Parental alienation (PA) occurs when a parent manipulates their child to reject the care and relationship with the other parent (Gardner, 1985). Research has shown PA occurs in a variety of familial contexts including intact and divorced families and can be cultivated by mothers, fathers, custodial, and non-custodial parents (Baker, 2007).
This proposal is an autoethnographic case study of my own experience of PA following my parents’ divorce using communication artifacts that my parents retained. These included letters and emails, personal journals and notes, and audio recordings of phone calls during the time period prior to when I lost contact with my father. Not many adult children have the opportunity to sift through their past through family artifacts that captured real-time thoughts, emotions, and events. I thematically analyzed these documents for communication patterns that created family narratives of parental alienation using in vivo codes when possible.
Using a family systems and narrative sensemaking approach, I found communication patterns enacted by all the members of my family– my mom, my dad, my older sister, and me– that promoted or reinforced parental alienation. These communication patterns shaped specific family narratives that interacted to create cohesion and opposition within my family, eventually pushing my father out completely.
This personal case study approach provided an invaluable opportunity to explore the nuanced communication patterns and family narratives that occur during the process of parental alienation within a family system without the intrusive means of observational methods.
Parental alienation (rejection of a parent without legitimate justification) and realistic estrangement (rejection of a parent for a good reason) are generally accepted concepts among mental health and legal professionals. Alienated children, who were not abused, tend to engage in splitting and lack ambivalence with respect to their parents; estranged children, who were maltreated, usually perceive their parents in an ambivalent manner. The hypothesis of this study was that a psychological test—the Parental Acceptance–Rejection Questionnaire (PARQ)—will help to distinguish severely alienated from nonalienated children. The PARQ, which was used to identify and quantify the degree of splitting for each participant, was administered to 45 severely alienated children and 71 nonalienated children. The PARQ‐Gap score—the difference between each child’s PARQ: Father score and PARQ: Mother score—was introduced and defined in this research. Using a PARQ‐Gap score of 90 as a cut point, this test was 99% accurate in distinguishing severely alienated from nonalienated children. This research presents a way to distinguish parental alienation from other reasons for contact refusal. The PARQ‐Gap may be useful for both clinicians and forensic practitioners in evaluating children of separating and divorced parents when there is a concern about the possible diagnosis of parental alienation.
If you had told me, five years ago, that my alienated step-children would ‘come round’ I would’ve enquired what you were smoking. The hate was so tangible you could almost taste it. Yet now, the unimaginable has happened. My step-children, who were wracked with anger and spewing insults at their father, Rhys, and me are changing their tunes. Reaching out. Craving contact.
They can finally see who is the villain…and who is not.
Many a good man has kissed his child(ren), alienated and brainwashed by the vindictive other parent, goodbye with the words, ‘Well, if you hate me so much, I won’t force you to have visitation with me. But I’ll always be here. When you grow up and realise that I wasn’t the villain of this story, reach out. I’ll always be here’.
My husband, Rhys, found himself backed into that position by almost the worst case of Parental Alienation I’ve ever observed. It took a long time, but he finally realised that trying to be a very involved, attentive father where he wasn’t wanted at all by his children, was making the situation worse.
Having accomplished her ultimate goal of pushing Rhys into so-called ‘abandonment’, his ex-wife was quick to petition the courts for sole custody which they immediately granted. It was merely a gesture. She’d always had full custody in practise, though not on paper. Now she had all the power and control she craved in fact and in law. She was chuffed.
‘When the kids grow up’, Rhys sighed, ‘then they’ll figure out who she truly is’.
You could almost smell the fear. The fear that Da would disappear. That he wasn’t here to stay. They couldn’t get enough of Rhys. There was so much catching up to do. Some of the phone conversations lasted four, five, even six hours at at time. Rhys was emotionally and physically exhausted.
At first, Rhys’ grief was for all the abuse his children had borne at the hands of the ‘good’ parent who had alienated him, the supposedly ‘bad’ parent. At pain of physical injury, his children had kept mum, never daring to tell Rhys just how bad home was with their mum and her man-of-the-moment threatening and beating them. I’ve never seen Rhys weep so hard nor be so angry.
Now Rhys has a new kind of grief. The pain of discovering that his young adult children are already involved in every life-destroying vice, even crime, leaving a trail of destruction and fatherless children in their wake. Now a second generation is growing up in broken homes, alienated from their fathers, Rhys’ sons.
As Rhys wife, I hadn’t expected just how accurately Rhys’ children would follow the pattern of the mother they claim to hate. It’s heartbreaking to watch the pattern of dysfunction repeat itself verbatim in the next generation. I also hadn’t expected just how much they would reminisce with Rhys about his past life. They think nothing of constantly bringing up Rhys’ ex-girlfriends, one of whom went on to marry Rhys’ son, a marriage his siblings consider incestuous. I was raised with a certain sensitivity, a delicacy that dictates one does not reminisce about exes in the presence of a current spouse. Rhys and his children have no such tact and seemed shocked, even confused, as to why it would upset me.
Actress Miranda Richardson nailed one of them this week: Britain has a “hideous” approach to success, she said. She’s right.
Richardson is chairman of the judges for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. She was keen to see novelist Hilary Mantel on the shortlist but feared a backlash. Why? For the simple reason that Mantel has won two prestigious awards and may now be vilified for “having too much success” (a fate that befell Lady Thatcher for having the temerity to win three general elections in a row for her party, but let that pass).
The actress referred to “tall poppy syndrome”, describing the attitude thus: “‘You’ve already had too much success and you can’t have any more. Go away and die now.’ People are quite vitriolic. I think it’s disgusting.”
Britain loves a rags-to-riches story, right? Or we claim to love one. But in fact, there’s nothing the public likes better than a story of riches turned to disgrace. Sometimes, the disgrace is richly deserved, but at other times, the country seems so habituated to the ritual of a good pillorying that it collectively forgets being successful is not, in itself, a crime.
The CBB star, 26, wrote in her UK newspaper column that Britain as a nation are envious and would rather hit out that successful people than make something of their own lives.
She said: “We don’t encourage or reward success – in fact, quite the opposite. We live in nation of green-eyes monsters, people with chips on their shoulders and citizens too lazy to go out and actually get what they want.”
Controversial mum-of-one Luisa admitted she can’t understand why successful people – women especially – get so much hate.
“British people hate successful people”
Parents who are emotionally unavailable are often immature and psychologically affected themselves. As difficult as it is to believe, emotionally unavailable parents have a host of their own problems that might go back as far as their own childhood. There is often a deficit in parents who are unable to meet the emotional and psychological needs of their child. In a sense, some emotionally void parents deserve sympathy as they are often emotionally burned adults who have no way of coping with their own emotional and psychological needs. As a result, these kind of parents become one of the following: rejecting, emotionally distant, immature, self-centered or narcissistic, or driven to succeed in life. These adults are not emotionally what their stated (or chronological) age says they are. They are pseudo-mature in many ways which often pushes the child to become adult-like and emotionally independent before their time. The parent maintains negative patterns of behavior due to lack of self-awareness, often affecting the child in more ways than one, while the child sinks further and further into despair. Sadly, these same kids develop into emotionally needy teens and adults who are longing for the love, security, and affection they never received.
Source: 7 Consequences of Having an Emotionally Detached Parent