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Many of you know by now my experience of being a rejected parent (I have written before on my experience of Parental Alienation) of two of our kids:  one biological, one a stepchild.  These instances began during their middle school years (an age ripe for this) and shortly after my remarriage.

Since then, I’ve received a Master’s degree in psychology and am now finishing up a second Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.  Here’s what I’ve learned through my professional work and my own experiences since these instances occurred:

Part of the rejection of the child has to do with the differences in parenting.  One parent is generally the authoritative parent and the other is the permissive.  Which one would you like to have if you’re a teen?  Sometimes, however, there the alienated child aligns with an authoritarian parent.

It’s more than the difference in parenting though.  It only takes one parent, and the child who is open to the manipulative, often subtle attempts to form a coalition against the other parent, to tip the power balance between the parents to the alienator being on top of the authority hierarchy along with the child, with the targeted parent a step down in the family system.  This type of coalition and boundary breach is extremely dysfunctional and unhealthy for a child–and their relationship with the targeted parent suffers because of this.  I’ll write more about the family system in another article.

I feel tremendously grateful that after my biological child went away to college, our relationship began to get better.  Today, I consider it healed. Suffice it to say, distance from the alienating behaviors helps.  Examples of alienating behaviors from my ex include “Your mother is a retard” as an example of a derogatory text written to her, providing me with the wrong dates/times to doctors’ appointments so I would miss them or not telling me at all (cutting out the other parent), colluding with my daughter to move out of my house and into his without my knowledge or approval (skewing the family system hierarchy with her at a higher level than me, keeping secrets forming an unhealthy alliance)–then to not see her for a year going against our custody agreement (again, providing the child with more power than the parent) and giving her full power over me to decide when to visit—these are just some examples of how parents set up through alienating behaviors, dysfunctional coalitions and boundary breaches in a family system.

My antidote to a child rejecting a targeted parent is to spend more time with the targeted parent and have the alienating parent spend some time in therapy so the child doesn’t go back to the same ol’ toxic environment.  Going away to college helps, as does having the targeted parent attempt to stay in their child’s life while remaining compassionate and loving despite the hostility and contempt that has taken over their once loving and adorable child (in effect replicating the alienator’s feelings toward the targeted parent).  Believe me, I know EXACTLY what your child turns into–how they can function and be kind to EVERYONE else, but not when it comes to THAT parent.  Must be something wrong with you, right?  No–don’t believe that!  Until a court says you are unfit (and I highly doubt one will), your child should be visiting you on their regular schedule.  Stay steady, loving, and compassionate.  And learn how to forgive.  Quickly!  Cause you’ll need that.  And, if the alienator is not abiding by the custody agreement (“it’s not my fault they won’t come over.  I can’t make them.” or maybe “They’re old enough to decide!”), get it enforced by taking them to court.  The sooner the alienation is addressed, the better.  

It is not the targeted parent who needs therapy; it’s the alienator.  Once the alienator’s behavior and beliefs change about the other parent, there will be a change in the child–but the child will also need therapy to undue some of the damage inflicted on them. Unfortunately, working with an alienator who is narcissistic/borderline is difficult.   They find it difficult to accept responsibility.  The type of therapy I am most drawn to is solution-focused brief therapy.  Instead of focusing on pathologizing the client, the therapist focuses on the solution, the positive, and the future.  Focusing on the solutions available instead of the problems at hand helps facilitate the client’s change in what is considered everyone’s desired direction–the well-being of the child.  NOT the “child’s best interest”–because they (and the alienator) will try to convince everyone that the targeted parent is abusive and dangerous–no, I mean the child’s well-being.  Children need both parents in their lives.  The alienator and child have no right to make the decision that the other parent is not a good parent and to act on their beliefs.  The manipulation of a child to coach them to say and make up horrible things about their once loved parent is abuse.  THE ALIENATORS are the abusive parents, not the targeted ones (this is where the psychological term of projection comes to mind).

I’ve said this before and I’ll keep repeating it:  Parental Alienation is child psychological abuse.  Here’s the DSM-5’s criteria for child psychological abuse:

“Child psychological abuse is nonaccidental verbal or symbolic acts by a child’s parent or caregiver that result, or have reasonable potential to result, in significant psychological harm to the child” (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).

