What is Parental Alienation?
According to Dr Richard A Garner, a child psychiatrist, parental alienation is the process through which one parent influences their child or children to turn against the other parent. He continues to argue that it among the most distressing unfit behaviours that a parent can be involved in for the whole family. Over a period, parental alienation causes psychological issues for children.
In many cases, the father is the one who is subjected to parental alienation though in some cases mothers are also affected. Psychotherapists who deal with children affected by parental alienation admit that their process of healing and accepting the alienated parent is quite difficult as they have been conditioned to think negatively of their father or mother.
In some cases, a child’s fear for their mother or father is warranted, for example, due to abuse. However, there is a big challenge trying to establish whether a parent’s alienation is real or is by deliberate actions of the other parent. The court system, mental health workers and lawyers do not have enough skills and knowledge to ascertain whether the alienation is real or is due to pure malice by one parent.
How to Deal with Parental Alienation
Research shows that when parents work on upholding a healthy relationship after separation, their children are less likely to be affected psychologically.
Involvement of Schools
First and foremost, most children who suffer from parental alienation are of school-going age. They spend most of their time in school and therefore, schools need training on how to handle the parental alienation problem. Schools only side with the parent who spends the most time with the children instead of also involving the alienated parent by let’s say, sending them the progress of their child in school or inviting them for school events.
Parental Alienation Mediation
Mediation offers many benefits in dealing with parental alienation. Here are some of the benefits.
• A mediator identifies the early stages of parental alienation prevents it
A mediator can interact with both parents and study their parenting techniques and how they relate to each other and their children. This way, the mediator can detect the initial signs of irrational conduct and deal with it. A mediator operates from the point of neutrality and does not side with any parent hence there is no bias.
• Dealing with a mediator is time-saving
Divorce cases in court take up a lot of time, and as a result of many arising conflicts and accusations, they are occasionally delayed. Mediators, on the other hand, can identify the problem quickly and bring in a neutral and professional psychologist to assist the affected family.
Parental alienation can lead to strained relationships within the family at large that affect the well-being of everyone eventually. Mediation is an excellent way to curb Parental Alienation Syndrome.