Unjustified Parental Alienation

Author: Dr. Diann Sanford, Psy.D

– Trained in Family Bridges Educational Program

What is unjustified parental alienation? It is child abuse.  Parental alienation is when one child becomes estranged from one parent due to the psychological manipulation of the other favored parent. The child’s estrangement may be displayed through fear, hostility, and disrespect for the other parent, and it may extend to additional relatives or parties. It has long term health consequences for the children involved and the targeted parents.

Many judges are ordering that children who are unjustly alienated children from one parent to participate in the Family Bridges Program.  Family Bridges was designed to help preserve the bond between parents and children in efforts to reunify the alienated child to his or her parent.   The mission of the program is to give all family members the tools to re-form healthy, loving, respectful bonds between children and both of their parents, as well as teaching both parents that they can both parent and be part of their children’s lives without denigrating the other or destroying the other’s parent-child relationship.

Dr. Amy Baker’s research has established that targeted parents live in the nightmare of parental alienation and that not only do the targeted parents suffer, but so do the children in the long run.  She specializes in parent-child relationships, child abuse, psychological maltreatment. She is currently the director of research at the Fontana Center for Child Protection in New York City and serves as an expert witness  in areas of parent and child relationships. She has written books such as:  Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome: Breaking the Ties that Bind, Co-parenting with a Toxic X,  High Conflict Custody Battle and coauthored Surviving Parental Alienation.

Dr. Richard Warshak, a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center has written extensively on Parental Alienation as well. He has authored books such as:  Divorce Poison and The Custody Revolution. Recently he conducted a research sample consisting of 83 severely alienated children and adolescents who enrolled in the four-day Family Bridges educational workshop, after the workshop the children’s contact refusal with the rejected parent dropped from a pre-workshop rate of 85% rejection of contact to a post-workshop rate of 6%.

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“Unjustified parental alienation, a campaign by one parent to denigrate the other and psychologically manipulate the target parent is child abuse. It has long lasting negative effects for the children and the targeted parents.” – Dr. Diann Sanford, Psy.D.