What is Parental Alienation
Parental alienation is a strategy whereby one parent intentionally displays to the child unjustified negativity aimed at the other parent. The purpose of this strategy is to damage the child’s relationship with the other parent and to turn the child’s emotions against that other parent.
Descriptors of Parental Alienation
When investigating whether parental alienation is present, a custody evaluator looks for a variety of descriptors concerning the targeted parent and the alienating parent. Ten such descriptors are:
- The child expresses a relentless hatred for the targeted parent.
- The child’s language parrots the language of the alienating parent.
- The child vehemently rejects visiting the targeted parent.
- Many of the child’s beliefs are enmeshed with the alienating parent.
- Many of the child’s beliefs are delusional and frequently irrational.
- The child’s reasons are not from direct experiences but from what others have told them.
- The child has no ambivalence in their feelings; they are all hatred with no ability to see the good.
- The child cannot feel guilty about their behavior toward the targeted parent.
- The child and the alienating parent are in lockstep to denigrate the targeted parent.
- The child can appear like an average healthy child. But when asked about the targeted parent, it triggers their hatred.
Effects of Parental Alienation on the Children
Parental alienation is a form of emotional child abuse. The potential impact of this abuse on a child’s life can be devastating. Some of the frequently listed effects of parental alienation have been reported in the child welfare literature, including:
- An impaired ability to establish and maintain future relationships;
- A lowering of the child’s self-image;
- A loss of self-respect;
- The evolution of guilt, anxiety, and depression over their role in destroying their relationship with a previously loved parent;
- Lack of impulse control (aggression can turn into delinquent behavior); and
- Educational problems, disruptions in school.
The difference between Parental Alienation and Parental Alienation Syndrome
The term parental alienation refers to both the processes involved with a child being naively, actively, or obsessively alienated (i.e., psychologically manipulated to dislike or reject a loved parent) and the signs and symptoms of parental alienation syndrome that manifest once the alienation has taken hold of the child’s mind.
Parental alienation focuses on how the alienating parent behaves toward the children and the targeted parent.
Parental Alienation Syndrome
Parental alienation syndrome symptoms describe the child’s behaviors and attitudes toward the targeted parent after the child has been effectively programmed and severely alienated from the targeted parent.
Two or more of the following attitudes and behaviors as observed in the child:
- “lack of ambivalence” [The child manifests all-or-none thinking, idealizing the alienating parent and devaluing the target parent]
- “reflexive support for the alienating parent” [The child immediately and automatically takes the alienating parent’s side in a disagreement]
- “borrowed scenarios” [The child makes rehearsed statements that are identical to those made by the alienating parent. Younger siblings may mimic what they have heard their older siblings say. They usually are unable to elaborate on the details of the events they allege]
- “independent-thinker phenomenon,” [The child proudly states the decision to reject the target parent is his own, not influenced by the alienating parent]
- “absence of guilt or remorse … for mistreatment of the target parent,” [The child may be oppositional, rude, disrespectful, and even violent toward the target parent and shows little or no remorse for those behaviors]
- “spread of the child’s animosity to the target parent’s extended family” [Expressed feelings and hatred often include the extended family or friends of the target parent, even when the child has had little or no contact with them]
Types of Parental Alienators
Whether they recognize it or not, naïve alienators act passively, occasionally doing or saying something that creates alienation from their ex-spouse. They mean well and recognize the importance of healthy relationships. They even encourage deep connections with their ex-spouse and their family. Disagreements may arise, but communication is good.
Simply stated, naïve alienators focus on the best interests of their children. They recognize their mistakes and care enough about their children to make things right.
Active alienators suffer intense hurt and anger following a divorce. They impulsively lose control over their actions and words, in spite of a belief that their children should have a healthy relationship with the other parent. However, when triggered, active alienators lash out and cause or reinforce alienation. Some may feel a sense of guilt over their alienating tactics.
Active alienators harbor old feelings and struggle with trauma of the past, yet they will accept professional help when serious problems arise.
These parents maintain an unquenchable anger. Obsessed alienators focus on furthering an active agenda to destroy their ex-spouse. While they combine traits of naïve with active alienation, they lack any level of self-control or insight. Obsessed alienators manipulate their children to take their side and brainwash them to parrot their irrational feelings and beliefs. They also fortify their side by seeking support from family members and friends who share similar views.
Early identification of the symptoms of an obsessed alienator is paramount. Children who become entrenched in this dysfunction can be lost to the other parent for years
Brainwashing Techniques used by Alienating Parents
Brainwashing is how the alienating parent teaches the child the program of hate. It’s the application of the program. Brainwashing “is a process that occurs over a period of time and usually involves the repetition of the programme (content, themes, beliefs) until the subject responds with (attitudinal, behavioral) compliance”
- The alienator interferes with communication between the child and the other parent.
- The parent engages in gossip designed to create alliances.
- The alienator can recruit other people, such as doctors, coaches and teachers, to participate in the process.
- The alienating parent ignores court ordered constraints on parenting time or interferes with your custody time.
- The parent may get in the way of the exchange of information about the child.
- The parent engages in emotional manipulation.
- The parent encourages the child to be scared or disgusted by the other parent.
- The parent withdraws, emotionally.
- The parent switches tactics at random.
Who and What is Pagasa
PAGASA is the Southern African Governing Body of Parental Alienation. An activist and awareness group intent on changing the current situation with awareness, surveys, research, and fundraising to start a team of internationally trained experts in PAS to coach teams and family law professionals as a subject to be added to their current status in South Africa. We also wish to expose the evils of a crueler type of Parental Alienation unique in South Africa to the whole world.
Solomon Mondlane – he is described as a Great thinker, humorous soul, calm spirit with a big track record in defending human rights.
Solomon was born in Swaziland in 1976 June 30 by a Mozambican father and a South African mother who were both in exile, and that makes him unique.
He is currently the co-founder and Chairman of the Parental Alienation Governing Association of Southern Africa (PAGASA). He is also a Chief Intervention Architect at PAGASA.
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