Step Parents and Parental Alienation Syndrome.


Outstanding article and please be reminded, that while these situations are most commonly witnessed with the father being the maligned parent, it happens to women as well. In addition step parents take on the role of abusing the actual parent. Bottom line . . . it is NEVER appropriate for ANYONE to do anything other than support and encourage a child to have a healthy relationship with both their parents whenever possible.


American Judges Association

When Psychiatry and the Law Join Forces

Richard A. Gardner, M.D.

In the mid to late 1970s, in association with the replacement of the tender-years presumption with the best-interests-of-the-child presumption (and the gender egalitarianism incorporated therein), we witnessed a burgeoning of child custody litigation. Fathers who previously had little if any chance of gaining custody now found court support for their quest. Since the late 1970s, in association with the increasing popularity of the joint custodial concept, there was an even further burgeoning of custody litigation. Whereas previously the courts tended to award one parent sole custody and assigned the other parent visitation status, now litigating parents could each hope for a large share of time with the children. In association with what can justifiably be called a custody litigation explosion (which is still going on), I began to see a disorder, which I rarely saw before, that developed almost exclusively in children who were exposed to and embroiled in custody disputes. The primary characteristic of this disorder is obsessive alienation from a parent.

Originally, I thought I was observing manifestations of simple “brainwashing.” However, I soon came to appreciate that things were nor so simple and that many other factors were operative. Accordingly, I introduced the term parental alienation syndrome.

I use the term to refer to a disturbance in which a child is obsessed with deprecation and criticism of a parent (more often the father) denigration that is unjustified or exaggerated. At the same time, the other parent can do no wrong and the nonpreferred parent can do no right. The notion that such children have merely been brainwashed by the preferred parent is narrow. The term brainwashing implies that one parent is systematically and consciously programming the child to denigrate the other parent. The concept of the parental alienation syndrome includes much more than brainwashing. It includes not only conscious but subconscious and unconscious factors within the preferred parent that contribute to the parent’s influencing the child’s alienation. Furthermore (and this is extremely important), it includes factors that arise within the child-independent of the parental contributions – that foster the development of the syndrome.  (more here … )


3 thoughts on “Step Parents and Parental Alienation Syndrome.

  1. Winning Your Case Depends On You
    By Joseph Goldberg, Consultant

    Anyone fighting over child custody, visitation
    rights or, decision making as a non-custodial
    parent should listen closely, because there are
    not a lot of professionals that give advise to
    lawyers in quite the way that I do.

    In high conflict divorce and separation cases,
    if a parent makes a false allegation of abuse
    or destabilizes a child’s trust in the other
    parent or exposes the child to adult information
    or badmouths the other parent to the child or
    interferes with visit-
    ation or blocks a child from telephone access
    or uses a sibling to interfere with the other
    parents authority, then this parent is program-
    ming the child with parental alienation.

    If you haven’t heard about parental alienation,
    you have a lot to learn. I would recommend
    you google: parental alienation education.
    For others that know about it and continue to
    litigate and re-litigate this issue without
    success, let me explain why things aren’t get-
    ting better.

    Spoiler Alert
    This is going to sound self-serving but it
    doesn’t make it any less true.

    # 1 reason why things are not getting better:

    You depend on a lawyer that’s not getting any
    input from an expert in parental alienation, or
    the situation is worse you’re acting pro per. I
    want you to know there’s a far better solution
    but it requires making a crucial decision.

    A. decision to hire a consultant.

    When you hire a consultant, they can tell you,
    “what is parental alienation” and “ what isn’t
    parental alienation. “ Unless you don’t really
    care, and if you don’t care, you’re only hold-
    ing yourself back. Is that fair to you ?

    Judges are not interested in two parents that
    are totally at opposite ends in their parenting
    style and polarized. That won’t help any
    parent-child relational problem. Judges in this
    scenario will tune you out and look to appoint
    some type of professional to give them guid-
    ance i.e., a lawyer for the child, a mediator, a
    parenting co -ordinator, a child therapist, a
    custody evaluator, a supervisor of visitation, a
    family therapist or a judge could decide to
    empower a child to choose whether or not to
    see or communicate with a parent they reject.

    Many parents cannot afford a lawyer because
    they believe that it will cost more than they can
    afford. Sadly that is not always true because
    they may have money but they’re just not sure
    how far that money can go. You need a
    consultant to answer that concern.. In this
    situation a parent can hire a consultant to select
    a lawyer to work with them in an unbundled
    legal services agreement.

    When this happens two things start to change.

