When I first began work on parental alienation and loyalty conflicts and later developed this website, only a few other parental alienation websites existed. There was a strong need to help to educate, define and name parental alienation. We were still in the first generation of thinking. (First generation work brings a problem into existence by identifying and naming it.)

The 1980’s insightful work of Richard Gardner, M.D. on Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) raised the public level of awareness and gave it a name.

Even then, alienation tactics were nothing new. As long as people have held grudges and been motivated by hatred while calling it “protecting the child,” alienation has existed. When a parent dishonestly turns a child against the other parent through lies, bribery, manipulation, and other deceitful tactics, alienation exists. When a parent pressures and emotionally and psychologically batter a child to align with him or her and to turn against the other parent, not only is there a severe disruption in the parent-child relationship, but in its most severe form, the symptoms of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) are observed.

During the 1990s, PAS was contested as controversial, largely because of misunderstanding, but it continued to be brought to the attention of courts, psychological and legal communities. Although the most severe form, called PAS, is still debated among experts, parental alienation is commonly accepted and taught in mental health communities as a form of loyalty conflict.

Now we find ourselves in the second generation of parental alienation thinking. It is a productive period in which many professionals and parents are working together to make parental alienation more understandable, especially to those for whom it is still an unfamiliar term. We understand that it is not just one “bad” individual who maintains it, but a system in which everyone contributes to it, even at times, the targeted parent. Therefore, all these communities must work together with families to change it by creating a system that not only does not support it but one which does not allow it. In fact, there may need to be sanctions against alienators the way that there are consequences for child abusers and perpetrators of domestic violence.

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