…but It’s in Plenty of Arguments
Parental Alienation Syndrome Isn’t in the DSM Yet, but It’s in Plenty of Arguments
Coined in 1985 by psychiatrist Richard Gardner, PAS describes a set of behaviors exhibited by kids whose parents deliberately turn them against the other parent, through a variety of techniques that are at once coercive, manipulative, vindictive and sociopathic.
“It’s a violent act to a child’s mind,”
Jason Patric tells Newsweek, speaking of PAS, which he says he began investigating following his initial trial to assert his parental rights with Gus. He believes parental alienation is akin to what domestic violence was 40 years ago—a dirty secret that is harming millions but not acknowledged by many mental health professionals.
Positive ambassadors for involved fatherhood, at-home dads need to resist the urge to take offense and instead use these thoughtless comments as “teaching moments.” In this way, they can be more effective and positive as they change the out-of-date attitudes of those around them. I came up with a phrase for this very purpose:
“I loved that movie from 1983, too (“Mr. Mom”), but that’s not what most dads or at-home dads do today. In fact, almost every dad I know is putting in the work to be a loving, hands-on, involved dad.“
“I know you mean no offense, but I don’t babysit my kids, I’m just being their father. And, you know, almost every dad I know is putting in the work to be a loving, hands-on, involved dad.”
“Almost every dad I know is putting in the work to be a loving, hands-on, involved dad. I just happen to do it full-time, as it made more sense for my family that my wife works. All families should arrange things the best way for them, don’t you think?”
“I’m here with my kids. More and more dads are doing things like this. After all, almost every dad I know is putting in the work to be a loving, hands-on, involved dad. Which are your kids, maybe they can join mine on the monkey bars?”
“I know you mean that (“great dad”) as a compliment, and thank you. But, you know, almost every dad I know is putting in the work to be a loving, hands-on, involved dad. I’m not doing anything more than most dads- or moms- do.”
Progress can come one conversation at a time.
I’m very confident that the awesome guys I met at the convention will more than do their part. Honestly, I’m not sure I could restrain the urge to say something rude if faced with such thoughtless comments. But rising above thoughtlessness is the key to being a positive ambassador.
The dads at this convention seemed to like the phrase and, in fact, a few told me they used some variant of it during their flights back home when fellow passengers saw them wearing their “At-Home Dad Convention” and “Dads Don’t Babysit” t-shirts.
My experience at this convention also led me to think about working dads, and what we can do to be ambassadors of involved fatherhood at our workplaces. Here are a few ideas:
Talk about family while at work and make it easier for others in your sphere of influence to do so. For instance, ask them about what they did with their families on weekends, or have family pictures prominently displayed at your workstation.
Gather a group of fellow working dads and go out to lunch or a happy-hour together every few weeks. Combine this with a mom’s group if you’d like.
When you need to, leave early and take work home. Don’t apologize for it. Your continued work performance will win over initial skeptics.
Ask management and HR about what policies they offer. Share with them the news of what leading companies offer.
Take paternity leave when it’s offered. Be visible about it. Share your experiences on social media.
Especially if you are a manager, you play an especially important role. If your employees see you adjust your schedule for family, occasionally work from home, and even take paternity leave, you send a strong signal that it is ok for others to do so. Your actions speak much louder than your words.
Push the need for leave and flexibility policies with HR and top management. Make the business case in terms of attracting and retaining employees, as well as improving engagement.
Beyond paternity leave or workplace flexibility, talk with your employees, coworkers and bosses about the importance of time for life.
After all, almost every dad I know is putting in the work to be a loving, hands-on, involved dad.
Whether we work outside the home or have made parenting our full-time job, we need to be ambassadors for involved fatherhood. That’s how society and workplaces will finally catch on to what most of us do every day.
To any rational, mature, objective parent or professional, the reason for this declaration could be justified by merely pondering the following question: “How reassured would you feel if you were standing trial for a crime, and your jury was comprised entirely of 18-year-olds?”
