It is not uncommon for there to be some acrimonious feelings parents may have towards each other as they are going through a divorce. However, it is critical for the sake of their children that the parents quickly work through these emotions in order to minimize the impact they can have on how well the children adjust. Unfortunately, there are some cases where one of the parents is unable to work through these feelings and they can intensify to the point where they do everything they can to turn the children against the other parent. This is referred to as parental alienation syndrome (PAS).
What Is Parental Alienation Syndrome?
PAS is a complex and distressing phenomenon where one parent manipulates a child’s feelings, perceptions, and behaviors toward the targeted parent. It involves a systematic and intentional effort to undermine the child’s relationship with the targeted parent, often resulting in emotional estrangement and, in severe cases, complete rejection.
These behaviors can include negative comments, derogatory remarks, false accusations, and manipulation of information. The alienating parent may attempt to poison the child’s mind, implant false memories, or engage in gatekeeping, thereby obstructing the child’s access to the targeted parent. Over time, the child may develop a strong aversion or hostility towards the targeted parent, even in the absence of any valid reasons.
Reasons Why PAS Occurs
There are several factors that can lead one parent to engage in PAS. High-conflict divorces or separations, unresolved resentment between parents, and intense feelings of anger or betrayal can fuel alienating behaviors. A lack of effective co-parenting skills, communication breakdowns, and the presence of unresolved emotional issues can also create an environment conducive to parental alienation. Additionally, the child’s susceptibility to manipulation, their age, and their desire to please the alienating parent can further exacerbate the situation.
Impact on Children
Children who experience PAS often suffer profound emotional and psychological issues. They may feel torn between their loyalty to one parent and their innate desire for a loving relationship with the other. The alienating tactics can lead to confusion, guilt, and a distorted perception of reality. In extreme cases, children may completely reject the targeted parent, leading to long-lasting and often irreversible damage to the parent-child relationship. The emotional consequences can include low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and difficulties in forming healthy relationships later in life.
Contact a Cook County Family Lawyer
The severe and detrimental impact PAS can have on a child and their relationship with the targeted parent can leave a lifetime of emotional scars for that child. If you suspect your ex-spouse is engaging in behaviors to turn your children against you, contact a dedicated Chicago, IL family law attorney to find out what legal recourse you may have. Call [[title]] at [[phone]] today to schedule a free consultation.