Parental Alienation: Are You Guilty?

I must share this excellent post from Rosalind Sedacca, on a subject that is near and dear to my heart - parental alienation:

By Rosalind Sedacca, CCT

Parent Alienation, without question, is the most damaging aspect of divorce on children and it is more common than we'd like to think.The following article by Susan Pease Gadoua for Psychology Today provides some valuable resources to help you avoid the subtle and not-so-subtle mistakes any parent can make without realizing the consequences to their children

Recently, in the news, we heard the story of Prince Sagala finding her two children on Facebook 15 years after they were abducted by their father and taken to Mexico. Kidnappings such as these are extreme cases and generally occur when one parent, in essence, takes the law into their own hands and determines that the other parent should have no custody or visitation.
Less extreme, but no less damaging, is the PAS that takes place with both parents living near each other. One parent may try to obstruct the other parent's visits or may simply badmouth the other parent to the children.

In another case that came to light this week, a woman in Long Island was sentenced to six weekends in jail for what Judge Robert Ross described as a mother who is a "vengeful road block," and "barbed wire standing in the way of her two daughters and their desperate dad."

What is most challenging about these kinds of cases is that it is next to impossible for the Court to decipher if the allegations of one parent against the other are true, or if it is simply a case of one parent being so angry at the other that they are trying to punish him or her. It becomes a "he said, she said" battle, the outcome of which is one that the children's physical, mental and emotional often depends on.

If the judge makes the wrong decision, the children may be permanently harmed.

There are no easy solutions and, wherever possible, lawyers call on friends and neighbors or even expert witnesses such as Child Psychologists to testify as to symptoms of harm that they may see. Still, without knowing the inside story firsthand, judges can err.

Rather than having to choose between one parent or the other, the ideal outcome is to help parents get to a place where they are able to put their anger aside, build up their repertoire of parenting skills, and work to be better co-parents. It may be that the couple never has a good working relationship but rather a "good enough" working relationship.

A wonderful new book out on this subject by Douglas Darnell, PhD, is entitled, Beyond Divorce Casualties: Reunifying the Alienated Family (Taylor Trade, 2010). This book examines the Alienating Cycle, the obstacles to change and outlines steps for Parent/Child reunification therapy.

There are also on-line resources available such as The Leadership Council,,

The Association for Women in Psychology,,
Justice for Children,

It's easy for alienating behaviors to slip by us all -- especially when it comes to a former spouse we no longer like or respect. However, it's imperative that you resist those temptations and see the world through your child's eyes when talking about or interactive with their other parent. You'll be doing a great service for your child and that is worth the sacrifice to your pride or ego -- don't you think?

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Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is a relationship seminar facilitator and author of the ebook, How Do I Tell the Kids ... about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children -- with Love! For free articles, her blog, coaching, valuable resources on child-centered divorce or to subscribe to her free ezine, go to:

© Rosalind Sedacca All rights reserved.