Parental Alienation Syndrome – Part II: Are Your Children Suffering From Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)?
In Part I of this article, I discussed Parental Alienation Syndrome, or PAS, generally. Now let’s look at the type of conduct that causes Parental Alienation Syndrome. As you look at each one, ask yourself if you (or your spouse) are engaging in PAS. (Remember, often times it is unintentional.)
1. COURT TALK: Discuss your court case and/or your spousal and child support concerns with your attorney, NOT WITH YOUR CHILDREN. When your spouse is driving around in a Ferrari and then claims he has no money for additional child support it is maddening. But do not share (and “share” includes discussions with someone else when your children are present) your thoughts about the unfairness of the visitation agreement, or spousal and child support amounts with your children.
2. THE BABYSITTER SYNDROME: Some parents (let’s be honest, mostly mothers), view the other parent as more of a part-time babysitter than an actual parent. They let their children know that the other parent’s views/wishes/rules don’t really matter; the child only needs to follow the rules of the “real” parent.
3. POST VISIT CRITICISM: “So, what did you do with your father this weekend?” If you are going to ask the question, you need to be non-judgmental when you hear the answer. (Of course, if the response is “We got drunk and drove to Vegas for a strip show” you call your attorney.) Avoid the temptation to criticize the way your ex chose to spend his time with your child.
4. THE DISAPPEARING PARENT: One favorite trick of those practicing PAS is to make the other parent “disappear” during their custodial time. Assume mom has primary custody and that dad tries to keep in touch with the children via email/video chat/snail mail. Mom sabotages Dad’s attempts to keep in touch by deleting emails, ignoring phone calls, and not giving children mail. The child is left to assume that Dad doesn’t care about them.
5. THE BAD MOUTHER: The Bad Mouther never misses an opportunity to criticize or put down the other parent. “Your mother was always a terrible driver/bad at managing money/a scatterbrain/awful skier”¦..” Usually these criticisms extend to all family members and friends of the other parent. As difficult as it is, refrain from disparaging the other parent or their family in front of your child. Children need to look up to their parents; the Bad Mouther makes this difficult.
6. THE MANIPULATOR: The Manipulator uses the child to try to get “extra” custodial time from the other parent. “Hey, Madison. I would love to take you to Disneyland, but it is mom’s day with you. I guess you could ask mom if”¦..”
Because Dad presumes that Mom will say “no” to Disneyland, or at the least, will say “yes” if Dad will give up one of his days, he manipulates Madison to get the extra time. Is Madison angry at Dad for manipulating her or at Mom for not permitting the switch? The answer is obvious.
Now that you know the signs of PAS, consider how you interact with your former spouse. Are you engaging in PAS or is your spouse? Remember that in the long run, it is more important that your child have a good relationship with both parents than almost anything else.
by Wendy Jaffe, ESQ.