Coping with the Parental Alienation Syndrome
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COPING WITH THE PROBLEM
If you have a serious illness, it helps to know as much about it as possible. Understanding how you got it in the first place, the effects it has upon you at the moment, how this will change over time, and whether there is a cure or at least a way of living with it. The same goes for PAS.
Here are some of the ways that others have dealt with it:
You have lost your child. But your child is still alive and well
somewhere. And there is a high probability that you will see your child
again some day.
2. You may not see your own child, but you will have ‘fatherly’ caring feelings towards children. There are plenty of children who need ‘fathers’. Helping out in schools, clubs, with other parents you know, will use your fathering skills. Some of the children you will meet will have lost their own fathers just as your child lost you. In the process of helping others you will help yourself. Your child’s loss will be another child’s gain. And the contacts you will make with other parents and children could well help put you in touch with your own child at some point.
3. Being active is a stimulant. Try to keep all your time filled. Don’t sit around by yourself in a state of despair. Don’t let your life go to pieces. Set yourself objectives to achieve, and keep a diary to see you your progress.
4. Become an activist in the ‘Father’s movements’. Collect letters and articles about situations similar to your own. Get to the point of being able to advise others in your situation. Write and reply to letters in the newspapers regarding ‘Father’s rights’. The act of writing is a therapy, and will clear your mind of depressing thoughts.
5. Women generally are very sympathetic to this situation, and are able to see your situation from the mother’s viewpoint. This can be a great help in understanding the problem. If you know any women prepared to discuss the problem with you, then you should cultivate this.
6. Find adults who were alienated from their fathers when they were children. This will give you some insight into how your child is thinking about the situation.
Imagine that tomorrow your child will come knocking at your door.
They will expect to find the father they knew before, and want now. Make
sure that you keep yourself up to that expectations.
It is extremely hard to ‘let go’ of your child, but it will happen. One day you will find that it was not on your mind all the time. You will be able to bring out the photos and drawings and put them up again. When that happens you will be past the main hurdle of feeling helpless with your life out of control.
HAVING A STRATEGY
As the main aim of the mother is to stop all contact, while the main aim of the father is to gain all contact there are a number of factors that can assessed to give the father an idea of his chances.
1. The age of the children. The older the better.
2. The locality of the children. The nearer the better.
3. The number of children. The more the better.
4. The independence of the mother. The less the better.
5. The friends and relatives of the mother and father. The more the better.
6. The resources of the father. The more the better.
7. The mobility and availability of the father. The greater the better.
It is a mistake of many fathers to assume that the matter is in the hands of the court, and decisions made there are the essential ones. The reality is that the courts decisions are only one aspect of the situation. The mother has her own life to live, and she will have the same problems as most people, probably more, so she will not want to add to those by devoting her life to being obstructive. She will only do it so long as she can get away with it without too much effort.
The children also have their own lives to live and they will not want to give up the father just to please the mother. They may obey or reflect her wishes, but only so long as they have no choice. Experience has shown that in most cases where the father has kept in contact with his children he will see them again. The fathers own situation will change, and what may seem to be an insurmountable problem today may seem solvable in a year’s time.
HAVING A PLAN IS IMPORTANT
When a father first realises he is going to lose contact with his children his feelings go from disbelief, through despair, anger, depression, confusion, and a total sense of injustice. It is based on the assumption that 'everyone' knows how important it is for children to have the support of their father, and that he obviously loves them, and they love him.
Such notions are unfortunately naive. The law is itself very confused. A court that refuses to send a single-mother to jail for stopping contact will send that same mother to jail for refusing to pay a parking ticket or her TV licence. Such inconsistencies will be found throughout the law, and even when the law is clear, experience shows that its interpretation and application is more suited to the beliefs of the judiciary than the children.
Having a plan means looking at the situation logically rather than emotionally. You have to write out all the advantages and disadvantages of yourself, the mother, and the child.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
The mother has only one objective, to cut off all communications you have with her and the child. Your strategy has to be the opposite, and to create every possible line of contact with your children, the mother, and anyone connect with them.
a) You are highly motivated, and where there's a will there's a way.
b) You will be in the company of many other fathers who can offer advice and support.
c) There is a growing recognition by the courts and society generally of the importance of the father’s role.
d) The situation is changing to your advantage as the children grow up as in almost every case known the child wishes to have contact with the father.
e) Technology races ahead with the objective of making everyone accessible. A mother who can easily block a letter to a child will not have the same control over a child who has a mobile phone and access to the Internet.
a) You will miss out on the childhood years of your child.
b) Other aspects of your life will suffer in many ways due to your distress.
c) You will be unable to plan for the future in any way that will include your child.
d) Much of your time, money, and resources, will be spent on the problem without much to show for it.
THE MOTHER'S ADVANTAGES:
a) She has the children and the law backing her.
b) She is probably able to get legal aid and other forms of financial support.
c) She will be in contact with numerous other single-mothers who will support her actions.
THE MOTHER'S DISADVANTAGES:
a) The nature of PAS is itself the behaviour of someone who is distressed, so she will not be a happy person.
b) She will know that the children will be mixing with other children who have fathers, and that her children will be aware of this.
c) She will not be able to offer the experiences and support of a father. The children will have a higher than normal chance of suffering educationally, emotionally, and socially. She will have to compensate for this in some way at the expense of her own life.
d) She will know that when the children reach an age of independence they will almost certainly try to contact the father, and she may even lose them altogether.
e) She may be in another relationship that the children do not accept, or which is unstable.
f) She may have children by a new partner, and find that he does not accept her other children.
g) In many cases the mothers new relationship also fails because the burden of the ongoing problems involving the children of the first relationship become too much for the second partner.
THE CHILDREN'S ADVANTAGES:
a) There are no advantages for a child to have its parents separated, or if separated, not to have free access to both, but children get older, and with time question the mothers behaviour.
b) The disadvantages are losing one half of its family and all the support and experiences that represents. A higher than average chance of suffering frombmany social problems, which may include repeating the cycle over again.
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© 2002 Stan Hayward. All rights reserved.