Parental Alienation: The Machination Syndrome… Beware of revenge through your children
Have you ever heard of parental alienation syndrome?
Here is an overview of this parenting programming. It takes place when the alienating parent controls the children to influence their relationship with the other parent.
This happens specifically in the context of conflicts over children’s custody. It is what many mothers experience in Arabic-speaking societies, which spare no effort to subdue by all means those who defy the patriarchal system, even if they are their daughters and sons themselves!
Systematic revenge… Children are both the means and the victim
“I love Mama and I love Papa.” This is exactly what the apples of our eyes need to avoid wilting. In a representative scene that summarizes the behavioral symptoms of the syndrome, the little girl stands before the judge, her sharp eyes revealing the smart cookie she is.
A young brimming over with confidence, telling stories about the purity and whiteness of our souls, before the winds of time spread their fangs, wreaking havoc and dark chaos in them.
“Aren’t you the judge? I want you to rule that they come back to each other!” She says it wistfully.
She gives the attendees and absentees a blaming look that summarizes the suffering of many children who have nothing to do within the arena of parental conflict imposed by the controlling parent.
Our children want love, and nothing but love. Peace, tranquility, serenity, quietude, and plenty of warmth in the crossing frosty blizzards.
The frost of separation, even if it crosses over the parents’ helplessness one day, digs into the hearts of children for a lifetime, just like a volcano of explosive connectedness in a moment of repulsion, like inflammation of toxic relationships and pus of oozing conflicts, like the forced meeting of opposites, and the voluntary dissonance of communicators for the sake of ignorance.
“My father told me to tell you that my mother treats me badly and beats me, leaving me hungry without food. When I make her angry, she locks me in a dark room for days. But she never did it, because she loves me.” The child told the judge when asked about how her parents treat her, to finally make her choose whom she wants to live with.
An old scene that reflects a renewed reality brimming with ignorance, backwardness, and authoritarianism, and indicates the danger of negative emotional charge on the psychological and mental development of children.
The syndrome of “parental alienation” turns the sons/daughters into both the means and the victim. They are injected with vengeance poison, literally so!
Their lives and minds are poisoned and one or both parents take advantage of a situation to harm the other person.
Mothers in patriarchal societies often suffer from fathers’ attempts to seize control, to impose child subordination by any means possible.
What is parental alienation syndrome?
“Parental alienation” is a term coined by British pediatrician and scientist Richard A. Gardner to describe the concept of one parent trying to separate and alienate his or her child from the other parent, intentionally or unconsciously as punishment or as part of a divorce.
Gardner defined the syndrome in 1985 as “a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child custody disputes. Its initial expression is to get the child to discredit the parent without any justification.”
According to Gardner, this disorder results from a combination of what the alienating parent indoctrinates with the child’s own contributions to slander the other estranged parent.
The experiments on which the study was hinged revealed that “the instigating parent indoctrinates the child with false accusations against the other party. These are mostly related to being abused by the other parent, to prevent future communication with the child.”
He pointed out that the problem occurs because “the syndrome takes over the child and is accompanied by criticism and denunciation of the targeted party.”
Parental alienation syndrome, or parental estrangement syndrome, summarizes the toxic behaviors that a parent deliberately follows to gain the child’s loyalty and vandalize their relationship with the other parent.
The alienating parent resorts to it for revenge and harming the other party, ignoring that the child is the most affected by this manipulative and inciting behavior.
It is a mechanism that revolves around revenge through the use of children and the exploitation of their helplessness, which deprives them of psychological and emotional stability. It also leads them to confusion and loss, besides the severe psychological consequences of the syndrome, because of this behavior.
“Incitement”, “manipulation”, “counterfeiting”, and “tempting” … emotional gaslighting to gain loyalty
This phenomenon is common, especially in our Arabic-speaking societies that are keen to enhance the child’s loyalty to their father’s family. However, the scientific terminology of this phenomenon is not widespread, due to the lack of studies associated with it. And yet, it is a well-studied phenomenon in psychology.
