For parents going through divorce, there are plenty of issues that can arise, including division of assets, terms of alimony payments, and parental alienation syndrome. The fact of the matter is, nearly half of all U.S. marriages end in divorce. Of these divorce cases, 10% of them involve child custody litigation, with one million children affected annually. When a family has to deal with more than just the terms of divorce, the emotional toll on the children can be overwhelming.
Definition of Parental Alienation Syndrome
If you are in the middle of a divorce, you might be wondering if parental alienation syndrome has reared its ugly head. Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) was coined by Richard A. Gardner, M.D. This theory displays the preferred parent in the family, typically the mother, as an alienator who tries to turn a vulnerable child against the other parent in the family, which is typically the father.
How to Spot PAS
Do you have a sinking feeling that your spouse is trying to alienate you from your children? If so, you need to learn how to spot PAS so you can attempt to stop it immediately, or seek the help of an attorney who is experienced in such family issues.
Some of the most common signs of PAS include the following:
- Suggesting that the rejected parent is unsafe to be around
- Speaking negatively about the rejected parent to the child or in front of the child
- Speaking about adult information with the child, including details about the divorce
- Exaggerating the rejected parent’s minor flaws to the child
- Trashing gifts or letters from the rejected parent
- Not permitting photos or references of the rejected parent
- Asking the child to keep secrets from the rejected parent
- Making the child feel guilty for enjoying time spent with the rejected parent
What Can Happen to Alienated Children?
As a parent, we are all concerned about who our children will turn into as adults. For those children who are put through PAS because of a marriage filled with conflict or divorce, they could suffer from a handful of issues as adults. Children can grow up to suffer from the following as adults:
- Low self-esteem
- Trouble trusting others
- Suffer from shame due to hurting the rejected parent
- Trouble with intimate relationships
- More likely to divorce
- Suffer bouts with depression
- Substance abuse
- Lose a child of his or her own due to PAS
Causes of PAS
With all of the information provided, you are probably wondering what the causes of PAS are. For instance, why would your spouse want to alienate you from your own child? This is a very difficult issue to handle for parents and some of the causes include the following:
- The alienating parent could have unresolved problems from his or her own childhood
- The alienating parent could have anger issues with the rejected parent
- The alienating parent could suffer from personality disorders
- The alienating parent might be so connected to the child that he or she does not have a separate identity
- The alienating parent might have a lack of confidence in his or her parenting skills
All of this information can be overwhelming, especially if you feel PAS is present in your parent-child relationship. If you feel that you have been alienated from your child by your spouse, contact the Sarieh Law Offices today to schedule a consultation with an experienced family law attorney. Call 714-542-6200 or complete our online contact form, and we will be in touch with you within 24 hours.