Disproving The 4 Myths About Parental Alienation

What is a myth? The dictionary defines the word as a false idea or belief widely held by a large number of people. According to A.J. Marsden, Ph.D., and William Nesbitt, Ph.D., “The word myth comes from mythos, which means “story.” However, “story” doesn’t necessarily mean made up or fictitious.” Simply put, it’s a wrong concept held as facts by many. In this light, this article aims to educate by disproving the four common myths most people believe about parental alienation.

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Surviving Abduction, Parental Alienation, And Emotional Abuse

 

Natascha Kampusch’s Story

Here is another story of one abduction and an emotional abuse victim who, until now, is surviving and trying to get through the hurdles her experience is causing her through the help of counseling. While happy-ever-afters aren’t possible in real life, this is a story of hope and survival and a spirit who refuses to be defeated by a nightmare.

 

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5 Ways To Overcome Parental Alienation According To A Psychologist

Parental alienation is the process of turning a child against a parent through manipulation. Rightfully, psychologists are calling it “divorce poison.” It can potentially cause long-term effects on the child, the rejected family member, and their relationship with one another. It can cause the two to be estranged and put them at risk of developing a mental disorder.

Thankfully, there is still hope for those who experience parental alienation. There are specific measures you can take to reconnect with your child. Here are five things you can try.

Sort Things Out With The Other Parent


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Before anything else, you might want to try sorting things out with the other parent. Sometimes, people don’t realize that specific actions of theirs contribute to alienation. Although you may have separated, it’s in everyone’s best interest to keep things civil between you two. Bring up the problem with them and see if there’s something you can work out together so that you don’t become estranged from your kids. “Parenting in a divorce situation is hard enough without all of the drama that comes with parental alienation. Keep the drama in your household to a minimum so your child can rest, heal, and recoup before they return to the hostile environment,” Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC advised.

Encourage Direct Communication

It’s likely that the reason your child is losing warmth towards you is that the alienating parent is feeding them twisted information about you. This manipulation causes them to see you differently and believe in an inaccurate image of you. They could convince your kids to think that you don’t love them anymore; the separation was their fault or other similar lies.

To avoid having this problem, ask your child to talk to you directly about any questions or concerns they may have. This way, you can address any incorrect ideas they may have about you tactfully. Always correct any inaccurate information they may have so that the problem doesn’t grow into something bigger and harder to manage. Encouraging direct communication also helps them develop critical-thinking skills, as they have to discern who to believe and what the truth is. Talking to one another also allows you to give your side of the story. “When the proposed interaction is properly managed, and not allowed to escalate into insults or argument — then contact between opposing parties should reduce tension,” Molly S. Castelloe Ph.D. furthers.

Show Them The Same Love You Did Before


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If things were going well between you and your child before alienation took place, remind them of how things were before. Be mindful of showing them the same love and concern you’ve always had for them. If there were activities you enjoyed that you did often, continue doing those. Having weekly picnics, watching baseball games together, or going to their school play will show them that you’re still present.

Get them to remember how well you connected before the separation happened. This way, they can see that you’re still the same parent that they loved in the past. Chances are, they’ll think twice when the alienating parent paints you in a negative light.

Practice Self-Care And Self-Love

Trying to reconnect with your child is a very trying time.  During this period, it’s crucial that you also take care of yourself. Self-blame and self-hatred are easy traps to fall into. However, remember not to be so hard on yourself. This problem is not your fault as the targeted parent. Be strong and don’t let the alienating parent make you believe that you are not worthy of your children’s time and affection. Your self-esteem and confidence in yourself will serve as a strong foundation. If you don’t believe that you are a good parent, neither will your child.

Similarly, your emotional stability can also affect how you reconnect with your kids. If you’re are all over the place, they may not want to be around you. Being emotionally unstable or unavailable during this time will have lasting consequences. For instance, it’ll be much easier for the alienating parent to convince your child that you’re someone to be feared if you’re angry all the time. Don’t give them more reasons to distrust you.

Give It Time But Keep Reaching Out


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Even if your child may not take to maintaining a relationship with you, don’t lose hope. It can take some time before you sort out your issues and overcome the manipulation that they went through. You’ll have to be patient and understanding of your kids.

And while you want to give it time, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be around. If your kids show that they don’t want you around, allow them space but don’t alienate yourself either. Show up on significant occasions—birthdays, graduation, and other events. Your presence will show them that they’re important enough for you to want to remain in their life.

