Wednesday, May 29, 2024


LINK to online version (reference links added)

In my column of April 24, I wrote about parental alienation, a type of psychological child abuse.

PA usually occurs in the context of a divorce wherein one parent seeks to turn a child against the other parent and uses all manner of lies, exaggerations, and manipulation to do it.

Particularly confounding with PA is the phenomenon of the child allying with the alienating and usually abusive parent, an anomaly noted in a paper published by the American Bar Association:

“It is remarkable that abused children frequently remain attached to their abusive parents…a maltreated child may have ambivalent feelings toward the abusive parent; however, the alienated child almost always has highly negative attitudes toward a non-abusive parent.”

I ended the previous column saying that usually this situation breaks open a world of hurt and bewilderment for the targeted parent and that I would offer some advice on what to do if you find yourself in this terror. So here it is.

As hard as it is to do when your heart is breaking, the first thing you must do is educate yourself as to what is really going on. Get online, particularly YouTube, and search for “parental alienation.”

You need to hear, and hear immediately, from other parents who have gone through this (and usually still are), and also from adults who were alienated from a parent as children and who later reunited with the alienated parent.

There are good written resources as well, but you probably won’t be able to read through your tears, so best to just immerse yourself in listening to others for a while.

While it’s okay to seek support from family and friends, don’t expect answers. Parental alienation is so counter-intuitive, so illogical, that those who haven’t experienced it, including close family members, will wonder “what you did” to make your child hate you.

Second, learn to think of yourself as the “chosen parent.”The “chosen parent” is the parent who the child trusts to never abandon her (I’ll use a daughter for the example), even if she has to join the alienating parent in targeting you.

In short, the child is so assured of your unconditional love that she is willing to risk rejecting you to please the alienator. She knows you will always love her but she has no assurance that the alienator will. So she “chooses” you to hang in there for her. In other words, she is only rejecting you to please the abusive, unstable parent.

Third, work on yourself. Work on becoming strong, mentally, spiritually, and even physically. Understand that the alienating parent wants to break you, and break you in front of your child. Do not let that happen.

In the end, becoming a better you is the only way your child will come back. A child wants to be taken care of, wants to be secure, wants to be loved. She’s not going to get that from the unstable, needy parent. The child will eventually see, if she hasn’t already, that you are the rock in the family.

Fourth, whenever you do have time with your child, never bash the other parent. Remember, that is the kind of stuff the poor child has to deal with all day every day from the alienator. Just by not doing it, you set yourself apart as the mature, stable parent that the child needs and wants now more than ever.

Lastly, so long as your child is a minor, never give up the legal battle for as much time with your child as the law allows. I say “as the law allows” and not “as the court decides” because your rights to your child are a matter of law.

Guam law states: “It is legislative policy that children spend as much time with each of their parents as possible, when the parents are not living together.” 19 GCA §8404(8)

So even if you don’t have primary custody, you still have the lawful right to “as much time…as possible” with your child and you must fight for every minute of it, not just because it is your right, but because your child wants to be fought for.

In the words of my son: “Never give up, Dad. Never give up.” 

Tim Rohr has resided in Guam since 1987. He has raised a family of 11 children, owned several businesses, and most recently been active in local issues via his blog,, letters to local publications and occasional public appearances. He can be contacted at

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