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Parental Alienation-What is it? How Does it Happen? How Does it Affect Children?

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What is Parental Alienation?

How Does it Happen?

How Does it Affect Children?

Published in: Education
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Parental Alienation-What is it? How Does it Happen? How Does it Affect Children?

  1. 1. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 1 Parental Alienation and Extreme Alignment When Parents Break Children’s Loving Bonds When Children choose the Other Parent
  2. 2. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 2 Important Note-Please Read!  The material in this presentation may be upsetting to parents who have lost children or to children who have lost parents to parental alienation or to those people to whom alienation is justified.  Therefore, please exercise your own self-care  The material in this presentation is meant to apply in a general manner and is not tailored to individual circumstances.  The efficacy of the interventions described here depend upon your individual circumstances and may have unintended effects if used without coaching or training. It has taken me many years to work through my own pain and outrage to get to this point. Your children’s and your parents’ lives are at stake so please do not use this material unless you feel competent to do so. This is because I make no representations about the content and suitability of this information for any purpose. It is provided "as is" without express or implied warranty.  I disclaim all warranties with regard to this information, including all implied warranties or merchantability and fitness. In no event shall I be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, distress or hurt whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, rising out of or in connection with the use or performance of this information.  In other words, use this material at your own risk and please contact me (details at the end) if you require assistance!
  3. 3. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 3 COPYRIGHT NOTICE  When you access this material you agree that:  You may retrieve these materials for information only.  You may save a local copy or send it to your printer for your own personal use or in order to inform authorised and potential users about these materials. However, you may not make any charge for such use and any commercial exploitation is expressly prohibited.  You must include the copyright notice and the author’s name in any copy that you make.  You may not modify the information without my express permission.
  4. 4. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 4 Assumptions: Who am I Working with?  Some of you have difficult relationships or lost contact with your children  Some of you have high conflict uncooperative relationships with your ex-partner with whom you must manage shared care  Some of you have inadvertently engaged in alienating behaviour without realising what you are doing and the effect it has had on your children  Some of you may have deliberately engaged in alienating your children from your ex-partner  Some of you have not realised the campaign your ex-partner has waged against you using your children as weapons  Some of you have given up without letting go  Some of you have let go without giving up  Some of you are working with alienated parents and/or their children or with alienating parents  Most of you are wondering how this all happens and what you can do about it  And some of you enjoy happy relationships with your ex-partner, current partner, children from previous relationships with your children from the current relationship and your stepchildren
  5. 5. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 5 A Personal and Professional Stake  High conflict divorce and separation  I have not seen my child since 2005  My child believes a lie  Flagrant and unenforceable breaches of court orders for access  A campaign against me using the children  Criminal activity  Legal, administrative and financial abuse  Court ordered interventions reinforced alienation processes  Child support-the ‘kidnappers ransom’  Family reports held my ex-partner accountable-but left child with her  Financial Attrition-legal fees >$100K  I am a professional counsellor, psychotherapist and coach  I am seeking to change the culture and understanding amongst my colleagues about the abusive process of alienation  So that they are not fooled by the alienation subterfuge  I work with stepfamilies and parents.  They struggle to appreciate what is happening with their children  Help them stop inadvertently reinforcing the alienation  Coaching to maintain or re-establish relationships with their children
  6. 6. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 6 Objectives and Outcomes  Outline a definition and understanding of parental alienation, extreme alignment and alienation processes  Leave you with an appreciation of the harm alienation processes do to children  The dilemma for practitioners and those seeking and making legal remedies  Strategies for dealing with parental alienation are often counterintuitive  The lack of recognition in Australia and Its lack of credibility as a syndrome  A lack of understanding and appreciation of its dynamics amongst practitioners  Outline strategies for dealing with an alienating child and alienating parent- do’s and don’t’s  Getting support  Why counselling, mediation and other interventions may not work-and what does
  7. 7. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 7 What is Parental Alienation?  Parental Alienation  A set of processes and behaviours conducted and enacted by a parent to deliberately and knowingly damage or sever the relationship between a child and another parent with whom the child enjoyed a prior loving relationship  Alienating Behaviour  Various acts and omissions by a parent that damage the relationship between the child and the other parent  Alienating Processes  A related set of acts, omissions and behaviours that together act as a system or a process, the outcome of which is a particular alienating outcome or effect upon the child
