Tuesday, June 30th, 2015
When parents are at war with each other over the custody of a child, this can cause a mixture of emotions. In the 1960s/1970s, women wanted to pursue working life and education more than ever. Therefore, feminists encouraged fathers to play a more active role in their children?s lives. However, there was still belief that the mother was the superior parent. When parents separated, fathers still wanted to have contact with their children however, the father had no legal rights of custody unless this was agreed by the mother. James Cook, the founder of the Joint Custody Association, created a better way of handling the problem on how to share custody. The aim was to reduce fights and help fathers in order to make it more equal. Within the 70s, the presumption of ‘mother knows best’ was replaced with ‘best interests of the child’.
In the 1980s, the gender of both parents was increasingly ignored in determining child custody. This meant mothers did not automatically have the right over the child. The court had the decision of how custody could be shared. If they did not come to an agreement, they would attempt to determinate which parent was more interested and better able to attend to the best interest of the child. With this in mind, fathers were determined to attend parenting classes. There was some progress of shared custody. However, when there was not a friendly resolution to custody, fathers found themselves with a greater opportunity to gain joint or primary custodial status by litigating (going to court). The stakes got even higher when the legal system was used to resolve these difficult problems. In extreme cases, the alienation of a child’s affection against a targeted parent became a bizarre escalation of the intensity of the conflict.
Who discovered Parental Alienation Syndrome?
In the 1980s, forensic psychiatrist Dr Richard A. Gardner identified Parental Alienation Syndrome. He noticed what many others didn’t, one parent programming their child to alienate the other parent. Not only was the parent brainwashing the child, the child would contribute to support the alienation. Therefore, PAS is the new term that includes the contribution to the problem made by both the parent and the child. This is a serious matter that is still being researched/observed.
How common is PA and PAS?
When there is separation between father and mother, there is often parent alienation. The likeliness of the mother indirectly brainwashing the child against the father can be high. However, this can calm down in many cases once all parties are used to the changes. Although this can happen, in rare cases this can escalate. PAS parents can be defined as being psychologically fragile. It is when they feel threatened, they can become protective over what is ‘rightfully’ theirs.
How does the child get involved in PAS?
An important part of child development is to let the child become their own person and to let their independence grow. However, instead of promoting this independence, the parent who is pursuing alienation against the other parent encourages continued dependence on them. The parent can also dictate who he/she can or cannot see. In particular, other family members.
What can be done about the problem?
Forensic evaluators diagnose PAS by parents taking a psychological test. They then make recommendations as to what to do.
What is the best way to deal with PAS?
The parents who were successful in getting primary custody of their children in a PAS situation shared the following characteristics: