Parental Alienation Awareness Website

Parental Alienation in Older Children

by Joan Kloth-Zanard

Joan T. Kloth-Zanard

Life Coach and Counselor

Donít believe what they say: that Parental Alienation
cannot happen to older children, that itís just an oxymoron.
Parental Alienation is the act of one parent deliberately undermining
the relationship between the children and the other parent to the
point of creating a hostile relationship and thus alienation of the
children from the other parent. Another way to look at this is
alienation of affection, which is one of the basic human needs
discussed at length by Maslow in his Hierarchy of Needs. It is a
serious form of psychological abuse, and it is very dangerous because
it occurs internally and, thus, is harder to treat. Unlike physical
abuse where the scars and wounds are on the outside, Parental
Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is so deep inside that unlocking the key to
it takes years of treatment and unconditional love.

Though PAS is primarily seen in high-conflict divorces,
it also occurs in intact families. And though it usually begins in
early childhood, this is not always the case, and does not mean that
older children and even adults cannot be alienated from their other
parent. In fact, PAS is often described as a cult form of control
over others. In this respect, we can say that the perpetrator or
alienator brainwashes and programs the innocent victims to hate their
other parent/family members. In much the way as the leaders of
cults, like Jonestown, these perpetrators are able to take a person
and convert him or her into the alienatorís way of thinking and to
renounce all ties with the victimís families and friends. If a cult
leader can do this to total strangers who have no familial ties to
them, then it is safe to say that it would be that much easier for a
parent to do this to his or her children, no matter what age they are.

Parents and family have a much stronger bind or hold
upon children. In fact, a child, no matter what age, would be more
likely to listen to and believe his or her parent than a total
stranger. Therefore, any judge, counselor, agency or attorney
claiming that an older child could not be alienated from his or her
other parent, is actually stating that cults, like the Branch
Davidians, could not possibly happen. In these non-believersí minds,
only children can be brainwashed and programmed. This defies logic,
as it is a proven fact that cults do brainwash people and program
them, and most of these cult followers are adults. In other words,
if a total stranger can turn a person against his or her family, then
a parent can do it even more easily, no matter the age of the child.

Furthermore, as Amy J. L. Baker points out in her book,
Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome Ė Breaking the Ties
that Bind, adolescents are just as vulnerable to the tactics used to
impede a relationship with the other parent. These young adults are
at a point in their lives where they are allowed more responsibility
to make their own decisions, and one of those is custody and
visitation. Baker feels that alienators are probably quite aware of
this and utilize this idea as they intensify their tactics to
distance the children from the other parent. In addition to this
issue, young adults are struggling for their independence from their
parents and if one parent, the alienator, offers them more freedom
and thus are more liberal with them, the children will be swayed
easily to side with this parent. Alienators know this very well, and
actually use this same technique when bribing their children
monetarily with gifts and toys. (Baker, p. 182-183) Alienators are
good exploiters of weaknesses in people. They will go after the
weakest link to break the chain and command control of the other
links in the chain. What better way to do this than with bribery and

Case in point: two children who are raised since birth
to hate their fatherís side of his family. The children are
repeatedly told that relatives from their fatherís side of the family
are no good and crazy and that the children are never to spend time
alone with them. Their mother even tries to convince their father
that his side of the family is not good and actually rarely lets the
kids visit their paternal grandparents, niece, or nephew. Fast-
forward 15 years, to a failed marriage. Though the children have
spent very positive and rewarding times with their father and his
family especially during the holiday seasons, in the back of their
minds, they have been programmed to not trust them. So when the
father initiates a divorce, instantly the mother begins to denigrate
and berate the father. The children, though 14 and 16, are easily
turned against their father and refuse to spend time with him, and
when they do, they are disrespectful and rude. Despite the judgeís
orders, these two teenagers are too enmeshed with their motherís
hatred, anger, and faulty beliefs that their relationship with their
father is near non-existent. Despite 15 years of positive good
memories that they could draw upon, the years of programming and
brainwashing have taken their toll.

PAS does not differentiate age. PAS does not prejudice
only the very young. PAS is real and can affect anyone of any age
and gender. It is ageless, genderless and most of all, the most
painful form of psychological abuse a guardian can inflict on another
human being. Until the judges, counselors, agencies and attorneys
accept the fact that PAS has no preferences and can occur to anyone
at any time in his or her life, this form of Domestic Violence will
continue to grow and destroy families.


Baker, Amy J. L. (2007) Adult Children of Parental Alienation
Syndrome Ė Breaking the Ties that Bind. NY, NY. W.W. Norton & Company.

Maslow, A. H. (1968) The Farther Reaches of Human Nature. NY:
Esalen Books, Viking Press.

Maslow, A. H. (1968) Toward a Psychology of Being. NY: D.Vant
Nostrand Company.

Joan Kloth-Zanard
Kloth Consulting
Consulting for Individuals, Families and Businesses

Join our newsletter! *

Parental Alienation Awareness Website
Privacy Policy  |   Legal Notice  |   Contact Us