What can be more painful than experiencing your children—your own flesh and blood—rejecting you? Telling you they hate you. Saying they never want to see you again. Declaring they never had a loving relationship with you: Not even during the times you built forts with blankets in the basement—“that was boring, I never liked doing that.” Not when you snuggled together during bedtime stories—“I don’t remember you tucking me in.” Not when you excitedly rode the ski lift together for another vigorous run down the slope—“I wasn’t excited; I was always scared of you.” Not even when you volunteered at the school, helping at the Halloween party—“You did it just to show off.”
You knew divorce was going to be a difficult adjustment. You anticipated having to watch the dream of your family unit disintegrate and having to closely watch your finances. But you never dreamed divorce would include watching your children slowly fade away, possibly out of your life forever. You have been cast as the antagonist—the monster—in your own divorce horror show.
Tip: Remember this. Although your children say they don’t love you, they don’t want to be with you, they hate you, this isn’t the truth. Don’t believe the lie. Your children are only looking to reduce stress, and unfortunately, seeing their world as black and white, good vs. bad, winners and losers gives them temporary relief. Don’t get caught up in this world of polarization.
The Destructive Power of Parental Alienation
Many parents living this scenario think, “What happened? What the hell is going on? How did I get here?” The answer: They are caught up in one of the most dangerous currents in high-conflict divorce, a current made all the more powerful by the fact that, like a riptide, it is difficult to see.
Just as a riptide lurks under the surface with no apparent waves to signal its presence, parental alienation can be difficult to spot for anyone not experiencing its destructive power. Parents involved in difficult divorces can find themselves struggling against this powerful force pulling them further and further from the shores of where they used to play, love, and hug their children. It seems as if the more they fight the further they are swept away into the open ocean, alone, frightened, and wondering if they’ll ever get back to shore. They search frantically for a judge, the children’s counselor, even their own attorney—someone—to throw them a lifeline but it seems as if no one appreciates how difficult it is to remain buoyant in these deceptively normal waters. This is where you now find yourself.
When the Professionals Don’t Help
Although you thought counseling for your children would help, you are aghast. It is getting worse. The counselor believes the children’s exaggerations, lies, and false allegations. You might even find yourself in the middle of a child protective services (CPS) investigation, trying to prove you’re not abusive and neglectful. Your co-parent may have filed an ex parte order and now you find your parenting time suspended until the investigation is complete. You float out to sea and tread water. You’re getting tired, not sure you have the endurance. But you love your children and that love gives you strength and hope to stay afloat.
Maybe the CPS report exonerates you—seemingly giving you a lifeline—but the allegations created turbulence and time for fears to foment. In fact, the time away—a cooling-off period the Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) said would help during the investigation—has made things worse.
And while the professionals might suggest the resumption of parenting time—and this may initially seem innocent and reasonable— the incremental and shorter parenting time in public spaces (i.e. malls and restaurants) only creates new barriers to normalcy. It seems to validate and perpetuate the irrational fears of your children and strengthens the relentless current of their hatred, rejection, and resistance. The once warm and refreshing temperature of your relationship has turned cold and shocking—they seem emotionally dead to you or robot-like.
Your children continue to cite mistakes you made in the past—mistakes you regret, but thought were forgivable or even overlooked by them, let alone a reason to hate and divorce a parent. Mistakes you thought other loving and imperfect parents also made: yelling, working too much, missing an important event, showing up late to pick them up from soccer, etc. Nothing you say or do helps.
Your children’s intense emotionality of fear and agony seems so disproportionate, and the “abusive” or “neglectful” incidents to process are laden with distortions, exaggerations—essentially reinventing family history. Their emotions are palpable and pitched. You’re told you don’t listen; you just argue. But you believe orienting to facts and reality could help. The children may ask you to show them “empathy” and propose the unthinkable: If you love them, you will leave them alone; walk away. You tell them you can’t do that, you love them too much. They retort, “You don’t get it, you’re so selfish, it’s all about you.” You remain the monster in the horror show you can’t escape from.
Tip: Your children aren’t the enemy—even though it seems like it is their word against yours. Never stop loving them unconditionally. To help you cope during this difficult and hopefully temporary time, reframe their resistance and rejection as not against you personally, but as their way of coping as children caught in the scary and stressful turbulence of high-conflict divorce.
Fighting Against Parental Alienation
Over time, you grow angry—angry at your ex-partner, angry at the counselors, and maybe even angry with your children. The hurt is too painful, the fear is too overwhelming. Anger feels like it gives you power: power to fight the current and swim to shore where you belong. You think, “It’s been long enough, I deserve stable ground, a place where I can safely love my children again.”
You want the professionals and the court to see the current, see where the source of it is, to confront it, stop it, rather than being deceived by the “calm” waters. You believe your ex-partner has poisoned the waters, turning your children against you. You may have some insight into how the children were put in the unfortunate situation of having to choose one parent and reject the other because there was no way for them to love both, but you’re tired of understanding. You know it isn’t their fault, but you’ve grown weary and impatient of their rejection and increasingly angry at their flagrant rudeness and hostility, seemingly encouraged by your co-parent and enabled by the silence of professionals. As you continue to tread water, you become more and more pissed and eventually find yourself ready to either give up or go down fighting.
In this surge of anger, you might begin to confront your children, the professionals, even speak out of turn in court. And what happens? You unwittingly begin to follow the script of the antagonist—the monster you were cast as. No one is helping, so you turn into a warrior, fighting to win each battle so you can restore order, civility, and sanity back into your life and your children’s lives. You think, “This is crazy; since no one else will expose and speak the truth, I will.”
Tip: Although professionals working your case may be causing more harm than good, most of them ultimately want what is best for children. They just aren’t trained in parental alienation, or they have been seduced into believing the lies and misrepresentations being told them. Still, don’t approach them as the enemy. See them as a potential advocate for your children. Acknowledge their desire to help and protect your children from harm and work to help them understand parental alienation family dynamics. This way they might better be able to help or refer you out to a specialist. If this approach fails, work with your attorney to possibly have them removed from the case provided it is in the best interests of your children’s overall welfare.
Recognizing Resist and Refuse Dynamics (RRDs)
I have worked with divorcing parents since 1992, providing a variety of psychological and consultative services including custody and parenting time evaluations, parenting fitness evaluations, parenting coordination, parent-child reunification counseling, and counseling for moms, dads, and children. I’ve worked with a variety of dynamics, including estrangement dynamics—which are characteristic of families in the throes of domestic violence, mental health problems, child abuse, and substance abuse. But families experiencing parental alienation dynamics are some of the most difficult families to work with because of the spurious, insidious, and entrenched nature of resist and refuse dynamics (RRDs) in Parent-Child Contact Problems.
It is difficult for mental health professionals and courts to understand and appreciate parental alienation dynamics, as most have been trained and predisposed to prevent and intervene in estrangement dynamics—to protect children from unfit and abusive parents. Also, most professionals are biased towards believing what children say, in keeping with the twenty-first century ethos of “children are to be seen and heard.”
The dynamics of parental alienation have many contributing variables: the alienating parent, the children’s response to high-conflict divorce and their survival strategies for coping with an alienating parent, untrained and incompetent professionals, and the lack of swift and judicious court decisions.
