Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Parental Alienation Syndrome

It is sometimes referred to as "Parental Alienation Syndrome" (PAS). At its core it is simply the systematic vilification of one parent in attempts to alienate a child from the other parent. It occurs most often in the context of high conflict custody battles and is even seen by support groups like Parental Alienation Awareness Organization (http://paao-us.com)as a literal form of child abuse.

The process typically involves the mental manipulation of a child in which they are convinced that the other parent, the ‘bad’ one, is an enemy to be feared, avoided or even hated. Studies have revealed that, in more severe cases, the child may suffer effects like headaches, vomiting, loss of sleep, and refusal to eat especially when they are faced with a visit to the “bad” parent. In milder cases the children may reject the ‘bad’ parent through verbal abuse, destroying gifts, or refusing to engage in previously enjoyable family activities. According to the Florida Bar Journal, "... Any attempt at alienating a child from the other parent should be seen as a direct and willful violation of one of the prime duties of parenthood.”

The Bible is not silent on the subject of parenting. It also touches on the issue of divorce, since God knew in eternity past the devastation it would cause – and especially the detrimental effects on helpless children engulfed in it. And in modern America, it can only be guessed as to how many find themselves in very dire circumstances along these lines.

But with that said, Ephesians 6:4 reveals the attitude that should display the traits of any Godly and loving parent. It mentions fathers specifically, but the principle can obviously be applied to moms as well. “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” The same basic idea is also recorded by Paul in his letter to the Colossian church where he writes, “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” (Colossians 3:21)

Also, there are serious related difficulties that surface in for those children involved in a severe “PAS” situation. The Apostle, in Ephesians chapter 6, addressed how children are to respond to their parents in verses 1-3, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth." Then he repeats this same basic thought in Colossians 3:20 where he says, “Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.” Simply stated, parents who openly criticize each other before their children can help hinder the attitude of respect due their mothers and fathers according to Scripture.

On numerous occasions Jesus interacted and spoke about the traits, attitudes, and value of children from a spiritual perspective. He spoke about their simple trusting faithand how it relates to salvation in Luke 18:16-17. He also warned strongly in Matthew’s account concerning the treatment and guidance of young impressionable hearts and minds. "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea." (Matthew 18:6) Those are strong and sobering words! Toying with, and twisting, the emotions and beliefs of precious children will bring serious ramifications in this life and even the life to come.

As long as unregenerate man walks the earth, sin will accompany him. Sinners will continue to use and abuse even the most sacred of human relationships. Fortunately there is an up side to the down side. It is concisely offered up in Romans 5:20. “But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.” So as long as the eternal God exists, those who belong to Him via saving faith can cling to that grace. They need never fear that anyone, or anything, will ever pry away their Lord’s affection for them or tamper with their blessed union with Him. And any seeking a prime proof text need not look farther than Paul’s bedrock testimony presented to the young church at Rome.

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

Bill Breckenridge

1 comment:

amanwhocares said...

After viewing a 1938 film tonight with Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn I can see that the problems for men and women certainly have deep roots in America. He was painted as a doofus and she was in control through the entire film. And this was supposed to be light comedy, entertainment propaganda for the hurting masses in the depression.
Instead it made me cry-for all of us.

Parental Alienation- its just another thing human beings do to commodify themselves-each other in order to gain-maintain control. After all, humanity has eaten up just about every other form of life from which a dollar could be made.