Published 3/25/00 Mitchell Daily Republic:
Parent Alienation by Steve Mathis
Last week Ann Landers described an emerging problem of parent alienation following divorce and made it clear, “when divorced parents get along, their children fare much better”. She supported the notion that “all divorced parents must find the decency and strength to do what is right for children, so they can have a good relationship with BOTH parents”.
Some parent alienation is inevitable following divorce. However, if it is allowed to continue, the results to children can be devastating. Continued parent alienation may result in the parentectomy of one parent, which is psychologically lethal to children and parents. Many believe parental alienation is a severe form of child abuse. Various studies have shown that youngsters exposed to mild alienating behaviors may have trouble learning, concentrating, relaxing, or getting along with their peers. They may become anxious, withdrawn, depressed - reaching suicidal proportion, develop physical symptoms or display serious behavior problems. Parent alienation has lasting effects on children, even into adulthood.
The reasons parents (primarily women) alienate are many. Hurt, bitterness, anger, guilt, sexist attitudes, are but a few. Some parents are deliberate in their desire to alienate, others do not realize what they are doing. Behaviors that encourage this “process” may range from the obvious visitation interference, derogatory remarks or false accusations, to the more subtle insinuations, innuendos, or passive regard for the other parent. The adversarial process of litigation and third party actions, e.g. grandparents, extended families, lawyers, judges, mental health professionals, etc. tend to encourage parent alienation.
Understanding the dynamics of parent alienation, recognizing the symptoms and implementing tactics to address this concern is paramount for a child's welfare and a parent's peace of mind. The South Dakota Coalition for Shared Parenting believes that the primary strategy for preventing parent alienation is for children to participate in equal, responsible shared parenting and equal access with both parents and for parents to heal, forgive and parent cooperatively.
For more information on parent alienation, other divorce related issues and our organization, please visit our website at: http://sdsharedparent.tripod.com or call XXXXXXXX.