The one variable that’s often overlooked is the response of the rejected parent. Because the rejected parent experiences the stress of being caught in the riptide of parental alienation, he/she is at risk of being misunderstood by others and of making several untoward mistakes. Just as a riptide victim instinctively makes the mistake of swimming into the current in order to get to shore, the rejected parent is at risk of expending their energy in ways that end up working against them. For a victim of parental alienation, the way back to one’s children requires special knowledge and skill and sometimes counter-intuitive moves.
Assistance for the Rejected Parent
It’s jarring for loving parents to be faced with hatred and resistance to contact from their children. They shouldn’t have to learn how to effectively cope with being unnecessarily rejected. Counselors trained to prevent and address parental alienation can help rejected parents cope with the painful and frightening alienation process. Time is the enemy.
Tip: The longer your children marinate in the toxicity of false beliefs, irrational fears, and polarized ideations, the prognosis worsens for their recovery into wellness and restoring relationships.
You need professionals on your team who can help you respond smartly and swiftly. They can:
- Help you find an attorney who knows how to effectively fight alienation dynamics (You may want to share this article with them and another that more fully defines parental alienation),
- Help you understand the alienation process so you can have more compassion for your children and respond to their resist and refuse dynamics (RRDs) without unwittingly playing into them,
- Help you work and engage more effectively with the professionals involved in your case—or strategically work to have them removed—so you don’t present and react in ways that perpetuate the unfit monster narrative,
- Help you cope and deal with the alienation tactics your co-parent utilizes so you can better avoid traps and manipulations, and
- Help you practice and maintain good and healthy self-care.
Essentially, rejected parents need specialized coaching and counsel on how to safely, smartly, and strategically respond to the riptide of parental alienation so they can optimize their energy and efforts in order to get back to safer waters and avoid total and permanent severance of parent/child contact. Although you may not be accountable for the circumstances and behaviors of others that lead to the disproportionate level of RRDs, you are responsible for what you say and do and who you become under these painful and scary circumstances.
Tip: Don’t forget about self-care while fighting for your children. In a flight emergency, you’re told to put on your oxygen mask before assisting others. The same is true here. Golf. Read. Walk. Run. Hang with friends. Pray. Whatever it is that will help keep your head above water, do it.
The good news is this: There are lifelines so that you don’t have to go it alone.
Well written article which accurately describes and summarized an alienated parent experiences and what they need: specialized coaching and counsel.
Here’s the thing. When the alienated parent has been made a financial slave to the child support court there isn’t affordable help available. When the alienated parent is an immigrant with citizenship at stake and already has prior CPS and court judgements against him, getting cheap help backfires. Many families lost in the system and teens living in the streets. Nobody cares.
I came to this article because I have recently become estranged from my daughter. She is 21 and we’ve always been close. It’s very painful and the article does a good job describing the pain and pitfalls. But the title is misleading. This article is almost entirely descriptive and provides little guidance in “How to Respond to Parental Alienation.” All it tells you to do is: “get specialized coaching and counsel.” It is both disappointing and frustrating.
Thank you for your insight. In response, we have added tips for responding to parental alienation, making this article a more valuable resource.
Jonathon, Man you took the words out of my mouth!!! I’m in the same boat. With a granddaughter that is fully emerged in this!!! Curious if you were ever able to come up with any support. I find my reading these same articles finding the same outcome. Every time it creeps back up on me and things become unbearable. My thoughts and prayers are with you. If I ever manage to find help or a way to change things, I will come back to find you and pass any useful info back your way.
Phillip and Jonathon, I feel your frustrations! I have experienced this as a child as well as the targeted parent and am therefore able to understand others that are going through a similar situation.
I have three kids who are all adults now (Oldest son is 26, daughter is 21, and youngest son is 19). My oldest son and daughter have decided to ignore any and all communications with me for the past 2 years. My youngest still keeps in touch on a somewhat limited basis which I am extremely thankful for. I became very angry at everyone involved (the courts and their processes, the lawyers, the counselors, etc.). I just wanted someone who was able to help, someone who really knew what I was going through. About 6 months ago, I found a website that has good information or they are willing to research the information and get back to you. The website is called Victim2hero.com. I spent 2 1/2 hours chatting with the creator of the website before learning that she too had to deal with this as a child. She understands the urgency as her father died before she could reconcile/reunite with him.
As a targeted parent, the most important things we can do are: 1. Stay positive and don’t lose who you are. 2. Love your kids unconditionally, don’t give up on them. I wanted to be able to help/mentor my kids through things in their lives. I also wanted them to know the truth about their childhood. I started journaling which turned into a book of sorts for my kids. I sent all of them a picture of it and asked for a simple reply to let me know they know of the book’s existence. I received one reply from my daughter. I take the book everywhere with me and write things down as though the kids were there with me. It sounds a bit much but doing this has allowed me to cope with not being able to have any communications with the older two.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. I think you will find the website (www.victim2hero.com) to be helpful as well. Sharing our experiences in open discussion is key to growing the network of people to stop Parental Alienation. My thoughts and prayers are with you both!!
Thank you for providing your insight as well as the direction for additional resources. This website and the one you mentioned have been very eye opening.
Hi and Thanks for this. It seems that the website address that you provided does not work victim2hero.com. Is it still in operation? Is there another way to access it?
As I cry for another night with no sleep and chest pains I read this. I can’t take this pain anymore… 9 yrs of searching for my baby girl that’s being held ransom by her mother. I am a victim of parental alienation and have severe PTSD symptoms because of it but I am too broke to receive any type of help because the child custody hearing has taken everything from me as a non-custodial parent up to this point, including the right to be in my daughter’s life without evidence of harm or Criminal Intent. But yet I am a slave with a clean record before I started fighting and now I have a felony and deemed as a deadbeat father.
So true! I knew it didn’t feel right. But you put words to what I was feeling. Thank you!
Totally agree with you. Why isn’t the alienator held responsible for his actions also? I’ve been fighting and going through so much pain. I feel like I’m screaming inside and no one can hear me
Thanks. The problem starts with court’s (Vermont does this) mandating a winner and a loser. Children will naturally side with the winner, it’s human instinct to do so. The loser becomes an inferior parent and must be extraordinarily active and careful in order to not reinforce the winner’s incessant brainwashing of your children to make them believe you are a bad parent, that you abandoned them.
Thank you for your perspective. We agree that the adversarial paradigm the courts use to litigate cases can create winners and losers and that children tend to gravitate toward “winners.” We also believe “justice” can be purchased in that the parent with the most financial resources in protracted litigation oftentimes “wins.” However, we have also seen the litigious/adversarial model work in confronting and intervening with a relentless alienating parent. Sometimes good judicial oversight and monitoring with consequences for not following court orders can incentivize parents to stop their alienation campaign. Some alienating parents will stop their behavior when the court is on to them and they simply can’t get away with it anymore. Depending on how educated and bold a judge is on parental alienation, the courts can perpetuate the problem or serve to truly bring justice and aid in reconciling parents with alienated children. We hope for and work toward the latter.
This hits the nail on the head for me. This gives me hope right here.
Thank you — this has been our case. I’m a step-parent. The alienating parent is so relentless, and was physically, sexually, and emotionally abusive to my spouse when they were married. It is very emotionally hard. The daily phone calls are constantly undermining and disparaging (we don’t listen-in, we just know from the fall-out). And it works: our teenager waffles between sweet to us, and angry with a long list of untrue accusations he’s picked up from the alienating parent.
