Anyone out there dealing with PAS? Otherwise known as Parental Alienation Syndrome...

Angela - posted on 10/02/2011 ( 17 moms have responded )

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My husband and I have been dealing with constant manipulation of his son by his biological mother. As of a few weeks ago, we hadn't know such a term existed. When we educated ourselves about it-we realized this syndrome hits the nail on the head describing it.

What is PAS?
Gardner's definition of PAS is:

1. The Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes.

2. Its primary manifestation is the child's campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification.

3. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) of a parent's indoctrinations and the child's own contributions to the vilification of the targeted parent.

Excerpted from: Gardner, R.A. (1998). The Parental Alienation Syndrome, Second Edition, Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.


What is the child's part in PAS?
Gardner notes that the PAS is more than brainwashing or programming, because the child has to actually participate in the denigrating of the alienated parent. This is done in primarily the following eight ways:

The child denigrates the alienated parent with foul language and severe oppositional behavior.

The child offers weak, absurd, or frivolous reasons for his or her anger.

The child is sure of himself or herself and doesn't demonstrate ambivalence, i.e. love and hate for the alienated parent, only hate.

The child exhorts that he or she alone came up with ideas of denigration. The "independent-thinker" phenomenon is where the child asserts that no one told him to do this.

The child supports and feels a need to protect the alienating parent.

The child does not demonstrate guilt over cruelty towards the alienated parent.

The child uses borrowed scenarios, or vividly describes situations that he or she could not have experienced.

Animosity is spread to the friends and/or extended family of the alienated parent.

In severe cases of parent alienation, the child is utterly brain- washed against the alienated parent. The alienator can truthfully say that the child doesn't want to spend any time with this parent, even though he or she has told him that he has to, it is a court order, etc. The alienator typically responds, "There isn't anything that I can do about it. I'm not telling him that he can't see you."


Our now 14 year old son no longer wants to continue with his visits and is completely brainwashed by his mother.
Any other families besides us going through this? Support is much needed.

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Maree - posted on 12/11/2011

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God yes...I am so happy i found somewhere to vent. Don't really have the energy to vent right now as i have spent the last few days trying to get through to people on other communities that sometimes it is impossible to be a step family successfully but it seems i am expected to be a Saint and put up with bio mums crap for the rest of my life,not only that but to smile,be happy...LOVE my step child and never give up. And if i don't,i am wrong,selfish and i obviously hate the child and probably never wanted him in the first place.
Honestly some people just don't have a clue what sort of BS step mums and bio dads put up with. There is only so much we can take before we crack !!!!!!!!!!

Hollie - posted on 12/10/2011

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Im thinking this happens with a lot of blended families! Its horrible and cycle hard to break

[deleted account]

OMGSH YES!! My DH has a similar issue, This is considered child abuse. There is a man in Florida J.Micheal Bone, PHD That has written and is an expert on the subject, he has even been a material witness in court.
I know all about your husb. emotional well being, I see it in mine, and he over corrects not really disciplining, or giving into what ever they want. ( I keep telling him that isn't helping) It's a no win.. His X has convinced the kids once they turn 14 ( in our state) its their election as to how much ,if at at the amount of time they get to spend with their Biod. I have a hunch once the youngest turns 14 we will only see her when she wants something, BioM is all ready "grooming" her about it.. Our situation is horrible, BiOM has been on my case as far as the kids ever since BioD started dating me.. It's such a shame..
It is so so sad that ppl go to these lengths and hurt our children like this, (they are usually narcissistic) and pass all court ordered physiology exams.(sad again)

Tammy - posted on 11/13/2011

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This describes what is happening to my husband almost exactly except his adult children now claim to love him and only want him to be in thier lives. But when we attempt this they use it to demean, humiliate and accuse him of not loving the enough. They claim to be the victims but are actually just continuing the abuse their mother put him through for years. I don't want to ever give up on a parent child relationship but my husband's emotional well being is at stake. They also say hurtful things about our 3 yr old daughtet and how unfair it is that she gets his time and attention. A good example is about a yr and hald ago we ran into them at Target. I was getting my 1 1/2 yr old daughter so new outfits and when we got home we got a nasty phone call that if we buy clothes for our daughter we need to buy clothes for ALL his girls. Mind you I was paying for the outfits and they cost roughly $10 each. Also this was a 1 1/2 yr old that neede clothes because she outgrows them and his youngest child with the ex was 22 at the time. Anyone with advice on how to deal with this would be greatly appreciated.

