By: Lisa Thomson
There are many parents and children suffering from Parental Alienation. It’s tragic. I know this because my youtube video on the subject has an excessive number of responses…too many people are relating to this issue.
Today, let’s take a look at what’s going on behind the scenes. What motivates the alienator to abuse their children by disapproving of their relationship with the target parent? Hint: Narcissism and PAS are often found in the same scenario…but not always.
PAS is one of the narcissist’s favorite strategies to take control of the children during divorce. Many of the narcissist’s actions are based on fear, insecurity and past trauma. Parental Alienation is no different. Unfortunately, the person they are attempting to pay back (their ex) is not technically the one who ends up damaged. Hurt? Yes, it hurts like hell to be on the receiving end of such bitter and unnecessary disregard. Damaged? No, we aren’t the ones who end up damaged.
The real victims are the children.
Often, they aren’t mature enough to manage the behaviors and emotions that result from PAS.
You can imagine the confusion your child experiences. Why is dad angry and disappointed with me if I have nothing negative to say about mom? They soon learn that to share with their father (or mother), their pleasure and (normal) relationship with their other parent is a big ‘no-no’. They learn that to agree with father and tell negatives is to earn his approval. They soon become guarded and lose their innocent candor.
Your children learn that in order to get love from their father (or mother, if she’s the alienator), they must agree with their constant complaints of their other parent. While the alienating parent is washing out the brain of the child’s good memories of the target parent, they’re replacing them with negatives, including lies. The child soon believes these lies and misrepresented facts as the new truth. It’s their new reality.
That said, I’ve explained the basic premise of PA in an earlier post, but now I will try to explore the actual reasons for it. I use the father as an example here, but of course, mothers can play this game equally well.
Why does it happen?
Well there are many theories as to the cause of PA. One certain fact though, is the alienator is in FEAR of losing their children no matter how illogical. Fear is the opposite of love, so little good comes from it. The other certain factor is the alienator is trying to regain CONTROL over a situation. They may further attempt to RETALIATE against the target parent as a consequence for their abandonment. He may feel for example, that if she has chosen to walk out why should she get the kids? In their mind, there should be a consequence.
All of this adds up to punishing the children. So, how can we help our children cope with our absence, their parent’s anger and misrepresentations?
1) Start TALKING-open communication and allowing the children to express what’s on their mind—anything, will open up discussion and help ease the child’s anxieties. Silence is not the answer.
2) RE-affirm your relationship with your children-either by reminiscing on old, fun or humorous memories, reminding them how much you believe in them, continuing to recognize birthdays, special occasions and continue or start new traditions.
3) EXPLAIN to them that their father’s (mother’s) anger toward you (the target parent) is not their fault. If daddy is angry, that’s not something they can change. Their job is to be the kid.
4) REMIND them that no one is perfect- they aren’t perfect. I remember telling one of my kids ‘remember that math test you failed? I didn’t judge your whole academic abilities on that one exam, right? So, is it fair to judge me based on that one mistake?” You’re not perfect, they’re other parent is not perfect either. We have to accept that we make mistakes. Apologies are important and eventually we move forward as a family.
5) Re-WASH or RINSE their brains with the good memories and reality of what your relationship was like in the past. Share your hopes for the future. Don’t stop planning for the future with your kids whether that’s tomorrow, next week, next month or next five years. This shows them that you believe in them and are there for them no matter the situation.
I hope this helps you understand Parental Alienation more clearly. Mostly, I hope you are able to help your children cope with it. It is a form of child abuse. Also, make sure you’re not falsely accusing your ex of PA. Read my first post on the subject, watch the videoand/or read my book, where I outline questions to ask before diagnosing PA.
Bottom line? Every parent should have a relationship with their child(ren).