But my spouse was the “winner” in court, where the court psychologist predicted this situation… that the alienating parent would, in fact, alienate. On one hand, it sucks that we’re legally required to let this abuser call into our home and tell my stepchild how horrible life with us is (despite the alienating parent never visiting the child or being in the child’s life). But if my spouse didn’t have sole custody and 3/4 of the custodial time, I shudder to think how much worse it would be for my stepkid and my spouse.
My spouse only tells our kid: “we were not a good match, but we’re not going to discuss why we split up. I know you are angry with me. That’s OK. Just please be respectful”. And still the days waffle between good/great, and feeling hopeless. It feels years away before my stepchild can be emotionally set free of the alienation.
I feel so sorry for us, and so sorry for those who have it worse.
Thank you Randy, and others who understand the challenges here, for providing resources to help.
I hate that word abandoned.. I get told that All the time which is not true. All I wanted was out of an emotional abusive marriage. And for doing so he is punishing me using my sons as weapons
This described my life. I’m sad beyond belief. There’s no hope for my situation. I’ll never be the same again.
I feel the same way. No matter what the outcome is I’ve changed; something inside of me is dead.
Danielle and Jay: Sadly, I’ve heard that description before when coaching or counseling targeted parents. And unfortunately, I’ve witnessed some targeted parents–out of love and exhaustion–let go of fighting for their alienated children. In reunification counseling, they will ask for a final session to share their decision with their children, provide cards, mementos, and words to communicate their love and desire for a relationship, but their decision to stop the fight. It is a painful session to observe, but understandable when courts and professionals allowed the alienation to worsen without proper and swift intervention. I continue to work to educate courts and professionals on parental alienation–and reject and refuse dynamics at large–in the hopes that we get better at early identification and intervention, holding the alienating parent accountable and saving our children from psychological abuse. It is a tragedy that children are deprived and severed from their relationship with a loving parent. I’m sorry for your situation and understand your deep grief.
From personal experience, this is exactly right. And, the beautiful child ends up psychologically damaged. Courts could change this. Extremely sad.
Dorothy: Unfortunately, you’re right about the child becoming psychologically damaged. It’s a form of psychological abuse that is now beginning to get recognized. For example, it is reported that the International Center for Diseases (ICD 10) Manual for classifying diseases and disorders plans to include Parental Alienation (PA) in its upcoming new version of the manual (ICD 11). The American Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM V) also includes Psychological Abuse (parental alienation being a form) in its manual.
Courts around the world are beginning to recognize it, even criminalize it (e.g. Brazil and Mexico). The American Family Courts vary in their responses from region to region and judge to judge. Many judges, unfortunately, aren’t trained in parental alienation and because it is very counterintuitive to them and most mental health professionals, they are at risk of getting it wrong and thus allowing it to persist and worsen. However, in my professional roles as either an evaluator, counselor, coach, or consultant, I’m finding more judges who are willing to learn about Parental Alienation with some even taking bold steps to provide effective judicial oversight and decision-making to effectively address PA when present. As Martin Luther King, Jr. once stated, “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice”. May it be so.
God bless you for writing this article to help bring PAS awareness public. It’s probably the most painful thing a person can go through
I have never felt so hopeless in my life. Im fifty one. My daughter is gone and her mother is poisononing her, her stepfather too. How is this justice?
I’m sorry to hear about your pain and loss. I hope you will find a counselor, or support elsewhere, to deal with the complicated grief associated with being the rejected parent in parental alienation.
Our goal—and the justice we seek—is the reconciliation of parents with alienated children. As I mention in an earlier comment, oftentimes that justice can depend on the knowledge a judge, attorneys, or advocates have about parental alienation. This September, I’ll be presenting at the Conference of the Parental Alienation Study Group (PASG) in Philadelphia. I hope to educate attorneys on how to provide support services (i.e. coaching) for rejected parents. You might find the conference or PASG resources helpful. I wish you the best.
Hello, I am the wife (27 yrs.) of an alienated Dad. My husband is in his office now struggling to find the words to send to his oldest son (now 43 yrs old) because he came at Easter and ‘exploded’ at us after 10+ years of an OK relationship. My husband’s other two adult children (42 and 36) have nothing to do with us. My husband has been divorced from his first wife for over 30 years. He was never abusive, unfaithful, or CD. She is the ‘Malicious Mother’ and he is the ‘Targeted,’ rejected (heart-broken) Dad. Courts did nothing. Can you recommend #1. support groups and #2. what to say/not say in a letter to his oldest son. Thank you.
First, let me say how sorry I am to hear about your husband’s tragic situation. Unfortunately, it highlights the myth that alienation only happens to minor children or that when children become adults and are able to think for themselves they will discover the truth they were denied by the alienating parent and realize the love and social capital they rejected as youth but is now there for them to accept.
Because I don’t know where you’re located, it’s difficult to recommend a specific support group. If you belong to a religious organization, you may want to reach out to someone there. Many communities have mental health providers who would be able to offer guidance. At the Men’s Resource Center, we provide phone counseling and also men’s support groups. You are welcome to contact us directly if either is feasible.
In response to your second question: Knowing what to say or not to say to an adult child is often a very sensitive and individualized process. There’s not a one-size-fits-all answer. When I work through this with clients I know the history and more of the context of the situation. But let me offer this: I suggest staying away from the blame game. Focus on communicating intentions of love, care, and kinship. I know this won’t be easy but try to have compassion for their predicament and attempt to not personalize the rejection and contempt. Although it feels personal, it is often a child’s (even an adult child) dysfunctional way of coping with loyalty contracts with the alienating parent and maintaining some form of cohesion to their frayed and fragile understanding of history and facts. Your husband is rightly feeling the pain and injustice and your support of him as well as the support of others will be very much needed. I hope for healing and reconciliation for your family.
Please take this post down. My step mother is not being truthful in her post.
Kevin: I appreciate you reaching out to us and have removed the last name from Norine’s post. As I stated to her, I will continue to hope for healing and reconciliation for your family.
The group list doesn’t include one for father alienation support. This site seems to only have groups that assume men have a problem with their character. How do you write this with a straight face and think it will help when you can’t even provide a proper alienation group for men? This is the problem … not even those who claim to “advocate” for change actually do something to enable it.
Thank you for reading and responding to this article about parental alienation. It’s received an overwhelming number of responses. The desire for information and resources is palpable.
We continue to develop programming and are in the process of considering a specific support group for rejected/targeted fathers. I hope you would consider being a part of that group.
Currently, we do offer online support groups as well as in-person support groups for males who are working through a variety of victimization and trauma experiences. And, we provide child custody evaluation, mediation, and litigation services for family court.
If you’re interested in exploring any of these options, please contact the Men’s Resource Center directly.
Excellent, well thought out, very professional. But the article does not hit on the big one. Billions of federal dollars are spent by battered woman’s groups to support parental alienation. I currently have a client who has an order for protection, signed by a judge …that states changing a battery in her van is abuse. It deprived her of a car for an hour.
