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Solutions for Parental Alienation (PAS) Part 2
When Children Hate a Parent © Martyn Carruthers

Online Help: Coaching, Counseling & Therapy

We offer coaching and counseling on building healthy families,
family constellations, healthy relationships and parenting stress.

PAS Part 1: Before Adolescence . Emotional Incest

Parental Alienation Part 2 - After Adolescence

Children often perceive a simple world of good or bad; of black or white. Following parental alienation, children may perceive one parent as rejecting - as a victimizer or a tyrant, and the other parent as rejected - as a victim or wounded. Such childish perceptions can have unpleasant long-term consequences.

During adolescence, children become biologically ready for partnership and parenthood. Adult children who have perceived unhealthy relationships as normal may not be emotionally ready for partnership - they may feel unable to fulfill these emotional needs. Instead, as teenagers, they may emotionally withdraw or emotionally act out. The consequences can include:

Emotional Maturity

Before adolescence (which may be delayed), children are likely to accept and express a rejecting parent's qualities. On gaining emotional maturity, young adults may accept the rejected parent in a number of ways, including:

  1. live with the rejected parent (may avoid the rejecting parent)
  2. identify with the qualities of the rejected partner (Identification)
  3. oscillate between mother's and father's behavior (Identity Conflict)
  4. partner a person who has qualities of the rejected parent (Transference)

If ignored, this unpleasant drama often seems to repeat itself in subsequent generations. The rejecting parent, the rejected parent and adolescent children can benefit from systemic coaching, which we can provide personally or online.

Parental alienation syndrome (PAS) affects the sense of life of children. People affected by PAS may become unable to feel joyously connected to their friends, partners, families, humanity and to their God. If human connectedness can be replaced by depression and suffering, then PAS is a deeply spiritual issue.

Chronic Anger, Conflict and Guilt

A symptom set commonly associated with Parent Alienation is identification with a victim. If the child perceives a parent as a victim, the child may identify with that parent and express anger or rage to the other parent (the perceived victimizer), perhaps explosively.

After adolescence, the same child may identify with the rejected parent (now perceived as the real victim) and express anger to the rejecting parent (now seen as the real victimizer). This person may feel anger about anybody else who pretends to be a victim.

If a child tries to remain loyal to both parents, and those parents are in conflict, the child may suffer inner conflict. The side of the child that supports the father will object to the side of the child that supports the mother. We call this identity conflict.

My ex-partner played a victim role very well, gained the sympathy of the judge and
was awarded custody of our two children ... our older child is perpetually angry,
and the younger suffers from endless indecision.

Children of separating parents my feel guilty but not know why. If, during the separation, they sided with one parent against the other, then they may feel that they abused one of their parents ... in which case guilt would be normal.

Power & Privilege

Emotional blackmail is a common way to gain and maintain the benefits of child custody, even though a mother who disrupts father-child contact defined by court order may be acting illegally.

In a court of law, the best interests of the child may not mean the child’s best interests. Parents can vote, parents can file lawsuits and parents can pay lawyers, so the child’s interests and rights are usually subordinate to the parents' interests. Children of divorce are rarely represented in court, and may be emotionally crushed during their parents' power games.

Pleasure may become senseless for parents who have alienating a once-loved partner and damaged their own children. Later many parents depress their own lives. Some symptoms of unassimilated guilt are adults who:

  • Ignore personal hygiene
  • Avoid financial responsibility
  • Avoid completing tasks
  • Ignore important problems
  • Sabotage their own careers
  • Consider self-harm or suicide

A Parental Alienation Scenario

Either parent can initiate parental alienation. Here is a common scenario:

  1. A separated parent states that a child does not wish to be with the other parent
  2. A social worker confirms that the child does not want to visit the other parent
  3. The custodial parent and social worker report to a court
  4. The court limits the child's contact with the other parent
  5. The child and rejecting parent bond by their rejection of the other parent
  6. The child and rejected parent lose contact until the child is adolescent
  7. After adolescence, the child may visit and bond to the rejected parent
  8. After bonding to the rejected parent, the child may reject the custodial parent

Many people who suffered PAS told us that they could not cope with this situation as children, and that they only avoided, not hated, the other parent, to avoid problems with the custodial parent. Later, after emotional adolescence (which may be delayed), they often tell us that they now avoid the custodial parent.

If I did anything my mother didn't like, I heard her worst insult, "I was just like my father". I avoided meeting him, mostly to avoid problems with my mother. I left home at 16, and found that my father wasn't at all like my mother's descriptions. I'm 37 now, but my mother refuses to discuss anything about my childhood or my father. I still can't visit my mother without feeling anger towards her. Maybe I am "just like my father".

If a parent continues to reject the other parent, their adult children may avoid, dislike or even hate the rejecting parent. If this is accompanied by chronic anger, this person may be expressing a victim's unexpressed rage.

The toxicity of PAS is not only in the description of the syndrome
but also in the solutions chosen by courts. Sometimes, if PAS is diagnosed, the hated parent may be given custody of the child,
against the child's own will.

Soulwork, Maturity & Child Abuse

We often acquire virtues under challenging conditions. If you experience danger, you can develop courage, and if you experience lack, you can develop generosity. If you experience guilt you can develop purity, and if you experience depression, you can develop compassion.

Children may suffer from the tactics that parents use to hurt each other. Although immature parents are expressing their depression, anxiety and aggression by withdrawing love, alienating a child's parent is child abuse. We help people manage the consequences of:

  • betrayal of one partner by the other
  • physical, emotional or sexual abuse
  • instilling children with false memories
  • using children as 'dependent hostages'
  • emotional incest & passive aggression
  • court ordered suffering - custody by a hated parent

Contact us to solve emotional and relationship problems.

Online Help: Coaching, Counseling & Therapy

I thought you were just another therapist - but you were not just. Not even. Not only.

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright © Martyn Carruthers 2004-2018
All rights reserved.

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Have You Suffered Enough?

 Where are you now? Understand your emotions, fixations and enmeshments
What do you hope for? Know your goals and stop sabotaging yourself
Do you feel resourceful? Learn to develop your inner resources
Do emotions block you? Relationship problems and mentor damage
Do your beliefs limit you? Change limiting beliefs and end dependence
Do you feel connected? Resolve identity issues to recover lost resources
Is your partner happy? Build healthy partnership (or separate peacefully)
Are your children healthy? Happy parents better manage family problems
Do you want team success? Team leaders and their teams develop together
Do you have complex goals? Specialty coaching, counseling & therapy

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright © Martyn Carruthers 1996-2018  All rights reserved. Soulwork Systemic Coaching was primarily developed by Martyn Carruthers to help people solve emotional problems and relationship conflicts to achieve their goals. These concepts and strategies are for general knowledge only. Consult a physician about medical conditions and before changing medical treatment. Don't steal intellectual property ... get permission to post, publish or teach Martyn's work - email