22, 2006 -- Nearly everyone knows
a couple who has divorced and used
their children against each other.
But not many people know there's a
name for such behavior - and fewer
still know it is a particularly damaging
form of child abuse.
Now a group of concerned people has
created Parental Alienation Awareness
Slated for April 25, 2006, Parental
Alienation Awareness Day is designed
to shed light on the problems of Parental
Defined as the systematic brainwashing
and manipulation of children with
the sole purpose of destroying the
loving and warm relationship they
once shared with a parent, PA is typically
caused by a parent going through a
divorce or separation. While many
divorced and separated parents recognize
their children's deep need to have
healthy relationships with both parents,
some parents have a more difficult
time putting their own feelings aside
- and that is when PA can occur.
"A pattern of alienation usually
begins without any malicious or conscious
intent to harm the relationship between
the other parent and the children,"
explained Sarvy Emo, co-founder of
Parental Alienation Awareness Day.
"Parents are often unaware of
how subtle behaviors and comments
can hurt the relationship between
the children and the targeted parent.
Alienating parents, however, learn
how to manipulate and use their children
to purposefully hurt the other parent."
As workshops and lectures scheduled
for Parental Alienation Awareness
Day will show, victims of PA display
several distinct early signs of the
abuse. The group advises family members
and teachers of children whose parents
are divorcing to watch for the children
perceiving one parent as causing the
other parent's financial problems,
showing a sudden negative change in
attitude around one parent or being
uncharacteristically belligerent around
A parent engaging in PA may speak
disparagingly about his or her ex-spouse
in front of the children. He or she
may share details of the divorce with
the children or refuse to give the
other parent access to medical and
school records or extracurricular
activity schedules. Other typical
PA behaviors include grilling the
children about their visits with the
other parent, becoming physically
violent with the other parent or stepparent
in front of the children, prohibiting
the children from calling the other
parent "Mommy" or "Daddy,"
and refusing to allow telephone, mail
or e-mail communication between the
children and the other parent.
"Parental Alienation is emotional
and mental child abuse. No child should
be used as a weapon for someone else's
gain. No child should have to choose
between people they love," said
Emo. "With awareness come education,
understanding and the power to stop
the abuse of innocent children caught
in the crossfire of people they love."
To learn more about PA and Parental
Alienation Awareness Day, including
future workshops and webinars, visit
A list of 167 signs of PA and other
articles on PA are available at