    The first thing to change is that you now have a
    lawyer and the other thing to change is that you
    now have the best lawyer you could ever hope
    to find. Why ? Because your consultant gives
    the lawyer the input he or she needs to win
    your case. I’ve been involved in many cases of
    David versus Goliath, and I’ve seen the lawyer
    with the $1,000. hourly rate lose. Money doesn’t
    win in court, the better argument does.

    A competent lawyer becomes a very good law-
    yer because of the input he or she receives
    from the consultant. Stop looking for parental
    alienation lawyers and focus on finding a
    consultant available to help.

    By the way, I define a win as an intervention
    that restores and repairs the bond between the
    alienated child and the rejected parent. A win
    is not defined by getting sole custody or get –
    ting 50/50 time sharing.

    Still wondering why you need a consultant ?

    Lawyers are not going to admit their short-
    comings because if they did you would be look-
    ing for a better lawyer. So they won’t admit
    that in your particular case they haven’t got a
    clue where to begin.

    A lawyer will not spend the time or bill you for
    the time it takes to identify the cause of the
    ruptured relationships within your family. There
    are only two ways to get to that answer; a full
    psychological evaluation of all the members of
    the family, or hire a consultant with an expertise
    in parental child relational problems. The later is
    less costly, and provides voluminous additional

    Did your lawyer screw the pooch in selecting a
    mental health professional to begin counseling
    for your child and or for your family ? Did your
    lawyer come to some backdoor agreement with
    the opposing counsel to select a mental health
    professional without you knowing who they are
    or even why they were agreed to ?

    Are you stuck in a situation where a mental
    health professional is actually making things
    worse,not better ?

    If that sounds like your situation then of course
    you need to hire a consultant, because if you
    don’t, things will change again, your parent-
    child relationship is going to get much worse
    and that is not even the worst part, the worst
    part is that your child won’t be getting the treat-
    ment they need for themselves. Can you turn
    your back on your child, and give up knowing
    that ?

    Please call a consultant before you do.

    Cases often have mental health professionals
    with the best of intentions practicing outside
    their areas of expertise, it’s unethical, it’s un-
    professional, but getting them to step aside so
    a competent practitioner can take their place is
    not going to happen hiring a consultant.

    Trust me when I say that if this is your reality
    today, you’re in the quicksand and I’m the one
    trying to throw you the rope.

    Many times a parent will ask me during a
    consultation if I will talk to their lawyer before
    they hire me and I say no. Lawyers do not
    understand what I do, and cannot recommend
    someone that provides a service they’re not
    that familiar with and why should they ?

    I will tell you this much, after I have read the
    case files I do talk to their lawyers and as soon
    as they hear my strategy in the case they’re
    grateful for my involvement.

    That is why your case depends on you. Nobody
    can tell you if its smart to hire a consultant but

    I also know when a parent calls for a consult-
    tion just to get a little free advice. Often times
    a parent pretends to be a parent of an alien-
    ated child and they aren’t, they just want a few
    tips or an advantage over the other parent,
    some have been accused of alienation and want
    to know what to expect.

    It’s not that different when a lawyer tells an
    alienating parent they can’t help them to seize
    custody unless they can get some proof that the
    other parent is a really bad parent or proof that
    the child is in fear of the other parent, even if it’
    might be totally untrue.

    The truth is that parents are falsely accused of
    parental alienation just the same as parents are
    falsely accused of child abuse. I have the good
    fortune of helping parents on both sides of this
    issue. When you’re accused of alienation you
    need a consultant to rule it in or to rule it out.
    Taking a chance without a consultant is a sure
    bet that you’ll get a poor outcome in court, it’s
    all up to you.

    Nobody can guarantee that you will win your
    case, but let me put it this way, your best option
    is to hire that consultant. Share this article.
    Visit my website at


    • I so agree, and thank you for putting forward your information. Having witnessed family courts in the US, Canada and Australia, I don’t have a lot of faith in their ability to address the issues concerning the children. It may well be that people are just overworked and/or burnt out but regardless, the courts are not a guarantee of justice or even to do what is right. You cannot count on the courts to recognize PAS so it is in your best interest to probably hire a consultant and yes, there are always people willing to abuse a tool meant to fix an existing problem. Just like some people will cry abuse when none has occurred some will cry alienation. This is not about laying blame as much as it is about doing the right thing for the children.


