Addressing the problem of parental alienation
Whilst parental alienation is a phenomenon that is much more widely recognised than it once was, it remains a controversial subject. However, what is incontrovertible is that, for some children, the dynamics around the separation of their parents is so disturbing that they respond by aligning with one and completely rejecting the other. This is not only a bewildering and frightening experience for a rejected parent, it can cause significant and lasting harm to the child.
Whilst a child’s vehement rejection of a parent may appear to be fixed and rooted in something that the rejected parent has done it is, in fact, a coping mechanism that the child unconsciously employs in order to protect themselves from the psychological dissonance that they experience as they try to make sense of the post separation world. Children who find the psychological pressures too great, as their family fractures and reorganises, can find it impossible to maintain the warm, enduring bonds of attachment and connectedness to each of their parents. This causes them to split off half of who they are and leaves them unable to maintain a balanced experience of the world around them.
For a child to reject a relationship with a loved and loving parent is the most unnatural thing for them to do and yet, for too many families, this is a reality that accompanies divorce or separation. Left untreated, children affected by alienation face a lifetime of guilt, shame, and an inability to form stable, healthy relationships. However, children who are helped to restore balance and perspective can emerge from an alienation reaction very quickly and, with support, become happy and healthy once again. This conference will explore the phenomenon of parental alienation and consider the legal and mental health interlock necessary to promote successful resolution in these complex cases.