To those of you who have gone through this Phenomenon of Pathogenic Parenting (more commonly known as “Parental Alienation”) or witnessed it happen to your friends or family: You may be left scratching your head wondering, “How did this happen?”
“Why won’t my kids talk to me?”
If you are the “targeted parent” (I hate that term…it has a victim feel to it) and do some reflection, you will most likely see the signs that were there long ago. You just chose to ignore them…hoping they’d get better.
The truth is of course, it doesn’t get better. In fact if anything it gets exponentially worse when not addressed immediately. The sooner you can assess and identify the situation and what is happening to your family, the sooner you can “vaccinate” your family against PA.
For me the key was early intervention which was a major reason I was ultimately successful in winning back my rights to my son. I now share 50/50 custody with his mother. However, had I paid attention to the signs earlier in the process I could have prevented the flight from the state, etc..
Hindsight is 20/20 but if we know what to look for, the signs are always there. We just have to pay attention to the red flags when they happen. For me, it took my son hiding behind his mother, pointing at me and laughing at an attempt at normal parental discipline and setting boundaries. The signs were there. I as most of us were, just in a fog.
My awakening came quickly following “the incident.” My sister had mentioned to someone in conversation, “I think my brother is being alienated.”
That word, “Alienated.” the word that brought my true awakening to be able to act effectively to save our son. That word, “Alienated”… the word that has been holding up mental health for over 30 years in proper assessment, diagnosis and treatment. That word led me to find Dr. Craig Childress and his book Foundations which was only written in 2015 (ironically the year my son was taken out of the state by his mother). This book was a lightening rod of knowledge for me,. It described the situation so well. It described what I had been living with for almost the past decade… asleep.
A search pulled up more knowledge, and more and more. I had to sift through other opinions, ideas, theories to find the answer that would save our son. The Gardnerian debate of PAS (Parental Alienation Syndrome) has kept mental health from fully awaking to the pathology because when push comes to shove “Parental Alienation” does not exist at least in the eyes of the APA (American Psychological Association). Dr. Childress has come up with a solution based on already established constructs based on the works of Bowlby – Minuchin & Beck regarding attachment. Here is AB-PA (Attachment Based Parental Alienation), a rock solid diagnosis that focuses on the symptoms emerging in the child in conjunction with the actions of the alienating parent. Armed with this weapon, the weapon of hope for a solution in my own case I was able to reverse the effects of the psychological abuse of our child.
There is an unstoppable wave coming as more and more parents, therapists, judges, and attorneys awaken to this subtle but powerful form of abuse. The more parents that are able to identify the red flags and catch this trauma early the more successful they will be in reversing the symptoms emerging in their children.
A child shares DNA with both parents, 23 from mom and 23 from dad. A child is meant to attach or bond to two parents, this is part of nature and natural child development. When that bond is interrupted for any reason whether it is one parent who tries to erase the bond, addiction, abuse, death, prison, or parental absence for any reason… that child will struggle. No matter how good and how stable the parent that is there… a void is left within the child. That child stands a good chance of struggling to fill that void with something outside themselves like drugs, alcohol, promiscuity and suffer from anxiety and depression.
We as a society have to realize that each parent contributes something to the child’s growth and development. If you you are being alienated, THINK you are being alienated, or know someone who is….review this list of 167 signs of Parental Alienation. If you even have some of these things happening in your life or the life of someone you love… the time to act is NOW.
Be kind to each other… that is how we stop the pain cycle.