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What is Parental Alienation Syndrome?

A Message to Parental Alienators

Teaching a child to despise his or her own parent

“If teaching a child to despise his or her own parent isn’t child abuse, what is?” – BrainwashingChildren.com

Parental alienation “horror show”

“There is no question that parental alienation is a form of child abuse. It is a horror show. The damage to children is enormous. When a child loses a parent, they are killing off a part of themselves because there is an identity between the child and both parents. The result is that they become self-injurious. I see all the warning signs and all the flags of the self-hatred: nightmares, anxiety, oppositional behaviors in school, presence of gastrointestinal syndromes, failing school grades, more susceptibility to peers with oppositional behaviors, juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, and depression” – Dr. Raymond Havlicek

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It’s all about their heart. Nothing else matters

Subjecting a child to negative statements about their own parent violates the most basic job we have as parents: to protect their heart

When I think back on all the negative things (whether truthful or a lie) our son heard about me, what did they all have in common?

They hurt his heart.

This blog wouldn’t exist if parents out there were able to do this fundamental job of theirs. Their inability and/or refusal to protect their child from completely inappropriate hate, negativity, contempt, and denigration is a true tragedy– and millions of children suffer as a result.

You just discovered something about your ex? Ask one question: Will this information hurt or help their heart?

As no other question matters.

 

Victimhood and Parental Alienation Syndrome

“By seeing himself as a victim, a person is able to justify just about any kind of immoral action”

Parents that try to peel a child’s love away from an ex all have something in common: they view themselves as victims in the failed marriage or relationship. A parent who is going through a divorce or just went through one can either pick up the pieces, shoulder the hurt, and move on… or they can view themselves as an aggrieved party. The former tend to keep talk about the ex to a minimum, no matter what he or she did wrong or even maliciously.

The latter, however, set the stage for hostile action against their ex which includes turning the child on him or her. Called “Parental Alienation Syndrome” by most professionals (I’ve never liked this term, as a lie that one parent is not worthy of love is abuse— not a “syndrome”).

There is a direct correlation… the more a parent sees himself or herself as a victim, the greater the possibility that he or she will go after the child’s relationship with ex. And once they do, there is often no limit to their efforts. They will falsely accuse and malign everything associated with their ex, and will manipulate the child like a puppet. In short, they have little to no boundaries. They will spill anything damning– both truths and lies– into the child’s soul. So can you blame the child, who loves this parent unconditionally, for believing the messages being heard?

Sadly, there is no short term solution to you, the alienated parent. Sitting your child down and speaking factually about yourself and what’s going on will, in fact, usually backfire (except with teenagers, but you have to be careful). Long term, instead of using words, be yourself and use your actions to allow your child to see who you are. Over the course of a few years and long summers together (especially important for noncustodial parents), all the vicious lies and stories will begin to be questioned by the child. Consciously, subconsciously, or both. But you have to be patient– this is going to take years! But once this happens, the reversal of their hardened heart towards you will begin…

Dennis Prager quotes on Parental Alienation

  • “There are subtle ways and overt ways of alienating a child from a parent, but either way it’s evil”
  • “I do think that the badmouthing and alienating of a child from a parent is one of the few unforgivable sins. I do think those people will have to answer to God who will say, “You allowed your anger to destroy the relationship of your child to the other parent? Isn’t that why I gave you a conscience?”
  • “Badmouthing your ex-spouse rips the child apart”
  • “Changing a child last name (away from the father’s) is an act of venom”
  • “Alienators think they’re a victim, and when you think you’re a victim, moral rules don’t apply to you”
  • “I can’t think of a greater single vehicle to goodness and a better world than if everyone battled their own natures”
  • “I don’t understand how any person could humiliate a spouse”
  • “A lot of women do a lot of harm because they don’t control their emotions. But in terms of violence, men seem to have a monopoly”
  • “Nothing is as contagious as unhappiness”
  • “The badmouthing of the other spouse does not come to be good for the badmouther in the long run”
  • “If what this woman (view clip) said was said by all Moms and Dads to their children with regard to the other parent, there would be so much more harmony in this country”
  • “For many people, there is an additional battle they have to wage– with their natural tendency to be angry. One prevalent example is the angry mother or father who poisons his/her children against the other parent after a divorce, thereby often irreparably damaging both the children and the other parent”

Mentally abusive parents frequently abuse on other levels

What keeps a parent who is capable of damaging a child mentally and emotionally from damaging them physically or sexually as well?

Not much.

Parents who are mentally abusive lack the ability to control themselves. Which means they’re unable to contain their emotions, which then spills into doing what’s right for their child, which is sheltering them from harm– any harm. A parent who is OK knowing that their child is suffering (especially over lies that the parent creates) is a toxic father or mother, and toxic fathers and mothers are bad people who have few limits on what they’re capable of doing. 

What I’ve noticed in my own experiences and in the experiences of blog commenters is that parents who can harm kids on one level frequently harm them on others, too.

These “manure-spreading” parents are capable of damaging kids across the spectrum of child abuse: physically, mentally, sexually, medically, and educationally. To be fair, few toxic parents damage via all of the five categories.

Examples
A parent who is physically or sexually abusive is also mentally abusive. Comments are made such as:

“Look what you made me do, don’t tell anyone about this or else…”
“This is your fault because…”

Name calling also goes hand in hand with these forms of abuse.

Here’s the thing: You can’t have a physically or sexually abusive parent who isn’t also mentally abusive. Any attack on a child’s body also is an attack on their mind.

To restate something important, not all parents who are mentally abusive are physically or sexually abusive. However, they have the potential to be, and too frequently are.

Bottom line? Once someone’s an abusive parent in one of the categories, they very often abuse on one or more of the others.

[If you are curious about the use of the terms “medical abuse” (also known as Munchausen by Proxy) and “educational abuse,” click the respective links…]

 

Abusive home = Unhappy home

If you dig down to the very core of why some parents and households are abusive towards children and others are not, look at how happy or unhappy they are.

A happy parent is one who nurtures his or her children physically and emotionally. Happy people don’t molest, pass hurt feelings on to, deprive the other parent’s love from, or otherwise hurt their kids. Happy people who go through divorces or break-ups hurt just like anyone else, but they elevate their behaviors to protect their children from the adult pain.

“All abusive parents are unhappy parents, and unhappy parents are feelings-based people who act out on these feelings without regard to whether what they’re saying or doing is right or wrong for their child” – www.brainwashingchildren.com

Look at your own situation of mental abuse or even milder alienation efforts. How happy is the person who’s damaging your child? Are they an overall happy person?

Whenever I think of the environment that my child is in, I think of his home with a big giant neon sign above it flashing, “UNHAPPY – 24 hrs/day.” The nearly decade-long campaign of harming my son’s relationship with me has been so pervasive, how could such behavior come from a normal, happy parent? It can’t.

The unfortunate part is the long-term outlook. Since it’s impossible for you to change the unhappy person’s core, what are the odds of the damage being done to the children who are in their midst stopping? Quite low. The only real way to help the children that live with these negative, unhappy, parents is to have them spend more and more time with the positive, happy parent. It can be a complete change of custody in severe alienation and emotional abuse cases, to granting the “happy” parent a lot of meaningful time in the decree.