  8. 8. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 8 What is NOT Parental Alienation  PAS-Parental Alienation Syndrome-not universally recognised  Not unique related cluster of behaviours or symptoms that can be identified to the exclusion of other considerations by unique diagnostic characteristics  Other explanations-bad parenting!  Not accepted by professionals and practitioners and not currently included in DSM-V despite a concerted campaign  Inadequate research-Gardners work is often attacked and reformulated  DRMMS or DRMFS-Divorce Related Malicious Mother/Father Syndrome  Pejorative and gendered not clinical description
  9. 9. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 9 What is NOT Parental Alienation  The Medea Syndrome or complex  Greek myth, Medea kills her children to punish Jason, her errant husband- gendered  A metaphor for the human tendency to punish those who have hurt us by using those whom they love against the target person without regard for the loved ones (often children) welfare.  A metaphor for the human tendency not to be manipulated into hurting the ones we love
  10. 10. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 10 When is it not Parental Alienation?  Children have their own reasons for hating you!  adolescent/teenage oppositional behaviour  Natural reactions to shattering the security of a family  A child directs their negative behaviour to both parents  The child is angry and hurt and still genuinely loves and expresses that love to both parents  Negative reactions are occasional and temporary  Negative reactions occur in particular situations  Abuse  Bad or inadequate parenting
  11. 11. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 11 When is it not Parental Alienation?  Extreme alignment  When a child naturally aligns with one parent and not to (or less with) the other  Neither parent deliberately exploits the child’s alignment  Separation anxiety  Parenting skills  Normal oppositional behaviour  May result from a parents acts or omissions e.g. parenting style and skills  Or just who you are, and who they are  Age and stage appropriate alignment
  12. 12. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 12 Parental Alienation Myths  Only women do it  Only men do it  Men are more prepared to kill their children than women  Causes un-founded allegations of sexual and other abuse  Where other forms of abuse have occurred-it is NOT alienation but alienation may result from abuse-must be ruled out  Used as a defence against allegations of sexual and other abuse  As for unfounded allegations-double bind for men
  13. 13. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 13 Parental Alienation Myths  Is a recognised diagnosable syndrome or mental illness  No accepted evidence that it is unique and can be differentially diagnosed  Parents who engage in parental alienation may not be mentally ill but mental illness can be involved  It is not a form of family violence or child abuse  Insufficient studies and research  It is abuse against children
  14. 14. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 14 Three Types of Parental Alienation  Naïve  May engage in certain alienating behaviours in certain situations  Will usually support the child’s relationship with the other parent  May cease their behaviour  Once they are aware of the distress they are causing their children-Child focussed practice  Improve their parenting
  15. 15. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 15 Three Types of Parental Alienation  Active  Actively alienate their children against the other parent  Emotionally reactive  Lose control over their behaviour to feelings of intense hurt and anger  Reaction to the hostility of the separation and divorce and its explicit rejection of them  They may know that they should be supporting the child’s relationship with the other parent  Cannot control their behaviour or their emotions  May cease with intervention and countermeasures  As long as a relationship exists between the target parent and the child
  16. 16. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 16 Three Types of Parental Alienation  Obsessed  Actively alienate their children against the other parent using all means available  Do not appreciate or accept that they are harming their children  Do not accept or appreciate that the child may be attached to both parents  Intentionally aiming to destroy the relationship between the child and the other parent  May not be able separate their own negative feelings about the other parent from the child’s independent relationship with both parents  May not be able to separate themselves from their children  May believe they have a duty to save their children from the other parent  In the absence of any abuse
  17. 17. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 17 How Does Alienation Work? “Who controls the past controls the future” George Orwell
  18. 18. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 18 How Does Alienation Work?  What environment does it thrive in?  Fear  High conflict  Isolation  Relocation or in extreme cases kidnapping  Ignorance  Poor parenting  Poor or inadequate boundaries
  19. 19. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 19 7 Stages to Alienating a Child Create a Loyalty ConflictStage 3 Force the Child to align strongly with one parent against the other Force The Child to Resolve the Conflict Manipulate the child to turn away from the formerly loved parent Stage 4 Create the Alienating EnvironmentStage 1 Discount the role of the other parent Use isolation, conflict and power Convince the Child to Contrary ‘Truth’Denigrate the target parent Stage 2
  20. 20. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 20 7 Stages to Alienating a Child The ‘Status quo for Legal, Social and Financial Services Stage 7 Enforce Severance Sever the Previously Loving RelationshipStage 6Make the child unhappy and unwilling to be with the target parent Alienate the ChildStage 5Support the child to engage in irrational, unfounded, exaggerated criticisms of the rejected parent