Summary
The primary way to battle parental alienation is through genuine love and concern for your child. Don’t fight hate with more negativity. Try to work things out with the alienating parent first. If that doesn’t work, focus on your relationship with your kids. Be present, provide guidance and love. We hope that your kids grow up to be smart adults who know that you want to be in their lives. “If you find yourself in this situation, it’s important to seek counseling for your individual circumstances with a qualified mental health professional.” Timothy J. Legg, PhD, PsyD notes.

Children’s Mental Health Struggle From Parental Alienation

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Being a mother to my three kids, I always knew that life would become so hard from the moment I got divorced. I can’t measure how unlucky I felt my marriage was. My husband cheated with another girl, and our relationship is all about lies, arguments, and betrayal. However, the things that kept me looking forward are my boys. I love them so much that I don’t want them to suffer. As much as possible, I tried to secure their emotional and mental health regardless of our failed relationship. But with all the effort of keeping them away from emotional and psychological damage, I made a mistake. Continue reading “Children’s Mental Health Struggle From Parental Alienation”

How Parental Alienation Impacts A Parent’s Mental Health

 

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The focus of this article is the alienated or the targeted parent. Before further discussion, let us first define parental alienation. It is a term used to refer to a method or process of undermining the other parent by programming a child to hate the other parent. The primary goal of the alienated parent here is to destroy the alienated. The process usually occurs in conjunction with a child custody case. This involves legally abusing the other parent who has been marginalized and subsequently damaging her physical, emotional, and mental health. The alienating parent continues to marginalize the other parent after the sole custody case and the primary residence decisions of the court.

Stanton E Samenow, PhD, wrote, “The alienating parent despises the other parent so intensely that he considers this individual toxic to the child and of little value overall. The alienating parent may coach his son or daughter so that the child feels disloyal even to have a positive thought about the other parent.”

What happens eventually is that the non-custodial parent is most often subjected to stigma, frustration, shame, and devaluation. The non-custodial parent, as proven by research, is usually the father, which is why it is advisable for them to find ways and means to engage in productive activities to get rid of the negative emotions. Most of them are hesitant to seek professional help, and they are resistant to counseling and guidance. But those who are highly involved with their kids and then suddenly removed from their children’s lives may develop fear, lies, and depression.

“Targeted parents may present as anxious, depressed, and angry. At the same time, beneath these desperate situational reactions generally lies psychological health,” noted Susan Heitler,  PhD.

The alienating parent, on the other hand, usually utilizes various tools such as flattery and contentment with material desires to win his/her child back. He wants so much to control his child, and his desire to do so is extremely powerful. Alienating parents are also emotionally sensitive and broken, and they feel a sense of entitlement, feeling like they know how to take whatever their child faces continuously. Some experts recommend removing child custody from the alienating parent and instead placing them under the care of the alienated parent, but this might be difficult to decide who is alienating and who is not. Additionally, Family Law judges are not well trained to delve deeper into family dynamics and child development.

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Alienated parents are some of the saddest victims of parental alienation, as they can’t do anything unless they are given the opportunity to explain things to their children, which is not very easy since the children have a tendency not to listen. They have been previously ‘brainwashed’ by the other parent that their dad or mom is the cause of the divorce and listening to them would only make things worse. Alienating parents often win their custody case by destroying the other parent, which push him to engage in alienating behaviors. The target parent can only pray that the judge will go for co-parenting or a case of family violence due to the evidence of alienating behaviors, for him to be able to combat parental alienation. This also ultimately protects the well-being of the children.

Help For The Alienated Parent

Coping for the alienated parent will be difficult, sad, and devastating. You must keep your sanity intact for the sake of your children whom you love so much. Your mental health is as important as your life, and you must remember to move past the hurt and anger. Learn how to shift your negativity into positivity by changing your outlook on things.

On the other hand, you should also keep in mind that it is not your alienated child’s fault that you are in such a sad place now. Continue to love your child unconditionally and let her know that you don’t blame her. Hopefully, she will see your sincerity and will have the strength and realization that you are not her enemy.

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Seek professional help, like talk therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy. Confide to a friend to release the unpleasant emotions. Cry if you must. It’s good medicine. Cognitive therapy also helps you restructure your way of thinking, and you are taught to say something good to yourself every day. It changes a negative thought into a positive one. Something like this: From this, “My daughter hates me, and she will never want to see me ever,” to this, “My daughter does love me and misses me, but right now she thinks she is doing the right thing and it’s painful for her as it is for me.”