You’d get help for a child who showed symptoms of physical abuse.  I want to know why more isn’t being done for these kids who are experiencing psychological abuse!   The courts and mental health community, for the most part, are making this insidious problem worse.  How long before they pull their heads out of the sand?  The lengthy high-conflict divorce battles only make it worse.   But it doesn’t have to be a court battle–it can be anything that triggers an increased amount of stress and anxiety in the alienator–remarriage, dating, the child’s impending independence, their closeness with the other parent…

In the past, I wrote extensively on the subject of PA, not to mention I researched the crap out of it (pardon my French)–which culminated in a huge research paper for one of my classes in my Master’s psychology degree program.  If you want to know about the dynamics of an alienator, an alienated child, and a targeted parent–I know it inside and out.  But, I’m learning that we’re all still learning about what PA is and how to address it.

All the experience and reading in the world can help you to some degree, but having a language to express it–well, that’s even better!  Enter Dr. Craig Childress.  Oh, and the Marriage and Family Therapy program I’m enrolled in–that’s been invaluable as well (for my family of origin stuff too). Needless to say, because of my personal experience, background in MFT and with Dr. Childress’s educational material, I’ve been able to expand my knowledge tremendously. If you can work your way through Dr. Childress’s material, you’ll have a fantastic base for what’s going on with your child.  And it ain’t pretty.

My current class on psychopathology and the DSM-5 is providing an incredible tool for diagnosing children who reject a parent due to a hostile conflict between their parents.  I resonate with Dr. Childress’s work because he’s educating the mental health profession using a language and diagnostic tool they are familiar with, respect, and use in their own practices. It’s been quite a battle trying to get Parental Alienation into the DSM-5 and it’s polarized some of the clinicians trying to do so.  Instead of joining a side, I’m in agreement with Dr. Childress.  The diagnosis is already within the DSM-5.  More on this later in the article.

I have always asserted that the alienating parent has a personality disorder.  Love it when that is validated over and over again–this time by Dr. Childress!  Don’t really love it though for the fact that dealing with a person who has a PD who doesn’t want to admit they’re the problem is incredibly difficult (my husband’s ex actually told our stepson that his dad has Narcissistic Personality Disorder–which is projection, but how the heck do you counter to that statement coming out of his mouth?  What could a parent possibly get out of telling their child this–their interpretation of something so inaccurate, but yet oh-so-telling of their own inner workings?). Therapists are likely to admit that some of their most difficult clients are those with NPD and Borderline Personality Disorder.  If therapists have issues with them, imagine what a layperson like the targeted parent has to deal with?

As a counselor I’ve already been warned that alienators are a litigious bunch.  We see this in high-conflict divorces where the battle for custody drags on and on–which creates an opportunity ripe for a parent to exploit their child for their own gain and needs.  This parent will go to extremes to protect their sense of adequacy and self-esteem; and cannot accept the idea of their child loving the other parent–it feels like a rejection of them.  If they exhibit BPD traits, this will touch on their fear of abandonment as well.  Dr. Childress writes of decompensating behaviors when the narcissistic/borderline parent is stressed out–this is when you see the NPD/BPD person decompensate into an intense alienating machine.  This is why the whole divorce/custody/legal system needs to be revamped.  High conflict divorces are a breeding ground for the child’s rejection of loving and fit parents.  They learn an extremely dysfunctional behavior of attempting to resolve their parent’s conflict.

Interestingly, a majority of divorcing parents do show some signs of alienating behaviors during the first year after separating.  However, most of these behaviors do not continue to morph into the culmination of the rejection of a targeted parent.  I think a couple factors come into play:  the child spends time with both parents, the child is relatively emotionally/psychologically healthy, and the parents don’t have personality disorders.

Until the mental health system and the courts recognize the seriousness of this issue, these 750,000+ alienated children in any given year will be in the future battling their own personality disorders, depression, suicide, low self-esteem, major relationship issues, etc.  No one wants that for their child, but yet, unaddressed, the rejection of a parent to the immense satisfaction of the alienator at the expense of the child’s needs (every child deserves to have BOTH parents in their lives) will lead to a diminished quality of life for these kids in adulthood.  The DSM-5 lists relational problems (parent-child relational problem and child affected by parental relationship distress) as “having a significant impact on on the health of the individuals in these relationships.”  Can we not see past the he says/she says parental conflicts and view the children in distress to the point that they unnaturally reject a parent?  Resolving conflict in this manner will permanently damage a child’s emotional and psychological well-being until they receive help.  Their rejection is a red flag for help.  They don’t know another way to get it.  Let’s provide them with healthy tools and skills to work through what really should be between the parents, and really, should be the alienator working on their own inner workings instead of infecting the family unit with their psychoses, delusions, and personality disorder.  That’s a legacy I don’t want for my kids–do you?

