Am I experiencing parental alienation syndrome?

On Behalf of | Apr 7, 2022 | Custody |

California parents going through the custody process or following a custody order know the challenges involved. Even parents who maintain a good relationship with one another will likely face conflict at some point. Maybe one parent enters a new relationship, changes jobs or wants to move somewhere.

All these things could impact a custody arrangement, sometimes to the detriment of one parent, who may feel like the other parent is trying to turn the child against them. No parent is perfect, and perfect behavior should not be expected; however, parental alienation syndrome is a real thing, and you may wonder if you are experiencing it.

Parental alienation syndrome involves one parent intentionally using manipulation techniques or psychological games to alienate a child against the other parent. The techniques may be subtle, such as making vague comments about how the other parent is always “too busy” for the child, or direct and cruel, such as telling the child that the other parent doesn’t love them or doesn’t want to be with them.

Telltale signs of parental alienation syndrome

The following behaviors in a child are signs of parental alienation syndrome:

  • Constant criticism of the alienated parent
  • Using adult terms or phrases that a child would likely not know on their own
  • No shame or guilt from the child

The constant criticism of the alienated parent often comes without any evidence or justification. The child may claim that it is just their opinion, and they came up with it on their own; however, it is likely the opinion is coming from ideas planted in their head by the other parent. The child may not feel bad about their treatment of the alienated parent, because they believe the criticism is valid.

At the same time, the child may feel the other parent is blameless and everything they do is right. They will support the other parent, no matter what choices they make.

Parental alienation syndrome is more likely to be found in cases where the child had a good relationship with the alienated parent in the past, and the relationship deteriorated over time for no logical reason.

Parents should have strong bonds with their children, and no one should interfere with that bond. If you feel like you’re a victim of parental alienation syndrome, there are resources you can turn to for help.