Parental alienation in its most severe form is a heinous form of child abuse and neglect. It is a dangerous manipulation of children’s minds to alter their perception of reality about another parent. The purpose of marginalizing this parent is so that he or she has no means to be an effective parent or to entirely cut that parent out of their child’s life.
Severe cases of parental alienation have the characteristics of being complicated in two ways. Combative parents duel with conflicting stories of "he said / she said" and make it very difficult to determine who is telling the truth. Brainwashed children often support the side of the offending parent with dramatic stories of how they have been abused by the target parent. As target parents argue their position, they often seem defensive even when they are telling the truth. Programmed children lose their own sense of reason and their ability to express their own choice in the matter. If the alienator is not contained, these manipulations of the child’s mind become the incubator of their own future psychological problems. These children have an altered perception of reality that is not in their best interest or in the best interest of society.
The Tragic Result
Unfortunately, in many cases, fully capable parents and their extended family and friends who love the child and would provide a nurturing and healthy family life are eliminated. Once the cutting out of a parent has occurred the child is left under the full care of the most disturbed and dysfunctional parent. These tragedies are played out in our family law courts daily.
Target parents find that normal methods of handling parental conflict such as mediation and therapy do not work. They are forced to appeal to a judge to make a decision that will enable them to continue to see their children. This is often an expensive and perilous path that rarely results in a satisfying outcome as few people, including judges, attorneys, and therapists, understand the nature of the problem.
Major Family Services
Jayne Major, Ph.D.
I became aware of how difficult it is to be a parent when my husband and I adopted two foster boys who were 7 and 9 at the time and had been severely abused and neglected. I rapidly ran out of everything that I knew to do. I had to face the fact that I needed to learn much more to be an effective parent.
I started reading how to books for parents and quickly discovered that even the experts disagree. What was so simple was turning out to not be simple at all. I decided to use parent education as the focus of my doctoral dissertation at UCLA. My purpose was to write a curriculum for parents that would be a psychologically solid and skill based way of raising children according to the best of what we know today.
My doctorate is in Philosophy of Education and what I philosophized about was psychology. When I graduated from UCLA I began speaking and teaching classes to many different groups of people. I also started writing books for parents. These books eventually became Breakthrough Parenting: Moving Your Family from Struggle to Cooperation.
I believe that when people know better they do better. Parent education is my passion. There is no more important job than that of being a parent. I enjoy consulting, teaching classes, and speaking about how we can improve the way that children are raised by their parents. I frequently consult with parents about discipline situations that have developed in their families and have become knowledgeable about divorce and child custody disputes. I show parents how to improve their strategy on how to handle difficult problems in families.
What I’ve found is that children want to get along with us and the main reason that we have struggles with children is due to the parent’s lack of skill and knowledge. Education is the key to successful parenting.