It only takes a few minutes of googling (a verified verb) to learn about the invalidation of “PAS” and “Parental Alienation Syndrome”.
There are some out there that still want to vehemently argue that there is such a thing. Personally, I can’t disagree that there are behaviors which are meant to denigrate or negatively impact the child’s relationship with the other parent – certainly that part is true.
It is also true, in my opinion, that Richard Gardner, the creator of “PAS” was off his rocker himself. This is the mental health “professional” who coined the term and forced far too many children (one is too many) to live with potentially abusive parents and denied contact with the parent who was accused of alienation. This was his form of “therapeutic intervention”, and if you ask me, it should’ve been called “therapeutic abuse”. While the American Psychiatric Association has discredited the theory and there is no medical or professional association that supports it … its basis and his interventions still have influence in the courtrooms of the world today.
What I find interesting is the corollary between behaviors of a parent who is alienating their child from their other parent, and behaviors of an abusive, personality disordered parent (likely narcissistic).
Behaviors commonly displayed by narcissistic parents, which are meant to alienate the other parent include:
- Talking with the child/children about the marital relationship and reasons for divorce.
- For e.g., saying that it is the ex’s fault that the children have to go back and forth between houses – if that ex-spouse just wanted to stay married, then the kids wouldn’t have to endure divorce like this
- Limiting contact with the other parent while they are with them.
- I have heard too many healthy non-NPD parents talk about the NPD parent limiting phone calls, screening phone calls, or monitoring them
- Denying the child to have personal property, and not allowing them to move possessions between homes. The items don’t belong to the child, they belong with the house in which they are staying at the time. This typically includes any cell phone the child has with them, so the child cannot have open contact, as noted above
- Limiting information provided to the other parent about the child, even if the child is sick or ill while with them.
- This is also a behavior which a protective parent eventually adopts, especially if they are practicing “low contact” and/or have come to the realization that information is almost always used against them
- Blaming the other parent for any problems that exist, like lack of financial resources or opportunities in life because the family is “divorced”
- Acting in a way which pretends the other parent doesn’t exist. Not allowing the child to mention the other parent’s name or refusing to acknowledge the child has fun with the other parent
- Attacking the other parent’s character or lifestyle, such as job, living arrangements, activities, clothing and friends
- Narcissists often put down their spouse while married – it’s a means of lowering their spouses self esteem and weakening the spouse against their emotional abuse
- Dismissing or being condescending of the other parent’s opinions or parenting style, telling the child to disregard safety rules that are at the other house because they are “stupid” or “ridiculous”
- Putting the child in the middle by encouraging the child to spy on the other parent or take messages back and forth
- Or sending the child support check by way of the child….
- Telling the child that the other parent is keeping them from seeing the child
References and related links:
- Parental Alienation Syndrome – Is it Scientific?
- Parental Alienation Syndrome note- this article angers me… especially where it speaks to “Assuming that a parent who has physically abused the other parent will assault the child. This assumption isn’t always true”. This is statistically unlikely. The stats are pretty high that a physically abusive spouse will also abuse the children.
- Myths that Place Children at Risk During Custody Litigation
- Richard Gardner – Cause of Death: Incised Wounds of Chest and Neck – He allegedly committed suicide.