these emotions in the children, and is actually reinforcing these feelings the children are experiencing by telling the children what their worst fears are: that the other parent doesn’t love them enough, care about them and a variety of other alienating phrases that will slowly exclude the other parent from the child’s life.
At this time, alienated parents feel that there is nothing they can do to ‘win their children back’. Children can’t be bought, but they can be un-brainwashed. Brainwashing is exactly what alienating parents are hoping for…for their children to believe themselves that the other parent doesn’t love them as much as they do, that they don’t care enough to call, and that all of the problems of the alienating parent are the fault of the other parent.
Parents that are targeted for alienation need to watch for the common warning signs that their ex-spouse is trying to exclude and do what they can to keep regular contact with the children. Basically, to do the exact opposite of alienation-integrate themselves with the mother and children and people who do have regular contact with them in any way possible. Injecting themselves into the children’s school activities and friendships will help to ease the alienation process that the ex-spouse is trying to facilitate. Make sure you are available at all times for your children, assume they may just turn up one day and make sure that when and if they do, you are ready for them. They want to see the parent they had, they need and want to feel loved and cared for.
Find out what your local area has for help for PAS and seek it. Do what you can to stay involved and apprised of your children’s situation and whereabouts. Make sure you are as happy as you can be, for the sake of your children.