Kevin, unfortunately, those who work in the areas of domestic violence and parental alienation often view those areas as self-containing and in competition for resources. We see them as opposite sides of the same family violence coin. Each is an abuse of power and can use the other to obfuscate and avoid accountability. Domestic violence offenders will use parental alienation as a defense to avoid accountability while alienators will use false allegations of domestic violence and child abuse/neglect to avoid accountability. Similar to how a domestic violence offender behaves in post-separation and divorce situations, an alienating parent uses psychological abuse, social and economic control, and threats while manipulating counselors, evaluators, and judges. The children will often engage in reject and refuse dynamics in parent/child contact problems and, because courts and counseling professionals are often more trained in domestic violence than parental alienation, mistakes are made when pursuing intervention with confirmation biases. These professionals can think they are protecting children, but they are unwittingly colluding with the alienator’s obstructive gate-keeping and attempt to erase a “good enough” parent.
It’s unfortunate that funding isn’t made available to train those professionals who work with domestic violence and parental alienation cases to better recognize and understand the similarities and interconnectivity of the two, rather than functioning within tribal loyalties.
My colleague Ben Burgess and I recently submitted a proposal on the Intersectionality of Domestic Violence and Parental Alienation to the Association of Family Conciliation Courts International Conference in New Orleans in May of 2020. We are hopeful the proposal is accepted and we can begin to educate the profession with the hopes to not only impact families, but those who fund family violence prevention and intervention initiatives.
A very accurate article explaining the pain I’ve experienced over the past 3 years. The first paragraph is almost a word for word description of what happened to me. I need/hope to find help to stop the constant pain!
Aaran, thank you for your comment. We are sorry to hear about your pain and loss; often the tragic consequences of parental alienation. Unfortunately, as your experience indicates, the parental alienation process has fairly universal features and progression. And because it often escalates, despite targeted parents hoping it will go away on its own, it often transitions from mild to severe without expert legal, evaluative, and counseling intervention. The irony about parental alienation is that the legal and counseling professions are at great risk of making matters worse by not understanding what is often counterintuitive. Most are woefully untrained and ill-prepared to be effective in these cases. In fact, when they think they are acting in the best interest of the children, they are often unintentionally colluding with an alienating parent’s manipulative control and obstructive gatekeeping. We hope you are able to find the strength, resilience, and resources to fight for the heart and mind of your children as well as for your legal parental rights.
I am currently going through alienation with my sixteen-year-old daughter. It feels like I’m in the Twilight zone some days because it makes no sense at all. I have always been a loving father who did everything with her and to suddenly be shut out hurts. I try to have a conversation with her mom but I get accused of arguing. I feel if I do nothing the divide will only grow but if I try to take this before the court I will make it worse too since she is 16 abd claiming this is what she wants. I try to tell myself maybe things will change once she is older and out from under her mom’s influence since she has in the past adknowledeged that her mom has tried to make me look like a bad father by not telling me about things so I don’t show up. Some days it feels like a hopeless situation and I wish I had more reesources for coping.
Shawn: Sorry to hear about the alienation occurring with your 16-year-old daughter. Your description of feeling like you’re in the “twilight zone” is an apt one in that most rejected parents report such a feeling. Even though she is saying “this is what I want” it is important to understand that they say this under duress and to manage the loyalty contract with the alienating parent. It is a sad and tragic survival strategy. Although going to court or engaging in specialized reunification counseling seems like it will make it worse, sometimes it can be the only chance of preserving an eroding relationship. It is our hope that you can find supportive resources as these resources can help you move out of the twilight zone. We wish you the best.
My ex has systematically alienated me from my two children and in the last two weeks has made the children not even want to come for visits anymore. They are required to report to her all the “bad things” that happen at my house.
I got a court order for the kids to be in counseling and they finally are but the counselor doesn’t believe me when I tell her that the kids are being alienated from me and are afraid of their mother.
Do you know of any legal recourse I have to help my kids? One used to be so sweet and kind and is now very angry and mean towards me. The other is only nine but weighs over 100 pounds. It is heartbreaking when you can’t carry your little girl upstairs when she falls asleep because she is so overweight.
We had a 730 evaluation and the PSYD said the kids would be fine with their mother as long as she stops playing games but when I disagree with how she wants things(especially money)she uses the kids as weapons.
Any help for resources in California would be great. I am reaching out for whatever help I can get.
Scott: So sorry to hear about your situation. I’m not able to provide you specific resources in California from Michigan. I encourage you to search for professionals who specialize in this issue close your residence. I think it is essential that your family dynamics are evaluated by a professional who understands parental alienation or the larger umbrella issue–reject and refuse dynamics in parent/child contact problems. If done well, the results can provide diagnostic clarification and a roadmap to the court and professionals to address the identified issues. And it sounds like you’ll need good legal representation with an attorney who specializes in working with clients dealing with this. Although at times costly in professional fees, a good attorney, coach, and/or consultant is essential in these situations. If this isn’t affordable for you, you are doing the best you can by reading up on free resources on the internet. Fortunately, there is a lot of good information by folks like Linda Gottlieb, Dr. William Bernet, Dr. Amy Baker, etc. I wish you the best and hope my article and others like it will help you in your fight against an insidious, tragic, and often escalating problem.
Scott. Thanks for posting your situation. Sadly, knowing I’m not alone in this traumatic experience is reassuring. Best piece of advice I received: “PAS is a disorder similar to drug and alcohol addictions. Without proper help, the alienating parent can’t stop themselves.” I learned to be calm, CONSISTENT, confident, prayerful, resilient, and loving. Above all else, know with 100% certainty the other parent is a child abuser and can’t help but to hurt your kids again and again. They may have gotten away with it so far, but their child abuse is an addiction and they are eventually going to get caught. When you finally finish your fight to protect your kids from the abuse, the courts WILL remove the child abuser and they aren’t going back until that person gets the help they need. All kids deserve TWO healthy and loving parents. You STAY healthy and never give up fighting for your kids’ other parent to GET healthy.
This article is exactly my experience. I lost my oldest daughter. Haven’t spoken in two years. My boys seem to remain neutral however my youngest daughter 11 is now showing serious signs of alienation with the exact behaviors in this article. I have 50% custody however mom is manipulating to keep her extra days.
I am grateful for this article but the solutions listed can’t really stop this from worsening. Going to court creates so much resentment on all sides and even the strongest orders have little teeth for a narcissistic parent who don’t feel the rules apply to them.
I would pay every dime I have for a real solution to save my relationship with my daughter.
Joseph: I hear your pain and fear and I hear and see it often in my practice. And I also share your frustration with how some courts and judges either don’t understand or appreciate Parental Alienation (PA) or, if they do, they don’t realize how important it is for them to hold the alienator accountable including in severe cases of PA, changes in custody, and limiting contact with the alienator. The informed psychological community is becoming more aware of how PA is a form of child psychological abuse. It is unnerving how courts can be complacent or complicit in keeping children with a parent who is engaged in active psychological abuse of a child(ren). I continue to intersect with attorneys and judges in my work as an evaluator, parent-child reunification counselor, and expert testifying witness to educate the family court system in how to more swiftly and efficiently manage cases where reject and refuse dynamics (RRD’s) are present, particularly when PA is the cause, since it is often counterintuitive for most judges and attorneys, even most mental health professionals. It is my hope that you and other targeted parents get the help and support you and your children deserve.
How long do you put up a fight? I’m going on 5 years. There will never be any kind of closure. Nobody listens, no one understands. I’ve seen it happen to multiple people including family. It is so mentally and financially draining. The court system is BS. Counseling gets nowhere.
