I am inspired to write about parent alienation syndrome, or PAS, this week after meeting with an adolescent boy who was struggling with his feelings about his dad. It’s not the first time and most likely not the last; I continue to do my part in discouraging this behavior (PAS) in most circumstances.
The most common time PAS rears its ugly head is during a divorce. If it’s a bitter divorce and most of the time they are, one parent may attempt to turn the child/children against the other parent. Typically, this parent feels justified in doing so; most of the time it’s a way to “get back” at the other parent.
Here’s the rub. We all know that when there is a divorce and children are involved, the children suffer most. That is especially true when one of the parents works diligently to convince the kids the “other parent” is to blame.
“You Act Just Like Your Father!”
You know by now that my work is with boys in The Quest Project® so there are many times when I see a mom trying hard to keep her son(s) from his dad and/or from being “like” his dad.
Before I get hate mail, I know that there are many mothers that work very hard to make sure the relationship between father and son stays intact, so please don’t take offense – I’m not talking to you! I see dads do this too, though in my experience it is not as often.
Important note: In the case where it’s determined dad or mom is not safe, then legal needs to intervene mandating supervised visits and/or parenting classes. Or, when the justification is that mom and/or dad has a character flaw that you’re concerned about, it may then be appropriate to feel this way but inappropriate to make it “black and white!”
I’m speaking here directly to the mom that wants to keep her son away from his dad. This is a huge mistake! It will lead to multiple issues and hurt your son. Young boys need a man to help them develop into a man. It takes a healthy circle of men to define a healthy man! It’s innate and natural and whether you like it or not he’s going to need a healthy male example if he wants to become a healthy man.
Moms frequently tell me they “don’t want their son to be like his dad.” Or that they are afraid because their son “acts just like his father!” Again, more often than not a boy will be who he wants to be. He needs love, support and healthy direction from both parents.
There is an abundance of reading material on PAS. If you’re going through a divorce or consider you may be consciously or unconsciously alienating your child, I encourage you to stop the behavior, your child will suffer the consequences. What consequences you might ask! Typically, when the child grows up, becomes an adult and reviews their childhood this type behavior can come back to haunt the parent.
I know this can be a sore subject. Do you have an experience with Parent Alienation Syndrome? How did you handle it?