Finally, be in the know. Understanding parental alienation will provide an emotional base that will help you make better decisions for you and your child.

Edward Kruk, PhD, wrote, “The only effective means to combat and eliminate parental alienation is to address it by means of a multi-faceted approach that involves fundamental changes to the present system of divorce, and alienated parents and their allies would be well-advised to channel their energies in this direction.”

 

Parental Alienation – Finding Proofs

A strong family relationship requires a lot of effort. It doesn’t happen overnight. So when a family relationship crashes, members can expect an emotional resentment and harsh feelings that will soon lead to parental alienation. It is where one parent engages in the manipulation of children’s emotional aspect.

According to John M. Grohol, PsyD, “Parental alienation syndrome is a term coined by the late forensic psychiatrist Richard Gardner to describe a phenomenon he witnessed where children were being turned against one parent, usually as the result of a divorce or bitter custody battle.”

It is a tactic to convince kids that one parent is better than the other. That love and care get judged by what each parent tell the kids.

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Susan Heitler, PhD, gave a clear example of parental alienation, “A divorced father of a 12-year-old boy who lives primarily with his mother says that his son insists that he does not want any contact with his father: “If I have to see him even in a therapy session I will hurt myself!””

However, parental alienation that takes place in the family is somehow hard to prove.  Its signs are often invisible. One can quickly get away with it in court because proving it requires extensive observation, checking, and unbiased statements from children. So how can someone find proofs of parental alienation to win a case in court?

Recording Behavioral Patterns

Keeping a diary and writing everything out is one of the things people can do when they feel the presence of parental alienation. It serves as a record of anything that can happen in the house involving children. These include details of conversations and incidents with the other parent. However, it is significant to note that the written records from the accusations may be difficult to prove. The other parent may file a motion stating to change parenting plan. But as long as the parent starts gathering details of how much the other one spends time with the kids, there’s a possibility to state facts from a written journal. As long as it provides photographs, dated tickets, and even event or activity stamps, winning a case becomes achievable.

Taking note of any adjustments and a special request is also essential. Trying to use it to the other parent’s pushed boundaries in recurring parenting time is a great move. If communication is difficult, the parent can use the journal to keep all written communication. Saving copies of emails and texts are pieces of evidence too.

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Awareness Of Warning Signs

One way to determine parental alienation is through the process of observing children. Their behavior and attitude can show a clue or a pattern of how the negative approach takes place. It is vital that the parent must recognize the kids’ interests and emotional weakness as these are the target areas of the alienators. Most of the times, the alienator’s approach tend to harm the kids’ development by feeding them with lies and distractions. That is the reason why children somehow become aloof, agitated, and inconsistent with their decisions. People call the outcome as alienation syndrome where children’s behavior runs in an irregular pattern.

Also, a visible warning sign of parental alienation is when children refuse to visit the other parent and limit their spending time with him or her. There’s not enough reason that chains the refusal but the alienator supports the kids’ decision not to see or spend time with the other parent. It has something to do with brainwashing and manipulating.

According to Sharie Stines, PsyD, “The system is created as the alienating parent rewards the children when they say hostile or angry things about the targeted parent by encouraging and displaying “understanding” for the children’s negative feelings, when what should really be occurring is the children should be taught to respect the other parent.” Code words and signals also matter. The secretive behavior of children is the result of an instruction from the other party.

Children’s Confession

Talking to kids is one the best way to know parental alienation. That’s because information a parent can get can be in full details when kids choose to open up about it. If one can listen to what kids are trying to say, the parent can connect differently from the other. Besides, nothing can correctly determine if alienation is present not unless kids are going to witness on the actions. An alienator will input ideas on the kids’ head that will make them think the other parent is no longer loving or caring for them. So before children believe everything an alienator will tell them, the other parent should keep open communication with the children. It is to stop alienator from feeding ideas that soon damages both the kids’ emotional and psychological balance.

 

 

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As for the behavior, when children often parrot what the alienator says, it is a clear sign that there’s a parental alienation going on. That instead of kids explaining their sentiments and expressing their feelings, they’d instead choose to validate the alienator’s condition. There is also a consistent planting of thoughts about types of abuses that sometimes turns out to be just allegations. A parent must remember not to attempt or pry children to elicit potentially harmful information. That is because often thinking about significant events that are unnecessary may disrupt kids’ mental ability.

