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The Remarried Life


Feb 16, 2021

Brian Mayer talks about parental alienation after divorce.  Parental alienation happens when one or both parents either knowingly or unknowingly talk ill about each other to the children.  This can cause children to begin to carry a unnecessary burden of negative feelings toward a parent.  We will talk about this issue and what to do about it today.  We hope you are inspired by today’s message.  For more information and additional resources please visit our website at http://www.theremarriedlife.com

Today's Goodies

  • When a divorce happens, negative feelings by one or both ex-spouses is very common. It can actually be somewhat more rare that a divorce ends amicable and on good terms. 
  • If it ends on good terms, where you both remain good friends then of course more positive feelings toward each other will be present. Those positive feelings will most likely flow over into discussions about each other to the kids. 
  • But what happens if your marriage ended on a rather bad note. And what if you really don’t have a friendship with your former partner?  Sometimes but not always depending on the level of upset and anger toward each other, can lend itself to this idea of parental alienation
  • What is parental alienation? This term was apparently coined back in 1985 by child psychologist Richard Gardner.  He actually called in Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). 
  • Gardner focused on the behaviors in the children who has been exposed to something like as the signal that this is happening for the child.
  • Those behaviors include:
    • Denigration: The child repeatedly complains about one parent over and over again.
    • Frivolous Rationalization: This involves the child giving a weak reason for not wanting to see the targeted parent again. 
    • Lack of Ambivalence: Ambivalence actually means we are torn mental and emotional about something.  We can see good and bad.  In parental alienation, the child no longer see both sides but rather all negative. 
    • Independent Thinker: This happens when the child seems to suggest that everything they think about their parent has come from within and that none came from the other parent. 
    • Automatic/Reflexive Support: The child always chooses the side of one parent over another no matter what the topic. 
    • Absence of Guilt: The child will say and do very disrespectful things and have no remorse or feelings of guilt.
    • Borrowed Scenarios: This involves the child giving the exact same story that a preferred parent gives and will often even use the same words. 
    • Spread of Animosity: This involves the child expanding the anger toward other family and friends of the targeted parent. 
  • This sounds like a lot to deal with and of course if you are witnessing any of the signs in your children then it may mean that something like parental alienation is happening.
  • So what do you do about this? It may take awhile to unravel but it can be done. 
  • Here are some suggestions to decrease parental alienation.
  • If you are the parent responsible for the parental alienation:
    • Awareness of the burden you are placing on your child is the first step.
    • Taking responsibility for what you are doing and talking it out with your child (obviously age appropriate) is very important.
    • Working to instill more neutral or positive comments about the other parent will be important.
  • If you are the parent on the receiving end of the alienation:
    • First take stock in what you are doing and saying to understand if you still may have some responsibility. Obviously make changes. 
    • If you truly believe it is a case of alienation, then talking to the other parent is important. Simply explain that for the mental and emotional health of the child that it is important not to pressure the child to take sides. 
    • If you are unable to talk to the parent or the parent is unwilling to take responsibility, have a discussion with your child. Again age appropriateness is important here.  If the child is older and willing, the child can discuss with the other parent that hearing negative is not helpful. 
  • What if you are a step parent and your spouse is the target of parental alienation:
    • Support for your spouse but just being there for him/her through this is most important.
    • Of course you can also play a key role in making a positive environment for your stepchildren can help.
    • Constantly communicating the good that the children are doing is also important. Kids when they become adults will often complain that the one or both parents would never point out the positive in others or themselves. 
  • This is certainly a tough topic and not an easy one to navigate. So be patient as this one may take some time to unwind from. 

Resources:

  • None Mentioned 

Thanks For Listening!

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As always remember that marriage is not something you have, it is something you do.  Talk to you next week unless you are binge listening in the future in which case I will talk to you in about a minute!  Take care.