  21. 21. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 21 5 Main Alienation Strategies  Denigrating and de-valuing the target parent  To the child or in the child’s presence/indirectly  Impose lies, and inaccuracies  Selective attention onto minor flaws  Confiding adult only information  First name basis
  22. 22. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 22 5 Main Alienation Strategies  Sabotaging time the child spends with the target parent  Withholding or destroying gifts and letters from the alienated parent to the child  Interfering with, monitoring or intercepting communications  Interfering with personal time  scheduling competing activities  excessively making contact with the child whilst in the company of the alienated parent  Pretexts, changing pickup drop-off locations and times
  23. 23. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 23 5 Main Alienation Strategies  Destroying and undermining memories and relationships  Sanctioning the child’s reference to the alienated parent or to referring to photographs or letters  Destroying evidence of previously happy relationships between the child and the alienated parent  Involving the alienated child to spy on or keep secrets from the rejected parent  Involving the alienated child in a loyalty conflict, forcing them to choose between parents  Provoking conflict between the child and the alienated parent  Interrogating child about the time with the alienated parent  Indoctrinating the child about adult issues beyond the age or stage of understanding  Financial, often child-support  Relational, separation and divorce
  24. 24. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 24 5 Main Alienation Strategies  Manipulating the child to reject the target parent  Making parental love conditional upon rejecting the target parent  Inducing feelings of guilt for having fun with or feeling love toward the rejected parent  The alienating parent portrays themselves as vulnerable  requiring the care and protection of the child  To the exclusion of the target parent  Demoting and devaluing the rejected parent’s role in the child’s life  Withholding crucial information about the child’s life from the rejected parent  Medical, educational  Not inviting the rejected parent to or informing them of significant events in the child’s life  Revising history to minimise and de-value the role of the target parent  Demote the target parent by referring to them by their first name to the child
  25. 25. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 25 DO’s-Counter Measures:  Appeal to your child’s rational thinking -Let children know that you may have a different understanding of the situation  Agree to disagree  Break down unsubstantiated and/or absurd beliefs or accusations  Careful!  Highlight inconsistencies of pejorative or denigrating remarks  Help your child appropriately challenge the alienating parent  Who, what, why, when?  Expose contradictions and fabrications  Let your child know in any possible way that you love them  Be neutral and help your children be neutral  Empathy-appreciate their dilemma-fear of losing the alienating parent-not you!  Maintain your shared care schedule whether you know the child will be there are not 
  26. 26. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 26 DO’s-Counter Measures:  Create or remind them of positive healing experiences and memories  Use covert channels  Who else has a relationship with your children  Build or rebuild bridges  Continue all forms of positive communication regardless of whether your child accepts or rejects them  Indirect messages of love  Examples that show your children that they are not alone-e.g books/movies about children like them  Allow them to overhear you talking about them lovingly  Movies, social media, social networking  Make yourself a better person and a better parent  Right the wrongs
  27. 27. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 27 DO’s-Counter Measures:  Indirectly expose the alienating pattern  Discuss situations analogous to theirs-e.g the selective focus of advertising  Show them how people form irrational views  Allow your children to experience you as different from whom they were told to expect  Be STRATEGIC and EMPATHETIC!  Timing-wait until your children are receptive  A crisis!  When the alienating parent cannot cope  Think about it: why does your child reject you?  Educate yourself about alienation processes and about the range of countermeasures available to you  Do not step into the traps set by the alienating parent
  28. 28. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 28 DO’s-Counter Measures:  Attempt to work constructively and strategically with the alienating parent-“Know your enemy”  Tailor your approach for the type of person  E.g.  Reassure the paranoid or insecure alienator  Eliminate provocations for the vengeful alienator  For the narcissistic alienator seeking validation of their superior parenting  Empathy for the children-not the narcissist  Narcissistic people may have little capacity for empathy  Do not criticise the validation seeker  Manage high frequency contact for the hateful alienator  Know when NOT to deal with the alienating parent  Obsessive
  29. 29. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 29 DO’s-Counter Measures: “The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury. “ Marcus Aurelius
  30. 30. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 30 Whatever you do-DON’T!  Retaliate with the same behaviour as the alienating parent  Attempt to influence your child against the alienating parent  Ignore the problem  Seek support from someone who does not understand alienation processes  Engage in a competition to see who can be the better parent  Expand the scope or exacerbate the conflict  Mount defensive arguments with your child or argue with them about alienation  Confuse letting go with giving up
