What to know about what you don’t know you know. #1: Intuition is very efficient—if you don't overthink it.
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The SOLUTION to Parental Alienation is prevention. I would propose legislative reform that has four key elements:
1. Enforcement of parenting time. In my home state of Pennsylvania there are truancy laws on the books that hold both parents and children accountable to school attendance. Parents are 100% accountable if the child is young, but responsibility shifts more and more to the child as the child grows older. Punishments range from fines, to losing driver's licenses, to jail time. Why not apply the same laws to parenting time? Isn't a child's relationship with her parents at least as important as school?
2. Parallel parenting. High conflict divorces are different from other divorces. Alienating parents often have personality traits/disorders that prevent them from co-parenting. A special form of parallel parenting is necessary, whereby there is no contact whatsoever with one parent whenever the child is with the other parent. This includes attendance at sporting events/recitals/school functions/etc. Only the parent whose parenting time it is, is allowed to attend. In addition, the child is precluded from discussing one parent with the other parent. No grilling allowed. No complaining allowed. Any complaints the child might have about one parent can be discussed with the friend of the court (see below). Completely separate, completely parallel parenting. This may sound harsh, but it actually frees the child to express her authentic self with each parent. The child no longer has to prove her loyalty to one parent by disparaging the other.
3. Dealing with claims of abuse. If there are claims of physical or sexual abuse against a parent, and those claims are substantiated by compelling physical evidence, or by reliable third-party witnesses, then the child can remain with the accusing parent until the matter is investigated. However, if the claims are only substantiated by the accusing parent and/or the child, and if the court is entertaining the possiblity of parental alienation, then the child must be removed from BOTH parents, and placed into family care, or if necessary, foster care, until the matter is adjudicated. Again, this may sound harsh, but this would undermine one of the most egregious tactics utilized by alienating parents, i.e. false accusations of abuse, and at the same time it would protect the child from possible physical or sexual abuse. Not every claim of parental alienation is valid.
4. The appointment of a friend of the court. This person could be a social worker, guardian ad litem, minister, counselor, etc. This person will meet with the child (not the parents) on a periodic basis, checking on the child's welfare, and holding the child accountable to the above stipulations.
This legislation, enforced by the courts, would go a long way toward mitigating the alienator's alienating behaviors. It would protect the rights of targeted/rejected parents, and, most importantly, it would protect children from this underrecognized form of child abuse.
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