I did not originally know that the repeated “psychological abuse” to which my daughter has been subjected by her father and his entourage, is a deliberate and systematic manipulation. They deliberately push her to describe instances of my “abusing motherhood”. This is in addition to behaviors ranging from incitement, falsification, and temptation, with the aim of blackmailing me to stop claiming her custody.
Experts consider such behaviors to be “psychological abuse” against children. Psychology has detected a profound effect on their minds, changing their perceptions of their father or mother.
Through this intended manipulation, the alienating parent tries to alienate the child from the target parent and make them believe terrible and untrue things about their mother or father to control communication.
Exemplifying this is convincing the child–directly or not—that the other parent does not want to see them, or somehow telling lies and insulting the other party, in an attempt to make the child lose their respect for the target person.
And these are just some examples of this manipulation. It may even amount to ridicule, if the child shows feelings for the parent, or directly prevents the parent from communicating or spending time with the child.
On the other hand, if the child is present with the other parent, the alienating parent may communicate excessively, or make false allegations of abuse that lead to severe negative feelings towards the target parent.
In return, the alienating parent bestows on the child stuff they like to portray themselves as the spoiling parent. By doing so, they aim to unforeseeably prevent the child from spending time with the target parent for long.
Experts also documented the repeated resort of the alienating parent to repeating past events in front of the children, to manipulate their thinking and analysis of situations. They would tell children some events that happened during or led to the divorce. This happens in a way that displaces the blame from them to the targeted party, making them the cause of the bad feelings the child is experiencing after the divorce.
Psychologists confirm that many people use the family environment to reinforce contempt towards the targeted parent (the victim). This can involve grandparents, uncles, or friends colluding with the alienating parent and participating in the fraud, manipulation, and abuse that is practiced against the child in the first place.
The role of stereotypes in the process of parental alienation… Patriarchal societies are mfertile ground
Stereotypes play a role in fueling the process of alienation. This is easily achieved in societies that adopt customs and traditions primarily as a criterion for evaluating one’s behavior, such as Arabic-speaking communities.
The stereotyped gender roles have paved the way for fathers in these societies to manipulate the relationship between children and their mothers through preconceived prejudices.
“If your mother wanted you, she wouldn’t have preferred a divorce.” “I want her back, but she prefers to separate and stay away from you.” “She chose her work and studies over her home and her children.” “She abandoned you just like she gave up her hijab.” … And other obsolete and naïve judgments that patriarchs in our societies can easily fabricate to deny the right of mothers to embrace their children or communicate with them.
Fathers take advantage of the immunities they derive from customs, religion, and law to persist with their alienating tactics.
Thus, the stereotype of the father as “the head of the household”, or “the dependent mother” may directly serve the intended manipulation.
This can be appealing, not only for children but also for society and institutions that may judge the targeted parent based on patriarchal stereotypes of gender and sexuality, or motherhood and paternity.
Their motherhood is challenged, only because they work outside the home, and they are accused of preferring work over their children. While fatherhood is glorified because of the father’s work outside the home, and his role is magnified and considered a sign of giving, dedication, and sacrifice for his children!
This is just one example of the many patriarchal facilities used by instigating parents and their assistants in the process of separating children from their mothers. A range of customary, religious, and legal provisions also contributes to this.
The manipulation intensifies if the target parent is engaged: “They told my sons or daughters that I had abandoned them. “
Linked to stereotypes of “mothers’ sacrifice” that patriarchal societies assume must go so far as to give up their lives to deserve motherhood, alienation behaviors often escalate if they re-engage after divorce. The relativity of the matter varies between patriarchal societies and those that believe in gender equality.
In Arab societies, when one of the parents marries, the alienating parent develops a feeling of revenge for which he tries to “eradicate” the mother completely.