  31. 31. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 31 Your Child or Children may be Alienated against you if:  Hatred by Association-enmity towards the target parent’s extended family without known reason  No ambivalence  Uses adult concepts beyond age and stage of understanding  Parrots the favoured alienating parent without regard for their own historical experience with the target parent  The child asserts that their views have been independently formed but are unable to explain or show evidence of how they came to such beliefs  Refuses to spend time with visits or communicate with the rejected parent without rational explanation  Fixed negative beliefs about the rejected parent based upon past events that would not ordinarily be warranted
  32. 32. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 32 Why Would your Child Believe the Alienating Parent?  They are frightened of the alienating parent  Children may feel the need to protect the parent who is the most vulnerable or who portrays themselves as such  Your child may have unresolved feelings about you, the rejected parent  Hold you accountable for the separation and divorce  Hold you accountable for shattering the security of their family  Alienating parents exploit these unresolved feelings  You need to improve your parenting!  You have been complicit in some way  They know that you will always be there for them
  33. 33. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 33 Why do parents alienate their children?  Jealousy  Reaction against re-partnering, remarriage and step family  A hate-based relationship (better than none)  Litigation-fundamentally a hostile adversarial process that creates a status quo upheld by the court  Hostility toward children  Paranoia  Validation seeking  Insecurity  Guilt  Narcissism  Revenge  Poor boundaries Specific strategies for working with different types of people
  34. 34. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 34 How does Alienation affect Children?  Unresolved guilt and shame about rejecting a parent  Issues of trust with intimate relationships  Low self-esteem  Learn that parents and loved ones are disposable and may be disrespected and exploited  “Conditional” unconditional love  Cynicism and difficulty with authority  Intergenerational alienation  What goes around comes around
  35. 35. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 35 How does it Affect Targeted Parents?  Unresolved complex grief  Disenfranchised  The type of death without a death, “a pain that never ends”  Parents and extended family members may die before reconciliation occurs  Unrequited anger  A violation that cannot be undone-no reparation  Disenfranchised-nobody gets it  The “de compassioned self”  Depression  Cynicism towards intimate relationships and/or authority  Low self-esteem
  36. 36. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 36 When You Have Done All That You Can Do:  Letting go but not giving up-a strategic withdrawal whilst leaving the door ajar  The children may need to reach a more mature stage before realising what has happened to them and why you are not in their life  Leave a written or visual record  A final meeting or communication
  37. 37. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 37 When You Have Done all That You Can Do:  Criteria  Minimising their anxiety and uncertainty  You have exhausted all possibilities and there are no new approaches at this time  You may provoke the alienating parent into further abusive action  No legal or therapeutic interventions are available or have worked  The alienating children are too emotionally unstable to return to relationship with you  An understanding practitioner whom you trust and who knows the alienating process has advised you to consider this possibility  Letting go may open up new possibilities
  38. 38. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 38 Letting Go-Not Giving Up "Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see." Neil Postman, The Disappearance of Childhood
  39. 39. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 39 Why Counselling or Therapeutic Interventions May Not Work  About your ex-partner  Have absolutely no intention of changing their behaviour  They maintain the same alienating behaviour, even when engaging in an intervention  They may make the intervention complicit and a party to alienating abuse  Will not cooperate or involve themselves in any remediation, voluntarily or by mandate  Mental illness  About you  You need to improve your parenting  You need to address issues about your own complicity  You keep falling into the traps set by the alienating parent
  40. 40. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 40 Why Counselling or Therapeutic Interventions May Not Work  About the practitioner  Are gendered  Lack of understanding of alienation as an abusive process  Minimise its effects or its validity  May advise you or the courts to back off when you should be intervening or vice versa  Will not involve the alienated parent  Are not prepared to consider removing the child from the alienating parent-Because the child is “attached” to them and not to the target parent
  41. 41. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 41 Why Counselling or Therapeutic Interventions May Not Work  About the practitioner  Captured by orthodoxies e.g family violence, attachment theory  Are not neutral  Are not prepared to question the rationality of children’s negative views of the alienated parent  Over emphasise the status quo and that children “vote with their feet”
  42. 42. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 42 Why Coaching May Work  There is nothing wrong with the alienated parent  The alienated parent needs to experience that they are supported, understood and validated  Education and coaching in how alienation works and how to counter it  Countermeasures for particular strategies used by alienating parents and for particular types of alienating parents  Building covert channels to your children  Counselling and coaching focused on helping the child maintain a relationship with both parents
  43. 43. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 43 Why Coaching May Work  Education to improve parenting  Emotional, mental, spiritual resilience, flexibility and adaptability  Emotionally and relationally strategic-not reactive  It is a long haul  Not all children realise what is happening  Children may need to become adults before appreciating what has happened to them and to you  Some parents never see their children again.