Why can’t professionals call alienation what it is : CHILD ABUSE. If the child is raped, the child never sees their rapist again. If a child’s mind is raped, the child is raped over and over every time they are with the alienating parent. No one gives a shit about a child’s mind being raped because it leaves no physical scars.
The time one takes to fight it is unique to each person in terms of case dynamics, professionals involved, judge on the case, age of children, endurance and resources of the targeted and alienating parent, etc. I agree that it is child abuse, and that reality is becoming increasingly clear and we will see the courts and professionals understanding this as we move forward but it will unfortunately take time. Meanwhile, parents and children will suffer and that is tragic and unacceptable. The International Classification of Disease (ICD-10) is planning to have parental alienation in its diagnostic classification for the ICD-11 update. The DSM-5 currently has psychological abuse classification and I will use it in my evaluation reports to name the impact parental alienation has on children. Recently, I have seen some local circuit court judges better understand Severe PA and make swift and extreme judicial decisions to address the PA and psychological abuse. It is my hope we continue to educate and train professionals so families are better served and parents feel heard, PA is addressed quickly and without protraction, and courts identify these cases early and they are effectively addressing PA before the minds of children are “raped” as you aptly state.
This article is shockingly on point! Every single word is a 100% accurate, well stated description of my parental experience for the past 10 years! Sadly, it doesn’t go far enough though. It’s been even worse for me as I have had clinical depression my whole life and struggled with it even before the divorce and PAS. I felt my only strength to fight it came from my complete dedication to parenting our two kids. Knowing the importance of keeping myself strong and healthy as an example role model was the only source of strength I’ve ever found strong enough to override the depression. I simply could not display weakness or act depressed no matter what I actually felt unless I wanted the kids to suffer their whole life, as I have. And I did great at that! I felt like I had nearly defeated until, on our arranged yearly summer family vacation, camping out of state, my ex filed kidnapping charges against me resulting in police tracking and arresting me in front of my terrified children. I bonded out for $29k and returned to terrified children who trembled in fear around me for weeks and wouldn’t be around me unsupervised for over a year. They said they were told to think of me as a monster. Of course I had done nothing wrong and case was eventually dropped only because I spoke out of turn to correct the judge who ASSUMED I was admitting guilt for a plea deal. He stood up and yelled at me threatening “20+ years if I don… “, which shocked everyone, including himself as he stopped mid-sentence and sat down… A few years later I got an Ex Parte order from same judge that removed my custody and visitation behind my back without even allowing me to make any statement. But, by that time, she had denied my visitations for 8 months and had fully turned my kids into front line soldiers in a war to get rid of me whatever it took. She achieved this by claiming her mild cancer diagnosis has resulted from the stress she faced having to “deal with your dad” and enacted a family rule that required all communication between me and anyone there be directed through the step dad “in order to save my life”. A simple day surgery resolved the cancer, but the rule remained and has now turned to a general refusal to acknowledge my existence at all. My son, now 17, is wildly supportive of his mother to a degree that is very unnatural in any situation for his age. I am the sole source of all evil on earth and I have resigned recently to let him go in hopes that he may find some peace from this stressful war. My daughter, now 14, is suicidally depressed and confused. She is in therapy with a lady, who I believe is their mom’s personal friend, and whom is advising her that she should cut me off since “he seems to be the source of all your stress”. I don’t have to tell you the real reason, much of which is likely hereditary since clinical depression runs strong in my family. Most recent development, and most disturbing, is a letter I found to a school official where my daughter indicates she was “…abused by my dad as a baby”! That is so sickeningly untrue as it is impossible for her to remember anything that young. It is clearly a planted idea that has taken roots and is being reinforced by this therapist.
So now, my Ex Parte review is coming soon, after 1.5 years extended due to the virus and I face what appears to be a hopeless, insurmountable situation that, even if the (same, highly biased) judge favors me 100%, I don’t see any realistic hope for rescuing my daughter from her suffering under PAS abuse. I could try to charge her with PAS, but I worry that would just result in so much more stress on the kids that it would be in their best interest if I just convinced myself they are dead. As am I…
But then, my daughter claims she still loves me and does talk to me sometimes. I think she may even be semi-aware of whats happening with the PAS since she doesn’t adopt and share her moms opinions of me like her older brother does. Nor does she share his extreme enthusiastic support for all things Mom….
I am on the edge if this decision and I am hoping to get an opinion from someone with experience. Should I let go to lighten their load, or should I make a last ditch effort to show the PAS to the court and try to rescue my girl? All advice is much appreciated!!
P.S. If there is a path that could lead to reform in US family law that will address, criminalise and eradicate this rampant, often unintentionally encouraged and rewarded abuse pattern in divorced parents, please show me and I’ll have a new purpose to which I will devote my remaining life! As Randy said, it is “Tragic and Unacceptable”
Eric: Sorry to hear about your situation. The tragic ending of little to no contact is common in moderate to severe alienation cases. Since I provide evaluations, reunification counseling, expert consultation, and testimony in many complicated cases, I refrain from offering specific advice on a blog comment. While parental alienation cases have common trends, I’ve learned over the decades that the dynamics in each case are unique and deserve discernment about critical questions, particularly whether to pursue your case and parenting rights or rescind them for the best interest of your children.
I know there is hopeful momentum in terms of educating judges and lawyers on this problem. And there are other countries that have criminalized PA. It is my hope that we will continue to make progress in letting mental health and legal professionals know how this is a form of child abuse that needs immediate intervention and subsequent monitoring. I only wish you the best and I am sorry.
Without the financial resources available to fight a completely biased system, good parents will always lose. And society wonders why so many kids with divorced parents grow up with an abundance of issues. Unless the system is changed, which is the billion dollar divorce industry, nothing will ever change. Everybody is making money off children. Attorneys, judges, court appointed professionals, therapists, psychologists. Follow the money. If you have more money than the person you are divorcing you are already at a 90% advantage of getting things your way. And if you’re a woman who has more money it grows to 99%
– A Parental Alienated Parent
Dear Parental Alienated Parent: You speak to a sad and unfortunate truth particularly in parental alienation cases. I’ve heard attorneys remark, “how much justice can you afford?” While I’m not a public policy expert, it is my hope that we will improve in providing greater access to justice that better serves “we the people,” rather than just “we the people with money.”
Unfortunately, the court system has a fatal flaw that prevents me from going that route. My ex kidnapped my child at a very young age. I did my very best to overcome that tragedy by visiting my child whenever allowed and taking her on wonderous adventures. My child enjoyed being with me so much that she wanted to come and live with me. That’s when the brainwashing started. My ex had my child bear false witness against me at age 11. When I sued my ex for contempt (seven counts!), my ex threatened to drag my child into court and have her bear even more (and darker) false witness. The prospect of my child having false memories stuck into her psyche along with the trauma of bearing false witness in open court, under oath, in front of a judge was too horrifying for me to fathom. It would destroy even the strongest of people. So I withdrew. I suppose that is what unconditional love is really about. Sometimes love means surrender.
John: I’m sorry to hear about your situation. One of the reasons for parental alienation to go on record as a potential issue for the courts to address–as identified by an investigation or evaluation–is to prevent children from having to testify and bear false witness. When the court is able to know that parental alienation is operative, they can more effectively protect children and more judiciously manage the case from the bench by providing appropriate judicial oversight.