One thing Dr. Childress hasn’t said (maybe I missed it?) is that the pathological alignment between parent and child (he calls this “pathogenic parenting”) can occur within intact (dysfunctional) families also.  And, you don’t have to be recently divorced to have this happen–although this does seem to be a prime time for setting off decompensating behaviors of the narcissistic/borderline alienator.

The DSM-5, as many of you know, is a manual published by the American Psychiatric Association to classify mental disorders and to assist clinicians to diagnose and treat mental disorders.  Although Parental Alienation/Parental Alienation Syndrome did not make it into the fifth edition, I do agree with Dr. Childress’s assessment of PA using the DSM-5’s criteria of adjustment disorder, parent-child relational problem, child affected by parental relationship distress, and child psychological abuse.  I think these kids also exhibit oppositional defiant disorder traits–but only to the targeted parent.

In one of my last articles about PA, one reader wrote that the article was too much.  I’ve forgotten their exact words now, but it was along the lines that I rambled on.  I agree with them.  In the future, I will try to be more concise.  I, like so many others, am trying to make sense of the nonsensical.  For me, this comes out as rambling as I try to put the pieces together on a very difficult concept.  As a parent and counselor, I have had trouble in the past separating my own personal experience with my professional work.  As I become more and more steeped in my MFT studies, I am better able to separate the two (personal and professional) viewpoints.

My future in MFT consists of finishing up my degree by taking part in externships in my area.  I am also now in the process of writing a book on PA–especially on what a targeted parent can do to help heal their relationship with their child.  Eventually, I would like to provide therapy to these broken families and help them work past the dysfunctional dynamics that has set them up for disaster.

 

Published by Nicole Nenninger

Nicole Nenninger MA Psychology, MA Marriage & Family Therapy Nicole is a coach (life and relationship), counselor, author and course instructor. She understands that the relationship you have with yourself reflects the overall quality of your life. In addition the relationship you have with yourself affects the relationship you have with your partner and with others. Nicole helps women in midlife who struggle with self-esteem and confidence, life purpose, life balance, motivation and direction, relationship issues, break-ups, and more. Nicole lives in a beautiful coastal town on Long Island, New York with her handsome husband and soul mate, 2 dogs and a cat. Her 4 children are young adults living their best lives. She loves running, reading, learning, kayaking, and going to the beach.

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16 Comments

  1. I appreciate you writing this very much. I have also found Dr. Craig Childress as well as Dr. Steve Miller’s work and they have transformed my understanding of the processes involved in my own “PA” life. Up until finding Childress so many professionals have been simply getting it wrong and their sentiments have been destructive to my family. The system needs to be overhauled and it needs to happen soon. It is a true crime in how today’s courts handle this type of family dynamics. Hopefully with enough people like you shedding light on the matter we will see a change.

    I really like how you summarized the symptom display for the children of PA. “They learn an extremely dysfunctional behavior of attempting to resolve their parent’s conflict.”
    As a father who has been rejected for the past seven years and fully rejected for almost a full year, the concept that the child is a victim of abuse and is displaying symptoms as a result of the presence of a parental mental illness has allowed me to be completely empathetic for my children. In the beginning the children’s rejection had a very defiant flavor to it but now I understand that they have learned to regulate the illness of their pathological parent as a survival tactic. This has allowed me to focus my energy on exposing the underlying abuse and not on dispelling the constant accusations.
    Anyway, thank you for the article and let’s hope for changes!
    Micah

    1. Thank you for your comment. I am so sorry to hear you have had to experience PA. You’ve probably realized by now–there are thousands of parents just like you out there–who feel frustrated, gypped, angry, sad…And the children…the children suffer the most. They lose out on living with a healthy parent–a healthier role model. I mean, c’mon–who teaches children to hate? Underneath, don’t lose hope, your child still loves you. They’re just lost. I tell parents: Be the parent they need you to be. There are lots of lessons in going through this–one is unconditional love. At some point I hope they come back–you’ve got to hold that space (and keep it positive and loving).

  2. Thanks for the article. I have a question. You mention permissive and authoritarian parenting styles. I’m the target of alienation by a permissive parent with a ‘narcissistic injury’. She uses permissiveness and rewards as a means to alienate.

    This causes two things. I find myself applying more and more discipline as my son acts out more and more towards me. I try to stick to authoritative (not authoritarian) style. But that normal discipline is cast by her and my son as me being abusive, rigid, controlling, etc. Worst of all, I can’t prove it’s not true, and end up constantly defending myself (to his school, to court and court representatives etc.) and become the focus of scrutiny, when it is actually she that is actually the source of the issue.

