Abstract & Summary
This short article
considers the repercussions of a parent being alienated from his/her
children. There is frequently a generalising effect of such unjust
victimization of a frequently good parent be it the father of mother. The
alienator influences the child against the maternal/paternal grandparent as
well as the extended family. Children who were once close to the now absent
parent’s family are now disallowed from further contact, which has
been, and could be, beneficial to the child.
Implacable Hostility against Grandparents following Parental Separation
do not go unscathed when the marriage of a couple fails and results in the
implacable hostility of at least one of the partners against the other.
Once a partner has been alienated or rejected and prevented from having
good contact with the children of the relationship, the extended family,
including grandparents are also frequently prevented from further contact.
Grandparents at present do not
have any legal rights to be involved with their grandchildren’s
lives. When there is implacable hostility expressed by the custodial parent
this can cause great pain to the innocent grandparents, especially when
they have had a warm and caring relationship with the children in the past.
The children themselves are in a
conflict situation and unable to understand why their beloved and loving
grandparents have been taken from them. Frequently they hear negative and
malicious and mostly untrue comments from the custodial parent with who
they reside about the now absent parents and his/her immediate family. This
includes predominantly grandparents, but could also include uncles, aunts,
As an expert witness in the area
of family problems following an acrimonious divorce or separation, I
receive numerous communications not only from alienated parents but also
from grandparents. The letter which follows is from a grandmother. It
illustrates a feeling of helplessness, sadness, and other negative emotions
of the alienated grandparent.
We are alienated from our
three granddaughters due to Parental Alienation. I do not understand why no
one seems to be writing about our plight and the emotional abuse we too
suffer at the hands of the alienator. Our grandchildren had a wonderful
relationship with us and our son until a divorce (which is still continuing
today - 12 years later) which can only be described as "pure
hell" for our son and our entire family. He was cut off completely
from his daughter three years ago due to what the psychologist (two of them
now) say are unfounded claims of sexual abuse. Because of the accusations
our daughter in law has alienated us from her two daughters. The story is
too long and too personal to tell you in any detail but after reading
numerous articles written by you I feel like you may have been secretly
living in one of our wardrobes.
I have read all of your
books and every article of yours and any other expert in the field of
parental alienation I can find (not that it will help our grandchildren)
because the courts here in the U.S. fail to see "Parental
Alienation" as a serious form of child abuse. The feminist groups say
it is just an excuse for fathers to sexually and physically abuse their
children. This is pure hogwash!!
There is nothing more
terrorizing than to watch the slow insidious brainwashing of my
grandchildren against my son and our entire family. It is the same as
watching someone you love slowly be roasted over an open fire. Because of
the opinion of the courts the only thing you can do is to stand by and
helplessly watch their total engulfment and death. It is an agony that
never leaves you! Please, if at all possible, write some articles or books
on the effects of Parental Alienation on us Grandparents. No one is telling
our story or taking us seriously.
THE ONE THING PEOPLE NEED TO REALIZE IS THAT IF PARENTAL ALIENATION WAS
STOPPED, THERE WOULD BE NO SUCH THING AS PARENTAL ALIENATION SYNDROME.
COUNTLESS CHILDREN COULD BE SAVED.
is one of many emails, letters and telephone calls the author receives
regularly. These grandparents and many others have urged me to write
something about the pain caused by the implacable hostility leading not
only to the alienation of a good parent but grandparents and other members
of the extended family. What follows is dedicated to this grandmother and all
the other grandparents wherever and whoever they are.
The value of grandparents
most especially, and other members of the extended family are often
essential substitute parental figures when something untoward occurs. This
included the illness or untimely loss of actual parents due to accidents
the extended family is also supportive in case parents are found to be
unfit to parent for whatever reasons. Before parents divorce or separate,
grandparents are often well known to the children. There is frequently a
close and loving relationship between grandparents and their grand
children. This is of significant value to the children themselves. It also
makes the children a part of the supportive network of an extended family.
grandparents on the whole are likely to support their son or daughter when
there is a rift with a daughter or son-in-law, they can also be a force of
neutrality and understanding. They may therefore act as a balanced
influence on the children or family. They will often do what they can to
encourage the parents to find a way, or show conduct which will be in the
best interest of the children, who are caught up in the turmoil of the
conflicts inevitably have repercussions on children via contact disputes
and when one parent is alienated and hence sidelined from having good
contact with children. These conflicts between the parents do much harm to
the children who have often had a good relationship with both parents.
children are often uncertain where the blame lies and even blame themselves
unjustly, and often the alienated parent. This is because the remaining
custodial parent will speak negatively about the absent parent due to the
implacable hostility they have towards the now absent parent.
children feel they need to choose between which parent they should give
their loyalty. Since they are living with the custodial parent, they tend
to choose to give their support to that parent. This is partly out of fear
at having lost one caring parent; they may also lose the custodial parent.
children in siding with the custodial parent (usually the mother) then are
prepared to alienate the now absent parent (usually the father). In recent
times the current psychologist, an expert witness to the courts, has noted
a shift in the custodial parent being the father rather than the mother. He
then, not unlike the maternal figure, when she has custody, seeks to
alienate the children against the mother.
therefore follows a similar scenario where the child favours and is loyal
to the father, who seeks to alienate the mother from having good contact
with the children. Grandparents in both situations can do much to encourage
both parents to refrain from, as much as possible, showing animosity
towards one another, and hence upsetting the children. Grandparents should
also refrain from taking sides.
should not be placed in the position of having to make decisions such as
which parent they wish to be with and which one they wish to reject! They
should not need to, or have to choose between often two loving parents.
Grandparents frequently can help in this respect.
must be accepted as fact, that in some cases the alienated parent has
indeed had faults that affected the relationship both with the other parent
and the child. These negative features are often remembered by the child
while the good things are forgotten. This is due to the fact that negative
excuses or reasons why the parents cannot be together, or cannot have
access to their children is all part of the litigation that takes place
between the warring factions. This complicates the picture as to why the
child does not want good contact with the absent parent and that
parent’s extended family and sides are chosen. This often negates the
position of the extended family of the alienated parent.
Finally, it must be said that the value of grandparents and the
extended family should not be underestimated. It has been shown that
extended family networks can do much to increase the children’s
feelings of belonging leading to greater security for the child. This is
especially the case when parents have been in an acrimonious divorce or
Changing the law re contact of grandparents with grandchildren
One may well
need to consider that it is time for the law to be changed in this regard.
Currently, parents when separated are provided by the courts with contact
with their children following divorce or separation of the parents. The
implacable hostility however, of one parent, usually the custodial parent,
should not sideline a worthy non abusive parent or indeed the grandparents.
This ruling should include the grandparents of children having a right of
good contact with their grandchildren. They are frequently innocent parties
to any dispute between the actual parents.
frequently have a close attachment to the extended family, and especially
the grandparents. These are likely to be sidelined by an vindictive unjust
alienator. Sometimes, however, such rejection is due totally or partly to
the behaviour of the alienated parent. The need to be cognisant of this and
act accordingly when making decisions can lead to encouraging good contact
between grandparents and their grandchildren. Sometimes children have in
the past has an especially good or bad relationship with the grandparents.
If the relationship has been good then contact should certainly continue.
If it has been poor then such contact will be refused by the children
themselves regardless of the wishes of the grandparents of the non
Much damage to children, and
suffering for grandparents occurs, when unjustified alienation of a parent
lead also to the unjustified alienation of doting, caring and loving
grandparents who have been close to their grandchildren in the past.