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What's parental alienation syndrome?

Children need to have a strong relationship with both their parents. They also need protection from the arguments and conflicts that come up between their parents.

In spite of the needs and best interests of their children, however, some parents fight to push the other parent away. They might even encourage their child to choose sides, and manipulate their child to dislike the other parent.

Children can be "programmed" to dislike the other parent

It's an ugly fact that many parents train their children to dislike the other parent. When successful, the parent who causes his or her child to reject the other parent has contributed to the child's "parental alienation syndrome."

Psychologists define parental alienation syndrome as a disorder that commonly appears during child custody disputes. A child might irrationally hate the other parent without justification. Parental alienation usually happens due to the other parent's brainwashing of the child, in addition to the child's contributions to vilify the other parent. The condition can be so extreme that the child begins to view the other parent as evil and only has negative thoughts about the other parent.

When the other parent encourages parental alienation, or the vilification of the target parent it could involve:

  • Speaking badly about the other parent
  • Reducing contact with the other parent
  • Trying to remove the other parent from the life of the child
  • Forcing children to reject the parent
  • Making children believe that the other parent is dangerous
  • Using the withdrawal of affection to force children to take sides
  • Talking negatively about and preventing contact with family of the target parent.

Fathers and mothers should avoid parental alienation at all costs

When one parent targets the other parent with parental alienation tactics, it can be damaging for the child's growth, development and well-being. As such, when parental alienation appears to be happening, the target parent may want to assert his or her parental rights in court to make it stop. Family law courts may make an effort to protect the target parent from such caustic treatment. Courts will, at the very least, strive to ensure that both parents have the ability to create a loving and beautiful relationship with their children.

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