PAS Parential Alienation Syndrome Vs. Estranged

PAS or Parental Alienation Syndrome is a term used to describe children who have been manipulated into ending or rejecting one of their children. An Estranged child also rejects their parent but they do so for legitimate/logical reasons. The decision to completely reject a parent is in most cases a mistake but for this article we want to focus on giving clear examples to help people identify if their child is estranged from them or their Ex or there is a form of manipulation or Parental Alienation occurring.

Many children in divorce reject a parent for the actions they’ve done leading to the divorce. In many cases the other parent may be helpless to easily correct this problem. If a child has learned of an affair and therefore blames the guilty party for the destruction of their family, this is estrangement.  The key qualifiers in this situation are these:


Child learned on their own of the affair.

Child decided on their own to not forgive guilty party.

Other parent was not involved in the decision process or pushed against estrangement.


Parental Alienation Syndrome

Child is told by alienating parent of the affair.

Child is told or coached to not forgive other parent.

Other parent is involved in some way with the decision making process or pushes towards alienation.


Kids going through a divorce are going to be confused, devastated and upset. It is natural for them to seek out justice and pick sides. In many instances kids choose the parent who seems to be struggling the most in the post-divorce recovery.

Just because a child makes a decision to reject a parent does not mean the other parent is guilty in this decision.  Most cases of estrangement with the help of both parents can work themselves out. If both parents are actively encouraging the child to have a relationship with both parents, children often recover and move forward.

Real Physical Abuse

If more serious physical abuse has occurred to the child directly this may take more work.  Keeping a child out of a dangerous situation should be a piority but once that is met a child should have a relationship with both of their parents.

Often parents use abuse or believed abuse as justification to alienate a child from the other parent. This is not helpful to the child over the long term. Children should be encouraged to forgive and let go. Anger and resentment can be toxic to a happy childhood.

Fake Abuse

Many parents use exaggerations or made up allegations of abuse.  They feel it’s justifiable to convince a child they don’t want a relationship with the other parent. This kind of behavior is Parental Alienation. Any time a parent tries to influence a child to end a relationship with the other parent it is toxic and it is Parental Alienation.