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‘’I am really angry with our father, he promised to meet us today and he is late again. Mum was right. He is showing us that he doesn’t really care about our feelings.’’

Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is when the child becomes conditioned to alienate a parent, this is done through one parent impressing upon them the feeling of anger in relation to the other parent, as can be seen through the above example. Parents used this process as a way to handle their anger and thus the child is used as a weapon and also as a partner in a time of hurt and crisis for the parent.

PAS occurs when there is a separation between the parents and the child’s custody is put into question. Apart from the child being brainwashed by the parent, he or she will start to participate in the denigration of the other parent without any proper justification.  For instance, not wanting to spend time with the parent and calling them names as well as kicking and screaming when being forced to do so.

The child has an active part in PAS and it is displayed in the following ways; by using foul language towards the parent, hating the parent without reason, claiming to have come up with the idea on their own, since they have a need to protect the alienating parent and expresses no guilt for what they are doing.

Parents who have overcome PAS have done so by attending parenting courses, learned to keep their emotions under control and not discussing any court cases or speaking badly of the other parent when the child is present. As well as learning to enjoy their time with their child.
It is important that the alienated parent receives support through this time. Dealing with PAS is not easy, however, parents who choose to work on the issue and follow the advice given by professionals can overcome this.

-Michaela Bonello is an intern with Willingness.