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How to get children out of a loyalty conflict: Understanding Parental Alienation Syndrome

When a couple separates and there are children involved, the conflict between the parents can sometimes spill over to the children, creating a loyalty conflict. This is known as Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) and can harm the relationship between children and one of their parents. In this article, I will explain in detail what PAS is, its causes, its consequences, and ways to overcome it.

What is parental alienation syndrome?

Parental alienation syndrome is a concept developed by the American psychologist Richard Gardner in the 1980s. It refers to a situation where one parent, often the primary custodial parent, negatively influences the child against the other parent, creating an unwarranted or irrational rejection of that parent. The alienating parent typically uses tactics such as constantly denigrating the other parent, manipulating the child into taking sides or prohibiting any contact or relationship with the other parent.

Causes of Parental Alienation Syndrome

There are several factors that can contribute to the development of parental alienation syndrome. Common causes include:

Marital conflict: When a couple separates in an atmosphere of tension and conflict, it is more likely that one parent will try to discredit the other in front of the child.

  1. Family history: If a parent has experienced parental alienation as a child, they may repeat this pattern with their children.
  2. Psychological disorders: Some parents with psychological disorders, such as narcissistic or borderline personality, may be more likely to alienate the other parent.
  3. Financial issues: Money issues, such as child support or property division, may also contribute to PAS.

Consequences of Parental Alienation Syndrome

Parental Alienation Syndrome can have serious consequences for the child’s mental and emotional health and the relationship with the alienated parent. Common consequences of PAS include:

  1. Rejection of the alienated parent: The child may develop an unwarranted rejection of the alienated parent, often based on lies or false beliefs passed on by the alienating parent.
  2. Emotional distress: The child may experience confusion, anger, sadness, or even depression as a result of the loyalty conflict he or she faces.
  3. Behavioral problems: The child may develop disruptive or aggressive behaviors, toward the alienated parent or others around him/her.
  4. Relationship difficulties: PAS can lead to relationship problems with members of the alienated parent’s extended family, as well as with other important people in the child’s life, such as friends, teachers or other trusted adults.
  5. Long-term impacts: The consequences of PAS may persist into adulthood, affecting the alienated child’s ability to establish and maintain healthy relationships, as well as his or her perception of self and others.

How to get out of a loyalty conflict: steps to take

It is essential to take steps to get out of a loyalty conflict and overcome parental alienation syndrome. Here are some key steps to take:

➡️ Conclusion

It is important to recognize the signs of PAS and take steps to overcome it, including fostering open and respectful communication with the other parent, maintaining the bond with the child, seeking professional help when necessary, respecting court orders, and educating family and professionals. By working together in the best interests of the child, it is possible to overcome a conflict of loyalties and preserve a healthy and balanced relationship between parents and their children.