The worst part about what I have seen in court cases is how the courts end up GAMING parents who are in the “monster” narrative by requiring them to jump through unnecessary hoops because much of it has become an industrial complex in which they have juiced in their buddies to get business. Basically, it’s become a racket in and of itself.
And the sad and twisted part is that I’ve seen the welfare of a child used as a complete and utter guise to deprive a loving father who wants to be more actively a part of his son’s life of time with his child because his ex-wife has an axe to grind. And, boy howdy, is she out for blood. And how she does not seem to realize or care how it will ultimately affect the child is outrageous and enraging to me all at once. This poor man was taken to town financially and for his ignorance of the judicial system for 2 years with the same attorney representing him in the matter who just withdrew…4 months before trial. I reviewed the documents in his case, and for lack of better words, she was not his advocate and did not vigorously pursue her client’s interests. Because he trusted her to a fault with the management of his case, it now has to be reviewed by a new attorney and aggressive action taken in order to reverse the damage the attorney did by allowing her client to be gamed by a system that is now being taken advantage of in every way till Sunday…all for a buck, but justified by hiding under “think of the children!” BS mentality.
I am SO over people lying about their intentions and their endgame. If everyone was more honest with where they stood with one another, their motivations, and their true intentions and desires, I think the world would be a better place and more meaningful conversations could occur that weren’t built on lies, projections, and distractions.
The question I am still left with is as follows: When a system has effectively set up a person to jump through hoops in order to “prove” themselves, and they’ve succeeded in making every hurdle, but they are still being placed in a narrative of being an absentee parent due to the primary custodian’s intentional campaign to drive a wedge between the other parent and the child by spewing lies and infecting a 10-year-old with their own psychology, how does the parent who is fighting for menial rights of access to their child able to successfully fight and win? And furthermore, how in the hell is it possible for them to win if their own child’s mind has been poisoned and has started to act out during visits? How can a father actually parent a child 6 hours a week (2 visits – 1 for 2 hours and 1 for 4 hours) who acts with pure resentment and disdain towards his father? I’ve seen this child threaten to and nearly grab the cap off of his father’s head to throw it as a means of poking his father into some sort of response the kid wants — almost as if to prove his mother’s narrative of his dad? When he tried to do this, I looked at him and told him if he ever touched the hat I would personally pull his pants down in public and spank him, with no care about whether or not he was my child, because you don’t do that to your elders – especially in public. That kid sat his butt down and thought better of it. But in general, he doesn’t comply with basic requests, such as not to run ahead of his father in a busy city near the train station. And when verbally told to stop (and quite calmly without any anger – just an increased volume to render attention), this kid says “make me” to his own father. And if his father says anything else, the kid runs back and cries to mommy, who then finds a way to twist it and bring it to the court, canning it with overtones of my good friend being an unfit father who does not know how to interact with his child…BUT HOW IS HE ABLE TO INTERACT WHEN HE HAS BEEN NEARLY STRIPPED OF PARENTAL RIGHTS, DESPITE NO FAMILY VIOLENCE, NO ARRESTS, NO CRIMINAL HISTORY, A STEADY WORK HISTORY, AND NO SIGNS OF ABUSE WHATSOEVER!?
How in the hell are people able to game a system so mercilessly without anyone calling this person out, and in fact, even enable her vindictive behavior? It absolutely astounds me. That’s why after over 18 years of paralegal work, I am looking at other career fields. Because I have found that it is just another racket wrapped in a costume of “for justice” when in reality it’s all about the dollars.
Delores: I hear your frustration and exasperation. Unfortunately, Parental Alienation isn’t fully understood or managed in some courts. In severe cases of parental alienation, sometimes an intensive intervention is needed such as participation in a week-long reunification intensive program like Turning Points or Family Bridges. Also, courts will sometimes order an immersion parenting time with the targeted parent—up to 90 days—while restricting parenting time with the alienating parent. Please have your friend read my companion article on the top 5 mistakes rejected parents make in parental alienation for assistance in coping and managing what is a highly stressful and hurtful process.
Thank you for this article and all those who have shared. I am the alienated parent of an 18 year old daughter and 16 year old son.
At a complete and total loss for how to proceed. Kids will not go to counseling. Damage is done. One (dumb) question: I would like to simply forward them this link. Why is that a bad idea?
Mark: The answer you may not want to hear is that it depends. I can’t say yes or no since I don’t know your journey, what you’ve tried, how they did or didn’t respond, and where they are at now, to name a few dependent variables. Ask yourself what you hope to get out of sending it, and what is the probability of that outcome. Explore any unintended consequences that may come from sending it that you may regret.
Personally, I can see the article being used educationally to help one appreciate the “riptide” power of alienation and how your efforts to swim to the shore to be with them, connect with them, love them, were impeded by the powerful current. The article can also explain the pain, fear, and suffering you experienced, but it can’t be to make them feel shame and guilt—as that will likely cause them to feel more negative feelings toward you—but to reach them with their growing intellect, and hopefully their growing ability to think for themselves rather than just be emotionally attached to the alienating parent. I wish you the best Mark, and I am sorry for you and many other targeted parents who spend the holidays not connecting with their children.
Why is there not more punishment for the alienating parent? I have sole custody and my ex doesn’t take all of her visitation but still works at my daughter everyday on the phone and blames me for them not seeing each other.
Mike: There are times alienating parents are held accountable, but it often depends on the court you’re in, and the mental health and legal professionals involved. If the court and professionals don’t understand parental alienation, the alienating parent can often operate without detection or accountability.
It’s past time that the female is a sure bet to be the winner and dictator of the divorce. I made the mistake of marrying a woman who had a plan to make her life financially fat through the hard work and kindness of a man with a good job. She and her girlfriend actually went out trolling for the fish. I’m the one who after five-plus years wanted the divorce. She was very upset that I would get to have half of the money I earned. Some years after she wanted to reunite the money…WOW! We had a verbal agreement on $50,000 of my stock money. I would buy them thousands in new clothes. In return, I would let her take all the stock and give me half for she could legally only take half anyway. She kept it all. Brainwashed my kids with her parents’ help. My children have never called me once. The youngest one is 27. I paid $300,000 in child support. She told them I paid zero. Never let your guard down to anybody.
I’m betting if no-fault divorce wasn’t a hoax that would help. To even get heard and to hire a lawyer you need $10,000 in cash just to hear no promises can be made. When a man is paying $1,200 per month, carrying the medical insurance, and 25% of profit sharing …there is no $10,000. Good luck everybody the question hasn’t bothered them yet … “why would a mother not want us to see dad?”…
My daughter did finally text me last year. I think she was disappointed that I wasn’t the drunkin’ loser she had planned to drink with. I was a business owner working seven (7) days a week with a double hernia. She had been brainwashed bad and said the boys want to kill me. I told her to give them my address. I knew I was right about the horrid person their mother is and obviously others saw it too, sooner than me, which has left her without a man ever since our divorce.
