- Campaign of Denigration – Upon choosing a side, the child becomes obsessed with the targeted parent’s faults, and with hating that parent. This initial step occurs so quickly that the targeted parent is often stunned by the about-face taken by his or her child. Hating a parent that has abused the child is considered to be justified and logical, and is therefore not a sign of Parental Alienation Syndrome (“PAS”).
- Absurd, Weak, or Frivolous Reasons for Denigration – The complaints made by the child during his campaign of denigration are often irrational, or not sufficiently serious to normally cause a child to hate a parent. For instance, a child might state, as his primary reason for hating the targeted parent, that the parent does not allow him to eat spicy foods, or to see certain types of movies.
- Lack of Ambivalence – Normal development of children involves some level of ambivalence – or uncertainty – about both parents. No parent is perfect, and children are prone to frustration and resentment for the limits they set. A child suffering from Parental Alienation Syndrome does not express ambivalence about the alienating parent. Instead, the child automatically and reflexively throws himself into supporting that parent, showing no mixed feelings about pushing away, or hating, the targeted parent. A child suffering from PAS sees one parent as all good, and the other as all bad.
- Independent Thinker and Decision-Maker – When questioned about his extreme views of the targeted parent, and about the alienating parent’s actions, a child suffering from PAS often insists that his feelings are entirely his own. For instance, the child might call his father, whom the mother has been engaged in a campaign of alienation, to say “I don’t want to come to your house anymore. Mom had nothing to do with this decision, I made it all on my own.” The alienating parent is quick to protect the child’s “right” to choose whether he wants to visit his parent.
- No Guilt – Children suffering from PAS commonly claim that the targeted parent does not “deserve” to see them. The child does not feel bad about shutting the parent out, and expresses no gratitude for the things that parent does for him, or the gifts given. In fact, many children suffering from PAS will attempt to manipulate the situation, getting whatever they can from the targeted parent, with the absolute belief they are entitled to such gifts because the targeted parent is such a terrible person. PAS children are often selfish, manipulative, and cruel.
- Absolute Support of Alienating Parent – PAS children are unwilling to have an impartial view of disputes between parents. Such a child reflexively supports the alienating parent, refusing to even listen to the targeted parent’s point of view.
- Borrowed Scenarios – In their communications with the targeted parent, or with court officials, PAS children often spout phrases and ideas that come directly from the alienating parent’s dialogue. The younger the child, the more likely his dialogue contains words and ideas that he cannot even understand. As an example of parental alienation syndrome, a child might claim that he hates his father because he is a “womanizer,” having no idea what a womanizer is.
- Hostility Toward Targeted Parent’s Extended Family – At some point, it is common for a child suffering from PAS to extend his hatred of the targeted parent to that parent’s extended family. The child will similarly make complaints about these family members, which may include grandparents, aunts, and uncles, and even refuse to see them. PAS children often grow up missing important family events, such as weddings, funerals, birthdays, and anniversaries.