    Have you come across any effective methods to defend against this? I fear it may be too late, as the custody evaluator seems to have aligned to this perception of me as an iron-fisted parent (which is almost comical, because many of the people I know would say I’m still towards the permissive end of the spectrum!)

    1. Hi John–thank you for your comments. A lot of parents who have been through PA can relate to what you’ve written. The justice system is inadequately prepared to deal with a majority of these cases and instead they make them worse for the families–especially the relationships between the targeted parent and alienated child.

      I am wondering how old your son is? Middle school or high school age? It is natural to “butt heads” against the parent who is trying to set up structure vs. the permissive parent who lacks any–especially as they head into their teenage years. Given a choice, the teen will choose a parent who lacks rules or doesn’t enforce them vs. a parent who has rules and does provide consequences (but sometimes the authoritarian parent will scare the crap out of the kids if they do choose the other parent so they elect to align with the stricter parent).

      Kids need structure–they need to know the limits and rules, know they’re enforceable (often parents will back off in situations like these because they fear they’ll lose their children), and they need to know you’re consistent but yet flexible as they mature.

      The current research has found that authoritative parenting is the most effective. Regardless, unless you are found to be abusive or neglectful (and some children will falsely accuse a parent of this) it is in the child’s best interest to have both parents in their lives. It’s too much power to give a child that kind of choice especially since their (rational) brains are still forming.

      I wouldn’t change your parenting or be defensive of it. Here’s the thing: this all doesn’t really have to do with your parenting. It sounds like PA and if this is PA, it has everything to do with the psychological make-up of the alienating parent. Changing your style to appease your child or the Court isn’t going to help in the long run. Your job is to be the best parent to your child–not to the Court, not what your child or other parent or school thinks you should do. Think long-term. How do you want to look back on this? It sounds like it might be a good time to go over the rules and consequences in your home. Your child’s experience with the mother might be different, but if kids know the rules and the consequences if they break them, there’s no surprises. In intact households, parenting styles are often different between parents. It just makes it a little confusing for the kids. Unfortunately, divorce exacerbates these styles and the reality that one parent is way more easy going is going to be enticing for a kid (and they feel important to the parent because they “choose” them). It can be really complicated, but here’s the gist:

      How do you want to show up in the world? To your child? To yourself? Do you want to waver in your parenting style because someone is critical of it? Just because you are tells me you are a self-reflective and thoughtful person, but you don’t have to change for anyone if you feel your parenting is good enough. Your child is being harmed by the conflict between you and the mother and you and your child–not by your parenting. The relationships should be focused on for healing–not your supposed lack in parenting skills. By the way: How was your relationship with your child before the break-up? Was your parenting in question then?

  3. Thank you for writing about this insidious form of child abuse. Our family (I’m remarried with 3 girls at home) is dealing with a classic case of parental alienation. We are dealing with personality disorder, permissive parenting, custodial interference, projection, false allegations, court order violations..you get the idea.
    Our daughter just turned 17 and tried to work her way back into our lives, but after five visits and one overnight, the alienator put a stop to that. Seeing our daughter being tortured for asking to spend the night was an experience I wish I could forget.
    our family was invited to film a PSA with an actor dealing with PA. and we are now spearheading a movement to help a filmmaker produce a documentary on PA. It will be her third documentary and her second one dealing with PA. If you would like more information feel free to call or email me

    1. Now that there’s more exposure to what PA is, more and more people are able to make some sense of what’s going on for them and also realize they aren’t alone. No one should have to go through this–especially a child. I love the idea of a film being made–I think it would be beneficial to have kids or adults talking about their experiences with PA. As an adult and targeted parent, we know what it is, but when you’re a kid and caught in the middle of it, you’re not thinking “I’m an alienated kid.” I think it would be powerful to hear from a child victim’s perspective and how it’s affected their life. It would also be interesting to film an alienated kid talking about their hatred for the other parent. Some of these kids come across as having Oppositional Defiant Disorder (I don’t like labels, but they fit this description when they’re with the target parent). If you were to see your behavior from a different lens so to speak, on film, that might shift their thinking. However, kids being filmed in their hatred mode is not very kind (maybe actors could do this?). There’s so much to say on this, but I’ll end with me saying I’m sorry you have to go through this–it’s heartbreaking. I’m sorry your kids have to go through this. It keeps the family from healing when there’s an open wound begging for closure. Always keep an open door because at some point, I hope she’ll come back.

