Kids of Divorce Manipulated

 

Kids of divorce 1 out of 4 children involved in a divorce undergoes Parental Alienation Syndrome

One out of four children involved in a divorce and custody litigation undergoes the so-called Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), consisting of the manipulation of children by the custodial parent, who incessantly tries to turn them against the other parent by arousing in them feelings of hatred and contempt for the target parent.

In the 1980’s, PAS was defined by scientist Richard Gardner of Columbia University. Men are usually the target parent, since in most cases the mother has custody of the child.

According to Mª Rosario Cortés, “the so-called alienating parent is the one who has custody and uses it to brainwash the child, turning him or her against the alienated parent”. In most cases, the process is very subtle the custodial parent stating such things as “if I just told you some more things about your father/mother…”, or by making the child feel sorry for “abandoning” every time he or she visits the alienated parent.

As pointed out by the group of researchers of the University of Granada, there are many other factors which influence PAS apart from the unacceptable attitude of the custodial parent, such as children’s psychological vulnerability, the character and behaviour of parents, dynamics among brothers, or the existing conflicts between the two divorced parents. Very often children not only reject their father, but also his family and close friends. Grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins, and the new partner of the non-custodial parent are also affected by this syndrome, and children undergoing PAS can even “expel them from their life.”

Symptoms

Among other symptoms, Professor Cortés points out that children tend to find continual justifications for the alienating parent’s attitude. They denigrate the target parent, relate negative feelings unambivalently towards that parent, deny being influenced by anyone (pleading responsibility for their attitude), feel no guilt for denigrating the alienated parent, or recount events which were not experienced but rather came from listening to others.

The authors of Marital Conflicts, Divorce, and Children’s Development, state that PAS is more frequent among children aged 9 to 12 than among teenagers, and that there are no relevant gender differences in PAS.

According to Mª Rosario Cortés, the Parental Alienation Syndrome occurs most frequently in cases where parents are involved in divorce litigation, while it is not usual when the decision to seek divorce is mutual. The professor of the UGR underlines that in every case of SAP, “the family must be provided with a family-mediation programme for equal treatment of all members affected by this problem, which is increasingly more frequent.”

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2 thoughts on “Kids of Divorce Manipulated

  1. This article really hits close to home for me. I am not a child of divorce, but my closest friend growing up is. Her mother and father divorced when she was about 10 years old and I remember the havoc it reaked on her. She blamed herself at first for the seperation, her father left her mother and she thought it was her fault. After a while though her mom would go on and on about her father until my friend started to hate her father. I remember going to her house and her mother just being miserable, she rarely left the house. I also remember my friend calling and begging me to spend the weekend with her because she had to go to her dads and she did not want to go alone. This caused so much angst in my friend that eventually as she got older she got very depressed and became a cutter. I don’t think she will ever recover from the turmoil she experienced as a child and I really hope people realize how their actions effect others, especially their children, so completely.

    AnnMarie

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