Elise - posted on 11/08/2011

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This describes my brother to a t. I grew up in the same household but in our case he had my grandparents as well as our father alienating our mother. To this day (26 yrs old) he still cannot explain why he hates my mother and cannot get past it. The using borrowed situations part is what really made me go wow, that is Josh, it frustrates me when he talks about things that he couldn't possibly have experienced and acts as if he was there. It's insane, I do have to say to he has adhd and spinabifida, it which shouldn't affect his mind but I think he does have some serious mental issues that have never been addressed, just used to get someone else on their side and of course with him being an adult I have no power to try and help him get help. The anger, everything just is exactly what he is like. It is impossible to change his mind on anything, he is completely brainwashed to the point where he thinks these things actually happened. This is so interesting.

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Alison - posted on 10/17/2013

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I know exactly what you are going through. I wish I could provide some support but I haven't found a way to stop this either.

I met my husband when his children were 3 and 1 so I've raised them almost from birth. They are now 14 and 12. The children were French language speaking and I am English so I taught them to speak English. At age 2, my step-daughter told me (in French), "English is disgusting". Disgusting is a hard word to learn in French at age 2 and we knew it came from her mother. Over the years, many things occurred that slowly broke down our relationship. If I did her hair, she couldn't stop looking in the mirror so happy but then would come back the following week and tell me not to touch her hair because I was damaging it. Again, not words a young child would use much less comprehend the meaning of. The children were grilled when they got back to mom's house and my step-son has told us that he felt pressured to say bad things about me. He cried as he told me how sorry he was for doing that but at the time, he was young and if he said bad things, he would get treats, watch videos and other rewards 'to make him feel better'. He recalls one time where he asked mom if he could stay an extra hour to ride his new bike that we bought him for his birthday. His mother refused and she cried so hard while driving back home that she was driving erratically and was stopped by the police. The remembers the whole experience as being terrifying and he said that's when he learned, never express joy in front of mom about being at our house. We have been reported by their mom to Child & Family Services 7 times in 10 years and each time the file was closed after the initial meeting and we were finally given a letter of apology from Child & Family Services citing that the reports given to them were of no merit and were done with malicious intent. Although we have equal custody (one week with us, one week with mom), their mother has withheld the children from us on average 3-4 times a year where she refused to allow us to see them for up a month at a time. We do have a legal custody order however to enforce it, we would have to call the police and have them forcibly take the children; something we did not want to traumatize the children with.

At 14, my step-son seems to have broken free of this 'brainwashing' and has come to his own conclusions and opinions. I have tears in my eyes as I write that he recently told me that he knows that I'm a good mom and that I always did what was best for him and that he feels so bad when he thinks of all the horrible things that we were put through by his mother and by him and his sister.

I wish I could say that my step-daughter is the same but she had decided I am a terrible person and will not come back to our home. It has been six months and she does not want to come back. I have seen her only once when she called us to ask us to take her to the circus. We were so happy and we had a fun time but she hasn't agreed to come back to our house even for a few hours since. She (my step-daughter who is 12) tells us that 'we haven't made enough sacrifices for her yet and that she wants just dad to take her places and doesn't want to see me at all'. My heart is broken. We are at a loss of what to do. My husband tells her how much we miss her, that we want her to be a part of our family and that it isn't right to treat people who love her so much this way but she appears so ambivalent and cries and says 'we have to stop pressuring her because we're not allowed to because the Child & Family Services told her we can't'.

With the help of Child & Family Services, we have enrolled the children in a program called "Children in the Middle" with the hopes that this will help them sort through their real feelings vs. mom's opinions. It's coming up but at this point, we're not even sure their mother will consent to them going.

Like you, I implore anyone else out there who is going through or has gone through this, to ask for advice. I feel like my step-daughter has died and I am in mourning....

