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Parental Alienation Syndrome: What It Is, Why It Happens, & What To Do

Parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a form of child abuse that occurs when a child is manipulated into rejecting one parent and aligning with the other parent against them. It’s a type of conduct that falls under the spectrum of Parental Alienation, which can also be referred to as induced parental alienation or false alignment. Custody disputes and bitter divorces are common reasons for PAS to occur, but they can also occur during seemingly-amicable separations. We take a look at what parental alienation syndrome is, why it happens, how to spot warning signs and how to cope with it.

What Is Parental Alienation Syndrome?

Parental Alienation Syndrome is a term used to describe the effects of one parent trying to alienate the child from another parent. Parents that cause parental alienation syndrome will often use their child as a pawn in their legal battle, trying to manipulate and control the child’s relationship with the other parent. In extreme cases, parental alienation syndrome can even result in the child attempting to harm or even kill the other parent. Parents who experience parental alienation syndrome will often try to prevent the child from communicating with the other parent or even try to convince the child that the other parent is dangerous or bad in some way.

Why Does Parental Alienation Syndrome Occur?

There are many different reasons why one parent would try to alienate a child from another parent. Unfortunately, the manipulation of the child often starts as a result of a divorce or separation Some of the most common causes of parental alienation syndrome include:

  • Ego Issues – Some parents feel threatened by the idea that the child prefers the other parent and they may try to force the child to prefer them instead.
  • Past Abuse – Parents who have a history of abuse or violence may become extremely overprotective of their child and try to limit the child’s contact with the other parent as a form of damage control.
  • Pathological Narcissism -Parents who are extremely narcissistic may try to convince the child that the other parent is dangerous or unfit as a way to protect the child from criticism or disappointment.
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What Are The Effects Of Parental Alienation Syndrome?

The effects of parental alienation syndrome can be devastating and long-lasting. If you or someone you know is experiencing parental alienation syndrome, it can be extremely overwhelming and stressful. Many people who experience parental alienation syndrome will experience symptoms of PTSD, depression, and anxiety. They may struggle to trust other people and form healthy relationships because they have experienced such extreme betrayal from the people they trusted the most. People who experience parental alienation syndrome may have difficulty connecting to other people and forming relationships as an adult because of the trauma they experienced as a child. If you or someone you know is experiencing parental alienation syndrome, it can be very difficult to cope with these situations. It can be helpful to remember that you are not alone, and there are people who can help.

Are There Legal Options For Addressing Parental Alienation Syndrome?

If you believe your child is exhibiting behaviors consistent with parental alienation syndrome then you should start by documenting everything you can and consider enrolling the child in therapy if you believe their symptoms are severe. If you think the child is showing extreme signs of parental alienation syndrome, then you should speak with a family lawyer to discuss petitioning the court to modify the child’s parenting time to limit the alienating parent’s time with the child.  Proving alienation can be difficult and it is important to speak with a lawyer as soon as you think you are noticing signs. The attorney will be able to provide you with guidance on how to document behavior as well as get you in touch with experts that could ultimately testify as witnesses on your behalf.

Parental alienation syndrome is a challenging situation for anyone who experiences it. It can be incredibly overwhelming, especially for children who are too young to understand what is happening. When one parent tries to alienate the child from the other parent, it can be difficult for the child to figure out what is real and what has been distorted. It can be incredibly difficult to cope with parental alienation syndrome, but there are people who can help. If you or someone you know is experiencing parental alienation syndrome, it is important to reach out for help. There are many different types of therapy that can help people overcome parental alienation syndrome, and there are people who can help you navigate this challenging situation.

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By: MFL Team

Posted July 28, 2022

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