PAS Syndrome - Take Two

silverswordOctober 3, 2008

I posted another thread on this, but it got hijacked. I'm sorry for my participation in that, and I hope we can continue the original conversation here. I will re-post the responses that were on that thread below.

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Posted by silversword (My Page) on
Wed, Oct 1, 08 at 14:20

Someone mentioned PAS Syndrome, so I looked it up to see what it is.

This is the definition of PAS as described by R.A. Gardner who discovered the syndrome and has become an expert in dealing with the issue.Gardner's definition of PAS is:
"The parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child's campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent's indoctrinations and the child's own contributions to the vilification of the target parent."(Excerpted from: Gardner, R.A. (1998). The Parental Alienation Syndrome, Second Edition, Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.)
Basically, this means that through verbal and non verbal thoughts, actions and mannerisms, a child is emotionally abused (brainwashed) into thinking the other parent is the enemy. This ranges from bad mouthing the other parent infront of the children, to withholding visits, to pre-arranging the activities for the children while visiting with the other parent.

I don't know very much about it, but this is what my mom used to do with my dad. It really is sad how children get in the middle.

Posted by sue36 (My Page) on
Wed, Oct 1, 08 at 19:39

A good friend of mine had this happen to him. He had custody and then custody got transferred to his ex-wife after she cleaned up her act. She had basically abandoned the kids (after cheating on her husband, our friend) and after getting custody she set out to systematically eliminate our friend from the children's lives. It got very, very ugly. He now has no contact with the children.
Many years ago I dated a guy who was recently divorced and something similar happened to him. While he was in the military, away on deployment, his wife moved out of their on base housing without even telling him (he learned when he got back from a deployment, can you imagine?). She moved back to her home state and they got divorced. They agreed she would have custody (the child was young) and he would have visitation where he would go to her home state until the child was a certain age. She then married a former boyfriend very soon after the divorce. The custody arrangement wasn't worth the paper it was written on. She decided her new husband should be the child's father (not just step father). She would disappear with the kid when he showed up for court ordered visitation (he had to fly there). She wouldn't answer the phone when he called to speak to his child. The court (the court in her home state) wouldn't do anything. He eventually gave up his parental rights and her new husband adopted the child. He couldn't take it anymore. Both of them spent small fortunes fighting to enforce the visitation orders and got nowhere.

 Posted by moonie_57 (My Page) on
Wed, Oct 1, 08 at 20:45

And I don't think that PAS is necessarily one parent against another, although I didn't read the link provided. Just from the explanation, I feel like this is what my DD's adult friend has done. She bad mouths DH and I to DD. Even after going to court, and the woman being found guilty of contribution to the delinquency of a minor, DD still has contact with her. I'm just trying to find proof.
 Posted by silversword (My Page) on
Thu, Oct 2, 08 at 15:42

I didn't think of it like this, but you're right!
"And I don't think that PAS is necessarily one parent against another"
I have seen this happen as well. It must be really hard to deal with your individual situation because this is probably an older, "cooler" person than your DD and she must look up to them. It's hard to see sometimes, especially as a teenager, that your parents really have your best interests at heart and aren't just trying to keep you away from your "good friend".
I remember my mom telling me one of my friends wasn't a nice girl, and I didn't believe her. In retrospect, she was right.
I only hope this girl removes her tentacles from your daughter before more damage is done.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2008 at 3:45PM
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Well, I know someone will toss this into the fray -- so I'll do it now: Gardner was denounced as a pedophile and (I believe) committed suicide, which leads many to believe his theory has been discredited. (Why?) I still believe his theory has validity. So the guy was a total mess in his personal life - that doesn't make him a complete idiot in his professional life.

My Ex used those tactics against me, and it was a very nasty period in our lifes. The book 'Divorce Poison' was really helpful in combatting the symptoms and helping DS get through it.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 4:40PM
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I also agree that PAS exists, regardless of what anyone thinks of Gardner. It makes sense and does have validity. I always vote for common sense.

PAS can also be very subtle & parents can be doing it without even realizing it. Innocent questions like "did you have fun at your other parent's house?" could be interpreted by the child to mean they were supposed to have fun... or that if they had fun, the asking parent might be disappointed or sad that they had fun with the other parent. The words used are important, but what's more important is intonation and body language of the asking parent. The child picks up on those things. (non verbal cues)

There are probably many parents that do this to their children unknowingly out of anger, frustration or other emotion and if they only knew the damage it does to the child, they might think twice. There will probably always be some parents that knowingly do this to purposefully turn the child against the other parent... but many of the cases where the parents simply aren't thinking of the consequences to the children or don't realize what they are doing, could be helped with education. In the last 20 years, I have noticed an improvement in the way family law cases are handled in my state. Mediation has evolved and parenting classes are geared to identifying things parents do without thinking that hurt the kids. Wouldn't it be nice if all potential parents took a parenting course in addition to birthing classes?

It's not a problem limited to divorced parents, parents that are married in intact families sometimes vie for the children to choose one parent over the other. I think it's natural for kids to favor one over the other and at different times, it may change. But, it's inherently wrong for the favored parent to capitalize on that and encourage the child to favor him/her at the expense of the other parent. In the end, it's the child that loses his/her relationship with the alienated parent.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 9:19PM
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"Wouldn't it be nice if all potential parents took a parenting course in addition to birthing classes?"

It sure would! And I think a 'Divorced Parenting' class would be an excellent requirement for couples with children who are divorcing. Make successful course completion and development of a cooperating parenting plan a requirement before granting the divorce.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 7:09PM
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