Parental alienation is an act of the other parent is trying to harm or distance the children from the other. So whenever one sees these signs, they have to make sure to immediately seek professional help before the condition gets worst and end up becoming a trauma. Both parents must understand that adult problems should not have to be the reason for children’s behavioral, psychological, and emotional dysfunction. Therefore, they need to realize their roles in children’s overall development.

5 Warning Signs Of Parental Alienation

 

 What Is Parental Alienation?

 

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Parental alienation is an intentional attempt of a parent to pull his/her children from the other parent, with the goal of destroying the other parent’s relationship with the children. According to John M Grohol, PsyD, “Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification.”

This attempt is usually done for several reasons, one of which is to punish the other parent because of something he/she had done. Or it may be that the alienating parent has some kind of a mental illness that he or she does not want to face and does not want to deal with the situation rationally.

Also known as parentectomy, parental alienation typically progresses over time, and there are several distinct signs that are associated with the syndrome.

 

Warning Signs Of Parental Alienation Syndrome

  1. Encouraging Anger Toward Parent 2. When a mother wants to get even with his husband because of something he did, an example of alienation is her speaking ill about her husband directly to her kid or children. “In essence, the children are gaining acceptance from the narcissistic parent as they complain about the target parent,” wrote Sharie Stines, PsyD. She may blame their father for not being able to give them what they need because ‘your dad spent the family money on his new date.’ If the alienating parent couldn’t be more blunt, she/he would make a direct comment, such as, “Your dad/mom left us without trying to work things out with me.”

 

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Both statements are intended to make the child feel angry toward his other parent. The alienating parent obviously uses his/her child to cause pain to the other parent.

 

  1. Conveying Negative Messages About Parent 2. Without saying it directly, the alienator uses body languages or gestures that will make the child think badly of his other parent. For instance, when the child asks parent 1 if parent 2 is going to be home for the Holidays, and the alienator (parent 1) doesn’t say anything and just looks at the child sadly. Kids are smart and can easily sense something, even if they’re not told details. They also become more curious when gestures are shown to them, and he surely would know that look on her parent’s eyes. He would then think that parent 2 wouldn’t be there for the Holidays for some reason more important than him.

 

  1. Divulging Mature and Sensitive Details With The Kid. The legal issues of a separation or divorce are things that no child should deserve to know, and talking about these so the child will take sides (with the alienating parent) is an easy way to do it. This does not only push the child to think bad about the other parent, but he will most likely feel partly responsible for what happened to his parents.

 

  1. Refusal To Co-Parent. Despite the divorce, parents should talk about co-parenting reasonably, and this the alienating parent doesn’t do. Parent 1 refuses to do this, telling his child or children that he just wants peace and no fights between him and the other parent. This sends a negative message to the children, as they will think that the other parent is the reason why they can’t be a complete family because of his/her temper.

 

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  1. Accusing Parent 2 Of Abuse. This may be too way below the belt, but yes, some alienating parents will go as far as accusing the other parent of physically and mentally abusing them, which is the reason why their relationship did not work. If the children are still very young, they wouldn’t try to comprehend this and will immediately blame and be angry at the other parent.

 

In The End

No matter where we look at it, the children suffer the most from parental alienation. “Severely alienated children have little if anything positive to say about the targeted parent and often rewrite the history of their relationship with the targeted parent,” wrote Susan Heitler, PhD.

Choosing between two parents because of unresolved issues is quite difficult for them, especially when they’re still too young. Divorce and separation are two issues that can destroy the children’s future and their way of thinking. It is vital that parents be willing to commit to co-parenting to attend to the needs of their children first and foremost. Their lives should not be destroyed because of their parents’ misunderstanding.

 

Mental Health And New Mothers

Are you aware that the number of women who have reported signs and symptoms of post-partum depression has increased over the years? It means that many new mothers are experiencing some serious mental health problems. Because of this, it is essential to spread awareness on how women can overcome postpartum depression.

According to Suzanne Degges-White, PhD, “There isn’t a solid explanation for why some new mothers go from the blues to full-blown postpartum depression (PPD). The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has suggested that PPD is “likely to result from body, mind, and lifestyle factors combined.””

In this article, we are going to tackle the effective methods on how a new mom like you can accomplish the said goal.

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