Two people who are happily married are generally not the ones who are get divorced. Perhaps one partner thought all was well and was blindsided by the other’s desire to separate. Maybe both parties decided together that their lifestyles and desires no longer meshed. No matter the reason for the separation, there may be animosity involved. It is important that the animosity not trickle down to the children in the form of parental alienation.
Parental Alienation Syndrome
Parental alienation syndrome is not a recognized mental disorder, but rather a relationship dysfunction. It occurs when a child rejects one parent due to the influence of another. For example, a parent may tell their child that the other parent hasn’t picked them up because that parent doesn’t want to see the child. The fact of the matter may be that that the parent does want to spend time with the child, but is working or otherwise engaged. Told things like this often enough, the child-parent relationship is harmed or, in severe cases of alienation, severed.
Signs of PAS
There are several warning symptoms that are related to parental alienation syndrome. These include discussing details of the divorce with the child when those details are not age-appropriate or are damaging to the parent-child relationship. A parent may deny the other access to the child’s school or daycare. A parent may blame the other, verbally and in front of the child, for monetary issues or splitting the family.
One parent may refuse to be flexible when it comes to visitation, persistently ask the child who they love more, or encourage feelings of animosity and anger toward the other parent. All of these are signs that a parent may be purposely turning the child against the second parent.
Causes of PAS
For some, it is unthinkable that a parent would turn a child against the other parent. While motivations differ in each situation, there are common reasons why PAS may occur. These reasons include unresolved feelings of anger, childhood issues, personality disorders and the feeling that a relationship between the child and the other parent is a threat to their own relationship with the child.
How PAS Occurs
It is easy to influence a child, especially when they are feeling anxious and fearful, as in the case of divorce. A parent may not allow the child to speak about the other parent in their presence, or may attack or make fun of the other parent or encourage the child to act as a go-between. A parent may discuss and emphasize the flaws of the other parent in front of the child, instill a sense of fear in the child regarding the other parent, or make suggestions that the other parent doesn’t really care about the child.
If you believe that your soon-to-be ex-spouse is coming between you and your children, do not take matters into your own hands. Your attorney can help you in this matter. If you do not yet hire a family law attorney in Orlando and are experiencing these issues, reach out to our team. We will discuss your case with you at an initial case evaluation held at no cost to you. Call today to schedule your appointment.