Recently metaltalk.net posted news about Lita Ford's latest single 'Mother' which based on Lita's own highly painful experience of being alienated from her children. According to Lita the alienation has come about as a result of her divorce from her husband Jim Gallet who is the father of her two sons.
Many people are unfamiliar with the term 'Parental Alienation' and given that Lita's song is promoting this complex concept we thought the very least we can do is write an information article for our readers...
Article continues below...
So, what is Parental Alienation?
Firstly it is a recognised 'syndrome' and the proper terminology is 'Parental Alienation Syndrome' - PAS - and the accepted definition of PAS is on Dr. Richard Gardner's websites www.rgardner.com and at also www.parentalalienation.com:
"It is the systematic denigration of the non-resident parent by the resident parent with the intent of alienating children against the non-resident parent. The pattern of PAS behaviour is common to some degree or other in all custody disputes. Children who have been alienated will claim that it is their own decision to reject the non-resident parent. Once this happens, it could be several years before the non-resident parent will see their children again."
It is crucial to note that legal guardians can also be responsible for alienating children from their parents if the child/ren in question are not living with their biological parents.
PAS is in reality the systematic brainwashing of a child/ren in order to persuade them that it is best to cease contact with the parent being denigrated and become solely dependent on the parent who has initiated the alienation. This behaviour tends to be aimed at fathers more frequently than mothers but this is not to undermine mothers who also find themselves in this unfair position. It does help us appreciate why high profile campaigns for fathers rights refer to this syndrome and promote its existence. It is estimated that, in the UK, there are approximately 60,000 children at any given time who have lost contact with their fathers. While not all of these children are subject to PAS there are some children within this group who have fathers who do wish to have contact with them but are unable to due to PAS. There are no actual statistics available for children who have lost contact with their mothers.
What are the visible signs of PAS in a child/ren?
- The child hating the alienated parent
- The child stating that he/she does so of own volition
- The alienating parent stating he/she has not influenced the child
- The child's 'hate' extending to all the alienated parents family and acquaintances
- The alienating parent cutting off all forms of communication between the child/ren and the alienated parent
- The alienating parent exploiting every situation that will denigrate the alienated parent.
Although PAS is recognised as a syndrome and is in some situations recognised as a form of child abuse the family courts are disempowered to take action as the children in question will repeat that they seek no contact with the alienated parent through their own volition. This is understood to be due to the emotional response from children to the parent who is alienating the other parent resulting in a Stockholm Syndrome like reaction from the children to the alienating parent. This is the emotional link that does make the resolving of this issue complex and is why many alienated parents are not reconciled with their children until they are adults and able to understand their childhood experiences from a mature viewpoint.
If you are an alienated parent who is there to help you? Support is shockingly thin on the ground, however in the UK there is;
The Parental Alienation Organisation http://www.parentalalienation.org.uk – you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Families Need Fathers - http://www.fnf.org.uk/law-and-information/parental-alienation
In the US there is http://www.parentalalienation.org/index.html for support.
Alternatively you can seek support from your GP and ask for counselling as PAS is a recognised syndrome or to be put in touch with local support networks.
No matter which country you live in this book - Parental Alienation: How to Understand and Address Parental Alienation Resulting from Acrimonious Divorce or Separation by L.F. Lowenstien is helpful reading.
Let us give the final word to Lita whose song "Mother" is helping people to understand this emotional and complex syndrome.
Finally – good luck, children deserve access to parents who wish to treat their children with the love and kindness they need. Life is tough enough quite frankly!