Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Parental Alienation Part II - The controversy

So last time I talked about the nature of Parental Alienation and Parental Alienation Syndrome. In short, parental alienation is where one parent (usually the resident parent) affects a child's attitude to the other parent such that the child expresses dislike for the other parent.

The Court can take a number of steps to address this, although once the matter is identified in Court, it is likely that most of the damage has been done, and it is very hard to reverse. The Court usually starts by allowing the non-resident parent more time with the child, and time not affected by the resident parent. The Court can Order that one or both parents undertake counselling, and can Order that the child be included in that. The Court can then consider taking the enormous step of changing the residence of the child.

This is where the controversy begins. On the one hand, you have the organisations for the support of alienated parents, such as the site http://www.parentalalienation.com.au/ and Parental Alienation Awareness Organisation. They advocate that the alienated parent should immediately have more time, and that the Court should consider changing the child's residence.

The other side is set out in a paper by Dr Elspeth McInness, an Early Childhood Education lecturer at the University of South Australia. Her paper, entitled "Parental Alienation Syndrome: A Paradigm for Child Abuse in Australian Family Law" can be found here.

Dr McInness argues that crying 'Parental Alienation' is a tool available to actual abusers who want more access to the child. Any abuse disclosed to the resident parent can be justified as 'lies sought by the alienating parent.'

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Parental Alienation in Children's Issues matters

"I don't care if he spends time with her, I just don't want to see him. I don't talk crap about him at home, we just don't talk about him." "My daughter just hates him, I don't know why. It's not my fault."

I have a fascinating matter where the issue of parental alienation has cropped up. If you haven't heard of it before, it is where one parent influences the child's opinion of the other parent so that they demonstrate dislike to the other parent.

This can cause the child to unreasonably object to spending time with the other person, or to make unreasonable demands on them. When asked, the child who has been affected will often not know why they are behaving as they are, or will give a nonsensical reason, such as 'He's too tall.'

I will discuss the controversy about Parental Alienation in the context of the Family Courts in another post, because that is an entire subject of itself.

For now, I will look at how it affects children, and what sorts of behavior can trigger it.

There are lots of websites promoting this or that view of Parental Alienation, and some of them clearly push their own agendas. The origin of the term came from American psychologist Richard Gardener, however his term 'Parental Alienation Syndrome' has not been accepted by the wider medical community as an actual mental illness or condition.