Parental Alienation according to Ludwig F. Lowenstein, Ph. D, is the conscious action, although sometimes deemed unconscious by some psychologists and psychiatrists, of one parent turning against another to oust the other parent from the affection, love, respect or regard by children which both parents bore. (Medico-Legal Journal (1999) Vol.66 Part 4, 151-161)
As stated on Lawyers.com: Parental Alienation Syndrome occurs when one parent’s efforts to consciously brainwash a child combine with the child’s own bad-mouthing of the other parent, in severe cases, the child won’t want to see or talk to the alienated parent. They also go on to say that once the alienation reaches such a point, it’s difficult to reverse and permanent damage is done to the child and the relationship between the child and the alienated parent.
Parental Alienation is not only done by parents, but also family members. In my case, the paternal grandparents. As my child’s legal guardians they have seen fit to continually deny me my rights as a parent. They have willfully and maliciously continued to alienate me out of my son’s life. They have denied me my Court Ordered Visitation, as well as allowed my son to move out of state without any notification to me or through due process in the Courts. (My story in it’s entirety will be coming soon :) )
In the beginning of my research on Parental Alienation (PA) I found that it was most often done by the mother, (really that is not to strange). The courts most often favored mother’s as the primary caretakers of children. Me being a mother and being alienated from not one, but three of my children since 1999, I did not truly understand the concept of what was happening until recently, (again full story to come soon). I have learned that there are warning signs to watch for and three categories of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS).
Signs of Parental Alienation:
- Giving a child a choice as to whether or not to visit with the other parent. (Even with court orders in place the alienated parent becomes the target in a larger scale, because the child will be angry, thinking that the alienated parent doesn’t care what they want. This gives more power to the parent doing the alienating.)
- Telling the child details about the marital relationship or reasons for the divorce. ( No child should be subject to why the relationship failed, they already have enough stress in their life. No matter what they need to know that both parents love them and it’s not their fault for the breakup.)
- Refusing to acknowledge that the child has property and may want to transport possessions between residences.
- Resisting or refusing to cooperate by not allowing the other parent access to school or medical records and schedules of extra-curricular activities. (The less the alienated parent knows about their child’s well being, the more control the alienating parent has.)
- One parent blaming the other parent for financial problems, breaking up the family, changes in lifestyle, or having a girlfriend or boyfriend.
- Refusing to be flexible with the visitation schedule in order to respond to the child’s needs, or scheduling the child in so many activities that the other parent is never given time to visit. (Again when the alienated parent tries to enforce their visitation rights they are viewed by the child as uncaring and selfish.)
- Assuming that if the parent has been physically abusive with the other parent, it follows that the parent will assault the child. This assumption is not always true.
- Asking the child choose one parent over the other. ( This is not acceptable behavior for a mature adult!)
- The alienating parent encouraging any natural anger the child has toward the other parent.
- A parent or stepparent suggesting changing the child’s name or having the stepparent adopt the child.
- When the child cannot give reasons for being angry towards a parent or gives reasons that are vague and without any details.
- Using a child to spy or covertly gather information for the parent’s own use.
- Arranging temptations that interfere with the other parent’s visitation.
- Reacting with hurt or sadness to a child having a good time with the other parent.
- Asking the child about the other parent’s personal life.
- Physically or psychologically rescuing a child when there is no threat to their safety.
- Making demands on the other parent that are contrary to the Court Orders. (Going so far as to say that they felt is was no big deal.)
- Listening in on the child’s phone conversation with the other parent.
- Encouraging the child to disobey and show lack of respect for the alienated parent.
- Promoting an alliance between the child and the alienator against the other parent.
- Opposing the other parent’s child rearing methods and communicating this to the child.
- Bribing and overindulging children to create comparative poverty of enjoyment with the other parents when they are with that parent.
- Suggesting and actually changing the surname of the child to reduce the influence and memory of the other parent.
- Programmer playing the part of a “martyr” claiming how he/she was treated by the alienated parent.
- Making children afraid of the alienated parent.
- Encouraging children to hate being with the other parent.
- Showing the other parent to be bad.
- Instilling in the child the view that the other parent plans or wants to take the child away from the programmer and even to kidnap the child.
- Making the child feel anxious, rejected and insecure if the child does not comply with the programmer.
- Programmer encouraging the child to keep secrets while spying and reporting on the alienated parent.
- Moving away or living some distance from the alienated parent.
- Sowing seeds of disobeying the alienated parent.
- Negative non verbal communication such as turning body away when speaking of the alienated parent or making derogatory faces about the alienated parent.
- Programmer creating ambi valence regarding the alienated parent, i.e. “be nice to parent although he/she is a bad person who wants to take you away from me.”
- Treating child as “best friend” instead of child/parent relationship.
- Threatening child with physical punishment and actually carrying it out if the child appears to be favorable towards the alienated parent.
Three Types of Parental Alienation
As with most things there are 3 categories of PA: Severe, Moderate and Mild. The most that I have found on each of these categories comes from Richard A. Gardner, M.D.. He is the man responsible for uncovering PAS.