Children are motivated to bond with parents. Even in a conflictual parent-child relationship, the child is still motivated to bond with the parent. This is a typical attachment experience between a parent and child. In parental alienation, we see detachment behavior, not attachment behavior. When therapists encounter a child rejecting a parent, not just having conflict with a parent, but completely detaching from a parent, then they are most likely witnessing parental alienation syndrome. In parental alienation there is no grief response to the separation between the parent and child.
The contact denial situation has escalated from empowered hesitation, “I’m not UNcomfortable at [Dad’s] house, I’m just MORE comfortable at Mom’s,” to snide dismissal, and that’s only IF Zack responds to a text or answers a phone call, which he hasn’t for weeks.
The promising news from Sam’s attorney on August 16 (magistrate expressed disapproval of Missy’s contact denial, a guardian ad litem was to be immediately assigned, and the magistrate agreed that Zack needs counseling) has changed nothing except that Zack added a, “Mom told me I had to come to your house but…,” to his “I’m not ready yet.” And Missy is not bringing Zack to Sam’s or making him ride the bus to his Dad’s, so the court’s “action” is completely meaningless.
Meanwhile animosity is growing and Missy is fleshing out her story that Zack is SO healthy, and SO happy since he’s made the decision to stay exclusively at her house. This story is likely to evolve to an amazing successful first day, first week, first month at his new school — again credited to Zack’s being exclusively with his mother.