  4. Thank you for your article.
    Story-sharing is always helpful, so here’s mine below, but before I do here’s a link to a WEALTH of help: symptom outlines, an incredible quiz that exposes more behaviors than parents may initially see as damaging, offers some resources, etc. I’ve researched this topic for nearly a year and this is the best site I’ve found to breadcrumb yourself back to sanity if you’re a parent subjected to this. Unfortunately the behavior set is not as recognized here as in Canada, where it’s clearly identified and called Hostile-Aggressive Parenting. http://www.hostile-aggressive-parenting.com/

    My wife had a daughter via IVF with her ex wife, to whom she was married for 12 escalatingly abusive years. My wife initiated and paid for the procedure, nearly $40K, and cared for her daughter equally with the mother for the first three years. When the marriage ended the abuse had become physical and there were signs, later confessed to be true, that the mother was also abusive toward their daughter. The mother presents clearly as NPD.

    My step-daughter is now nearly 6. One month after she turned three, her biological mom took advantage of the dearth of legal protection in states which didn’t at the time recognize same-gender marriages even if legally performed in other states, and moved the daughter from TN to CA despite my wife’s concerted campaign to stop her from doing so. Luckily, CA recognizes same-gender parents as equally as traditional ones, so we did not have to fight to establish parenthood. Not all parents in same-gender divorces have been as fortunate.

    In the last three pain and litigation-filled years we have learned much that hopefully will help others. I’m considering moving toward a law degree with a specialty in this area, because advocates for targeted parents are horrifically scarce.

    We’ve experienced an extremely underhanded version of pathological parenting, so it was hard to identify at first. In addition to the overt actions the mother takes (withholding contact as leverage in the divorce, coaching the child that Lauren isn’t her mom because she didn’t come out of her tummy, emotionally blackmailing the child to call the new boyfriend daddy, sequestering her out of reach when we flew to CA to visit, lying in court papers, withholding Doctor, school and therapist information and access, accusations of neglect, “you have no rights except the ones I GIVE you”, aligning the bio-maternal grandparents into kidnapping the child… on and on), there are a host of sneakily subversive tactics employed as well. Hiding packages sent, “disappearing” gifts sent, giving identical but larger gifts and replacing ours with hers, creating as many hoops and obstacles to visitation as possible, adding layers of conditional criterion to visitation processes (text first or you don’t get to talk to her, etc), berating the child for honestly answering even the most innocuous of questions until she fears to answer anything, projecting her verbal abuse, bullying and other behaviors onto us and co-opting our terms for same, blaming us if Lauren is angry and poorly behaved with her bio mom when she returns from visiting us, etc.

    Through it all, we have fought fiercely and learned how to protect her by not asking her much, staying relentlessly in touch with her and choosing our battles carefully with the knowledge that they’ll all be fought directly on the battleground of the child’s heart. And we document EVERYTHING. Those are my suggestions to anyone victim to this. Think before you bring up an issue with the parent: how will this trickle down to the child? Is it appropriate in the whole picture to directly address, or can it be silently documented to address with a third party mediator? Get yourself in front of the legal apparatus with this documentation as often as possible. Don’t give in to your pain– your child’s pain is greater because confusion and deception are added to it. At least you know what’s happening. Contact them relentlessly. Send them your love whether they receive it or not and document EVERY SINGLE attempt and the outcome. Data is your friend. These people win on the battleground of emotions; you can overcome that with an endless barrage of data. Times, dates, impressions, write it all down and then ruthlessly edit the emotion out of it.

    Love that child with all your heart and do your best to communicate that love to them. Then release the pain in your heart the best you can, look at the forest from above rather than the tree in front of you and stay detached in the awareness that this is NOT about you. These people are walking wounds who are so frightened that they will lose their child to you that they’ll twist the fear into anger and betray everyone and everything to keep their only blind, unconditional ally – the child- in their controlling pocket. If you can dissolve your judgement toward them and find compassion, all the better. I know firsthand how next to impossible that feels.

    Read: Leadership and the Art of Self-Deception and The Anatomy of Peace, both quick anecdotal reads by the Arbinger Institute, if you want to move out of victimhood and see how you can impact the situation from within.

    You are not alone. Do not allow the actions of these others to send you into bitterness and despair. Love will win; you will be better for having stayed loving. The bile of anger and hatred will destroy your mind and body and leave your child with a burnt husk of a parent; maintain by choice your right to stay clean, clear and filled with love. You are more in control than you think, but only of yourself.

