In the midst of fighting with your spouse during a divorce, it can be hard to remember how tough the whole situation is on your kids. They are leaving the life they've probably always known and will either be splitting time between their two parents, or even living with one parent most of the time. It's up to the parents to make this transition as seamless as possible while providing as much love as they can.

Unfortunately, some parents let their emotions take over and try to push their negative feelings about their spouse on to their children. When this gets out of hand, it's called parental alienation syndrome.

Psychiatrist Dr. Richard A. Gardner discovered parental alienation syndrome in the 1980s. He noticed a huge increase in a disorder where one parent basically brainwashes his or her kids to hate or blame the other parent. However, the disorder also includes the fact that the children believe what their vindictive parent is telling them and act out to degrade the targeted parent.

Parental alienation syndrome is almost seen as a form of child abuse by some people, because it fills a child's mind with negative, false feelings and thoughts and ruins the bond once shared with both of their parents.

Things that some parents tell their children to turn them against the other parent include:

  • Telling their child personal details about why the marriage failed and why their parents got divorced. This includes freely talking about legal and financial details that the child should not be concerned about.
  • Saying that they can't do something or go somewhere or buy something because of the other parent.
  • Blaming the other parent for changes in lifestyle that were not the fault of that parent alone.
  • Saying bad things about the other parent, either directly to the child or within obvious listening distance.

Parental alienation syndrome can become serious and permanently ruin family relationships. In child custody cases, it's important to try and settle things as amicably as possible to avoid too much damage. Children should be insulated from the harshest parts of the divorce process.

If you are seeking a San Francisco child custody decree that takes the best interests of your children seriously, contact family law attorney Paul Nathan for a consultation by calling 415-341-1144.