I have learned to never take any decision you have to make lightly. And even if you can repair anything, like me, you can’t fix people. Who knew? Who knew someone would start a report on everything I did before we married so the worst outcome she could have is a divorce with $30,000 a year for 17 years and destroy the kids and my relationship with them. Sure it bothers me I had to remove myself from it for I had to work and, having a foster home type childhood, I should have never divulged that. Shoot, I had to pay so I had to pull up the boots and work. I have paid the price of being a good guy believing the best in people. I still treat people more than fair, but know I can’t help unless I protect and care for myself. Think of the answers I have that my kids want to know. God Bless, ya all.
Monte: Sorry to hear about the outcome of your divorce. While I empathize with your situation, the reality is that females/mothers are also victims of parental alienation. What we need to work toward is justice and access for both parents and what is in the best interests of the children. I understand this is a lofty goal, but one worthy of continuing to pursue by improving the family court system and better training the mental health professionals who collaborate with the court.
Monte: Your story points out how self-care definitely needs to be a part of how we cope and adapt to being a rejected parent. I hope the reconciliation with your daughter is the beginning of further reconciliation with your sons.
Really great stuff here Randy! I’ve got over 35 years in the Mental Health field, I’m a veteran psychologist but unfortunately married a person who does this to my young and innocent children on a regular basis. Sad, hurtful and so hard to watch.
I see no help here for the parents of adult alienated children for whom ANYTHING and EVERYTHING you say is going to just confirm and harden their belief that you are an evil and monstrous human being. Are there any resources that describe what the alienated child is going through and how to address their trauma in a positive way?
Amy Baker is a good resource for working with alienated children. Unfortunately Tim, while I can help with identifying common mistakes in this article, sometimes in severe cases, you’re right, everything can seem to fail in helping. Consequently, that is why some targeted parents pursue the legal route in hopes of a change in custody and temporary no contact with the alienating parent. I’m sorry about your situation.
Disappointed in this article. It describes the situation well enough, but to suggest getting an attorney to fight this in court is only ONE option, and a costly one at that, that may not even work. I would have preferred a less financially motivated answer to the issue of reconnecting with your child(ren).
Mark: I’m sorry you were disappointed in the article and only took away ONE option, when TIPS were provided as well as opportunities for coaching, counseling, and consultation by an appropriately trained mental health professional. I also wrote a follow up article that expands on the information provided in How to Respond to Parental Alienation and is meant for parents and professionals. Perhaps you will find it more helpful.
It is an unfortunate reality that often professional services are needed to help fight parental alienation. As you will note in the follow-up article, I liken parental alienation to a cancerous emotional tumor growing inside your children. In following that analogy, one could choose to fight an aggressive cancer with home remedies and supplements but often the survival rate is better with professionals involved in their care. I wish you the best, and I am sorry you are going through the throes of parental alienation.
This is never going to change. I’m 10 years in. My 14-year-old was living with me and fairly happy, but she has returned to Mom over summer. Mom refuses to send her back as custodial parent. Mom refuses to let me speak to her on the phone. We’ve all seen it. Let’s call it what it is. A court system that got its marching orders under Gerald Ford to start collecting child support and wielding a large carrot. It doesn’t matter that I rescued a kid that was failing school and then received grades into High C’s , B’s. That doesn’t matter. I can’t afford an attorney, so I am left stranded running out of oxygen. Let’s not kid ourselves. This never changes.
This is an excellent article. Very compassionate and well written. Comforting to know that some professionals out there understand. For our son it has been uphill all the way. His own attorney, an alienation skeptic, got talked into helping the opposing attorney think of ways Mom could encourage the kids to get over their sudden hatred of Dad – as if Mom were not the problem. It took weeks of research to provide dozens and dozens of documented falsehoods, to convince his own attorney that his ex was a cunning liar. The judge acknowledged that Mom habitually lied to avoid visitation, but in every single instance that her lies could not be conclusively proven, the judge chose to believe her. No matter how often she lied, she suffered no loss of credibility and no accountability whatsoever. She charmed the socks off of the GAL in their 10 minute airport interview. With rare exception, Mom has every single professional eating out of her hand. But she has not fooled her six year old boy, who commented, “My Mom lies all the time.”
Has anyone dealt with what I would call “reversed layered alienation” for lack of a better term. My 9-year-old daughter is starting to show many of the classic alienation signs listed in this article. My wife and I have been going through a contentious custody battle for almost 3 years, but up until the start of COVID in March 2020, my daughter was going back and forth between us. When COVID hit and the NYC courts closed (for the first time in a century) my wife saw an opportunity and pulled the rug out from under me. In short order, she violated our parenting agreement, got a Temporary Order of Protection against me, and a Child Services investigation opened against me. The CS investigation was quickly closed as unfounded, but the TOP has been continually extended due the courts being so backed up. It’s been in effect for 18 months with no hearing or reported violation.
Anyway, because of all that I didn’t see my daughter at all, not once, for 5 months and now only see her with a supervisor because she is suddenly scared of me. At least that is what she tells her attorney (kids in NYS age 5 and up get their own court appointed attorney with all the associated attorney-client privileges) who then tells the court. But, our visits go great even if they are unnatural with the supervisor present. But the age tells her attorney she is still scared and so the court won’t lift supervision. I’ve repeatedly raised with my attorney, my daughter’s attorney, and the court that her mother is alienating her from me, but the Court and my daughter’s attorney simply ignore me. My attorney is fighting hard.
We just had an updated forensic report and my wife claimed that I, despite every interaction I have with my daughter being monitored, was the one trying to alienate our daughter from her. And, the forensic investigator bought it. The report says that the behaviors our daughter is showing towards me (rejecting me outside of our visits, fully embracing her mom and her mom’s new boy friend, and starting to reinterpret every interaction we have had in a new, negative light) are the result not of alienation by the mother, but of my attempts to alienate her from her mom. I’m dumbfounded. I’ve basically been accused of being the insidious instigator of my daughter’s alienation from me.
Has anyone else dealt with this novel interpretation of alienation?
Blake: Sorry to hear of your situation. I hope your forensic evaluator had some expertise on the spectrum of refuse and resist dynamics including estrangement vs alienation. I do know that some evaluators misunderstand rejected/targeted parents hence my follow up article I find some evaluator’s don’t understand the stress reactions along with efforts to counter the alienating parent’s influence, and sometimes confuse it as alienating behavior rather than defensive and protective.
Good article. My wife and I are still together, but this is happening. She has convinced my kids not to stay home with me or even interact with me in a positive way because we have a different opinion on parenting. For example, I do not let them destroy my things because they are mad. I will take the item away or stop them from damaging a vehicle. In contrast, she talks them through it while they are smashing a rock against the car door.
Bill: You point out the unfortunate reality that an alienation dynamic can even occur in intact families.
Thank you for this!
This article helps me a lot. Thanks for sharing valuable information.
I can’t stand all this anymore.
Look it’s very simple. Targeted parents all over the United States can not afford to hire a lawyer and a psychologist and a therapist and then also reunification therapy. The only parents out there that have been successful in getting their children back are the ones who have 100k to fight with.
Targeted parents are deliberately financially drained. Down to even homelessness. PA is tearing our children apart. I am a TP. I have spoken with Amy Baker personally and she wants to coach me because mine is so horrific. But I don’t have 250 bucks an hour to do this, let alone fly myself and my 2 adult kids to NY for reunification.
