One of the most damaging aspects of parental disputes, particularly in cases of separation and divorce, is what is commonly known as ‘parental alienation’ which occurs when a child is manipulated by one parent against the other. As part of a campaign to raise awareness about this problem, April 25 has been chosen as Parental Alienation Awareness Day and Assistant Director of Appogg Agency, Remenda Grech, said that in their line of work they see first-hand, the psychological suffering and trauma experienced by children caught in the cross-fire of such situations.
Parental Alienation takes place when one parent manipulates a child/ children against the other parent. Most often it occurs in separation cases when parents no longer live under the same roof and children are subjected to derogatory and negative comments by the custodial parent against the estranged parent, where access is frequently denied and children are even deprived of seeing the parent who no longer lives at home. Sometimes this situation is even aided and corroborated by medical certificates.
Assistant Director Remenda Grech spoke about the psychological damage this creates for children.
Grech said that one does well to remember that children will ultimately love both their parents but when they are constantly subjected to negative remarks about one of their parents, they will suffer psychological damage. And when one realises where this fear toward that other parent stems from, you realise that in truth it has nothing to do with that parent’s actions, but it is a product of the negative words which the child has had to constantly listen to against that parent. The child chooses not to visit such parent purely not to create more problems because in his or her mind this is the best way to keep the peace. This creates a situation where children are being burdened with responsibilities which are ultimately not theirs.
This issue has led Appogg to offer a six-week co-parenting course, intended to help parents who are separating or who have already separated, try to find a middle/ common ground in the way they behave toward their children. Grech said that the courses help parents understand that irrespective of the fact that their relationship has ended, they will always remain the parents of their children who in turn need them both.