There is no way to ease a prospective respondent into what can be expected from an unwanted divorce, other than: You. Can't. Stop. It. Such is the ravage of No Fault Divorce, or NFD. Such is the ravage of Parent Alienation Syndrome, or PAS, but which for clarity and context of this article I'll call PALS (Parent ALienation Syndrome.). NFD and PALS is the result of two spouses who have made marital mistakes, but where one seeks the easy road to correction. Both NFD and PALS have been documented to cause harm to the the innocent. But for one spouse - and maybe both in some cases - even that knowledge fails to stop the notion that their personal happiness comes before that of any children. The catch-all justification: "I'm doing it for the children!" placates and subdues the Reason that would otherwise cause parents to shrink in holy terror from initiating an action that willingly causes harm to their own children!
"I'm doing it for the children" is a lie", by the way. We all have Free Will and it is a Free Will choice to divorce that was made, and made despite knowing your children will go through a hell they do not deserve. Children have nothing to do with choosing divorce; no child ever asked Mom to divorce Dad or asked Dad to divorce Mom. Hell...they don't and won't ever truly understand what divorce is anyway, so why attempt to put such a burden upon their shoulders?!?! All that crutch-of-a-statement does is show the parent(s) own weakness and an inability to work together for the common good - even if it means staying in a supposedly loveless or indifferent marriage. And no...a happy marriage is not part of Catholic Marriage vows (remember the "...for worse..." part?) Nor is it a valid justification for annulment, either, as the late Cardinal Edward Egan, a former Rotal judge and Canon Lawyer taught (see Mary’s Advocates Observations: Separation, Divorce, and Annulment, page 37.)
No... NFD is all about the individual. If a disaffected spouse/parent Googled "Children and Divorce" - before they pull the divorce trigger, not after - I find it hard to believe that they would still put their signature on a document that would turn their children into a statistic and that has such a horrible track record for bringing any "happiness" at all to children. One of the many inherent evils of NFD, "PAL" will always be around some, if not all, of your children, forever whispering in their ear all the reasons they should keep him, "PAL", around, instead of remembering the one reason they should let him go. Parent Alienation is the devil's offspring no less so than divorce, for they share the same bloodline.
Richard Gardner was an American psychiatrist who first studied PALS in the 70's and was himself a divorced parent. I might imagine that his own divorce was perhaps a catalyst for this study, which has, to date, not been listed in the DSM-5 Manual. Though it remains contested by many of his peers, some professionals have found it has some validity in more recent times. Gardner described PALS as "...the child's campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification" and that it results from "...the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent's indoctrination's and the child's own contributions to the vilification of the target parent."
What this means in practical terms for the respondent - usually the Father - is simply the following:
- no Birthday, Father's Day, Christmas or Thanksgiving Cards will be received;
- no hugs or kisses from children when you drop them off at the airport;
- no response to your "Hi Kids" when you come home from work;
- no chance of ever experiencing in your kids the healing power of Christ's Forgiveness, for there is none forthcoming, at least in your lifetime.
Divorce is not the way to end marital problems, any more than an adulterous relationship will bring you contentment. Happiness, perhaps. But contentment? "Not hardly", as the Duke used to say. It's impossible, because you put yourself at odds with your Catholic Faith. Which is what, in my opinion, all the divorced and remarried couples are looking for who wish to remain in mortal sin, yet be allowed to receive the Body and Blood of Christ - Contentment. It will never come until they correct the sin, however, which is what I hope the Catholic Church reminds them of come October.
Divorce and children. PALS and children. Children in therapy due to divorce. Children in therapy due to PALS. Children of divorce ignoring a loving parent. Children of PALS ignoring the 4th commandment. How can any Catholic couple justify divorce? More importantly, what is the respondent parent to do knowing full well what awaits their children if they do not change? The only thing they can do: continue the non-reciprocal love they need, continue to offer prayers and sacrifices for their enlightenment and to always be there if and when they should ever call. In other words, just be the good parent you always strove to be.
And remember, as Dr. Giszczak stated above, that:
"We must watch our hearts and remember that the natural respect that sons and daughters should have for their fathers and mothers is something the Lord set up to orient us toward himself. If we honor our parents, our hearts will be in a great place to honor God. If we honor our parents, then we too can obtain by grace the “long life in the land which the Lord our God is giving us.” That land, of course, is heaven."