  44. 44. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 44 When will Interventions Work?  Too late at the court room door  Status quo already in place  Need a new status quo  Trial by expert  Does your legal expert and/or family consultant appreciate alienation dynamics?  Mediation  Why litigate?  Children caught in the middle-are YOU going to shoot the hostage?
  45. 45. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 45 When will Interventions Work?  Never too late  Prevention: coaching before separation and legal processes  Create the status quo in the best interests of the child  Informs the “expert” of the basis for their “recommendations”  Beat them at their own game  Post-vention: coaching afterwards  Maintain or rebuild relationships with your children  Working “with” the alienating parent  Children DO vote with their hearts and move with their feet
  46. 46. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 46 References and Resources  Baker, A. J. L. (2007). Adult children of parental alienation syndrome: breaking the ties that bind. New York: W.W Norton & Co.  Gardner, R. (1987). Parental alienation syndrome and the differentiation between fabricated and genuine sexual abuse. New Jersey: Creskill, Creative Therapeutics.  Gardner, R. (1989). Family evaluation in child custody, mediation, arbitration and litigation. New Jersey: Creskill, Creative Therapeutics.  Gardner, R. A. (2004). Commentary on Kelly and Johnston's "The Alienated Child: A reformulation of parental alienation syndrome.". Family Court Review Vol 42(4) Oct 2004, 611-621.  Johnston, J. R., & Kelly, J. B. (2004). Rejoinder to Gardner's "Commentary on Kelly and Johnston's 'The Alienated Child: A reformulation of parental alienation syndrome.'". Family Court Review Vol 42(4) Oct 2004, 622-628.  Kelly, J. B., & Johnston, J. R. (2001). The Alienated Child: a Reformulation of Parental Alienation Syndrome. Family Court Review, 39(3), 249-266.  Lowenstein, L. F. (1998). PARENT ALIENATION SYNDROME: A TWO STEP APPROACH TOWARD A SOLUTION. Contemporary Family Therapy: An International Journal December, 20(4), 505-520.  Lowenstein, L. F. (2007). Parental Alienation: How to understand and address parental alienation resulting from acrimonious divorce or separation. London: Russell House Publishing.  Lund, M. (1995). A Therapist's View of Parental Alienation Syndrome. Family and Conciliation Courts Review, 33(3), 308-316.  McIntosh, J. (2003). Enduring Conflict in Parental Separation: Pathways of Impact on Child Development. Journal of Family Studies, Vol. 9(1), 63-80.  Warshak, D. R. A. (2010). Divorce Poison: How to Protect Youir Family from Bad-mouthing and Brainwashing. New York: Harper Collins.
  47. 47. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 47 References and Resources  Mens Referral Service JIGSAW Community Database  Mens Referral Service  Australian Directory of Men's Support Services  An Example of Parental Alienation AKA Extreme Alignment  Poison Parents  Bettermen  Divorce Poison and Parental Alienation  Dialogue-In-Growth  SpeakEASY  Parental Alienation Support Groups  Parental Alienation CENTRAL (Australia)  Parental Alienation Programme 'Family Bridges' and Blog  Parental Alienation-UK resources
  48. 48. © D.I.G S.Korosi 2011 May only be used with the authors permission 48 References and Resources  Dialogue-In-Growth-Mens Action in Open Thinking W: www.dialogueingrowth.com.au E: info@dialogueingrowth.com.au T: 0414 888 413  SpeakEASY Counselling and Psychotherapy W: www.speakeasycounselling.com.au E: info@dialogueingrowth.com.au T: 0414 888 413

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