Jayne - posted on 01/28/2013

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So we have been dealing with this PAS stuff since we got married. My husband is now grumpy and very critical and just always unhappy. As a second wife with a kid of my own how do we continue? Am i expected to be a saint when I feel so cheated out of a happy and loving home or at least a loving marriage?

Carol - posted on 09/08/2012

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Just found this site. I gotta say there is truly comfort in numbers. I'm a Step Mom of 3. Currently aged 9, 13, 15. My newish hubby has full custody of his kids and they have been living with us full time for 4 years now. There has been minimal contact with their BM as she has moved further and further away from her kids and has never asked for a visit. We finally took her to court for child support since she's refused to pay all these years, and at that hearing she asked for 6 weeks of visitation with her this past Summer. The judge granted her 3 weeks. What a nightmare process. She refused to show us that there were return flights booked until we took her to court again for proof that she planned on returning them (she's disappeared with them before) We unhappily sent them off with the oldest son bearing a new cell phone, just in case.



Upon their return the youngest girl broke into tears for no apparant reason on and off for about a week. Rude to myself and her bio-dad. She has since come around and we are in a better place. Her brother the 15 year old sees through him BM's lies and is happy to be home. The 13 year old sister however is far gone. She has claimed hatred towards me in particular and her dad as well. She hates everything about living with us and says she's been faking happiness all this time. She has all of a sudden decided she hates all the things she used to love and it seems her best girlfriends are no longer available when she asks to hang out after school. She fights with her siblings more. I can't enter the room without feeling I don't belong and have to pull over on my drives to work to cry. The stress is overwhelming and I want to help her through this, but can't seem to connect.



Hard enough dealing with 13 year old girl drama, but add the effects of parental alienation - and wow, what a bomb. I just hope we all survive. Thanks for a place to vent, maybe that will help me get through it all.



To the rest of you hang in there. Hugs all around. Some Bio parents are F$%k-wads!

Chaya - posted on 07/18/2012

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My dad's wife did enough alienation for several generations. I'm not anti step parents, my dad had been married to several women, most of whom at least tried to be fair. I've had to step back and just not be involved in the family at all. I attended her death and funeral at my daughters behest. I wasn't willing to go alone, but daughter didn't want to go alone either.
I spent the first 45 years of my life trying to make the family work, I wasn't going to spend any more energy on it. Since this woman was the mother of most of my older siblings and a couple yuonger ones, I couldn't avoid her. I'm the only person she had a problem with.
I had to leave the state, the country a few times, in order to get away from the passive agression, blantant abuse, and her sending her kids to beat up on me. I left home when I was ten over it.
It may not be as it seems, the problem in our family was that my dad was deaf, his wife only told him what she wanted him to know.

Lost - posted on 07/18/2012

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Okay I am not sure if this is the correct place to post this but I really need some advice. My daughter at the age of 20 was working part time spending time at her boyfriends and when no there basically living in her room. She has always been difficult, mean to her sister and I mean cruel. She ignored the extended family with the exception of one summer of trying to get to know her Nana at my husbands request. We live in the suburbs and moved here when she was 18 she was told that we would drive her where she needed to go until such time as she got her license. We would pay for driving lessons and a car. She avoided her lessons and kept making excuses. It finally came to an ultimatum, learn to drive or move to the city. So she moved, She moved in with my brother who himself is a big child. She complained of lack of food and went on welfare. She was then offered residence with the boyfriend and his family for 200 per month including everything. She was rescued. I didn't rescue her as I wanted her to find clarity and purpose.



The mother of the boyfriend asks nothing of her children. She cleans the BF's room, does his laundry and cooks all his meals. He works part time and spends his money on weed and video games. He sponges off of my daughter who has him idealized. I made the mistake of suggesting that he wasn't treating her right when he didn't help her move. He got her pregnant and it was I who went to the clinic with her when she had an abortion. That just about killed me as I viewed it as the loss of a grandchild. I know she is incapable of caring for herself let alone a child but it was still hard. I kept this to myself and offered her support. She has told me that she doesn't really feel anything about the abortion. She withheld that from everyone except me, the bf and one friend who also had one.



