Actor Alec Baldwin has written an interesting book on a controversial subject called Parental Alienation Syndrome. I thought it was a very balanced take on what can happen when issues of child custody go very wrong.
The reason PAS is so controversial stems from the fact that it is recognized in our legal system as a form of child abuse, but not, as yet, listed as a formal diagnosis in the clinical world. PAS is a psychological dynamic brought about by one parent in a divorced family whose aim is to alienate the other parent from his or her child.
I have seen Parental Alienation Syndrome in my work. Sometimes the alienation is not an intentional set of behaviors. While other times, it is conscious and intentional. And, don't get me wrong, there are many divorced families where this alienation does not come into play at all!
The most important thing with PAS is to help everyone see that divorce of a marriage does not mean that the child must divorce one's parents. Psychotherapy with a specialist can help the parent who is unconsciously or consciously alienating. Divorce is hard on everyone, especially children. Trying to help your child have a healthy connection with his or her "other" parent can be a lifelong gift.
I have 5 children my own and 2 step children. Their mother has done almost everything she can to alienate the children from their father and me for the last 18 mos or so . The kids lived primarily with us prior to that time when she got remarried and had a child. She hasn't just alienated us but rather everyone except during times she feels are convenient there are several problems faced by the children and by us because of her choices. Parental alienation is a serious problem and should be recognized as a severe form of child abuse as it is generally accompanied by several other seriously potentally dangerous behaivors.