One only has to read the epistemological research and studies undertaken by Jean Piaget, philosopher and developmental psychologist, who wrote the “Bible” upon which educators rely to understand the cognitive development of children.Children do not have the emotional and cognitive abilities do evaluate for themselves what is in their best interests; to theorize what it would be like to have a parent eradicated from their lives; to be able to discriminate what is rational, truthful, and moral amidst all the information their parents and other adults impart to them—especially about the malicious, fabricated, and fanciful data from the alienating parent. Children, for example, think very concretely until the age of 8; that is why they actually do believe, “Step on a crack, break my mother’s back.”
Not until much older, can they discriminate reality from fantasy, which is why they should not see horror shows until much older. The ability to think abstractly starts at the beginning of adolescence and is still insufficiently mature by 18. Children lack wisdom! And children further do not have the emotional wherewithal to contradict the alienating parent—-if that parent is the residential parent—-as they are so dependent upon that parent.
So to placate the alienated parent regarding the visit refusal, the court sanctions it by making an ineffective order for the child to undergo a course of individual therapy in the hopes of readying the child for a relationship with the alienated parent. Every time I hear the unsubstantiated platitude for the therapist, “to prepare the child for contact with the alienated parent,” I want to erupt.
Because of their immature cognitive and emotional abilities as previously discussed, children do not possess the facility for abstraction. They cannot participate in a theoretical discussion about what an appropriate relationship entails; nor can they comprehend a desire for something in the abstraction. A child, therefore, cannot have a discussion about desiring a relationship with someone who is in the absentia—-especially a brainwashed child; nor can a child participate in determining what to expect from the relationship with that “someone.”
That “someone” needs to be concrete, in person, in the flesh and blood. The therapist cannot, therefore, prepare the child through intellectualism and abstraction for the re-building of a relationship with someone else. To be able to do this is a fantasy perpetuated by an adversarial child custody system in order to appease the parties and deceive one another into believing that the alienation is being addressed. Individual therapy will not be able to resolve this. To do is also a fantasy perpetuated by the mental health community—-partially out of ignorance, partially out of an opposing belief system from this therapist’s about the power of the therapist and about how people change, and partially to assure our continued employment. I have lost count of the number of preposterous requests I have received asking me to treat a child whom I have never met in order “to ready them to reunite” with a parent, whom I have also never met and know nothing about. I am being asked to treat a relationship without having observed and examined it!
Would a doctor diagnose for a disease without observing/examining the patient?
But why is therapy necessary at all to connect a child to a loving and formally loved parent? The PAS-aware professional must educate the judicial system that PAS children’s expressed hatred for and refusal to visit with the targeted/alienated parent are not their true feelings—-no more than these were the feelings of the thousands of foster children with whom I had worked with during a period of 24 years: not a single foster child ever expressed a hatred for her/his parents or a refusal to visit. Indeed, the two most frequently asked questions were, “When can I go home?” and “When is my next visit with my mommy and daddy?” You have to be carefully taught to hate and fear—-especially a parent.
PAS children are caught and trapped by their feelings and position: on the one hand, these children love and crave their relationship with their targeted/alienated parent; on the other hand, they are terrified of betraying their alienating parent by expressing their true feelings.
The professionals which impact child custody—-especially the judge—-must release these children from their trap by relieving them from making the decision about whether to visit or not.
The professionals who impact child custody and visitation must assume the responsibilities for which we were charged when we were licensed by our respective professions; that is, we must assume our responsibility of guaranteeing the PAS child’s right to a meaningful relationship with both parents—-that starts with the enforcement of the visitation rights of the non-residential parent.
End Parental Alienation ~~ New Service:
Linda J. Kase Gottlieb has teamed up with an attorney and certified mediator to offer low cost divorce mediation services as well as low cost services to pro se alienated parents who will need help with confronting their situation.
Naturally, Linda will be supporting joint legal custody with 50/50 physical custody when both parents are fit. …
Recently published book, The Parental Alienation Syndrome: A Family Therapy and Collaborative Systems Approach to Amelioration
The PAS-aware professional must educate the judicial system that PAS children’s expressed hatred for and refusal to visit with the targeted/alienated parent are not their true feelings.