What Is Parental Alienation Syndrome And The Effects On Children

By: Jessica Anderson

Updated February 01, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Kristina Ellen

Divorce rates are rising in our society today, and children are being affected more than ever before. These relationship strains are extremely difficult for all parties involved, but for our children's sake, there are some actions we can take to keep them healthy throughout the process. If children are around too many negative conversations regarding adivorce, they may experience something called Parental Alienation Syndrome. In the article below, we will look into this syndrome, its symptoms, its causes, and how it can be prevented so that even after divorce, a family can thrive.

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Parental Alienation Syndrome And Its Effects On Children

Parental Alienation Syndrome occurs when a child displays irrational fear or anger toward one parent. These feelings are usually planted by the opposite parent in an attempt to keep the child away from the other parent. This is a form of psychological manipulation, and it is detrimental to the child and to their family relationships.

Parental Alienation Syndromecoerces a child to feel negative emotions toward a loving caregiver for no justifiable reason. This manipulationcan be either purposeful or accidental, but in either case, it should always be taken seriously and steps should be taken to prevent the behavior.

Parental Alienation Syndrome can have lasting effects on the children involved. During a divorce, kidsare trying to listen and trust two important adults in their lives wholove them very much. However, when one parent begins to convince them that the other parent is "bad" chaos ensues. This causes confusion, among many other negative emotions. Children who experience Parental Alienation Syndrome can even experience symptoms of anxiety and depression. It can cause children to behave in a negative or inappropriate manner at school or cause them to feel isolated and alone. They can have difficulty trusting others and could even bring parental alienation into their future children's lives. Among all of these hardships, children who experience Parental Alienation Syndrome may grow up without proper family relationships at no fault of their own.

If you have experienced Parental Alienation Syndrome or know someone who has, you likely understand how difficult it can be. If you're going through a divorce or have gone through one in the past, you know how challenging it can be to remain in apositive frame of mind in front of your children. Luckily, there is help available as you navigate these challenging waters. Many have gone before you and found hope, as well as pathways to healthy future relationships. Below, we will look into how to recognize, prevent, and repair relationships affected by Parental Alienation Syndrome.

How To Recognize Parental Alienation Syndrome

It is important to know that Parental Alienation Syndrome is quite common. Divorce happens at an alarmingly high rate, and in the heat of the moment, negative words and deeds occur between former partners. These happenings are rarelyhealthy, andthey can bring about even more negative and long-lasting consequenceswhen children are present.

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When attempting to recognize Parental Alienation Syndrome, you may notice some of the following symptoms:

  • One parent is blaming the other for financial issues or for the child not being able to do a certain activity. You might hear something similar to, "Well, you can't take swimming lessons any longer. Since your father left us, we have no money to spare."
  • The child is arguing with one parent, and the other parent encourages the argument or does not help them to solve the disagreement.
  • One parent is refusing to share medical or educational records with the other parent. Both parents have the right to receive information about their child's health and educational well-being, however.
  • When the child has a mark or a bruise, one parent jumps to the conclusion that the other parent was physically abusive without any evidence or reason behind the assumption.
  • One parent is keeping secrets or speaks in a special language with the child, and no one else is able to understand. This separates the child further from the other parent.
  • One parent is asking the child to choose between their two parents and to state which one is better. They may say, "Tell me the truth, which house do you like staying at better?" Or, "Who is more fun, Mommy or Daddy?"
  • The children are given too much information surrounding the divorce, specifically negative information about the other parent and the cause of the breakup.

How To Prevent Parental Alienation Syndrome

Parental Alienation Syndrome can be prevented. The best way to do this is for the divorcing parents working together and staying positive in front of their children, no matter the emotions they truly feel inside for each other. It is important that the two parents put their differing opinions aside and come together for the children’s sake.

Both parties should acknowledge and take responsibility for their actions. If they havesaid things that were hurtful or not true, it helps if they apologize for their behavior. Both parties should commit to rebuilding trust and honesty with one another.It is important thatthese respectful actions take place in front of the children.

Are You Suffering From Parental Alienation Syndrome?
Learn The Truth. Schedule An Appointment With A Psychologist Online Now.

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Emotions are high in during stressful life changes and divorce is no exception. It is normal to want to say negative things about your ex-partner, but if you do catch yourself doing this in front of your children, do your best to stop. Remember that your childrenlove and look up to this parent, which is a good reason to treat our ex with the same amount of respect. This will be difficult when the feelings you are showing may not actually represent how you feel inside. If you do accidentally say something negative in front of your children, take the time to apologize to your ex. Bring up some good qualities about them as a way to steer the conversation back into a positive direction.

Therapy is a strong tool for any couple that is experiencing trouble within their relationship. It is alsohelpful when divorce, children, and Parental Alienation Syndrome are involved. If the facts shared in this article seem to relate to your life, consider reaching out to a licensed therapist for help.A counselor can help you work through your relationship challenges in a healthier way by giving you tools and methods to approach and alleviate conflicts as you work through divorce. Many times, a struggling relationship needs another perspective on how to approach conflicts most effectively.

New research finds that internet-delivered therapy is as effective as in-person therapy and offers more convenience. This study, conducted by Brigham Young University researchers, found that technology-based therapy offer other added benefits including “lower cost, no travel time, easy access, no waitlists, and trackable progress.”

If you have a busy schedule with your children and career, you may want to consider an online option like BetterHelp. Every BetterHelp therapist is fully licensed, in good standing, and has gone through an intensive review process, which means you can feel confident that you’re in good hands. Equally important, correspondence with your counselor will be kept entirely confidential so you can talk freely about your feelings without fear of judgment. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people experiencing similar issues.

“Susan is exceptional at what she does, helping people move forward with life in a positive direction. Susan has helped me recover from a divorce, address personal issues that impact me at work, and all my relationships. I have been through many counselors in the past 30 years and I can say Susan is very rare. She is smart, compassionate, caring, kind, and encouraging. I don't know how I would have made it this far in my recovery if it wasn't for her. 5 Star.”

“Gabrielle Bryen has been instrumental in helping me figure out the next steps regarding how to best implement a divorce so my family can remain as happy and healthy as possible. She has taken away a lot of my fear and uncertainty and I am deeply grateful for that. I am lucky to have had her insight guide me along a tough path.”


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Parental Alienation Syndrome can be a difficult topic to discuss and address, but it’s important to remember that it is something that can be prevented. Even if it is challenging, do your best to speak kindly about your ex-partner when your children are near.

If you say something negative, apologize, and bring up some positive facts to help the situation turn positive again. Remember the signs of Parental Alienation Syndrome and seek help from a therapist if you see multiple signs. Even though Parental Alienation is hard to copewith, it can be solved with the help from a therapist, and you can move forward to have a healthy relationship with your children. Have hope and take the steps you need to give your children (and yourself) a happy and healthy family life. Take the first step today.Even though Parental Alienation Syndrome can be difficult to endure for all parties involved, it is common, and BetterHelp counselors can help.

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