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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.


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September 28, 2008 at 8:46 am
(1) Robert Gartner says:

Certainly it should be of utmost importance for a targeted parent to obtain support for the onslaught of crazymaking that will come thier way by an alienator. One cannot apply logic to these perpetrators. That can be a first mistake and one at the same time most difficult to comphrehend. Once the perp is seen as sick and irrational one might begine to be able to incur thier victimization with some solace. But they are always ‘on’ and in a moment one can be duped again.
Thanks to this author for bringing up the question of support. It is most ciritical in this instance of what ‘life’ can throw at a person.

October 1, 2008 at 6:43 am
(2) currently in court says:

Hi be careful referring to it as a syndrome, the courts seam to frown on this, but refer to it as a collection of abusive behaviors.

This behavior is on the increase as it is the perfect way for primary custodial parents in Australia to gain more custody.

It goes like this, a presumption of shared care. so to reduce from shared care my ex pretends child abuse.

Risk to child so parent contact has to be restricted severely. now how do you prove this abuse so that you can keep that ill gotten custody?

You destroy the child bond with the now non custodial parent and get the child to believe bad things about the parent so that you can take them to a child psychologist and get the child to report what the child has been fooled into believing and feeling about the non custodial parent.

Until this is recognized, the courts will continue to offer uncaring parents this option as the only option to get majority access with out any repercussions to the false accuser.

My ex gained custody by claiming my autism made me violent and negligent, by the time It was proven a lie, the court said our child was now to strongly attached to his mother.

October 4, 2008 at 10:21 am
(3) John says:

I have been alienated from my children to one degree or another for 5 years. I have done everything: 1. Nothing, 2. court 3. evaluations, 4. withdraw.

Even with a diagnosis of PAS, the court still gives her significant time and she uses every opportunity to cotinue. I have decided to quit and let the children grow up and find out on their own. It is a poison which spreads among all you are close to and it is not fair to subject them to that which has already caused such pain. THe backlash is going to be violent and they will be back on my doorstep. JB

October 6, 2008 at 9:17 am
(4) Judy says:

First a comment to John ~ Please continue to contact your children in some way – leaving messages or cards. My 14 year old is not returning my calls but I still leave her messages-I send her a card once a week and have just recently started to do this by return signature.

I recently discovered this syndrome and now all makes sence to me.

I had thought it was due to adolesence but my ex has played this card before with an older daughter and she has shared she knows her dad is “brainwashing” her younger sister just like she was but the relationship with my older daughter still is in the process of healing – I have to remind myself she is only 22.

My heart goes out to others in my dilemia – this is REAL and I am awaiting to go to court – my daughter wants to live with her father although I still have legal custody.

He recently filed for custody and the “behaviour” began with my daughter. The last time I saw her was in August and she has me pick her up and drop her off at a friends. The time before that I took her to dinner on a Tuesday night and the very next day her dad bought her a puppy.

I have no idea how the judge will rule considering my daughter’s age and the fact that the state I live in does not recognize Parental Alienation as a “problem”. At least it’s not on the list – YET.

My ex left a threatening voice mail on my cell which both attorneys have and his wife turned me into the State for being an Unfit Parent several years ago which was found unsubstantiated and the allegations dropped.

The stepmother did appologize and I am in the process of inquiring whether those records are submissable in court to show their ongoing harrasment.

Thanks for listening ~

October 23, 2008 at 2:21 pm
(5) Diamonds says:

I’m in the middle of my custody battle. My son was taken from me by the father without my permission before I filed for the divorce, and my 11 year old little boy is being told that I want to hurt him. He is showing all of the signs of PAS now. I speak to him on the phone but he only says what he’s been told and allowed to say. I don’t even know what to say to him anymore and wish I knew what I CAN say since this battle is still in court. I just keep telling him how much I love and miss him. Sometimes I can tell he wants to talk, but he’s afraid. I just pray he really knows the truth in his heart and I am not going to give up my fight for my son.

February 4, 2009 at 12:31 pm
(6) It happens to mothers too..... says:

I just discovered the websites out there talking of PAS. I was in the midst of purging my daughter’s hate mail from my computer and in search of answers I googled this. Well, I’d like the fathers to know it happens to mothers too. My ex was so bitter that I refused to remain married to him and I recall the day he vowed to “take me down”. He successfully convinced our youngest daughter to move in with him after she reached 13 and then she chose to have nothing to do with me. Her older sister let me know how he continually bashed me openly to everyone and friends confirmed this. My youngest is now an adult. I paid the child support, I survived. After the Order of Court was paid in full he moved out of town leaving her in an appartment. Now I know there is this beautiful messed up young woman, my baby, and I recall how precious she was in my arms. The damage is done. I’m thankful someone is talking about this as maybe, just maybe, we can mend our broken hearts some time in the future when she realizes how she was robbed of her mother by a hateful man. Maybe attorneys will step in and instead of telling clients as I was told that at age 13 the court won’t question the father’s behavior if she says she wants only him. Yes, I truly feel your pain.

