Psychiatrist Richard Gardner, who coined the term parental alienation syndrome (PAS), initially argued that mothers were more likely to perpetuate PAS than fathers. He later claimed, “In the last few years I have seen a shift that has brought the ratio now to 50-50.” Regardless of gender, economic status, bond with the children, or other factors, no parent has the right to alienate a child from the other parent. Studies have shown that in cases of PAS, it’s the children who suffer most of all.
Most parents want what’s best for their children, but sometimes the emotional trauma of a divorce clouds their judgment. Instead of placing blame on one another or holding grudges, you can help resolve parental alienation by implementing the following strategies.
Seek professional help
There is absolutely no shame in asking for help, and doing so can instill this important message in your child. You don’t necessarily have to commit to weekly therapy visits, but be open-minded to the healing potential of therapy. This can be something you do as a family or just for your child. Look for specialists in your area with experience and expertise in situations like yours, or ask friends and family in similar situations for recommendations.
Focus on the positive
Communicate with your spouse calmly and in a non-accusatory manner about making a greater effort to put your differences aside and prioritize the children. Focus on positive aspects of co-parenting, like celebrating your child’s major achievements together and planning ahead for college. These approaches will help you stay focused on what’s really important, while minimizing conflict.
Be direct and informative without pointing fingers
Although it’s certainly not an easy task, if you truly suspect your ex of PAS, tell him or her directly. You can even soften the blow by acknowledging any guilt on your end. For example, “I know we’ve both let our differences interfere with co-parenting in the past, and I want that to change.” It’s possible that your ex isn’t fully aware of how his or her behavior is affecting your child. If your ex still seems reluctant to understand PAS and adjust his or her behavior, consider attending counseling sessions together for an expert’s opinion. A neutral and authoritative third party can often help reduce conflict in these kinds of situations.
It’s your right as a parent to enjoy a happy and healthy relationship with your children, regardless of your relationship with the other parent. Call the experienced professionals at DiPietro Family Law Group today at (888) 530-4374 for assistance and insight regarding your divorce.