Home > Uncategorized > Parental Alienation Syndrome: One Father’s Story by Terry Kee

Parental Alienation Syndrome: One Father’s Story by Terry Kee

September 2nd, 2010 by Terry Kee

Imagine a nightmare scenario where your children hate you. They tell you repeatedly that they hate you; and worse, their actions leave no doubt that they hate you. Moreover, their hatred doesn’t stop with you; it extends to everyone close to you – including your parents – their grandparents – and even to your pets. Imagine that your children do not refer to you with terms of endearment such as “mom” or “dad” – but with your first name or with horrible vulgarities. Imagine being locked out of your house, having the woodwork in your house gouged, the walls defaced, and having your heirlooms destroyed, all the while your child laughs at you, a taunting maniacal laugh, as the dirty deeds are done. Imagine finding snack foods or cereal strewn about the house, or juice in puddles on the floor. Imagine being kicked in the head as you drive. Imagine, if you can, that your child hates you so much that he or she laces your toothbrush with excrement.

Imagine not being able to have dinner with your children because they refuse to eat anything you cook for them. Imagine not being able to go to a restaurant with your children, because they will move to another table rather than sit with you. Imagine not being able to talk to your children at all. In the house, they will turn away or shut themselves in their room. In the car, they will respond to you with vulgarity and contempt. If they ever do attempt to communicate, they will tell you how much they hate you and how perfect the other parent is in their eyes – while you are your children’s number one enemy, your ex-spouse is considered infallible and beyond reproach.

Imagine that these children who hate you are not teenagers, but just 10 years old. Now stop imagining. Welcome to the hellish world of an alienated parent whose children are affected by Parental Alienation Syndrome.

As a father who has been targeted by a vindictive and malicious ex, to the point where my children refuse to see me or their grandparents, I am oftentimes annoyed to hear psychologists and psychiatrists who don’t really understand the difference between Parental Alienation and Parental Alienation Syndrome. Consider this recent excerpt from a US News and World Report article, “I really get concerned about spreading the definition of mental illness too wide,” says Elissa Benedek, a child and adolescent psychiatrist in Ann Arbor, Mich., and a past president of the APA. There’s no question in her mind that kids become alienated from a loving parent in many divorces with little or no justification, and she’s seen plenty of kids kick and scream all the way to the car when visitation is enforced. But, she says, “this is not a mentally ill child.” (US News and World Report, Parental Alienation:  A Mental Diagnosis? Some experts say the extreme hatred some kids feel toward a parent in a divorce is a mental illness. By Lindsay Lyon, October 29, 2009)

With all due respect to Dr. Benedek, her example scenario provides too little in the way of information to determine if the child in question is in fact merely alienated or is emotionally incapacitated as a direct result of undue and unjust external influences (PAS).

If you have never personally experienced Parental Alienation Syndrome, it is difficult to fathom how a child can become so completely and utterly transformed from a wonderful, caring, loving being to a mean, angry, hateful individual. Here is a firsthand account from one such child, now an adult, “I did everything in my power to make dad happy and destroy my mother… My main mission was to have her suffer for who I thought she was, not for who she was… I thought about her dying and having a party.” Chrissy Chrzanowski, who as a child was programmed to hate her mother. (Chrissy Chrzanowski, live speech at a Michigan rally: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3z7gEAnFF84)

Parental Alienation Syndrome is the result of a war having children soldiers. Parental Alienation Syndrome takes a commander-in-chief, foot soldiers and a common enemy. In this case, the commander-in-chief is the alienating parent, the children are the foot soldiers, and the common enemy is the child’s other parent and those closest to him or her. And just like adult soldiers who fight in a campaign of terror, death, and destruction and then end up suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, so too do children of PAS end up suffering from the horrors of war.

The DSM recognizes Post Traumatic Stress as a disorder, which, like PAS, is environmentally trigged. You are not born with PTSD. It is a condition that is caused by external events – a condition that could in fact, happen to the best of us given the right environment and set of circumstances. Despite the fact that PTSD is not a mental condition that one is born with, such as Down Syndrome or Tourette’s, it is rightly recognized in the DSM as a negative condition that requires treatment, even though it is possible to lessen with time and treatment.

PAS is also a condition that is inflicted by environment and circumstances, and which carries negative long term consequences. Additionally, vindictive parenting behaviors are highly likely to resurface in the next generation – as these children become parents themselves. As Amy J.L. Baker, PhD, a noted PAS expert has written, PAS is a condition that requires time to abate. And frankly, this is time that targeted parents don’t have. PAS children can remain immersed in the delusion well into adulthood and oftentimes require third party intervention – generally from his or her significant other.