In such cases, maliciousness increases when the mother marries another man, whom Arab society describes as a “stranger to children.” It creates narratives of fear and anxiety about them while at the same time accepting the stepmother as a “second mother”.
Malicious practices were confirmed by Mrs. S.S., a mother of a boy and a girl, whose father cut off their contact with her.
“He convinces my children that I abandoned them, he’s always tried to incite them against me, and his hatred increased after I got married,” she told Sharika Wa Laken.
“He was abusing me physically and morally, and the abuse extended to my children at times, which is what I feared most. Abuse for the purpose of discipline is a habit for him.”
In the context of manipulative methods, the father does not hesitate to prevent her from communicating with them, which reinforces the retroactive effect of alienation practiced against her and her child.
She also pointed out that her husband and his family “act like a gang when it comes to her children, they are trying to separate my children from me and completely cut my relationship with them under the pretext that I have started a new family and that they do not belong to the same family.”
Although this syndrome is common among separated parents, parental alienation can also occur between married couples, as one parent tries to attract his or her child to him or her/her and gain his or her loyalty.
Psychological consequences… The child is the most affected by these toxic behaviors
Such selfish behavior leads to unusual and very harmful consequences for the psyche and behavior of children, such as generating pathological hatred and resentment towards the other parent.
Many parents might be unaware of the impact of the damage they inflict on their children through the “incitement” or “negative emotional charge” they feed into their psyche. It creates a feeling of helplessness in the (victim) child.
Although some children are willing to show resistance against this alienating behavior and may criticize the motives of the parents or the parent who practices alienation, in other cases, the dominant parent succeeds in generating negative feelings against the other parent.
In this context, research published on this syndrome indicated that children and parents who have been isolated suffer from many negative consequences that may reach the point of creating mental disorders on both sides, such as extreme shyness and exaggerated fear of abandonment, anxiety, and depression, to the extent that some even reach the level of substance addiction or suicide attempt.
In addition to the impact of toxic behaviors on the target parent, who is often the mother in Arab societies, such as the decline in labor productivity and other negative consequences.
On the other hand, children who have shown rejection or resistance to alienation may suffer from some problems. They find themselves in a difficult situation, especially if they rely on this parent for their livelihood.
This explains why many children live double lives to cope with this situation. That is, they may resort to adopting completely different, and sometimes contradictory, behaviors, depending on the parent with whom they live, which generates duplication, dispersion, and instability in their principles, concepts, convictions, and behaviors.
Who protects children from parental maliciousness?
The syndrome summarizes how maliciousness disturbs the purity and innocence of childhood after it is injected with mental disorders deliberately, negligently, and selfishly.
In my personal experience, as a mother deprived of her child due to parental malice, I realized that I was faced with two choices, the better of which is painful.
A father who practices forced alienation against my daughter and me, and abuses her childhood without the slightest responsibility, does not hesitate to falsify the facts even for the sake of his malice. I was left with these choices, either show weakness and silence about the right to embrace her and give him false evidence that I abandoned her. Or open a public battle through which I can impact children and struggling mothers in the face of malicious parental alienation practiced against them.
I am only one of many, some of whom have persisted, some of whom were incapacitated, and some of whom were tired and surrendered to fate. The hope has always been that their children will grow up and track them back. But after what? After they lose their childhood in a malicious labyrinth!
Children may realize that there is no need to reunite discordant parts even if the frost subsides.
They may be content with peace if a culture of awareness and understanding were an alternative to revenge. They may turn to tranquility if a hand is anointed over their grief with tenderness and compassion rather than with domination and appropriation.
They may accept their helplessness if a soul covers their naked psyche with giving and responsibility. If the malicious ego disembarks from patriarchal societies and gives way to the chivalry of humanity, it will have mercy on childhood and do justice to motherhood.
So who shall protect children and their helplessness from paternal maliciousness when it avenges their mothers through them?