Topic: Parental Alienation

Scholarly Articles / Reports / Journals

Prevalence of adults who are the targets of parental alienating behaviors and their impact

The purpose of the current study was to determine whether the proportion of adults who indicate being alienated from a child will be similar to results from a previous poll of North Carolina adults (Harman, Leder-Elder, & Biringen, 2016) using three nationally representative on-line survey panels from United States and Canada, and to determine the mental health impact of parental alienating behaviours.

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Scholarly Articles / Reports / Journals

Parents Behaving Badly: Gender Biases in the Perception of Parental Alienating Behaviors

According to gender role theory, individuals who confirm expectations associated with their gender roles are rewarded and judged against these expectations when they deviate. Parental roles are strongly tied to gender, and there are very different expectations for behaviors of mothers and fathers. This study examined how mothers’ and fathers’ behaviors that support or discourage a positive relationship with the other parent are perceived in terms of their acceptability. Two-hundred twent-eight parents completed an online survey assessing perceptions of acceptability of negative (parental alienating) and positive coparenting behaviors. Results provided support for our hypothesis: Although parental alienating behaviors were rated unacceptable, they were more acceptable for mothers than fathers. Expectancy violation theory can explain why parental alienating behaviors are not viewed as negatively when mothers exhibit them than fathers. (PsycINFO Database Record

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Scholarly Articles / Reports / Journals

Parental alienating behaviors: An unacknowledged form of family violence

Despite affecting millions of families around the world, parental alienation has been largely unacknowledged or denied by legal and health professionals as a form of family violence. This complex form of aggression entails a parental figure engaging in the long-term use of a variety of aggressive behaviors to harm the relationship between their child and another parental figure, and/or to hurt the other parental figure directly because of their relationship with their child. Like other forms of family violence, parental alienation has serious and negative consequences for family members, yet victims are often blamed for their experience. In order to be recognized as a form of family violence and to secure protection for victims under law and social policies, a formal review and comparison of parental alienating behaviors and outcomes to child abuse and intimate partner violence has been sorely needed. The result of this review highlights how the societal denial of parental alienation has been like the historical social and political denial or other forms of abuse in many parts of the world (e.g., child abuse a century ago). Reframing parental alienating behaviors as a form of family violence also serves as a desperate call to action for social scientists to focus more theoretical and empirical attention to this topic. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved).

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Scholarly Articles / Reports / Journals

Parental Alienation: The Blossoming of a Field of Study

Parental alienation has been an unacknowledged and poorly understood form of family violence. Research on parental alienation and the behaviors that cause it has evolved out of decades of legal and clinical work documenting this phenomenon, leading to what could be considered a “greening,” or growth, of the field. Today, there is consensus among researchers as to what parental alienating behaviors are and how they affect children and the family system. We review the literature to detail what parental alienation is, how it is different from other parent–child problems such as estrangement and loyalty conflicts, and how it is perpetuated within and across different social systems. We conclude by highlighting research areas that need further investigation to develop and test effective solutions for ameliorating the devastating effects of parental alienation that, we posit, should be considered and understood not only as abusive to the child but also as a form of family violence directed toward both the child and the alienated parent.

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Scholarly Articles / Reports / Journals

Gender Differences in the Use of Parental Alienating Behaviors

Past research indicates females prefer the use of indirect over direct forms of aggression, whereas the opposite pattern has been found for males. We investigated a specific form of aggression: parental alienating behaviors. Parents who alienate their children from another parent utilize both direct and indirect forms of aggression. We examined whether there are gender differences in the use of these behaviors by analyzing data from two samples: interviews with parents who have been the target of parental alienating behaviors, and family law appellate court rulings in which parental alienation was found. In both studies, mothers used significantly more indirect than direct parental alienating strategies. In contrast, fathers tended to use similar levels of both indirect and direct parental alienating strategies. Further, fathers did not use more direct forms of this type of aggression than mothers. Better standards of practice for the assessment of parental alienation must be developed to prevent misdiagnoses and gender biases.

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Books

PARENTAL ALIENATION — SCIENCE AND LAW

Parental Alienation – Science and Law explains the research that creates the foundation for the assessment, identification, and intervention in cases of parental alienation (PA). For attorneys, judges, and family law professionals, this book explains in detail the scientific basis for testimony and legal decisions that relate to PA. There are two complementary features for most of the chapters. First, the chapter authors address how evidence regarding PA meets the criteria of the Frye, Daubert, and Mohan cases as well as the Federal Rules of Evidence for testimony by experts. The second feature is to refute common misinformation. There is debate and disagreement about some aspects of PA theory. The editors of this book are concerned that some of the discourse regarding PA has spun out of control, into pervasive misinformation. This book provides plenty of evidence for overcoming that hurdle. The editors of this book and the chapter authors have extensive experience with both clinical and legal aspects of divorce, child custody, parenting time evaluations, PA, and related topics. The editors and chapter authors include six psychologists, three physicians, two social workers, four attorneys, and one judge. Collectively, these mental health professionals have testified as expert witnesses hundreds of times regarding family law topics. As an additional feature, the book contains four appendices and three indexes. Appendix A defines the concepts used in this book, so that the chapter authors and readers will use terminology in a consistent manner. Appendix B lists more than one thousand trial and appellate cases in the U.S. involving PA, organized by state. Appendix C presents twenty rather dramatic vignettes involving PA. Finally, Appendix D, “Sample Motion and Brief for Extended Voir Dire,” provides a motion and supporting brief asking the court to allow extended time to examine the competency of a proposed expert.

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Books

Parents Acting Badly: How institutions and societies promote the alienation of children from their loving families

Parental alienation causes severe trauma and devastation to an estimated 22 million parents in the U.S., and it affects millions more worldwide. Despite the sheer number of families and communities affected by this problem, many people either do not know what it is, deny its existence, or act as bystanders to alienators’ campaigns of chaos. In Parents Acting Badly, Drs. Jennifer Jill Harman and Zeynep Biringen provide a thorough analysis of how parental alienators accomplish their aims and impact on others, and highlight how parenting stereotypes, gender inequality, and social institutions such as family courts all contribute to the problem. Parents Acting Badly represents a paradigm shift in thinking about parental alienation—from a private issue to a public concern. The authors suggest new approaches to addressing this controversial problem that encompass individual change, as well as social and institutional reforms.

This book comes out of work conducted by Drs. Jennifer Jill Harman & Zeynep Biringen, both professors at Colorado State University, and Founders of the the Colorado Parental Alienation Project, LLC.

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