Parental Alienation Syndrome

I am offering a gift to all Moms and Dads out there that are going through a separation or a divorce.

Please read this with the intention that it is given … with love and compassion for “our” children.

Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) was first identified by Dr. Richard A. Gardner in the 1980’s, when he noticed a dramatic increase in programming or brainwashing a child by one parent to denigrate the other parent.  It also included the self-created participation of the child to support the alienating parent’s crusade of the denigration against the targeted parent.

What is PAS … Dr. Gardner’s has defined it as the following:  

  1. The Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes.
  2. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification.
  3. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) of a parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the targeted parent.

The Syndrome is actually associated with the child and Parental Alienation (PA) is associated with the parent.  I would like to say that you may have a Alienating Parent but if the child/children do not participate then it is not PAS.  The child’s part in PAS is more than just brainwashing or programming by the parent, the child needs to participate in the denigrating of the alienated parent.  There are eight primary ways in which this is preformed and Dr. Gardner defines them as the following:

  1. The child denigrates the alienated parent with foul language and severe oppositional behavior.
  2. The child offers weak, absurd, or frivolous reasons for his or her anger.
  3. The child is sure of himself or herself and doesn’t demonstrate ambivalence, i.e. love and hate for the alienated parent, only hate.
  4. The child exhorts that he or she alone came up with ideas of denigration. The “independent-thinker” phenomenon is where the child asserts that no one told him to do this.
  5. The child supports and feels a need to protect the alienating parent.
  6. The child does not demonstrate guilt over cruelty towards the alienated parent.
  7. The child uses borrowed scenarios, or vividly describes situations that he or she could not have experienced.

Animosity is spread to the friends and/or extended family of the alienated parent.

The alienator can truthfully say that the child doesn’t want to spend any time with this parent, even though he or she has told him that he has to, it is a court order, etc.  The alienator will typically respond with, “There isn’t anything that I can do about it.  I’m not telling him that he can’t see you”.

Why would a Loving Parent behave in such a manor?

According to Dr. Gardner:

He believes that a PAS parent is stuck in the first stage of child development, where survival skills are learned.  He continues to say that, to them, having total control over their child is a life and death matter.  They don’t understand how to please other people, any effort to do so will always have strings attached.  They don’t give; they only know how to take.  They don’t play by the rules.

The common thread to all of these tactics is that one parent is superior and the other is not and, therefore, should be peripheral to the child’s life. The alienating parent in these circumstances is acting inappropriately as a gatekeeper for the child to see the absent parent. When this occurs for periods of substantial time, the child is given the unspoken but clear messages that one parent is senior to the other. Younger children are more vulnerable to this message and tend to take it uncritically; however, one can always detect elements of it echoed even into the teenage years. The important concept here is that each parent is given the responsibility to promote a positive relationship with the other parent.

Every child has the right to love and to be loved by both parents … for who they are and what they have to offer.  Both parents offer their children something different and special, the parents may not agree, but you can agree on one thing and that is the “love” you share for your children.

Stay calm, and use love and compassion for the best outcome.  This is a brief overview of  PAS , you can find out more information through your Doctor, Counselor or on the internet.

Thank you for taking the time …

I truly hope this helps.

Evelyn