Here’s where The American Psychiatric Association, as the gatekeeper of the DSM, and the American Psychology Association, as front line care providers, can do the right thing and help put an end to the emotional abuse of children that PAS presents. They can put an end to an era where children are programmed to hate. They can put an end to the emotional scarring for those children who will forever carry a burden of guilt. PAS is a great injustice and it is becoming more widespread in the absence of professional guidance and remediation. But to do what must be done, the APA must put aside the politics and emotion of the debate.

The recognition of PAS is being held hostage by special interest groups. Domestic Violence Against Women Special Interest Groups (DVAWSIGs) have long argued that PAS is nothing more than a tactic. Consider the following quote, “PAS has been used in countless cases by abusive fathers to gain custody of their children.” This quote was taken from a television documentary titled “Breaking the Silence; Children’s Stories.” It aired on PBS in October of 2005. In fact, “Breaking the Silence” ended up being discredited as a one-sided, poorly conceived infomercial. PBS received 4,000 e-mails on the subject and 3,500 of them were negative. Here’s what the PBS ombudsman, Michael Getler, had to say on the matter after he concluded his investigation, “”…there was no recognition of opposing views on the program. There was a complete absence of some of the fundamental journalistic conventions that, in fact, make a story more powerful and convincing because they, at a minimum, acknowledge that there is another side….I thought this particular program had almost no balance, and went too far, turning it, at least in my mind, into more of an advocacy, or point-of-view presentation.”

This program was then reviewed by the ombudsman for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Ken A. Bode, who further noted, “I agree with everything Getler says, to a point. He allows that PBS editorial guidelines for fairness and objectivity were ‘bumped up against and maybe breached,’ but does not assert they were clearly breached. I think it is worse than that. There was no alternative point of view presented in ‘Breaking the Silence’ and the producer admits it was intended to be that way. It might be difficult to find a clearer breach of PBS editorial standards unless one concludes there is only one side to child and spousal abuse issues in the country’s custody cases [emphasis added].” (Breaking the Silence Redux, December 19, 2005, Ken A. Bode. http://www.cpb.org/ombudsmen/display.php?id=12)

Still, DVAWSIGs, ignorantly perhaps, misguided certainly, believe that Parental Alienation Syndrome is a tactic and in conjunction, would be misdiagnosed, therefore robbing an innocent parent of custody. But Parental Alienation Syndrome is such an abomination, having unique indicators, that it is relatively easy to diagnose and, conversely, difficult to misdiagnose. A fully entrenched PAS child harbors unreasonable animosity and hatred towards the targeted parent and, due to the programming, will find it difficult to say anything negative about the non-targeted parent. It is a terrible abuse of power, that “so-called” domestic violence groups oppose recognizing the emotional abuse of children caused by a severe and prolonged campaign of alienation enacted by a malicious and vindictive ex spouse.

The “tactic” argument is ancillary to the question of whether PAS should be recognized as a disorder. False claims of abuse by women against men do not invalidate legitimate cases of abuse; neither should false claims of PAS invalidate legitimate cases of PAS. There are, after all, vindictive and malicious parents who poison their children’s mind against good and loving parents – should these individuals not be held accountable?

The DSM V committee must not be misguided by special interest groups purporting to have a greater cause. There is no greater cause. Society has a duty to its most vulnerable members – its children. PAS children are psychologically damaged. This is a preventable tragedy and children who exhibit Parental Alienation Syndrome require specialized intervention.

To the DSM V committee, I say to you, the time is now.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Kay A. Sell
    September 3, 2010 at 1:57 AM

    Very well written Terry! As a targeted mother, it pains me to think that any organization whose name and identity appears to support the fight against of domestic abuse of women, could be so ignorant that they would not recognize PAS as the most dreadful and damaging abuse a man can use against the mother of their children. Every woman’s organization should be on the front lines raising awareness and supporting women (and men) who are targeted parents and the brainwashed children.
    What upsets me most is that, I don’t care what anybody wants to call it, as you say PAS has such a defined set of criteria that is doesn’t take an expert to observe the painfully obvious abnormal mental state of the child. If the DSM V committee of experts doesn’t recognize it now, it will only take a few generations to transform our society into a population of individuals who do not have empathy for innocent victims, are self-loathing and self-destructive, and will not be able to engage in healthy relationships. Again I agree with you, there is no greater cause. For the good of the order, PAS must meet with swift and firm intervention. Depending on the outcome of my legal battle, my strong, healthy, and highly intelligent son, may have an opportunity to be happy and make a significant positive impact on our society OR he will be a burden, an addict, and/or a criminal. Either my dreams or my nightmares for him will become reality.

