The Politics of Alienation:
A social and political map for parental alienation in families locates it with other societal alienation and family and domestic violence as a serious social and public health issue. The science of alienation is valid. We now have to allocate resources to prevent alienation from rupturing a child’s family relationships and to help alienated children rebuild their ruptured bonds.
The social role of the family and parents has undergone radical change since the 1960s. The family has not always been seen as beneficial to society, to marginalised groups such as women and children. Its historically hierarchal and gendered structure, its use of authority and power and its independence from community whilst constituting it has been critically questioned.
The Unstructured Family
Our social experience of alienation, especially parental alienation in families, coincides with transformations in the nature of families, how they are constituted, work, gender, the role of parents, and equal rights and equity for marginalised groups such as women.
Transformations in the nature of power, authority and social relationships have become apparent in this second decade of the twenty-first century. Emphasis has shifted to interpersonal narratives and away from institutionalised forms of power and authority. The family has changed to an unstructured configuration of relationships instead of being a social institution in the structure of our society. There are now family ideologies with visions for the social role and makeup of families different from traditional ideas built around historically gendered roles for “mum” and “dad”.
Institutional power is on the wane. As our respect for social institutions changes, so does our respect for power and authority devolving from our elected leaders, police, law and other institutions. The shift in society toward power and authority through social interactions, relationships and narratives makes the family vulnerable to the alienating narratives that destroy parental identity, make extreme, bad behaviour appear normal and impose unrealistic perceptions and views of reality on other family members.
Our social interactions in social spaces now provide a narrative of identity or devolved from institutional power. We no longer place the same significance on institutional power, like job titles, as our identity. Our identity is now more socially determined. Identity politics refers to the distribution of power organised around social identities mediated in social interactions. People identifying through racial or ethnic associations seek an identity socially differentiated from others, often by a marginalised social status.
What narrative gives in identity, it can also take away. Being a parent is a social identity mediated through historical, social narratives. Parental alienation behaviours are a form of identicide. They cancel parental alienation using stigmatising, defaming and vilifying narratives. Our social identities are fragile indeed.
Social Alienation and Parental Alienation
We are living in an era of broader-based social alienation. Social alienation is a condition of dislocations between people’s social aspirations and roles and the acceptable means to fulfil them. Parental alienation is a form of social alienation in the family that prevents targeted-alienated parents from fulfilling their social identity and role as parents. Alienating behaviours de-identify them as parents; they are an identicide to parenting.
Normalising Bad Behaviour-Social Deviancy
Social deviancy is a dimension of social alienation where individuals use socially unacceptable behaviours to fulfil socially acceptable goals, identities and roles, making inappropriate behaviour appear normal. Parental alienation behaviour changes the family culture to make previously inappropriate, even dangerous behaviour normal. When alienating parents allow their child to be contemptuous toward their once-loved targeted parent, they construct cultural conditions signalling to the child that their behaviour is acceptable.
Ideologies are a system of ideas that form discourse and narratives shaping how people perceive their world and interact with others. Political ideologies shape our society, its cultures, conventions and norms, governance system, rights and responsibilities, and laws. Perspecticide forces one view to dominate and exclude others. It is a form of coercive-controlling family violence.
Ideologies also dominate and exclude other ways of thinking. Dictatorships are a political system that does not allow any other form of thinking other than the dictator’s. Parental alienation is an ideology in the family that only allows children to interpret their world through their alienated parent’s views of their other parent. Children are not allowed any different ideas about their targeted parents.
Our Family Laws impose a family ideology where an alienating parent may end up being in their child’s best interest. This ideology says a family and its relationships are not always central to children’s welfare and development.
Claims that parental alienation is a “pseudo concept”, “junk science”, proposed changes in Family Laws, rebutting shared parenting, and inhibiting family remediations in cases of alienation reflect dominating family ideologies that promote the child’s independence from the family and a diminished role of the family in society. Such doctrines see the family as a threat to specific groups in society.
De-alienation as Socio-Political Action
De-alienation is a mode of action to disrupt socially alienating ideologies and narratives. It challenges the ideology behind social initiatives, laws and narratives perpetuating societal and family alienation. For example, de-alienating narratives re-centre the family as necessary to children, challenge and undo stigmatising, defaming narratives about a parent, expose the motivations of alienating parents and exploit contradictions in their behaviour.
De-alienation as a mode of action also exposes a contradiction in society, for example, that enables the exploitation of parents through child support while cancelling their identity with them and objectifying children while promoting their best interests through Family Laws that allow “cash for kids” deals in negotiating spending time.
De-alienation asks targeted-alienated parents to become politically active, disrupt the ideologies that destroy their families, promote policies that support children’s relationships with their parents, and make parental alienation a public health issue.
- Parental Alienation Awareness Day: Be Aware of the Social Pandemic!
- False Allegations and Parental Alienation in Australian Family Law
- Ethics Approval for Research into Parental Alienation as a Social Phenomenon
- Important Changes for Parental Alienation Services in Australia
- Sociological Implications of Social Alienation and its Demon Spawn Parental Alienation in Families