    Blessings.

    1. Hi Heather–

      I got chills reading your story–and I’m sure I won’t be the only one who can relate to your perspective of being a targeted parent of PA. You so nicely stated, too, how important it is to stay loving and centered for your child no matter how crazy things get. I wish you, your wife, and your child the very best. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

  5. Hi Nicole

    Thank you for writing this.

    I came across your article and am very heartened to see this issue beginning to get the attention it needs and deserves from the perspective you are describing. I have referred to it from my site, FB page, Twitter feed and Google+ page.

    My site is http://www.beyondparentalaliention.com. The site is specialized in that it is based in Dr. Childress’s work. Before I came across his material I was seeing many posts and articles about the gloomy outlook for targeted parents. While it is new, I am fast seeing many good resources are out here on the topic to reference.

    I have seen little of my daughter for almost 15 months after my ex started a series of allegations which have all been dis-proven so far. But things keep “happening” right around the time there are custody hearings or evaluations that force me to disprove negatives over and over, at the cost of time my daughter does not get to see her father and enormous sums of money. My former attorney (I have run out of money and am now going pro se) was fortunately on the ball enough to get what appears to be relatively competent mental health involved which has made a difference in slowing the progression, but the progression continues to creep in nonetheless.

    I have finally decided to take more action because as much as I want the system to help, it appears to be very limited in what it is able to do. When doing my intake with the latest evaluator, I brought in a binder with evidence showing my ex’s pattern of behavior as well as Dr. Childress’s professional consultation. It’s about 50 pages long which is good for getting the key concepts across quickly. I am a little nervous because I don’t know how my ex will take it but I realize where doing nothing will most likely lead. I am also planning to give a copy to the court appointed counselor who is working with my daughter. I’m even more nervous because she will likely let me ex know about it and I don’t know what will happen- but it feel it is vital she get more information.

      1. No, I am not being paid to advertise for anyone. I resonate with the work Dr. Childress has done in the area of PA and that kind of work deserves exposure so that others going through PA may use his experience and wisdom.

  6. Hi to Nicole and my professional colleague, I too am alos a professional mental helth therapist with a MSW degree and the mother of three whose is divorced with a child is severely afflicted with PAS syndrome. Of the three girls, she is the chosen one who lives with her father, the alienator, and who is seeking a way out of being the “spousified child”. Of the 16 symptoms this child suffers from 10 of them, to which she has exemplified through anxiety,depression, suicidal ideation, school refusal, poor peer support, and in a deep sexual relationship with a 15 year old. The later is uncertain to which one can only speculate is why she had a IUD put in place as a result of unprotected sex with …. (boyfriend or father) is unknown. What is known is she is living a false self-image her father has engrained in her, into believing. She is now playing along with the false self, that she finds conflictual to being her true self (with self control to turn against the evil forces to acting out as someone she isn’t – such as being the ‘spousified child’ to her father, since I am no longer his wife). In the end, this child has a false self image, who no longer sees me as her mother but the mistress/ or a pretend “wicked step-mother” who wants to get in the middle of her and her “man”/ the alienating parent (who she perceives has been victimized by me the targeted parent who no longer is in the home). As a result of this approach, only during the time she is in the orbit of her “man”, does she aliente herself from her true self. Her true self would be living the life of a typical teenager. This back and forth of her self-image has greatly distorted her awareness of who she is, and until she can escape from the bondage she is in it will be a constant issue in her crazy life. Some days she has the self will to fight it, other days she loses control and has hurt herself, which landed her in the psyche hospital already once. As a professional and a mother of a child suffering from PAS, I can only pray for recovery to be restored into the caring, compassionate, and loving child she is to me, knowing it is her true self that she will one day see worth, living.

    1. Ana, I’m so sorry to hear of your experience with PA. Unfortunately, I hear about so many different experiences, and they all have a common denominator–an ex that cannot see beyond satisfying their own egoic needs–at their child’s expense. I’m doing an internship currently that has as part of its outreach programs, a facility just for kids who are in the midst of highly conflictual divorces who stay in the facility instead of at a parent’s home until the psychological/emotional environment is healthier for them. I think the judicial system in particular needs more highly trained and skilled professionals who know how to handle PA cases and how to defuse these cases. I also think more therapists need training in this area. Best to you–and to your daughter. Your daughter has you–even though she’s turned away for the moment. Often, it takes her leaving the home (college) to get some psychological space from the madness that is PA.

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