  2. Jennifer Ryan
    September 3, 2010 at 7:38 AM

    I too am a targeted mother. Terry mentions that PAS is easily recognisable, yet many cases goes unrecognised.
    1. Social workers and Psycologists are not well trained in the basics of PAS, even though they know children normally love both parents and will defend a bad parent. Alienating parents are highly persuasive, creating situations and manipulating children and people to their side. As the targeted parent I’m constantly preceded by the alienating parent. I find professionals already convinced by him, refusing to scratch the surface and find the truth.
    2. Society is unaware of this affliction. Friends and family participate in the alienation not knowing or caring about the damage they are doing.
    It could be stopped if people were only made aware, if professionals were taught to investigate for Parental Alienation first since the majority of cases are based on false accusations.
    My child was taken away from me here in Italy, I have been working 3 years to be allowed to see her more than twice a month and be involved in her life decisions: school, lessons etc. She’s 12. I started with the social workers who though my husband raped and sodomised me never believed a word I said, regardless of the documentation and proof presented unveiling his lies. Their bosses did not respond and it took 3 years to find a competant lawyer to fight my case, others were afraid to buck the system. Psychiatrists/psycologists are not specialised and frankly, give poor advice as a result.
    DSM inclusion would put this affliction in front of all of us and bring it out of the closet. Until then we are creating monsters who will perpetuate this affliction as parents. Furthermore, until we identify the problem, we can’t fix it. I find only bits of advice through all of my searching and probing on how to combat this affliction, how to bring the child back once they’ve been turned against you.
    2 problems are not addressed because this affliction is not recognised. 1. Stopping the alienating parent. 2. Helping the child to love both parents normally and grow up healthy psychologically.

  3. Jennifer
    October 29, 2010 at 4:48 PM

    PAS is alive and distructive for families. A parent doing this harm hides behind the children by saying they’re protecting their children. I have witnessed the worst case of PAS and it’s so sad. Just like children can learn to read, write, love, etc. they can learn to hate. My boyfriend’s children have been used since 2005 when they were 6 yrs old to hate their father and now at 11 yrs of age, they’re refusing to see him. The mother got what she wanted, the father is crushed and the children are too young to understand. They blame him for the divorce, when the mother cheated on their father and kicked him out. The mother’s goal was to start a new family without their father, which is what she did. Very sad. My heart goes out to all the good fathers out there. The system is broken. The courts don’t recognize PAS but it is alive and is emotional abuse.

  4. Marla
    January 14, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    I found this while looking for some help in dealing with my ex and comments he makes to my children and grandchildren about me. My children were grown at the time of my divorce. I was looking for suggestions in how to deal with him while not affecting the kids. I did not have the term, “Parental Alienation Syndrome,” until reading this article. That is a start for some online research. Thank you for this post. I’m have not experienced anything near this extreme and my heart goes out to any parent who has.

    • January 14, 2012 at 11:15 PM

      Hi Marla, I am glad to read that you have not had to experience parental alienation. However, negative remarks, even for adult children sometimes leads to family rifts. A great book that covers both the experiences of children and adults is by Dr. Amy Baker, titled, Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome: Breaking the Ties that Bind. Your awareness can help others. Thank you for your comment. Regards

  5. January 19, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    I have not read anyone’s comments as of yet, only responding- I too am the mother of an alienated son, who was taken from my primary caregivers life and heart- it happened so quickly and the allegations ripped through me with a sharp edge., Although I was able to prove the allegations were untrue, the supervised visits I requested so I can be documented only solidified the parental alienation was already full force in action and the child hatred towards me was decided against me- his father who never wanted to be a family and was a dead beat dad owing tens of thousands of dollars to the 4 other children he left behind without a glance would now be awarded full custody. I do not have education or medical allowances to keep in touch. I pay child support and medical insurance, which takes away a whole pay check. My only communication was on facebook but the PA had my now 10 year old son parroting to his sister and I- We are all saddend that he has turned away from our entire family and disregards us, turns his head from us.We continue to pray for him and have alot of faith that one day he will realize that we do love him and his inner spirit stays somewhat intact for his return to our family and many communtiy friends we shared. I was a parent very involved with my son, I worked full time, served as his cub scout leader, class parent, and we attended church together, assuring he attended weekly. He now has none of those activities although he is involved in sports and seems to excel in them. When I attend, I stand in the background, the PA always has his family and friends there to intimidate me- I do not want to distract my son’s attention on game so I tend to not let him know I am there. My heart breaks every moment, this is not how I chose this path but I accept it as I am to help others with this, I explain it as living with grief, my mother/child relationship has died adn I can never recapture this time- I find myself crying as a grieving mother when you least expect it, I mourn my loss but am hopeful for the day we can reunite. I have great faith in God and know that has helped me to survive this surreal nightmare. I pray for all children, parents, family and friends affected by Parental Alienation and hope one day it is recognized as a DSM IV, I pray that it is recognized in Family Court and Child PROTECTIVE Agencies as Child Abuse. I pray for the Law Guardians assigned to the cases, that they could interview both parents and not totally ignore me after being conned by PA. Peace and Blessings, Tracey