DO you people honestly think the AP has not thought of this? Friend, it is deliberately done exactly the way it is intended to be done. The TP can’t fight back. Look ANY ONE PARENT OR NOT THAT WOULD DO THIS TO ANOTHER HUMAN BEING CHILD, ADULT CHILD OR TP SHOULD GO STRAIGHT TO PRISON. SERIOUSLY, THIS IS NO DIFFERENT THAN RAPING A CHILD. IT’S MENTAL RAPE AND THE DAMAGE IS THE SAME.
If people would use the 4 Factor Model to diagnose PA, that model automatically tells the courts if the child has PAS and who the damn AP is. And all the courts want to do is put the AP into counseling so that person can learn not to do this. What in the #%^^=÷’ are they thinking?! NARCISSISTIC, SOCIOPATHIC, PSYCHOPATHIC CLUSTER 5 ANTISOCIAL BEHAVIOR HAS BEEN PROVEN A FACT IN THE AP. Period. That is enough for a PA to never be allowed to see the light of day again. Especially if these tactics are done by a step-parent or non-biological person as there are thousands out there.
All you parents out there, we need to band together to fight for each other because the law won’t. If there were some way to pull us all together and get the law changed so that if parental alienation can be assessed using the 4 Factor model, Amy Baker should be used. If it’s found there is a PA, then it’s off to prison. You watch how much this bull stops. If the laws would step up and protect like they say they do this is how to do it.
How many parents would be able to get away with it if they found out a test will tell on them? Well, there is such a test. It exists. Why are they not using it? My adult children’s minds are scrambled and they are destroyed because their stepdad decided to use my kids to force me to go back to him. There are no custody battles; there are no ways to get it to court. He waited for my boys to become adults then pulled the same tactics over about 10 years. I don’t have a clue where my youngest son is. Alive or not, my oldest just cut me off for letting my grandson come stay with me who is estranged. This is what every single one of you will end up like. Because we are poor. We can’t fight for our kids with empty bank accounts when it’s the court system letting the PA get away with it.
Sandy: You express the outrage many TPs experience, particularly with the costs involved in litigating PA that often includes experts like Amy Baker and myself.
Yes, there needs to be much training and reformation with regards to how family courts expeditiously identify PA and address it aggressively. The 4 Factor Model is now a 5 Factor model. I use it all the time in my evaluations and it is a cogent way to explain to the courts what is happening. I found I had several judges appreciate the model and make judicious decisions from its findings.
One day, PA will be in diagnostic manuals, child protection laws, and in criminal laws, but we still have work to do.
And yes, parents banding together is part of that work including educating mental health and the legal professions along with child protection. I have fortunately been able to provide such trainings and while it seems like change is slow, hopefully the arc of justice bends slowly toward the light, toward truth, toward justice.
I wish I knew about a similar resource in the UK. I’m exhausted with spending money on therapy to enable me to be a better targeted parent. My daughter is 35 and is reclusive, anxious, has health anxiety, and has now informed me that abuse never occurred in the past relationship, that she only remembers me shouting and she can think of a lot of reasons someone might deserve to be hit! I just feel that constantly changing myself is not of use as this situation remains as painful and unmanageable. Anyway great article
Very well written article. Alienation does not stop when children over 18 and entering adulthood. This is destructive to the adult childs mental and emotional health. It can cause dificulties in relationships for the adult child. The target parent and the child lose while the allienator wins by damaging their child.
Tamara: You are right, that is why it is so important for family court and mental health professionals to intervene and get it right while the children are still minors.
When this began in the 90’s I wasn’t aware of PA nor were courts, counselors or any “professionals” I had the honor of dealing with. There are about 9 years between my kids. My son began his indoctrination into PA at aged 1. The year his Dad left us virtually homeless. His retired Marine infantryman Dad literally learned how to brain wash. Typical narcissist, lowest level opinion of women. Appearances are everything! My Son is the only boy to carry on their name. He turns 27 this year. He’s 100% a classic case full blown brainwashed. Nothing will ever change this. He’s lost to me forever. Every extending symptom & situation fit his path to a T! I don’t know where he lives & Ive been grieving him for 17 years. My daughters a mixed bag. A mix of PA & Daddy Issues. Some of this overlaps. I was fully replaced with the now 2nd ex wife beginning long before I knew. She was a team player in the PA game during her 20 years with my kids sperm donor, don’t see this changed even though they’re divorced. My daughters has a myriad of issues & never realized how much PA had invaded her until the thin, non-sensible reasons began & simply the distance. All of a sudden there was nothing for weeks. Shocked she moved out of state without telling me, was horrified in a very frightened way when I told her I was outside her building. I was kidding as I had no address. Most of her actions seem out of fear. Before I knew how much she really wanted me gone I surprised her at work with a tiny gift. She ran out of her work place to avoid me. Over the years I’d gotten to know everyone & it was my last straw of embarrassment in front of her friends or colleagues. Embarrassments not a big deal but she out made an art out of it. I tried every approach with both for years. Haven’t seen them or heard anything. Counseling & a myriad of different meds don’t help me. My hearts completely torn, I have no hope. I’m barely a shell of who I once was. I live a small life. Often I don’t see the point of being here without my children. I don’t believe what comes around goes around & all those other sayings. Sometimes there are evil people that have a need to hurt the innocent. Their own Innocent children, their flesh & blood as nothing more than a means to an end.
The hard truth is that PA is a very effective tool against the targeted parent. The specialized resources you need to tackle this will cost more than any average person can afford. If you have other children you will have hard choices of putting their basic needs and safety at risk in order to help the child entagled in the alienation and hatred of the alienating parent.
The one piece of advice that is solid is “put on your own oxygen mask first”. Realize that many court systems unwittingly help promote abuse. Take the long game. Know you are fighting what might be an impossible fight. Here is my best advice “Know you are not alone. Your Creator loves you and your child. Fight like your the only one who cares and trust that you are not the only one who cares about you and your child. Meditate and pray. Take care of your own needs. Rinse (purge the anger and sadness) and repeat every day even the worst ones”
Quite an accurate assessment. Devastating heartbreaking and feels hopeless. I hope my son learns the truth and returns soon.
I have been a victim of this very thing for the past 14 years. My husband cheated, got someone else pregnant, and the two of them took our two boys to another state and has kept them from me all this time. CPS has been involved twice and one child was put into foster care. I was labeled as unfit, neglectful, and abusive. And even reported dead to some people. My children hate me. No one paid or not seems capable or willing to help me. Despite jumping through every hoop, and dodging every bullet. Making the 1.5 hour drive each way to spend maybe 1 hour with my son under supervised visitations. Passing every drug/alcohol/psychological assessment and test. The higher up professionals who were supposed to be helping reunite me with my children, ended up placing him with a complete stranger once who posed as his aunt (she was a former girlfriend of their father). And then placed him back into his father’s custody leaving it at my son’s discretion as to whether or not he ever spoke to me again and me with no way to contact him. My rights to visitation were restricted. Potential lawyers I had consulted with quoted me insanely high amounts of money to divorce him and sue for custody. He has brainwashed my boys til neither of them want anything to do with me. And no one believes me. Every attempt to make contact gets me blocked. It’s enough to make anyone who loves their children go crazy.
Even now, legally I’m still married to him because I can’t find a lawyer who will touch the case that I can afford. And I have no clue where he or either of my children are. There is no one to help me anywhere that I’ve been able to find. And I’m truly beginning to lose all hope.