Rabbi Shmuley Boteach - Thursday, 6 July, 2006
I've written a great deal about my parent's divorce and its affect on me and my siblings. I was recently approached by two women, Robin Denison and Sarvy Emo, who started an organization called The Parental Alienation Syndrome Awareness Campaign. They told me that they started an organization to alert the public to how prevalent it is becoming for one parent to try and turn the children against the other in a divorce. They told me that there are many clinicians who would diagnose this as an actual syndrome, meaning that the child is being conditioned, slowly, by one parent to dislike the other and internalize feelings of real hostility and negativity towards his mother or father. Every child needs a warm relationship with both of their parents and this insidious alienation is bound to scar the child deeply.
While I disagree that this a diagnosable illness that requires medical treatment, I absolutely agree with the two women who have approached me of the catastrophic consequences to a child when he or she is turned off one parent by the other, when he or she is forced to take sides in a divorce, and when he or she is made into an enemy of his father or his mother. From the many counseling sessions I have done involving parents who are divorcing, I have come to believe that this is almost the norm, that one parent will seek to either punish the other, or to find solace and comfort by drawing the children closer to them at the expense of the other parent. This alienation takes place especially in families where either the mother or the father feels that they are the aggrieved party in the divorce, say for example a man who decides to leave his wife. The wife will often seek to punish her ex-husband for the stress he has brought on his family, by using the children as weapons in her arsenal against him. Likewise, she might fail to differentiate what was done to her personally, however unjust, versus what was done to his children. Meaning, even if the father leaves her, he doesn't necessarily have to leave his children. That doesn't mean that I would ever condone a man abandoning his wife to be with another woman. But even if he has been a terrible husband does not mean he has to likewise be a terrible father. Conversely, if a woman decides to leave her husband, often because she does not wish to stay in a lonely and loveless marriage, her husband might decide to tell the kids that his wife left us - "us", not "me" - making it thereby impossible for the children to ever enjoy a warm relationship with their own mother. Surely, this could never be healthy for them. I was very moved that these two women, both of whom have been affected by parental alienation syndrome and hence are devoted to the cause. And let's face it, as a child of divorce I personally know the harmful and life-long consequences of divorce on children. Let's not make it worse by using kids as pawns in a parental game of chess.
For more information about this organization please visit www.paawareness.org
Best Life Articles - The Lost Children
April is National Child Abuse Prevention month. Some states have also adopted April 15 as National Parental Alienation Syndrome Awareness . Our group PAS Kids In Distress is trying to get Maine to recognize it also. It's a terrible form of abuse that should be brought to the forefront. When one parent or any other relative keeps a child away from another parent by false allegations that child loses not just one parent but, it loses a whole other family. A family that is important to that child's life. Let's all join together and fight child abuse.
Parental alienation harms kids, families
One would think with today's increase in divorce rates, Parental Alienation Awareness on April 25 would receive the recognition it deserves. A divorce alone can have a negative impact on a child. Unfortunately, the divorce is just part of what a child must go through. The harmful bitterness and anger toward one parent or each other places children at high risk for "divorce poison."
Divorce poison is defined as using any tactic, such as brainwashing, using children as pawns to hurt the other parent by cutting off visitation rights, and to simply do what it takes to make sure the children want no contact with the alienated parent. What a high price to pay when in the end the children, as well as the alienated parent and their family, become victims of parental alienation.
Children are given two parents for a reason. What a mother can provide in a relationship with their children differs from what fathers can provide. We as parents should keep in mind that children do not ask for the divorce. Why would a parent rob their child(ren) of a beneficial bond with either parent after a divorce?
It is unfortunate that Parental Alienation Awareness is hardly acknowledged. The effects of parental alienation are unimaginable. Parental alienation becomes a vicious cycle because children learn that it is OK to alienate the other parent in their future relationships.
Children deserve to have equal time and a loving relationship with both parents - subject to the fact that the parents are stable, fit and willing to provide what it takes to maintain a vital relationship with their children. Support Michigan House Bill 5267 for revision in Michigan's antiquated custody laws, which have not been revised since 1970! For more information on divorce poison, Dr. Richard Warshak's book, "Divorce Poison," is a phenomenal resource.
Angela Keene-Kennedy, R.N.
Parental alienation needing attention
By Don Mathis Sherman
Did you know that Parental Alienation is a form of Child Abuse? Many people may be aware that April is National Child Abuse Awareness Month but they are probably not aware that April 25 is Parental Alienation Awareness .
A lot of people - including counselors and so called "child advocates" - may not even be aware of the term "Parental Alienation." It happens often to children of divorce.
Parental alienation occurs when one parent bad mouths the other parent. Children know they are part-mom and part-dad and when one parent is degraded, the child will feel part of them is being put down as well.
Children are so susceptible to what they hear. What child doesn't believe in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny? So when a child hears that "Daddy doesn't love you" or "Mommy is stupid," feelings are internalized
Parental alienation can be more subtle as well. When Divorced Dad tries to call his child on the phone - and the conversation is interrupted by Mom's demand to "Clean your room" or "Do your homework," the child learns to associate good feelings with Dad with unpleasant tasks or household chores.
The Texas attorney general will often go after the "Deadbeat Dad" who can't pay child support - even if he has been downsized due to corporate greed. But the AG will do nothing if "Malicious Mother" breaks the same divorce decree and doesn't allow the child to see his dad.
According to the Web site www.paawareness.org, the aim of Parental Alienation Awareness is to make judges, police officers, psychiatrists, lawyers, as well as friends and family of the people abusing their children by alienation tactics, to become aware of this growing problem and form of abuse.
With awareness comes education and understanding, and the power to stop the abuse of innocent children caught in the crossfire of people they love.
Press Release - 24th April 2006
For immediate release
Parental Alienation Awareness 25 April 2006
25 April is the first international PA Awareness . It is being observed in 20 countries.
"Parental alienation syndrome" is the brain washing of a child by one parent against the other. It is one of the saddest, and commonest manifestations of family break-down.
The manipulation of children by one parent, with the intention that they reject the other parent, is a type of psychological violence which qualifies as abuse.
Family Court decisions about the parenting of children are being increasingly based on the children's own expressed wishes. This is a positive development, and will lead in the normal case to the children being allowed to spend more time with their non-residential parent than they are currently allowed. However, this does also increase the incentive for the parent with whom they mostly live to get them to express, as if it was the child's own, any hostility felt by the residential parent to their ex.
That parent is obviously in a stronger position to resist the sharing of parenting time if they can say that the children involved do not want to see, or have a relationship with, their other parent.
Sometimes the children are coached in what to say to, for example, welfare workers. Sometimes they simply want to please their residential parents by saying what they believe that parent wants them to say. Occasionally the children blame their 'other parent' for any problems they or their residential parent seem to have as a result of family division. It can vary, therefore, from deliberate poisoning of a relationship to something not explicitly intended at all.
The issue is not a gender one - when children live with fathers, fathers can abuse their power over them just as badly as mothers. But obviously this is rarer, with 90% or so of children in the sole custody of mothers.
The solution to so many of the problems of family break-down is in shared parenting.
Often the outcome is that the grown-up children turn against the alienating parent. As a result they end up with severely damaged relationships with both.
FNF members would like to talk to the media about Parental Alienation.
For further information go to http://www.fnf.org.uk/law/pas.htm
The Madrid Declaration: http://www.fnf.org.uk/files/Declaration%20of%20Madrid.pdf
Add your name to letter to the UN at http://www.fnf.org.uk/news/pasletter.htm