    • January 19, 2012 at 6:08 PM

      Tracey, thank you for your comment. Terry’s article captures the plight of rejected parents. Without intervention, contact is lost for many years. In some situations, the relationships permantely severed. Although there has been a lot of progress, some still hold the misconception that parental alienation is a natural by-product of divorce. Or, other times it is depicted that men are only impacted. Dr. Gardner, who introduced the term, Parental Alienation Syndrome ( PAS) did so during the tender years presumption (meaning with all things equal, a child was awarded to his/her mother). Also, as you posted, not every parent has the funding to continue with such a heart-breaking battle.

      I appreciate you sharing: “My heart breaks every moment, this is not how I chose this path but I accept it as I am to help others with this, I explain it as living with grief, my mother/child relationship has died and I can never recapture this time- I find myself crying as a grieving mother when you least expect it, I mourn my loss but am hopeful for the day we can reunite” On this site there is a post, very familiar to your story. It includes links to information about grief: https://parentalalienationsupport.com/2011/11/20/letting-go-when-alienated-parents-give-up/

      I am glad to read that you attend games; you may stand in the background at this moment in time, but you faithfulness will bring you to the forefront. As you mentioned, you want to help others: you already have. Sharing your story helps shed light that this surreal ordeal hurts everyone: fathers, mothers, and children. There are many resources about parental alienation. For starters, Dr. Kathleen Reay, has a workbook located at: http:www.parentalalienationhelporg. In her workbook, she describes her mother’s statement about ignored problems: don’t just sit there—do something. You are doing something. Some other resources: If you have not, you may want to connect with the Parental Alienation Awareness Organization. Dr. Richard Warshak’s book, Divorce Poison is a must read. Lastly, there is MATCH (mothers apart from their children). http://www.matchmothers.org/

      Warm Regards,

    • May 23, 2012 at 11:26 AM

      I am the Chair of the organisation, MATCH.mothers.org. We podivre support and Advice to Mothers apart from their children.Yes it may seem a shock but some mothers loose custody and get no right from their ex husband for seeing their children even though the court papers have ordered the contact. Fathers have fought loudly for the error of their ex wifes to be heard but we are an organisation nationally and internationally hearing from mothers in distress.Please feel free to see our website, and contact me for we are fighting for the same cause, that children have equal rights to access with both parents. We especially hate parental alienation. Thank you for your time.

  6. Maureen
    March 26, 2016 at 12:51 PM

    Hi Terry,
    I have lived this nightmare. My
    Oldest son is 18, second son is 16, they had done all this and more to
    Me. When it began , I didn’t know about parent alienation. I spent thousands on counseling. I spent $35,000 on a attorney ; his attorney $25,000.) never getting divorce;) ran
    Out of money. We have 4 children;) oldest were completely enstranged 😉 endless nightmare is best description . After realizing this was PAS, nothing seemed to stop the nightmare but to completely let go of my oldest sons for the sake of my younger children. However , they have eyewitness violence , mental confusion, emotional pain. My heart is in pain for all my children. I want to write a book about my story;) to help others recognize alienation before its too late. When a child is very young PAS signs begin way before divorce.
    Time heals all
    Wounds, my oldest sons are still suffering deeply from the guilt and confusion. However they are with me on holidays, speak to me, say they love me . It’s a miracle!! I trusted in God all these yrs while sons almost died due to father allowing drugs/ alcohol, motorcycles, whatever they wanted to do;) Which left them in hospitals , kicked out of school ,court ordered school/ drug program, under arrest, mental institution, never playing football or experiencing there youth as they deserved . Second son almost died in motorcycle accident , foot halfway Cut, broken pelvis/ punctured to bone from metal, many other injures. All I can say is , Always Good comes out of EVIL!!!!
    Children grow up and learn the truth !!!
    It just takes time. Never despair , God is in charge!!!!
    Thank you for listening, Sincerely,
    Maureen Flood

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