I’m currently reading, A Family’s Heartbreak – A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation, for an upcoming book review, so I don’t want to go into much detail here, but so far this book is an excellent primer on what causes PA. Written in a clear and easy to understand style, the book details one man’s journey into the nightmare of Parental Alienation.
As a psychological study, A Family’s Heartbreak, does an excellent job of exploring the dynamics of PA, which comes in three main levels. The “moderate” level is described at www.KeepingFamiliesConnected.org like this:
Moderate Parental Alienation: These parents are similar to the first parent in that for the most part they mean well. They also understand that their child needs to have a healthy and loving relationship with the other parent in order to develop in a healthy way. Where they differ is, they believe that the relationship with the other parent should never cost them anything, interfere with or inconvenience their life. These parents operate in the emotional, selfish realm, and are very defensive. They have a hard time controlling their emotions and take everything personally.
During periods of emotional turmoil or disagreement they mount an explosive and possibly even a violent attack on the other parent. The gloves are off and they will do anything to win. They continue to attack as long as they perceive there is a threat to their image, their selfish actions or the control they have over others. These parents are very willing to use the family court system during a child custody battle to achieve their goals of control and retribution over the “targeted” (rejected) parent whenever necessary to “win” a battle or prove a point. When the threat disappears, the alienating tactics subside. While they may not encourage the child to have a relationship with the other parent, they aren’t actively sabotaging the relationship either. That is, until the next perceived threat and then the cycle repeats itself.
As family law attorneys, we see this type of behavior often. It’s the parent who wants to change times to her convenience, or never wants to share the transportation of the children. This type of parent is harder to deal with because her needs always “seem reasonable” until you look at the big picture. It’s that big picture that the book, A Family’s Heartbreak confronts and explains. It’s the “BIG PICTURE” that lets you see you’re dealing with a damaged personality in the mother. Unfortunately, you can only see the big picture over time, and when you step back.