Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)
"The parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child's campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent's indoctrinations and the child's own contributions to the vilification of the target parent."
(Excerpted from: Gardner, R.A. (1998). The Parental Alienation Syndrome, Second Edition, Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.)
Basically, this means that through verbal and non verbal thoughts, actions and mannerisms, a child is emotionally abused (brainwashed) into thinking the other parent is the enemy. This ranges from bad mouthing the other parent in front of the children, to withholding visits, to pre-arranging the activities for the children while visiting with the other parent.
What Are The Three Stages Of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)?
Children who are victims of PAS often go through different stages as they experience the depth of the alienation.
Sometimes a parent can see the symptoms of alienation, and possibly take measures to reduce the alienation. Understanding the risk factors of alienation may also help a parent ward off or prevent alienation.
1 - Mild
Stage 2 -
Stage 3 - Severe
Finally, the severe PAS the children are brainwashed, programmed and redirected away from a parent they typically had a relationship with before. These children will frequently be vocal in telling anyone and everyone that do not want to be with, see or even talk to that parent.
The Three Types Of Alienators
Strategies For Self-Help
1. The Naive Alienator
Remember that naive alienators are usually ignorant about what they are doing and have no malicious intent. A parent dealing with a naive alienator should not panic and should instead trust his or her relationship with their children. Children learn early that their parents will say things they don't mean. They are very adept at letting things go in one ear and out the other. If parents believe there is a problem trusting children's reaction to alienation, they need to focus on strengthening the relationship rather than retaliating against the other parent. They should monitor their own reactions and behaviors so they don't start their own alienating campaign. They should try talking to the other parent without making accusations or attacking. The other parent may appreciate their comments if the targeted parent says them with some sensitivity.
Strengthening the relationship with children takes time. Parents need to be patient and resist any desire to retaliate. Retaliation only makes matters worse and hurts the children.
2. The Active Alienator
How a parent deals with the active alienator is similar to the naive alienator. Parents must stay calm, trust their relationship with their children, and resist retaliating. The difficulty a parent has with the active alienator is the parent's inability to control the rage and hurt built up inside. The feelings can interfere with the targeted parent's relationship and time spent with the children. Together, both parents need education and counseling to focus on the issues causing the problems. Sometimes, the active alienator requires individual therapy to help with their loss and grief. A parent should support these efforts without being punitive. Taking this tactic, the children will be better off in the long run.
Dealing with an obsessed alienator is more complex and
difficult than dealing with the other two types of alienators, because the
alienating parent has already had considerable success in alienating the
children from the targeted parent. The children may refuse to have
anything to do with the targeted parent, making it next to impossible for
the parent to talk with them and try to repair the damage. No matter how
frustrated and angry a targeted parent feels, however, he or she should
not give up on the children. The targeted parent should find some support,
either from family, his or her attorney, a counselor, or other parents.
Parents need to be sure to do whatever they and their attorney believe is
necessary to keep visits going. Even if the other parent refuses visits,
the targeted parent should keep trying and should maintain a log of his or
her activities. Also, it is very important that the parent does not
violate any court orders or do anything that forces his or her attorney to
defend the parent's behavior. A common tactic used by some attorneys is to
deflect the issues by attacking the targeted parent and forcing his or her
attorney to defend the parent's behavior. Parents should behave themselves
so this does not happen.