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Parental Alienation

By James S. Margulis

Parental alienation is a behavior of one or both parents that is damaging to children's mental and emotional well-being, and can interfere with a relationship of a child and either parent. These behaviors most often accompany high conflict marriages, separation or divorce.

Parental alienation is a disorder. Its primary manifestation is the child's campaign of denigration against a parent without justification. It results from the combination of brainwashing by another parent and the child's own contribution to the critic of the targeted parent. Reasons why parental alienation exist include; affinity for one parent, alignment with one parent, enmeshment with one parent or estrangement from a parent.

These behaviors, whether verbal or non-verbal, cause a child to be mentally manipulated or bullied into believing a loving parent is the cause of all their problems, and/or the enemy, to be feared, hated, disrespected and/or avoided.

Parental alienation behaviors deprive children of their right to be loved by and showing love for both of their parents. The destructive actions by an alienating parent or other third person (another family member, or even mental health care professional) can become abusive to the child - as the alienating behaviors are disturbing, confusing and can rob the child of their sense of security and safety leading to maladaptive emotional or psychiatric reactions.

Most people do not know about Parental Alienation until they experience it. Some signs of parental alienation include; a near or complete rejection of one parent in favor of the other, a fusion in thinking in which the child and the aligned parent think alike, superficial and/or exaggerated complaints about the rejected parent with little or no substance, inconsistent and contradictory statements or behaviors, strong tendency to become over-involved in adult issues of divorce, vague or non-specific reasons for rejecting the alienation parent, and tends to see one parent as "all good" and the other parent as "all bad."

There are things that parents can do to stop parental alienation including family therapy, parent education, and ample time sharing and parental involvement.

If you are currently dealing with a child suffering from parental alienation syndrome, you should hire counsel to support you and to ensure your interests are protected during this process.

Please contact the Domestic Team at Feldmann Nagel, LLC to address any of these parental alienation or custody/time sharing matters and for all of your family law needs.

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