Friday, 20 January 2017


Parental Alienation Syndrome — The Parent/Child Disconnect

Abuse is one of the most sickening issues in our times. Whether it is the abuse of a child, a woman, an elder man or woman, it is heinous. Abuse comes in three main forms: physical, sexual and psychological (also known as emotional abuse). It is the mental and emotional abuse caused by a spouse’s deliberate attempt to destroy the partner in the eyes of the children that will be the focus of this article. Parental Alienation is a growing epidemic in divorce proceedings. It is time to change this and make a difference for children so that they can grow up gracefully.

To quote AJL Baker “Among the many areas of concern for social workers working with divorced or separated couples with children are two related problems: parental alienation, or the efforts on the part of one parent to turn a child against the other parent, and parental alienation syndrome, or a child's unwarranted rejection of one parent.

PAS – A Case Study
CHILDLINE received information about Anand (given name), aged 10 years, a 5th standard student in one of the prominent schools in rural parts of Trivandrum. Anand was staying with his brother Akash (given name), and mother. The father is working abroad. The child and his brother, refused to obey their mother. The mother claimed that the children misbehaved to her because of the direction from their father. As the tantrums of Anand and his sibling became unbearable, the family shifted to the mother’s ancestral home. The father also filed a petition against the mother, stating that the children were not given proper care and protection. It also said that the woman worked at distant places, leaving the children at home, with grandmother.

CHILDLINE staff members visited the house, met the children and their mother, counseled them and gave guidance to parents. It had come to our notice that the mother had to go in search of work, as the father did not provide them with financial help for daily sustenance. During the father’s visit, he has allegedly verbally and physically abused the mother as well. The children (Both the siblings) were produced before CWC on the 3rd of January 2017. As per CWC order, the children were provided temporary shelter and further counseling & orientation for education at Don Bosco Nivas, Trivandrum.

The children are being provided behavioral therapy and emotional guidance at the center. Anand and Akash have being showing common signs of behavioral problems. The parents have exhibited parenting issues with the children becoming victims of it. As we are yet to meet the father, based on the observations from circumstantial evidences and counseling reports, it is quite evident that the father has influenced the children in a very negative manner. 

PAS - Children caught between parents
Whatever one may think children associated with parental alienation are victims but not of their own making. Parents are responsible for the child becoming a victim and most especially the parent who is carrying out the alienation process. Parental alienation is a form of child abuse since children are being used for the purpose of parents showing their animosity towards the other half of a relationship. The animosity displayed towards the other parent who is being alienated can have a terrible effect on the child in question. Children who are suffering within the alienation process are often unaware of its impact. They merely feel the consequences such as developing views propagated by the alienating parent that the other parent is “evil,” “wicked,” “stupid” or “dangerous” or all of these.

PAS is Domestic Violence in the form of Psychological Maltreatment.
Children therefore are frequently used by the alienating parent against the other parent to act as spies or saboteurs generally being used for unethical purposes in relation to the alienated parent. Additionally they are often encouraged to treat the alienated parent with lack of respect with the purpose of humiliating that parent. The children are even encouraged to behave in a deceitful manner with that parent such as already mentioned, spying on that parent and any relationship they may have developed with another person, stealing from that person or lying to that person. This of course will be denied by the alienating parent.

PAS – The Hard Truth
PAS is a hard truth that needs to be accepted by parents, teachers, caregivers and stakeholders related to children. The emotional drain can adversely affect both parents and children. When a parent uses the children as pawns to get back at their ex spouse for not loving them anymore or to control them further, this is exploitation at the meanest way possible.

If there are things that cannot be sorted out immediately between parents it is better to separate early so that children can have easy access to both parents and there is no more need to speak ill of the other parent and children can grow up mentally healthy.  It is a crime to continue fighting over a period of time because it will surely affect children badly. Often children need and are happy to have access to both parents.

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