She is lying to the bf and his family saying that she works and I found out that all the times she called to visit she was telling them she was working. So in reality she was using me although she insists that she really did want to see me too. She says that she doesnt want them to think badly of her but then says at least she isnt judged there. I have never judged my girls. Before moving in with the bf she was talking about going back to school and turning her life around. If she had actually enrolled I would have offered her a place here again in order to support her but I wanted the choice to be hers and she wouldnt have followed through if she were here. She was starting to become an adult and accepting responsibility.



Since moving there I noticed shift. She started to express resentment towards me. She made comments about how I didnt care and about how his Mother did. She said that I let her go without food and how nasty that was. I told her if she needed money to ask her dad. I had asked and he wanted her to come to him. Her pride always was her downfall. She said that she wasn't interested in a lecture. I know that the mother is talking crap about me. She has told me herself that she could never "abandon" her children and that she would always insure that their needs were met. What she has are two children who are completely incapable of taking care of themselves. I believe that to deny a child the opportunity to become independant just so they are angry at you is the picture of selfishness. What hurts is that I went through all of the being hated just to encourage her to grow and now its all gone. She is now living with her ideal mother and hearing what she wants to hear.



The other day my youngest took her fathers bank card in error. She had money in my account but went to see her sister to bring a cheque that was delivered here and forgot the cheque and instead of coming back to get the cheque and to get the correct card she went to the liquor store with her sister and debited 88 dollars. She then proceeded to leave the card with her. We discovered this when I couldnt find his card that had been in my wallet and I checked the account online. He was upset with me thinking that I had given it to her and we were both angry at her. My oldest had called earlier that day saying that she needed allergy medication and could I bring the cheque. I couldnt but offered to email money to her which I did. I was upset that she had lied about why she needed the money. As far as I was concerned it didnt matter why she needed it all she had to do was say that she needed cash and I would have sent it against the cheque.



Her sister was sent to get the bank card and the money that was spent over and above the cheque amount. I was disappointed in her but not angry as I was with my youngest. I later found a message on face book from her boyfriend ----You love drama dont you??



I was baffled and insulted. This little jerk has never spoke to us in all the years that he has been dating our daughter. When I asked her why she has he isnt interested. Nice huh? The first time he ever "speaks" to me is to insult me. I went to message my daughter and she had deleted me as a friend. She has cut me out of her life. This BF is so bad for her and there is nothing I can do. He insults her if she mentions going back to school or doing anything to improve herself. The mother is sure that she will be able to get her son to do something with his life as she cant bring herself to and I am the villan in all of this.



I poured my heart and soul into raising my girls. My oldest quit school at 16 and has done nothing since. Now she can hide from growing up and I am sure that he has told her to no longer associate with me. Of course she is going along with it. She thinks he is perfect and can do no wrong. My Dr, thinks she has borderline personality disorder but I have no idea I do know that she has always been cruel with random kindness.



What do I do? My husband and friends are telling me not to reach out to her. They are saying that its time I take a stand and no longer allow her to treat me badly but it feels like my heart has been ripped still beating from my chest. I cant even bear to see a woman with a small child as she has been angry and cold since the age of 9 and I miss the happy baby she once was. I have tried God know I have and now I no longer have any connection to her. How do I get through this?

Kyleigh - posted on 01/07/2012

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All I can say is the parent that is currently the Alienator that parent may be "winning" at the moment of turning an innocent child against the other parent , but ultimately down the road that parent is pushing that certain child(ren) away. This needs to be looked into further by counseling.

»Heidi« - posted on 12/22/2011

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Oh my! I can say I see this going on concerning my stepchildren. I think I might have to do some research on this and make sure...

Sharlene - posted on 10/26/2011

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Hi , Me and my partner are dealing with this as well our's only happens when we have his three children.there mother has stricked rules for them while there in our care,The kids go back to and Monday come and we get told of from her ,we can't take it

Nicole - posted on 10/18/2011

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My husband and I are dealing with this exact issue with his daughter. She is 9 and even refuses to admit verbally that he is her father. Its gotten so very bad.

Bri - posted on 10/15/2011

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yea usually both sets of parents are accused of this its a behaviour and hard to stop!!!

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