What is parental alienation syndrome and who does it?

In an ideal situation, when two people who have children together split up, they maintain a respectful relationship in which they successfully co-parent their child or children. Unfortunately, most separations in California are rarely that amicable. Oftentimes, one or both parents let their feelings of hurt and rejection dictate their decisions, a fact that can lead to deplorable and even hurtful behavior. Some parents go so far as to turn their children against the other parent, a syndrome known as parental alienation syndrome.

According to Psychology Today, parental alienation syndrome occurs when one parent paints a negative picture of the other via deprecating comments, false accusations and blame shared with the child. The goal is to cause estrangement between the child and the victim parent.

Parental alienation syndrome is not just detrimental to the parent/child relationship—it can also cause serious and lifelong emotional damage to the child. Per the report, the removal and denial of contact in the absence of abuse or neglect constitute cruel and unusual treatment. Moreover, it is a form of child mistreatment. Because of the devastating effects this syndrome can have on the child’s psyche, the courts view it as a serious child protection matter as it violates a child’s basic right to know, love and be loved by both parents.

Typically, the parent doing the alienating lives with narcissism, which is selfishness on steroids. The narcissistic individual is often self-absorbed and hyper-focused on what he or she thinks, wants, believes and feels and does not take into consideration others’ wants or ideas — not even the wants of the child. The alienating parent will use the child as a pawn in his or her battle to destroy the relationship between the other parent and the child, claiming that his or her actions are meant to protect the child. The reality, however, is that the alienating parent shows little to no capacity to take into consideration the best interests of the child.

Furthermore, the alienating parent likely lives with a borderline disorder, which becomes evident in the way he or she twists reality. For instance, the victimizing parent might make false accusations about the other parent that are really just projections of his or her own shortcomings. The parent may also operate with a victim self-image and continually blame others for whatever goes wrong in his or her life.

This article is for educational purposes only. You should not use it as legal advice.

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