Parental Alienation is defined as the deliberate attempt by one parent to distance his/her children from the other parent.
An example would be the mother who shares too much information about the father’s affair with the children in a covert attempt to cause the children to harbor ill will toward the father.
A mother or father may wish to alienate the children to pay back for the pain experienced due to an unwanted divorce. They may attempt to alienate the children due to mental illness that keeps the parent from putting her/his children’s best interest before their own. Thereasons parents participate in Parental Alienation are numerous and costly.
On the other hand, estrangement follows multiple conflicts and blowouts between parent and child, says relationship expert Irina Firstein. “There are extremely hurt feelings,” she says. “There are feelings of betrayal and of disappointment.”
The father who leaves the family for another woman, neglects time with his children and dismisses the harm done to his children is likely to become estranged from them. It is fair to say that no one responds positively to poor treatment, least of all children.
PAS results from a parent actively working at causing hard feelings between a child and parent. Estrangement results from a parent behaving badly toward his/her children which, in return causes the children to cut off contact.
It isn’t uncommon for a parent who is estranged from his/her children to blame the other parent of PAS. It is easier to blame others for bad behavior than to accept and acknowledge bad behavior.
How does one tell the difference between a parent who is a victim of PAS and one that is estranged due to bad behavior?
By Cathy Meyer, About.com Guide