By far, one of the greatest hardships a parent could ever undergo is to be alienated from his or her children. Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), when one parent tries to turn the children against the other parent, is a very real problem and can be quite tricky to prove and navigate. Although PAS usually occurs after the dissolution of a marriage or relationship, it is possible in two-parent homes, too.
1. Know what’s going on.
PAS is a mental condition and the alienating parent quite often does not realize (and sometimes does not care about) any repercussions. Know you cannot change the other person. Educate yourself about PAS for greater clarity and to gain a better understanding of what you are up against.
2. Don’t blame the children.
Instead, love them. Children who are involved in PAS are almost always manipulated into believing lies about the alienated parent. Their hearts are still telling them to love that parent, but exterior voices are saying differently. This can be quite traumatic and confusing for a child—all the more reason they need you to be solid for the days ahead.
3. Work on yourself.
Though being separated from your children may be one of the worst seasons you’ve ever had to endure, if you are not careful, being knocked off course can eventually lead to greater self-destruction. Surround yourself with safeguards such as a strong faith community, a support system, personal health and wellness, and counseling. Use this time to build a stronger foundation than you’ve ever had before.
4. Keep parenting.If you are not able to see or communicate with your children, stay invested anyway.
If you are able to communicate with your children, affirm them continually with your love—verbally and through your actions. Don’t let them see the side that may want to retaliate. Instead, continue to parent as you would any other time. If you are not able to see or communicate with your children, stay invested anyway. Love them however you can, with acts such as attending their school conferences (even if it’s a different time than the other parent) or attending their extracurricular events, and so on—anything that says you are still invested and not giving up on them or yourself.
When caught in the thick of PAS, there is no easy solution. The intensity, duration, and long-term effects can be demoralizing if one is not properly equipped through the struggle. I encourage anyone experiencing PAS to get the facts and necessary help to guard your family. Most of all, stay encouraged. There is always hope. And your children are worth every bit of effort you put into making it through.
Engaging your child’s mom: Share the iMOM article 10 Things Kids of Divorce Wish They Could Say to Their Parents with her and then ask to discuss it together, if possible, for the sake of the children.
Sound off: Have you ever experienced PAS? How did you handle it?
Huddle Up Question
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