January 23, 2010 at 11:48 am
(7) Mary Pat says:

It’s a sad comfort to know that I’m not the only mother whose children have been turned against her. Both daughters, now 19 and 17, refuse to have any contact with me and their father uses clever manipulation to keep it that way. I have chosen to not return his cruelty in kind, prefering to focus on sending them the message of how much I love them. It’s frustrating, though, and I have a hard time knowing what to say in a letter, email, or phone message. Early on, when I was much better about that, their father told me that my daughter felt like I was stalking her. With the encouragement of those I’ve read about on this site and similar ones recently, I’m going to make sure I send one letter or card each week to each of my daughters. Does anyone know of a retreat that focuses on healing for victims of PAS? I do have a therapist, but feel the need for something more intensive.

July 14, 2010 at 11:19 am
(8) Debra says:

Its sad how we have to cop up with all financial and social problems and yet we as a single mom get trapped in family issues. Jennifer, You have raised a good point here.

July 28, 2012 at 6:20 pm
(9) Childless Mother says:

My almost 12-year-old twins have been completely brainwashed by their very old father, and their care takers (mother-daughter team, where the daughter is a father’s ex). I can’t make phone calls, cannot visit: how do I make arrangements to see them, if no one answers my calls?!! I am beside myself with anger – I had these children all on my own, after being dumped by a man, older than my father, who clearly stated, he would “no longer be involved in this”, if I chose to have them. I spent tens of thousands suing him for child support; refused to see them until they were three, made me take them to his place for an hour, once a year, failed to comply with court order. I closed my eyes to his shortcomings, and made no mention of bygones to my children, but he didn’t hesitate to stab me in the back when the chance presented itself…
Now, a woman who never held her own child, tells me what a horrible mother I am for “abusing my children by yelling and cursing” on the phone! I know that keeping cool is the right thing to do but I am only human – I cannot “move on” with my life when my life has been taken away from me. Keeping composure when dealing with innocuous insults coming from your children is tough. All good advice/reason fails when injustice is done…

October 15, 2012 at 5:51 pm
(10) Sheila says:

My son has been alienated from me by his father, He was 15 when we split five years ago and so ‘able to make up his own mind’ according to the court. Considering how clever his father was at manipulating me at the ripe old age of 47 that makes it ridiculous. He has now moved to the other side of the world and I do not know where my son is living,. I get hate filled emails from his old email address but I don’t know if it is him or his father. He has been told mountains of lies about my behaviour, saying I had affairs and all sorts ot things. I have alternately ignored emails and sent loving messages even though it makes me feel sick that it is probably my ex getting the loving messages. The courts are absolutely useless, and no counselling helped. I went through years of being told to leave him alone to realise things himself, but I don’t think he ever will, now I don’t even know how to contact him. My heart goes out to all in the same situation

October 15, 2012 at 9:10 pm
(11) Ginny says:

I too am a victim of PAS. My five year old turned on me, a couple of years ago, with the help of her father, and his sister, mother and girlfriend after suspected abuse from a family member on his side. Since then if has been hell. Brainwashing of my child, emotional abuse by the aunt so that my child was diagnosed with PTS @ 4 and the therapist child lined this to no avail because of stupid state laws protecting the criminal and not the innocent child. My word means nothing and I am sickened by how adults behave, breeding hate and lies, and fear in a child. They continue to do their best to keep her from talking to me, the example to continue loving is fine, but like previous commentors have said, it is frustrating and we are still human. I hate getting angry since it is not the childs fault. It was bad for a while. The child would physically attack me and emotionally abuse me. It was very scary @ times and I’m sure hard for anyone parent of a healthy young child to imagine. People like to blame the parent where the behaviors are shown, but in reality, that is who the child trusts the most. The little ones need to get their frustrations out too.

February 9, 2014 at 6:16 pm
(12) Andrea says:

Sadly, I’m looking to find stories of people who have been able to heal and have a life anyway. The pain never leaves me. I find it almost impossible to have a real relationship. I feel that I’m not deserving because I have been unable to resolve the alienation. All I can say is that it is real, it happens to women too. I told my children when we were together that home is where your heart is. How can I have a home when my heart is with them and they are not with me. My ex did not honor our parenting plan and they are too old now. One is grown. They are both influenced by his material gifts.

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