I've noticed a trend in the comments various readers posted in response to my recent blog post about Alec Baldwin's new book. It's as if there is an imaginary dividing line between those who acknowledge the validity of Parental Alienation Syndrome tending to support Baldwin, and those who dismiss PAS tending to disregard him.
I find it interesting because I very much affirm that PAS exists and destroys family relationships; but I still believe Baldwin -- even in the face of such devastating circumstances -- had a responsibility not to take his frustration out on his daughter. I know that's a huge responsibility to place on one human being, but I think it's a responsibility that all advocates of alienated parents should be talking about.
Unfortunately, as hard as you try, you can't always change another person's destructive behaviors. But you can change how you respond. And furthermore, when your response is all you have, it's all the more critical that your words and actions come form your integrity, not your frustration.
So what can victims of PAS do to improve the situation? In addition to reaching out to father's rights organizations (which can help you, even if you're a mom who's on the receiving end of PAS), I'd suggest formally asking a close friend to agree to be your support person. Much like a recovering alcoholic needs a sponsor to help them through the most difficult times of temptation, you're going to need someone you can vent to, who will remind of you of your goals and help you cope with PAS in a way that's productive and doesn't make the situation worse. Ideally, this "buddy" would listen to your pain and wholeheartedly agree with you when you have every reason to be angry, but also remind you to act with integrity and point you toward the day when your child will begin to think for herself or himself.
At the same time, I would also recommend journaling about your experiences, which can be a very productive way to cope with your anger. In addition, if contact with your child has been completely cut off, I would recommend writing letters to your child that you can share years from now, when he or she begins to question all the rhetoric that's been passed on about you and your intentions.
In fact, you can even submit your personal letters here to About.com. For the sake of the privacy of others involved -- including your children -- I'll edit out their names, but I believe sharing such stories would be helpful in assisting individual victims of PAS to cope, as well as articulating the true devastation PAS inflicts.
- What is Parental Alienation Syndrome?
- Father's Rights Organizations
- What is a Typical Visitation Schedule?
- Build Trust With Your Ex