Digging into kids' alienation

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Found this in google news section, an thought is was well written and exposed what many fathers have and are facing.
11:14 PM PDT on Saturday, October 27, 2007

Video: Mitchell Rosen: Parental alienation syndrome

I have written frequently about parental alienation syndrome, a term used primarily in child-custody cases. Parental alienation syndrome (PAS) happens when one parent alienates or brainwashes a child against the other parent.

Therapists realize PAS may be present when the child has no ambivalence, no discomfort at all vilifying or demonizing the parent he or she has been taught to hate. The child will say things like, "My parent is always selfish, only cares about themselves, never even tries to be fair to the 'good' parent."

A child who is truly victimized by PAS has no problem being abusive toward the hated parent and often cites petty or even manufactured reasons to justify cruelty toward this parent. A boy or girl who has a parent who is truly abusive or neglectful may also feel anger and desire little or no contact, but their emotions are all over the place; riddled with longing, sadness, guilt and not usually punctuated by a pervasive desire to protect the good parent.

Most kids want to love both their parents. But when a child has been taught to hate one, the words the child uses to describe the vilified parent often show this.

Kids who have been brainwashed may use lots of profanity, simplicity and cruelty in the way they describe the parent they believe to be "all bad."

It's one of the ways therapists attempt to identify if parental alienation syndrome has taken place or if the child is justified in not wanting contact with the parent he or she professes to hate. I have counseled hundreds of parents who claim PAS, but really they are just abusive, neglectful or self-absorbed parents. Since PAS is not yet a recognized disorder, a clever parent with an even smarter lawyer may shout PAS when the kids want little to do with them. This could be to avoid paying child support or simply to wreak vengeance on the ex.

It takes a lot of time and patience to sift through all the accusations and counteraccusations to ferret out whether a child is wise to avoid the parent or has been indoctrinated to hate and fear this parent. Sometimes kids hate their parents for all the right reasons. But when a child is brought into my office proclaiming to totally hate one parent and sees nothing but good about the other, my radar goes up.

Often I'll see judges temporarily award custody to the parent the childprefers until sufficient counseling can occur. But unless the counseling also involves the alienated parent, any report the counselor may write is likely to be biased and probably useless. Any counseling potentially involving PAS should be done by a therapist familiar with the dynamics and not easily taken in by one side.

Mitchell Rosen, M.A., is a licensed marriage and family therapist with practices in Corona and Temecula. Contact him at family@PE.com

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