The debate boils down to this question: Is the behavior of the alienating parent sufficient to cause children to become alienated, or does the targeted parent’s behavior also play a role?
While this may seem like an interesting question with not much significance, we find that its answer has profound implications regarding what may be recommended as a solution to the problem of Parental Alienation.
The goal here will likely enforce time with the targeted parent, even over the child’s protest in the beginning. This model will tend to see the child’s protests regarding that parent as unrealistic or even irrational. The goal will be to help the child to eliminate these unrealistic or irrational negative feelings about that parent.
If however, one believes that the alienating behaviors of the alienating parent is necessary but not sufficient to create alienation, then the responsibility for the child’s alienation will be also be placed at the feet of the targeted parent as well as the alienating parent.
Even though this model will recognize that it is unhealthy for a parent to influence a child to see their other parent critically and negatively, it will tend to see this parental alienating behavior as being simply bad parenting, but not tantamount to child abuse.
Under this understanding, recommendations will be more likely to include, among other things, parenting classes for the targeted parent, and will be less likely to enforce access between that targeted parent and that alienated child. These recommendations will probably refer to access between this child and this parent, as resuming when “the child is ready.”
As a greater generalized understanding of Parental Alienation develops, it appears that the latter model, the one that spreads the responsibility between both parents, is gaining more popularity among the professionals who do these evaluations.
This is concerning since this latter model tends to see the alienation of children, once sufficiently progressed, as being incurable. The first model however does not agree with this at all. In support of this position, growing evidence is cited, gleaned from once alienated children, that even severely alienated children can and do become no longer alienated, and do and can reconnect to the parent from whom they were once alienated.
What does this mean? It means that it is of paramount importance to know to which model your potential Parental Alienation evaluator subscribes. Both groups will boast knowledge of and familiarity with Parental Alienation, and they will do so honestly, but their recommendations will vary dramatically, as will their outcomes.
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