  2. …Father’s Day, What Father’s Day ? ……..
    How Parental Alienation Effects Father’s Today
    ……………..By Joseph Goldberg, 2012…………………
    This is an important article for Grandfathers as
    well as for fathers.
    I am spoofing the title of this article from a good
    friend of mine, Chaim Steinberger. He wrote a very
    insightful and brilliant journal article on Parental
    Alienation that he called, “ Father, What Father ? “
    I decided to write about this holiday because many
    father’s will be hurting when it arrives. They won’t
    be getting to see their child or receive a call or any
    cards or any other acknowledgement because their
    children are alienated and that means come Sunday
    they’ll be rejected for very unjustified reasons.
    For some dad’s who will be waiting to see their kid
    because a court order forces them to go, don’t be
    surprised when they show up- only to tell you they
    don’t want to be with you or only to say,” I hate
    you “… don’t expect them to change,,, that’s why its
    called a parental alienation dynamic.
    I am writing my article just for fathers and for
    grandfathers, but the rest of you will hopefully
    also appreciate the message.
    You know the old saying, “ Silence is deafening. “
    Well it’s deafening for a reason, and as another old
    saying goes, “ Everything happens for a reason. “
    Even though you may not be getting their affection
    on Sunday, it doesn’t mean your child isn’t at least
    thinking of you, and because they are alienated and
    unable to express to you that you’re not forgotten …
    and that they do love you, let me be the first one to
    remind you of that fact. Your kids do love you, and
    you’re not forgotten because Sunday, is also a very
    painful holiday reminder for them.
    It’s painful to them to be without you because every-
    where they go and see a father with his son or, with
    his daughter; laughing, hugging, or kissing, smiling
    at each other, going out to lunch together, to dinners
    or a movie, driving together, talking on a cell phone,
    texting, meeting up somewhere, it reminds them
    that it’s also not them being with you.
    Every time they turn on their TV that day, flip open
    their computer, listen to the radio, they will hear
    that it’s Father’s Day, and every time they pass by
    a store there will be an item for sale saying it’s
    Father’s Day, and they didn’t get you your present.
    They didn’t get to say, “ you’re my dad “ and then
    the words, `” I love you. “ They’ll try and block it
    out but how do you block out the sky, the ground
    below…. how do you erase the touch on your skin
    or what you feel deep in your bones ? It’s a psycho-
    logical skeleton.
    Denial is a fixated condition for alienated
    children, so is breathing. Memories of love for
    father are never really erased they’re just
    buried below the surface and those memories
    will resurface on this Sunday, Father’s Day.
    Take comfort in the fact that your picture may
    not be in a frame next to their bed or on the wall
    in their mom’s house, but they are not deleted
    from their memory. It is also hard to ignore
    mother trying to pretend how much better off
    they are without you, while the look on her face
    also reminds them she can’t be the father they’re
    missing out on today.
    No matter what stepfather tries to take your
    place after you got replaced, displaced and
    erased, nothing is ever going to hold back their
    feelings of loss because they’re connected to
    their father when they see themselves in a
    mirror. Some likeness of you is something in
    their DNA that they can see in their own face.
    Not only are there painful memories there
    are probably more than a few good ones.
    Like the time you took them to a show, or
    watched them at a school performance,
    or played some game with them, played
    with your pet, took them to visit your
    parents, cooked a meal for them, these
    memories are also resurfacing around them.
    Imagine how it must feel for them to watch
    their friends getting together with their dads
    and how they have to explain or avoid talk-
    ing about you not being around on Father’s
    Day. Imagine anyone else trying to act as a
    substitute for the father they are missing in
    their lives and never saying,
    “ Why don’t you call your dad today ? “
    How is their behaviour going to be memorial-
    ized in the future ?
    Father’s Day, is something I feel long after my
    own father has passed away. You don’t have
    to actually be around to be remembered and
    to be loved. I don’t need to feel bad about the
    father’s day I am not spending with him this
    Sunday, I will be thinking about all the good
    times with my dad and I know that your child-
    ren might want you to believe that they don’t
    love you back, but that’s just denial talking.
    You’re as much a part of their life as you
    have ever been ( even more so ) and not
    because of being present, but because
    of being absent. Believe it because we
    know from all the social science research
    that this is truly how alienated children
    are feeling.
    I feel my father is with me now even though
    he passed more than 15 years ago. I was
    alienated from him by a mother that
    extinguished him from my life, but not
    forever. We made up for all the lost time
    and years of alienation that was stolen from
    us both.
    In the Jewish religion when a loved parent
    dies we say prayers, Kaddish, and we light a
    candle in memory of the parent. Perhaps as
    a way to remember that you are still a
    parent you should light a candle and keep
    it burning all day, on Father’s Day.
    Say a prayer of love, memorialize your
    feelings of loss and perhaps to help be
    forgiving so anger does not take over
    the better part of judgment in your life.
    As a targeted, rejected parent remember the
    good parts of the person you are and remain
    and strive to lift yourself up, don’t let any-
    thing change that belief in your-self because
    sometimes all we have is ourselves to believe
    in, and in truth that’s the one person whose
    opinion counts the most.
    For more educational information please visit


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