PARENTAL ALIENATION SYNDROME: THE BASICS
Parental alienation syndrome, a term coined in the mid 1980’s by child psychiatrist Dr. Richard A. Gardner, occurs when one parent attempts to turn the couple’s children against the other parent. A parent who is angry at the spouse or ex-spouse accomplishes this estrangement by painting a negative picture of the other parent via deprecating comments, blame and false accusations shared with the children. They may also hoard the kids, doing all they can to thwart the other parent’s parenting time with the children.
From my years of experience practicing exclusively in the fields of divorce and family law, when the issue of parental alienation comes up, more times than not, it has been the mother who has been accused by the father as being the alienating parent, attempting to or actually unfortunately, turning the children against their father. However, it is certainly not uncommon for the father to attempt or succeed at alienating the children from their mother.
The psychological literature is certain of one thing: that children possess the biological imperative of wanting to be free to love both parents and receive their love in return. Children generally therefore, have a natural affection for and affinity towards both parents, including the parent who is manipulating the child, degrading the other parent and possibly even abusing the child emotionally in other ways, or even physically.
Studies have concluded that children can be manipulated by one parent to reject the other parent where there is no reason or just basis for that parent to be rejected by the child.
Thus, parents who poison their children’s natural affection for the other parent are doing serious and far-reaching damage to their innocent children. This conduct by the alienating parent is clearly a form of child maltreatment and can be a matter for a Child Protective Services investigation or Court intervention, whether in the context of divorce litigation in Supreme Court or Family Court petitions. Parental alienation undermines the children’s basic right to enjoy a meaningful and loving relationship with both of their parents who they should be free to love without anxiety, fear or other adverse emotional consequences from what comes naturally to all children.
An alienating parent is generally focused on control and usually shows narcissistic and/or borderline personality traits.
Narcissistic individuals tend to be self-absorbed. Most centrally, they show deficits in the ability to listen to others’ differing perspectives. Instead, they hyper-focus on what they themselves want, think, feel and believe without taking into consideration others’ desires and ideas. Their selfishness and lack of empathy is demonstrated in all areas of their lives, including unfortunately, how they treat the other parent and by extension, their children. It is an extremely toxic and dysfunctional situation for the other members of the family to be in.
A narcissistic alienating parent uses the children as weapons, pawns in his/her battle to destroy the other parent. They claim to be protecting the children against the “evil” other parent.
The battle for power between divorcing parents or parents litigating in Family Court over custody and parenting time is a destructive force that destroys families and harm children, sometimes for the rest of their lives.
Proving the existence of parental alienation at trial is a complex matter. This shall be addressed in future blogs.
To better understand the complex and critical matter of parental alienation in Nassau and Suffolk County and how your particular facts and circumstances could impact this important issue, you are invited to contact Robert B. Pollack, Esq., principal attorney of The Pollack Law Firm, P.C.
The Pollack Law Firm, P.C., serving clients in Nassau and Suffolk County, is always available to assist and represent parties in divorce and all other matrimonial and family law matters. Please call today to schedule a free consultation: (516) 938-3330.By
Robert B. Pollack, Esq., principal attorney at The Pollack Law Firm, P.C.: Our firm is solely focused on Nassau and Suffolk County divorce, separation and all phases of matrimonial law, family law and mediation
DISCLAIMER: This article is intended to provide only general information for entertainment purposes and should never be relied upon as legal advice. One should seek the assistance of experienced matrimonial counsel to assist in explaining the law, options and making important decisions in any divorce, matrimonial or any family law matter. By reading this article, no attorney/client relationship arises in any manner whatsoever.