25th April is International Parental Alienation Awareness Day - Inappropriate behaviours Survey
FNF are launching a survey to help to draw attention to the inappropriate behaviours that cause a child to appear to reject a parent
'Parental Alienation' is a term used to describe a range of inappropriate behaviours and the effect these have on children. These behaviours can be deliberate and abusive to the child and target parent. They can also be sub-conscious and the result of anger or other uncontained emotions and a lack of understanding of the effect they have on children. Such behaviours can happen within relationships, but are most commonly reported in the context of family separation. Too often hostility towards a parent can result in the child aligning themselves with the alienating parent - usually the one with day-to-day care of the child. If a child sees their main carer upset or angry when they speak positively of the other parent and relieved when speaking positively, eventually they will come to form an alliance in denigrating the target parent. They have lost one parent and don't want to lose the love and affection of the other.
The effects of such behaviour can last a lifetime with the parent and child(ren) never becoming reconciled. This can result in depression and anger and almost certainly makes forming other relationships hard for the child. Often, the behaviours become inter-generational and history repeats itself. The misery caused and damage to children cannot be overstated. In most cases grandparents and wider family and friends are also cut off and children lose the love and support of half of their family with whom they had key attachments.
Why this survey?
There is a great deal of discussion about 'Parental Alienation'. It is well supported with research. However, we thought it would be helpful in this survey to focus less on the term, but rather on identifying the behaviours and how common they are amongst our service users. It is the behaviours that must be recognised and addressed if the abuse that they inflict on children is to stop. When separating, both parents need to guard against such behaviours and where one parent cannot do so, or refuses to, early interventions need to be developed.
Our survey asks you to give us some indication of the extent and frequency with which you have experienced some of the more common behaviours that undermine child-parent relationships. It also invites you to provide us with specific examples - so feel free to tell us what you witnessed, what your child(ren) said, saw, experienced, what precipitated a change in behaviour - how you came to discover it, how did it impact e.g. what was your relationship like before and after, etc. It would also be good to hear how it made you feel when you discovered what was happening. We have also added a question for you to tell us about examples that we have not specifically identified. We hear some extraordinary stories - many may be unique, but there are common patterns that shine though. We plan to use your comments to create a more widely shared examples and case studies that will promote a better understanding of what happens. It will also help us to influence those who can assist in developing solutions - to prevent it happening and to deal with it more effectively when it does.
We are plannng further articles and materials in the near future with practical suggestions to guide you on what to do if this is something that affects you. If you are an FNF Member or are registered with us (see link below) we will let you know when this is available. Do also call our Helpline on 0300 0300 363 - ideally between 6pm and 10pm Monday to Friday when our experienced volunteers are availble on-hand or join one of our support meetings, currently taking place online.
For comments, sending case studies or information please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you wish to obtain our Newsletters, including feedback from this survey, please register with us for free.
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