Coping with the Parental Alienation Syndrome

Page 9 of 12



If you know why the mother behaves as she does then you are in a much better position to deal with the situation. A mother who has another partner will want the father out of her life for the simple reason that it makes her life complicated to have him around. The child's needs are secondary. On the other hand a mother who lives in a house owned by the father and relies on his goodwill for extras over and above maintenance, might be alienating the children as a means of getting the property or getting more money. In such a case the situation might be open to negotiation.

FNF ran a PAS questionnaire over a period of two years with the question "What do you think is the real reason for your ex-partner alienating the children against you? "

The most common answer was "She is a control freak ". The few women who answered the questionnaire also stated "He is a control freak " referring to the fathers who had custody. Bearing in mind that the questionnaire results had never been published, this reply requires some consideration. It suggests that whoever has custody is more concerned with controlling the situation than the welfare of the child. Tests for this attitude would be a help to assessing the problem.

It is interesting to note that feminist groups most commonly put forward the argument that the break-up of relationships is due to domestic violence or the man being regularly unfaithful, and that where alienation occurs, it is for the protection of the children. This argument is to be expected from such groups or feminist journalists. No references are made to the fact that violent men are likely to have come from broken homes.


The most common pattern of the mother is to show that 'she is in control'. She will do that in a variety of ways ranging from ignoring you to humiliating you. Paradoxically she is able to do it on the basis that you love your child so much you will put up with it. If you didn't love your child you would walk away, she assumes you will not, so will push her control as far as she can.

Here are common examples. In most cases the mother's do not take the children away with any clear cut strategy in mind, it is usually an extension of normal hostile reactions going through the sequence of:

(1) Arguing

(2) Hostile silence

(3) Restricted communication

(4) No communication

(5) Hostile action.

1. She will insist that you come and go exactly at the times she stipulates. If you are late or early she will make you suffer for it in some way.

2. She will insist that you detail where you take the child and under what conditions. She will not inform you of anything she does with the child.

3. She will make changes to arrangements you have with the child but not give you these changes until the last minute. If you complain you will lose the contact time. If you have to change arrangements she will simple refuse to accept the changes and you will lose contact time.

4. She will deliberately offer the child alternative events on your contact days and then say the child has chosen the alternative event. She will make you choose to insist on your contact time or allow the child to do the other thing so that you will appear mean to stop the child.

5. She will duplicate gifts you give the child to undermine the value the child puts on it.

6. She will hide, break, or deliberately be careless with things you give your child.

7. She will deliberately misinterpret anything you do or say to the point where you will think twice about doing or saying anything.

8. She may ask for extra money for the child, and present the request in such a way that it obviously implies you will lose out on contact if you don't make the offer.

9. She will write to inform you of changes in contact times but post the letter so that it cannot possibly reach you in time.

10. She will not keep you informed of the child's well being, education reports, activities or anything that you might expect as a parent.

11. If you do anything to help the child the mother may thank you in way she might thank a stranger doing a favour.

12. Should you buy the child clothes she will criticise your taste or understanding of the child's needs.

13. She will criticise your home, friends, and life style. She will use any of these as an excuse to stop contact.

14. She will tell the child that the court 'doesn't allow it to see the father more that on the court order' when in fact the court order only states the minimum contact time.

15. She will allow the child to miss homework during the week so that it has to be done in your contact time, so vying with anything else you will have arranged.

16. She will interpret you contact time as being the total amount of time available for all purposes. If your parents want to see their grandchild it will have to come out of your contact time.

17. If she sees you in the street when she is with the child she will ignore you and force the child to do the same.

18. If you participate in school/club events and see your child there she will tell you that you are not allowed to do it. She may well contact the school and inform them (incorrectly) that the court has banned you from such events.

19. If you have a new partner she will insist that the new partner is not involved in contact times as it distresses the child.

20. If you send your child gifts on special occasions they will get 'overlooked' on the day.

21. If you phone your child and she takes the phone she will say the child is busy or out. If the child takes the phone she will listen in or interrupt the child.

22. She will constantly remind you of your shortcomings as a father in front of the child. Any replies to this will be regarded as 'rowing in front of the children'.

23. She will write letters to you in a style that is obviously meant to be read by a third party (typically the court). Such letters will be overly sympathetic, to you, and go into detail that you are already familiar with.

24. She will misinform neighbours or mutual acquaintances of you so that you may appear to them to be a difficult person.

25. She will get the children to write to you stating they do not wish to see you on particular dates, or even at all.

26. She will provoke arguments in front of the child, then when you react, will loudly declare that you are starting an argument.

In all, the mother will look for any way of undermining your position in the knowledge that if you retaliate in kind she can stop contact and use your retaliation as evidence of your attitude towards her (not the child). It will be her intent to use such provocative behaviour to push you past your limits and act in a way that can be quoted against you.


This depends on a number of factors that might include:

  • Whether you react inwardly keeping the problem to yourself, or outwardly, letting it affect your life at every level.
  • Whether you react logically or emotionally.
  • Whether you have emotional support from friends or are alone.
  • Whether you have financial resources to get help.
  • Whether you have time to think the matter through.
  • Whether you have another partner who can help.
  • Whether you have a plan of action and can follow it through, or are reacting to situation as it changes.
  • Whether you have other problems that also have to be dealt with.
  • Whether your reactions relate to getting your child back or getting revenge on the mother.
  • Whether the situation caught you by surprise or you anticipated it.
  • Whether it takes over your life or you can separate it as a problem to be dealt with like other problems that take time.


When PAS happens you will go through a period of grieving for your child. It will be similar to someone who has lost a child through death. It will occupy all your waking moments and dreams. It will be the first thing you think of in the morning and the last thing at night.

It will constantly come out in your conversation. You have surges of anger and bouts of depression. You may even have panic attacks. You will suffer from 'touch deprivation' of wanting to pick up your child and hug him or her. Every child you see of similar age to your own will remind you. You will want to remove any possessions they have in your house because you cannot cope with being reminded. You will also see toys or items that you are tempted to buy for your child in the hope that they will turn up tomorrow.

You will try to find reasons why the child does not contact you. You will think thoughts that are unmentionable against all those who have helped bring about this situation. And above all, you will think 'Why me', as if you have been chosen from the many for this punishment.